Home / National News / Bradley Manning Defense Cites Rough Childhood, Gender Disorder


(FORT MEADE, Md.) — In an emotional day of testimony in Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s espionage case, a military court heard an apology from the soldier, tales of a tough childhood from his sister, and two experts who explained how Manning’s gender identity disorder contributed to his woes.

Bradley Manning’s sister appeared in military court Wednesday to testify that she and her brother’s childhood was characterized by alcoholic parents and neglect, the latest revelations in a day that has focused on intensely personal details of the convicted Army private’s life.

Casey Major, Manning’s older sister, testified that her mother used to drink hard liquor and was drunk just about every day.

“Growing up when you are around it all the time, you kind of think it’s normal,” Major said. Major said her mother would start drinking around lunchtime and “it was continuous until she passed out or went to bed.”

Major said it wasn’t until she was about 13-years-old that she realized her parents “had a problem with alcohol.”

Major’s testimony came during the sentencing hearing for her little brother. Bradley Manning, the source of one of the largest disclosures of confidential or classified information in U.S. history to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, was found guilty late last month of charges including espionage, theft and fraud. He faces up to 90 years in prison.

Manning’s sister’s testimony followed that of a Navy forensic psychiatrist who detailed the young private’s struggle with gender identity and said that it, coupled with abnormal personality traits and a“very high level of stress,” led to his decision to release the information to WikiLeaks.

“He became, I think, very enthralled in this idea that the things he was finding were injustices that he felt he morally needed to right… [It was] very inline with, I think, his belief system of righting wrongs,” said Navy Capt. David Moulton, an expert witness and forensic psychiatrist. “He knew he had an oath to his job as a soldier, but this conflicted to his ideology as well.”

“Manning was under the impression that his leaked information was going to really change how the world views the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and future wars quite frankly,” Moulton said.

Moulton testified Manning suffers from gender dysphoria, previously classified as gender identity disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as well as having traits of “narcissistic personality,” “borderline personality,” & “abnormal personality.”  Manning’s family issues, deployment, and his inability to be treated for his gender dysphoria exacerbated these traits–leading to grandiose ideas and arrogance, that were escalated during distress and caused “severe emotional distress at the time of the alleged offenses.”

In light of the testimonies Wednesday, Manning’s attorneys contend that their client showed clear signs of deteriorating mental health, saying his status should have prevented his commanders from sending him to a war zone to handle classified information.

The prosecution, on the other hand, has tried to paint a portrait of Manning as a narcissistic individual who didn’t want to associate with his colleagues and rejected colleague support.

The therapist who treated PFC Bradley Manning testified Wednesday during his sentencing hearing that Manning was placed in a “hyper-masculine” environment with “little support or key coping skills” to deal with pressure he faced as well as his gender disorder.

Capt. Michael Worsley, a clinical psychologist and military reservist, treated Manning between December 2009 and May 2010 and ultimately was the one to diagnose him with gender identity disorder.

“Being in the military and having a gender identity issue does not go hand in hand,” Worsley testified. “I think it further serves to isolate, to create this issue with kind of defining who you are as a person.”

During their first five months of sessions he testified that Manning was closed off and reluctant to share information.

However, following an incident in early May where Manning punched a fellow soldier, Worsley said they talked about an email titled “My Problem” Manning had sent in late April to his supervisor, Sgt. Paul Adkins. Attached to the email was a photo of Manning dressed as his alter-ego Brianna–wearing a long blonde wig. Following that reveal, “he was much more comfortable” Worsley said.

“That was a big relief for him to be able to share that,” he said.

In the email, Manning wrote he feels like his “entire life feel like a bad dream that won’t end” and “I don’t know what to do anymore .. and the only ‘help’ that seems to be available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me.”

“Like I said, I don’t know what to do and I don’t know whats going to happen but at this point it feels like I’m not really *here* anymore and everyone’s concerned about me and afraid of me. I’m sorry,” he wrote in the email.

“There was nothing available [in the military] for this issue,” Worsley testified. “Except someone like me [therapy], and again he was taking a chance.”

At the time of Manning’s therapy and ultimate diagnosis of gender identity disorder, being homosexual was a UCMJ violation, Worsley explained, and placed a soldier at jeopardy of being court-martialed.

“There would never be a time where he would able to be openly female and so seeking treatment for that…again the treatment would be helping you adjust to that…it’s not treating it like a disorder…so that would be difficult to do in the military,” Worsley said.

Manning’s lawyers contend that Manning showed clear signs of deteriorating mental health, and presented Worsley as expert testimony to that claim. Saying his status should have prevented commanders from sending him to a war zone to handle classified information.

During Tuesday’s testimony, Adkins, Manning’s supervisor, said he “decided to deploy Pfc. Manning given manpower issues.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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