He was late for meetings, and once curled in a fetal position on a storage room floor and clutched his head, a knife at his feet. He carved the words “I want” into a chair.
Another time, he pounded his fists and flipped over a table of computers before he was wrestled into submission. And in April 2010, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning emailed his sergeant a mug shot of himself wearing makeup, dark lipstick and a flowing blond wig.
“This is my problem,” he wrote in the email. “I have had signs of it for a very long time.”
Signs of Manning’s emotional distress seemed everywhere. Yet according to testimony Tuesday in the sentencing phase of his court-martial, Army officers at Ft. Drum, N.Y., or in Iraq didn’t cancel Manning’s top-secret security clearance, seek to transfer him out of Iraq or discharge him from the Army.
Had they done so, Manning’s lawyers contend, he would have lost access to the 700,000 classified war logs, diplomatic cables, “enemy combatant” assessments and other materials that he secretly sent to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, to stop what he considered a coverup of military atrocities and other abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Defense lawyers are seeking to convince a military judge not to impose the maximum 90-year sentence on Manning, who was convicted last month of espionage and other charges related to the illegal disclosures. They are trying to show that Army commanders ignored signs that the Oklahoma-born soldier was mentally unstable and was nearing a breakdown.