Months before he was accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning had a series of instant message conversations with transgendered videoblogger Zinnia Jones. In newly-published logs of their conversation, Bradley Manning talks about his past struggles in the army, current relationship troubles and high hopes for the future.
The logs were published by New York Magazine and The Guardian, on the heels a New York feature about the imprisoned Army private and the logs. Manning, who described himself as "godless," chatted with Jones, a popular atheist videoblogger, while he was stationed in Fort Drum, New York from February-August 2009 after seeing her YouTube videos.
The logs add depth to the picture that's emerged of Manning as a psychologically damaged "mess of a child." Manning complains about bullying at the hands of fellow soldiers, and laments that his boyfriend values God over him. But he's also optimistic about his future, and offers no hint that he might allegedly perpetrate the biggest leak of classified documents in history.
Here are some highlights.
Manning wanted to enter politics:
(8:19:04 PM) bradass87: so where do you plan on going from where you are now?
(8:20:48 PM) ZJ: I don't know, really
(8:20:55 PM) ZJ: I've never been good with long-term planning
(8:21:06 PM) ZJ: I mean, I can make plans... it's the execution part that trips me up
(8:21:17 PM) bradass87: ah yes, of mice and men
(8:25:13 PM) bradass87: my plan is pretty simple but vague... get credentials, nice ones... ones that make it difficult for really creepy conservative people to attack... then jump into politics
(8:25:35 PM) ZJ: I don't know if I'd get involved with politics... activism, maybe
(8:26:53 PM) bradass87: activism is fun
(8:27:13 PM) bradass87: it doesnt do much unless you get heard, however…
Manning, whom his former counselor told New York was transgendered, shows off his boyfriend, Tyler Watkins:
(10:54:15 PM) bradass87: probably heading to bed soon, eastern time here and i dont want to throw my body all out of whack :P
(10:55:16 PM) bradass87: keeping my boyfriend informed on my status, he's my neuroscience major at brandeis
(10:55:50 PM) ZJ: awesome, neuroscience is fun stuff
(10:56:07 PM) bradass87: it is... he's so zany and cute
(10:57:50 PM) bradass87: he bought me a dozen roses, and i bought us matching equality bracelets to wear
(10:58:02 PM) bradass87: for v-day
(10:58:12 PM) ZJ: aww, that's sweet
(10:58:31 PM) bradass87: lol, he didnt shave tho... drives me nuts when he doesnt shave xD
(10:58:43 PM) bradass87: http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v888/229/42/1370640054/
(10:58:56 PM) ZJ: he's a cutie
(10:59:08 PM) bradass87: unshaved: http://photos-e.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-snc1/v888/229/42/1370640054/n1370640054_30193980_8080 .jpg
(10:59:47 PM) bradass87: cute, but scruffy =P
(11:00:01 PM) ZJ: lol
Manning learns his boyfriend values God over him:
(1:17:36 AM) bradass87: i discovered something about my boyfriend tonight
(1:17:41 AM) ZJ: really?
(1:17:47 AM) bradass87: mhmm
(1:18:42 AM) bradass87: we took a quiz together, one of those think of anyone in the woods things
(1:19:28 AM) bradass87: well, when it came to who is most important to our lives, i answered with his name
(1:19:43 AM) bradass87: his response was god...
(1:19:50 AM) ZJ: oh dear
(1:20:09 AM) bradass87: awkward?
(1:20:15 AM) ZJ: quite
(1:20:33 AM) bradass87: it hasnt been a problem as of yet
(1:21:06 AM) bradass87: but i figure down the line we might have to reconcile
Manning complains about the Army:
(9:56:14 PM) ZJ: yeah, I haven't had to be on a regular schedule for a while
(9:56:25 PM) ZJ: school was difficult because I had trouble getting to sleep early
(9:56:45 PM) bradass87: the digital existence
(9:56:57 PM) ZJ: the internet is 24/7 which is perfect for me
(9:59:33 PM) bradass87: the army took me, a web dev, threw me into a rigid schedule, removed me from my digital self and threw me in the forests of missouri for 10 weeks with an old M-16 reagan era load bearing equipment, and 50 twanging people hailing from places like Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi... joy
(9:59:51 PM) ZJ: well that sounds... interesting
(10:00:14 PM) bradass87: oh it was... but frightening at the same time
(10:02:03 PM) bradass87: being around my platoon for 24 hours a day... it took them awhile, but they started figuring me out, making fun of me, mocking me, harassing me, heating up with one or two physical attacks... which i fended off just fine, but it was scary
(10:03:02 PM) bradass87: damn, i just read that... what the hell did i put myself through
(10:03:19 PM) ZJ: yeah, I doubt I'd ever join the military
(10:03:40 PM) bradass87: first they'd cut ur hurr
(10:04:08 PM) bradass87: scream at ya, tell you what to do... correct your every eyetwitch
(10:05:39 PM) bradass87: it serves a simple purpose tho: a sense of unity, duty, and a discipline to act calmly in stressful situations
(10:06:08 PM) bradass87: im sorry, i just keep talking and talking
(10:06:14 PM) ZJ: oh, I don't mind
(10:06:47 PM) bradass87: im sure you can relate somewhat tho
(10:06:56 PM) ZJ: yeah
(10:10:15 PM) bradass87: i actually believe what the army tries to make itself out to be: a diverse place full of people defending the country... male, female, black, white, gay, straight, christian, jewish, asian, old or young, it doesnt matter to me; we all wear the same green uniform... but its still a male-dominated, christian-right, oppressive organization, with a few hidden jems of diversity
You can read the full logs at New York Magazine.