Impressions and Notes From a Day at the Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) Trial: Page 2 of 5

Impressions and Notes From a Day at the Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) Trial

Sketch of Chelsea Manning's trial. (Drawing by Clark Stoeckley)
Sketch of Chelsea Manning's trial. (Drawing by Clark Stoeckley)

Into the Courthouse

We went straight to the courthouse at lunch (instead of going out to eat like some others since food is not allowed past security). It was first come, first served, and we wanted to get a badge to enter the courthouse.

It seemed to happen very quickly, and I was scared at first to go in, where I knew I had to be on my best behavior or be a bad reflection on Manning's case. I was the last one in the door and found a seat at the back corner. It was different to be in the actual court room than to view it from the cabin. It was a little harder to hear. I was not sure how to send supportive energy to Manning. Also it just felt so small, such a small room. Was that Manning to the left? That small shaved head with one circle of her glasses showing in profile? The judge’s head just came up over the huge desk.

In front of two sets of four rows of seating were a few different booths for lawyers, security, and workers I would think, with a booth and computers. Half the room was the court and half was set up for the viewing public. Security was in casual clothes and much of the small room was activists, witnesses, or reporters. There were a few folks in army fatigues. I would estimate there were 50 people in attendance to view. The majority were white and older peace activists, of that number were approximately four to five people of color in the crowd. Also almost all, but not entirely, of the soldiers, lawyers, and everyone in the court case appeared to be white, as were the soldiers who managed us into and out of the courthouse, overflow trailer, and extra cabin.

The room was smaller, less imposing, than I thought it would be. There were wood booths that slightly resembled church pews, a blue rug, light tan walls, dots of lights across the ceiling.

Forensic Psychiatrist

The second psychiatrist started with explaining his credentials, schooling, experience, and job description. This doctor explained that he had no patient confidentiality, was a specialist answering for the court, an advocate for unbiased opinions in Manning's mental health evaluation. He said he spent 100 hours reviewing school records, medical records, background, and context of Manning's case.

His mental health report began with the fact that Manning had been to a primary practice doctor—not a psychiatrist—on her 18th birthday.

In general, Manning was diagnosed with anxiety, for which her doctor had prescribed Lexapro for anxiety and panic attacks. According to the psychiatrist, to say that Manning had adjustment issues was an under-statement.

The psychiatrist met with Manley for 21 hours over the course of seven days.

Is this adequate time?
Will you explain the interview process?
The importance of this process?

Gender Dysphoria

The psychiatrist gave his diagnosis that Manning had gender dysphoria, which is a new diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) he uses, newer than the diagnosis of gender identity disorder—which was what it used to be called. Manning also had some symptoms of Aspergers, but fell short of a full diagnosis. She also had symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome.

He went on to explain that gender dysphoria is not the same things as homosexuality. Gender identity is how one identifies as male or female. It is basically established within the first three years of life—how much is biological and environmental is hotly contested. Discussions over the last 100 years show how much we don’t understand, and how complicated this is.

Someone with gender dysphoria will feel that they are born the wrong gender and desire to be the other gender and not the one they were born. It shows itself in childhood.

How common is this?

1/7,000-1/3,000, activists have been influencing the number.

Gender is very much a core of our identity as individuals and when that is off keel, to use a military expression, it can offer a lot of distress. Questions of self-worth, depression, and guilt. In adults you can dress like the other gender and you may have surgery.

Personality Traits

Most people have some abnormal personality traits, especially during stress. Like for example, being tired causes you to act out more. If there are a lot of these and they go on for a long time, they turn into a personality disorder.

I did not diagnose him with a personality disorder.

Why are you sure?

He didn’t meet the criteria.

He does have a lot of stressors: alcoholic parents, homelessness, absent dad.

He has a little bit of abnormal personality traits: narcism, arrogance, grandiose thoughts, post adolescent idealation, acting out when he is upset, irritability, mood swings, and under extreme stress: suicidal ideation.

But he does not have a disorder conduct or anti-social disorder.

Post Adolescent Idealation

This is a time where people become more focused on making a difference, as they are not really the best at anything as a group, the way they once were as a child. Thinking they can make a difference in the world. This leads to lots of riots on college campuses.

It would exaggerate to make you think that you can cause a difference in the world—to take a stand—narcissistic personality types are more like this.

You feel like you can make a difference.


Bradley was always more into cyber world/chat room. He felt a comfortable anonymity to be who he wanted to be. 

He has very limited social support. He doesn’t go to his parents, he doesn’t have those kind of parents, in fact they turn to him for support. All his friends abandoned him. And then there was “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.” In the height of his emotional distress – sent email – when he went on leave and lived as a woman. He sent a picture of himself as a woman to master sergeant Edwards.

The G.I. Bill was his main driver that brought him in to the military—he was very intelligent; and his socio-economic level would make going to college a challenge without it. Primary desire was to hold onto that, it was very important.

His boyfriend, his first long time relationship struggled, and fell apart. Sending emails daily to no response.

Raised by alcoholic parents. Took care of his severely alcoholic mother who was non-functioning was of significant distress.

What degree of stress?

Very high.

Decision making influence by post adolescent idealation

He became more isolated. He didn’t feel he could reach out. And then his grandiosity, his post-adolescent idealation—his decision making was influenced by post-adolescent idealation. He was under severe stress at the time. He became very enthralled with the idea of injustice, righting wrongs, obligations, conflicts.

His friend Danny Clark was unavailable to him. He felt a moral dilemma. If he could have talked to him and he told him not to do it, he wouldn’t have. He thought his leaked information would really change how people saw war. That crowd sourcing—on these important documents—would lead to great good. He talked about War Gaming—which the psychologist said he didn’t really understand what that is—that if the public saw this—they would come to analyze against this and future wars.  And be utilized by the people.

His little world, impaired his thinking, the significance. In reality [leaking the information to wikileaks] hadn’t nearly the impact he thought: of ending war.

Self-insight and personality traits

He does recognize that he has a temper, has some insight.

If you had a lot of insight—you would probably stop what you are doing. Most people don’t see their own bad personality traits. You need an outsider to see it.

He wanted to make a difference

He hadn’t figured out his role in the world. Wanted to make a difference in computer programming—he knew he wanted to do something great—but he wasn’t sure yet what that was. Morals and ideology without looking at the big picture and understanding the consequence of his actions.

He’s very consistent, personality and beliefs.

90 minute break for opposition—back at 3 pm.

Notes from Cross Examination:

With gender disporia, would you get an honorable discharge?




Post adolescent idealation – what age does that happen at?

Early adult. 18-24

How many have it?

Its common

Is he seeking personal recognition?

No, not a driving factor.

Deliberate, calculating, research, he’s a hacker

Why did he tell Lamo what he did, was he seeking personal recognition?

Maybe validation.


If he saw something would he do something again, if it were against his morality?

Pretty sure he would.

Judge’s Questions


Delay. On the spectrum.

Social cues and social interactions
Difficulty in picking up social cues.

Try really hard to fit in conversations,
People make fun of him,
He would shy back
—sister would say so
doesn’t manifest stippies

What are stippies?

repetitive or stereotypical movements. like rocking

The Defense lawyer asks: Would you like to know more about fetal alcohol syndrome too?

Exposed to a significant alcohol in utero

Born at 6 pounds, significantly underweight, but full term

Facial features, small stature, the familiar border upper lip and nose to lip groove is minimal

I knew he had fetal alcohol syndrome the first time I looked at him

Intelligence—book knowledge very high, not as high knowing how to put things in practice

China Martens is interested in radical working class/low income/no income/poor white anti-racist history. Martens is a co-editor of “Don’t Leave Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities” and currently collaborating with Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Mai’a Williams to create “This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothers.”