Bradley Manning's Facebook Page
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has become internationally recognized since the publication last year of thousands of secret U.S. documents. But Bradley Manning, the Army private alleged to have provided the documents, remains largely a mystery. Who is Bradley Manning? How did he come into contact with a trove of secrets and, allegedly, with WikiLeaks? And what might have motivated the largest leak of classified information in American history? Investigating those questions for the film WikiSecrets, FRONTLINE sought to understand Manning through extensive interviews with his father, friends and others he confided in during the months before his arrest. FRONTLINE also obtained access to Manning's Facebook account.
Manning's Facebook postings are a vivid, if partial, portrait of his life in the military and of the political and social issues that he followed closely. They reflect his commitment to gay rights and defiance of the military's ban on openly gay or lesbian soldiers. They track the anguish in his personal life. And they conclude with an entry, put up in Manning’s name by his aunt, explaining his arrest with a link to a WikiLeaks website.
The following presentation is an edited version of Manning's wall, annotated by FRONTLINE, beginning when he opened the account in July 2007 and concluding in June 2010. It includes only posts authored by Manning (with the exception of the first, from his aunt) -- status updates, articles, pictures and "likes" -- and the responses of his Facebook friends. We have blurred the identities of those other than Manning posting comments or in pictures, as well as the names of people mentioned in the posts, with the exception of public figures and in several cases Manning's ex-boyfriend Tyler Watkins.
Bradley Manning is arrested on May 26 and held in Kuwait. He calls his Aunt Debra from detention and asks her to update his page.
May 21, 2010 Hacker Adrian Lamo is contacted by someone with the screen name Bradass87, who, in a series of online chats over the next few days, says that he has given thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Lamo and Bradley Manning become friends on Facebook; Bradley Manning's profile page shows his screen name as Bradass87.
May 7, 2010 Manning is found in a fetal position with a knife in a storage room; he had carved the words "I want" into a chair, according to an Army report. The Washington Post reports that later that evening, he hit a female soldier in the face -- an act for which he would be demoted.
April 5, 2010 WikiLeaks publishes a 39-minute video that shows insurgents and civilians, including two Reuters journalists, being killed by airstrikes from U.S. Army helicopters in Iraq. WikiLeaks also publishes an edited version of the footage, which it names "Collateral Murder." In the chat with Adrian Lamo, Bradass87 says he leaked the video in February 2010. "At first glance ... it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter ... no big deal," he writes. "But something struck me as odd about the van thing ... and also the fact that it was being stored in a JAG officer's directory ... so I looked into it."
According to The Washington Post, Spec. Robert M. Rieckhoff, age 26, of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division -- Manning's division -- died in Baghdad of wounds suffered in a rocket-propelled grenade attack.
Manning comes back to the U.S. for two weeks. During the trip he visits family in the D.C. area, and he also travels to Boston, where he sees Tyler Watkins and attends a party at a Boston University hacker space, known as BUILDS. Investigators believe it was during this period that Manning either uploaded or handed off the war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Jan. 11, a federal court in San Francisco begins hearing a lawsuit filed on behalf of two gay couples against Proposition 8 -- the ban on same-sex marriages approved by California voters in 2008. Theodore Olson and David Boies -- two prominent attorneys known for representing opposite sides in 2000's Bush v. Gore -- join forces to challenge the California law and the case is widely seen as a stepping stone in a legal battle headed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Late November 2009 WikiLeaks publishes 500,000 intercepted pager messages sent on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12, 2001, in the order in which they were sent. In the online chats with Adrian Lamo, Bradass87 says he starting working with WikiLeaks "right after Thanksgiving timeframe of 2009," after the 9/11 intercepts were published. "I immediately recognized that they were from an NSA database, and I felt comfortable enough to come forward," he writes.
Manning's unit deploys to Forward Operating Base Hammer, located in the desert east of Baghdad. He works with a handful of intelligence analysts in a top-secret facility called a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility] and has access to two classified networks: JWICS, which contains high-level military secrets; and SIPRnet, which stores hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.
This is likely the photo with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom that Manning refers to in his May 7, 2009 status update.
In August 2009, the battle over health care reform plays out in local town hall meetings across the country.
In 1969, an uprising broke out after police raided a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village; the "Stonewall Riots," as they became known, lasted six days and are widely seen as a turning point in the gay civil rights movement.
In the video, Cheney expresses support for same-sex marriage -- "I think freedom means freedom for everyone," he says. "I think people ought to be free to enter in any kind of union they wish."
On this date, the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage passed by California voters in 2008, but rules that marriages performed before the law was passed are still legal.
On this date, the Vermont legislature votes to legalize same-sex marriage.
On this date, the California Supreme Court holds oral arguments on several lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8.
On this date, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) announces plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
On this date, the Treasury Department announces it is assuming more shares of Citigroup, raising the government's investment in the ailing bank to as much as 36 percent.
"I was kicked out of my home and I once lost my job," the anonymous soldier featured in the article says. "The world is not moving fast enough for us at home, work or the battlefield. ... I've been living a double life."
Summer 2008 After graduating from intelligence training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Manning joined the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., where he is stationed until his deployment to Iraq. At Fort Drum, Manning gets into fights and is reprimanded for tossing chairs and yelling at fellow soldiers. He is referred for counseling, but has to seek it off base because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
This video was posted by the Bob Barr presidential campaign; Barr is a former Republican congressman from Georgia who ran for president as a libertarian.
Manning is sent to receive intelligence training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Upon completing the training, he has a security clearance that gave him access to top-secret databases. According to Wired, while at Fort Huachuca, Manning is reprimanded for revealing sensitive information in video messages to his friends and family posted on YouTube.
October 2007 Manning enlists in the army at the urging of his father, who thought his son needed some structure in his life. Manning does his basic training at Ft. Wood, Mo.
July 12, 2007 Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh are killed in Iraq by U.S. helicopter fire. Their deaths are captured on the video later released by WikiLeaks as "Collateral Murder."