TONITE: Being Bradley Manning


FRONTLINE:  WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has become internationally recognized since the publication last year of thousands of secret U.S. documents. But Bradley Manning, the Army private alleged to have provided the documents, remains largely a mystery. Who is Bradley Manning? How did he come into contact with a trove of secrets and, allegedly, with WikiLeaks? And what might have motivated the largest leak of classified information in American history? Investigating those questions for tonight’s film WikiSecretscheck local listings — FRONTLINE sought to understand Manning through extensive interviews with his father, friends and others he confided in during the months before his arrest. FRONTLINE also obtained access to Manning’s Facebook account. Manning’s Facebook postings are a vivid, if partial, portrait of his life in the military and of the political and social issues that he followed closely. They reflect his commitment to gay rights and defiance of the military’s ban on openly gay or lesbian soldiers. They track the anguish in his personal life. And they conclude with an entry, put up in Manning’s name by his aunt, explaining his arrest with a link to a WikiLeaks website. The following presentation is an edited version of Manning’s wall, annotated by FRONTLINE, beginning when he opened the account in July 2007 and concluding in June 2010. It includes only posts authored by Manning (with the exception of the first, from his aunt) — status updates, articles, pictures and “likes” — and the responses of his Facebook friends. We have blurred the identities of those other than Manning posting comments or in pictures, as well as the names of people mentioned in the posts, with the exception of public figures and in several cases Manning’s ex-boyfriend Tyler Watkins. MORE


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