Impressions and Notes From a Day at the Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) Trial: Page 4 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)

Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning

First honor,
I’m sorry my actions hurt people,
Hurt the United States
I was dealing with a lot of issues
At the time.

That is clear to me, through self-reflection
And testimony I saw
Sorry for the unintended
I thought it would help people
Not hurt people

How could I, a junior analyst, ever
think I could change the world -
for the better?

Here, I thought, I heard a gulp of sadness in her voice.

I should have worked within the system.

I want to go forward. I understand
To pay the price
I want to go to college,
Have a meaningful relationship with my sister.
I have flaws and issues
I want to be a better person
I hope you let
Return to a
Productive place
In society.

Manning was so tiny and her testimony was so quick. She walked quickly up and back. She addressed her testimony to the judge. She first apologized to the judge, and looked up from her paper to her as she read her testimony.

I think: She’s terrified. She just wants out and will say anything. How much did they torture her?

Debbie, Manning’s Aunt

Fanny Mae
Security work for mortgage loans

Ask questions about Manning’s Mother:

She seemed nice
Doting on baby

Is this going to be the “it’s all the mom’s fault” defense? Is that what they are doing here now?

She was drinking, I didn’t think of it
Her family
Didn’t have a lot of money
But seemed relatively normal

What did you mean they didn’t have a lot of money?

They lived in a row house
Seemed small, for 9 children

I think it was hard for her to be isolated
She was a social person, used to Wales, all her family
Dad was away on jobs
Mom isolated
Didn’t drive
She would call in the evening: not make a sense
It turned into a joke: don’t pick up the phone in the evening
And find out it’s her on the phone.
If you want to talk to her—call during the day.
I didn’t really notice she was drinking too much
Until my husband told me he was buying a
12-pack for her, everyday when she was
staying with us.

Did you talk to her about her drinking?
How long did she stay with you?

She drank really heavily during her first trimester
As a two year old he only ate baby food and milk
Hope Casey doesn’t resent him; she has to take care of him
So much

Why did you move back?
When did your brother remarry?
Did you know the second wife?
Did you know her a little bit?
How would you describe her?

She was very cold
She only liked her son

How did Susan describe the divorce?

I’m getting beaten down by all these questions. I want to go.

Manning's dad was shitty. I guess this is the story of how she became homeless. First, the Aunt tells how her dad didn’t fly with Manning; didn’t feed her after the wedding in Las Vegas. So she got her some McDonalds for New Years. And then later how the Aunt took Manning in:

He was exhausted
At the breaking point
said he would look for work the next day
I gave him a week’s rest first
He looked like he hadn’t eaten

He took a rest

And improved
Got a job with Starbucks
Maybe he could go to community college in the spring
He liked Starbucks
He’s very responsible
They liked him
She didn’t have to wake him up
He was already gone at 5 am, used to taking care of himself
He was still young
a hyper person

followed current events in the world
always wanted
to eat at McDonalds
and live on caffeinated beverages
Brad you wouldn’t be as hyper
If you didn’t drink all those
Caffeinated beverages

Dad didn’t want to fill out the form
For college
That all the parents have to fill out
It took him all semester to get $1,000
He really liked college
He didn’t realize how much
Work it was
He thought he could still work and go to school

Did he come to you? Say that he had decided to join the Army?

Yes, he asked me to meet him at the diner
When he told me I was surprised
I don’t think it’s a good fit for you, Brad.
Well, I’m already in it, he said
So I didn’t push anymore

Why didn’t you want him in the Army?

He was a hyper kid, and so small, I thought he would get picked on.

Did Brad tell you why?

He wanted the G.I. Bill to go to college
He listened to his father

Is it always like this in court? You can’t bring in recorders? When is the transcript available? This is exhausting. What about the life of those killed in that video she exposed? What story doesn’t have some abuse in it?

Did Brad ever tell you he was gay?

Not then

When did you find out he was arrested?
What did you think?


When did you hear from him?
Have you noticed a change?

Oh yea. Calmer. More like a grown up.
Appreciates what he has
That there are people who love him
He realizes that now
He’s more mature

What’s your hope?

I hope some day in the future he can go out and
have a good life again –
get his education and contribute
He had a very hard start to
His life
He thought he was doing the right thing
and wasn’t thinking clearly.

Prosecution and defense consulted for five minutes (and spoke for a few minutes afterwards), but we left.

It was over
We wanted to go outside
Under the blue sky
On the green grass
Under the clouds
On the beautiful day
We were hungry and wanted
To eat our food.
We wanted to go home.

I took off my truth shirt. I said I didn’t believe in it anymore. Not that I didn’t believe in the truth. But that I didn’t believe the truth was that Manning did the wrong thing!

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.”