Michael Farrell: Bradley Manning – Leadership Failure Over Too Many Years…

Cultural Intelligence, Ineptitude, Military
Michael Farrell
Michael Farrell

Bradley Manning: Hits Just Keep on Hitting

Bradley Manning did everything but wear a sign saying “Timebomb waiting to explode!

Michael Farrell

Veterans Today, 14 August 2013


The subject of the email was “My problem.”“I’ve had signs of it for a very long time,” Bradley Manning wrote. “It caused conditions within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. … But it’s not going away, it’s haunted me more and more as I get older.”There was a photograph attached. Sitting in a car, looking anguished, Manning stares into the camera’s lens. He is wearing a blonde wig and makeup.  –Matt Sledge, the Huffington Post, 8-13-2013

In my post on July 31, I argued that the chain of command was largely responsible for the entire debacle ending in the release of documents. It appears based on testimony that not only was I right, it was worse than I thought.  Those of us who were in leadership roles during that era and did not want to engage in witch hunts found the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy not that easy to enforce. This was a problem with a lot of issues by the way — people engaging in private behavior that the overall society was willing to accept, but that violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When a soldier came in to talk to me for some “personal problem,” I didn’t always begin with reading them their rights but I had the card handy just in case. But, while it did not happen, I knew exactly what I would do if someone came in and announced that they were gay–I’d make certain that they knew that by telling me they were in fact asking to be discharged, and then I’d be on the phone to the CSM and the legal clerk to start the paperwork. Nothing personal…I didn’t care, but the rules were pretty straightforward. And, in my leadership roles, I wasn’t dealing with a lot of soldiers who had clearances above Secret.

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It seems pretty obvious to me that the Defense has made a pretty good case for extenuation and mitigation, and the Prosecution had problems with this one. F. Lee Bailey wrote in The Defense Never Rests that given his experience as an Air Force legal officer, he’d rather be tried by a court martial than a civilian court. The court martial would be fairer, more interested in the truth and far better informed and able to understand the case than a civilian panel. Having been on a few and observing a lot of both, I tend to agree. I think Manning made a mistake in his decision to have his case heard only by the judge. A panel could have included a First Sergeant or Sergeant Major, and would probably have been tilted more in his favor by the abysmal failure of the Chain of Command to respond to the guy. However, the Judge may well have heard enough to sentence Manning to something reasonable; I’m guessing 10 years and a DD at this point and possibly less. For justice’s sake, let’s hope so.

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