Seeking a lighter sentence, defense attorneys for WikiLeaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning put the convicted intelligence analyst’s Army therapist on the stand to testify that Manning suffered intense pressure as a “gay” man in the “hyper-masculine environment” of the Army.
At Manning’s sentencing hearing Tuesday at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, Capt. Michael Worsley, a psychologist, argued Manning had little to no support base.
“You put him in that kind of hyper-masculine environment, if you will, with little support and few coping skills, the pressure would have been difficult to say the least,” Worsley testified, according to the Associated Press. “It would have been incredible.”
Manning was convicted of espionage and mishandling classified data for leaking 700,000 classified materials to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. He faces up to 90 years in prison.
After hiding his sexual struggles, Manning eventually opened up to Worsley in an email in which a photo of him dressed as a woman was attached to a message titled “My problem.” In the note, Manning expressed hope that a military career would help him overcome what he described as a problem with “gender identity.”
Worsley accused Manning’s superiors of failing to address the private’s mental health problems, citing the email and violent outbursts, including flipping a computer table in a meeting with superiors.
Those were signs, he argued, that Manning should not have been an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Reuters reported that Manning’s defense lawyers have sought to portray him as naive but well-intentioned and struggling with his sexual identity when he arrived in Iraq.
The prosecution, however, has portrayed Manning as arrogant and argued the leaks have caused serious damage to the U.S.
The defense lawyers maintain Manning’s only intent was to show Americans the human cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Capt. Matthew Freeburg testified that after the table incident, which he called an assault, he transferred Manning to the supply section and referred him for counseling, the Los Angeles Times reported. Freeburg said a mental health expert concluded Manning had “some deeper issues than what the Army can fix right now.”
Supervisors, who were unaware at the time that Manning was homosexual, began to consider discharging him.
“I was shocked more action wasn’t taken,” Freeburg said, according to the Times.
Meanwhile, the military’s first openly “gay” service secretary spoke about his personal experience with the military at an event held at the Pentagon Tuesday commemorating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
Eric Fanning, the acting secretary of the Air Force, told of facing continual harassment under the military’s former policy, which he said forced him to hide his sexuality, reported U.S. News & World Report
Fanning is expected to permanently take over after the retirement of Mike Donley.
He thanked the Department of Defense for changing the policy and expressed appreciation for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s presence at the event.
Fanning said he still receives negative comments about his sexuality, such as comments about the color he will paint Air Force planes and new designs for a uniform, but he said they are “dwarfed by the outpouring of support I have received in and out of this building.”
“It hasn’t been easy, it’s often been painful, many times messy, at times it was agonizingly slow,” he said. “But never once did we doubt we were on the right path.”