For its "Wikisecrets" documentary Tuesday about Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the biggest information breach in U.S. history, PBS's Frontline reached out to all manner of different sources. Journalist Martin Smith interviewed Manning's father, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and others close to the case, in order to better understand the personality and experiences of the Army intelligence analyst accused of handing over more than half a million documents to WikiLeaks through 2010.
But Smith also dug into the online history of the imprisoned soldier, obtaining access to his now-defunct personal Facebook page. Manning's status updates, from the day he started the page in 2007 to his last post on June 5, 2010 (after he was arrested in Kuwait), show a young, gay man struggling with his place in society, his place in the military, and his conflicting allegience and sense of duty to his country and his ideals. Below are some highlights from the Frontline timeline, but it's worth checking that out in full if you have the time.
Here are Manning's final posts from just before and then after his arrest. The notes are from Frontline:
About a month before his arrest, Manning posted a message that implied he was afraid for his life. Though for a soldier serving in Iraq, that's not uncommon. But with the investigation closing in on him, Manning must have been feeling vulnerable not just to Iraqi bullets.
In multiple posts, Manning pines for his boyfriend Tyler Watkins. These aren't the only overt references he makes to his sexuality, all before the Dec. 18 Senate vote to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Frontline highlights the points within the timeline that correspond to WikiLeaks data dumps and the times Manning is alleged to have handed off the secret information:
There's lots more over at Frontline, so if you can, go peruse that.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.