Op-ed: The Most Dangerous Man in America? 



 Upon his arrest, Manning was immediately labeled a traitor, unlike previous purveyors of classified government documents (such as Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971). Was it because Manning wore a uniform? Because he was gay? Because he may feel like a woman?

For months I read excerpts via WikiLeaks published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian in the U.K., yet none of those publications' editors or reporters sit in jail cells now. If Manning was culpable for the alleged leak of more than 250,000 classified documents, then why aren't the people who published those documents equally culpable for disseminating them to the public?

The Obama administration has adopted policies of indefinite detention that far exceed any of the Bush administration. As documented in Salon by gay journalist and legal scholar Glenn Greenwald, the only mainstream reporter to have covered Manning's case with any depth or critique of the president and his administration, the Obama administration has been the most secretive and restrictive of civil liberties of any in recent U.S. history.

Manning may become the test case for the new indefinite detention law. His treatment mimics that of detainees at Abu Ghraib, which resulted in prison terms and dishonorable discharges for the soldiers found guilty of that torture. Attempts to bring Manning's case into the light have consistently failed, yet his indefinite detention demands attention, particularly by the LGBT community.

Manning was 22 at the time of his arrest. Other than a few months working as a computer technician, his only job has ever been as a member of the U.S. Army, which he joined when he was 19 and where he trained as an intelligence analyst. He rose to the rank of Army intelligence specialist but was demoted to private first class in 2010 after punching a female officer in the face. His problems in the military began before he was deployed to Iraq. He complained of being bullied for being gay and had several arguments with superior officers, yet he was still deployed, after which he exchanged correspondence with a gender counselor, asserting that he had begun to feel that he was a woman in a man's body. He contacted WikiLeaks after he had written to the gender counselor, in November 2009. His email exchanges with Lamo were later published in Wired magazine, although Greenwald argues that these exchanges were selective, to throw suspicion on Manning and leave Lamo, who reported Manning to the FBI, free from prosecution.