New chat logs provide a detailed look at what may have motivated hacker-turned-Army enlistee Bradley Manning to allegedly turn over hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks.
The logs, released by New York magazine, show that Manning was becoming frustrated with the military's daily regimens and came to treasure his weekends off, especially the time he could spend with then-boyfriend Tyler Watkins. He maintained a sense of humor, though, and believed the Army was a "diverse place" where even a self-described "gay, libertarian, atheist, computer nerd" like himself could find a home.
The online conversations with Zachary Antolak, who goes by the name Zinnia Jones on YouTube, spanned the first half of 2009--before Manning was deployed to Iraq, where he gained access to secret government files that, the military believes, he then allegedly turned over to WikiLeaks.
Jones said in a blog post that he released the transcripts because: "After all of the stories portraying him as mentally unstable and revealing his problems at home and in the military, I felt it was important for people to know that there was a time when he seemed satisfied with his life."
Manning's frustration with religious conservatives, especially ones he viewed as anti-gay, was a repeated gripe. One way to address the situation, he suggested offhandedly, was for him to enter politics once his time in the Army was over. He wrote: "I want to be like my idols: Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Harvey Milk, etc."
Another likely source of emotional stress: Manning's sexual identity. "Bradley felt he was female," a gender counselor told the magazine. "He was very solid on that...He really wanted to do surgery. He was mostly afraid of being alone, being ostracized or somehow weird."
In March, the Army added additional charges, including one that involves the death penalty. Manning has recently been moved from Quantico to the Joint Regional Corrections Facility (JRCF) at Fort Leavenworth, where, according to his defense attorney, he receives regular visits from family and his lawyers.
Keep reading for excerpts from the transcripts.
(7:38:19 PM) bradass87: i guess ill tell you the basic life story since im at it already... i was born in oklahoma, lived in the small town of crescent, disproportionately evangelical town... i was the science and computer nerd through school... not the most friendly of places, but i did my best
(7:38:59 PM) ZJ: Yeah, I've heard Oklahoma isn't the most intellectually welcoming place
(7:40:39 PM) bradass87: my father is from chicago, my mother is from britain... they divorced in 2000, my mother gained custody, and then i moved with her to southwest wales, where i finished school... however, she became ill and dependant on alcohol, and i hadnt really assimiliated into british life, so at 17 y/o in desperation i called my father and i went back to oklahoma to live, his new wife didnt exactly like me, so she forced him to kick me out [...]
(7:44:13 PM) bradass87: i started looking for an internship, i had a programming and design one at zoto.com
(even today's design elements are mostly my work)
(7:44:58 PM) bradass87: seeing as it was DC, i gave the intel field a shot... got few bites, however
(7:45:51 PM) bradass87: somehow one of my resumes ended up in an army recruiters' hands... and came knocking at my door
(7:46:40 PM) bradass87: and now after basic training and intel school training, i find myself at Fort Drum as an intelligence analyst for 2BCT, 10th Mountain Division
(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...
(8:30:52 PM) bradass87: worringly, "terrorists" are a form of political activist, however, they recruit young people with troubled lives
(a sick family member, extremely poor upbringing, etc) offer them a monetary solution, take them into a camp, give them psychoactive drugs, psyhologically drug them for many months, give them an explosive jacket or rigged vehicle, give them heavy doses of uppers and send them on their way to try and kill themselves... if they go through with it
(which is what the uppers are supposed to do)
(8:32:22 PM) bradass87: most of the time though, they just get a poor person, and pay them money to place roadside bombs
(8:32:54 PM) bradass87: its socio-economic, rather than religous
(9:03:07 PM) bradass87: military is all f'd up...contracts with closed source developers with incompatible software... drives me NUTS
(9:03:29 PM) ZJ: that is ridiculous, it's hard to ensure security when the source is unavailable
(9:03:53 PM) bradass87: yes, even worse its often lowest bidder...
(9:05:03 PM) bradass87: used to be the cream of the crop... now its outdated non-backward compatible suites of buggy software that were originally used for civilian purposes, then modified for military but not exactly thoroughly tested
(9:05:36 PM) bradass87: then they get contractors who don't know anything about computers to teach it...
(9:06:42 PM) bradass87: and its all OKAY, because we cant exactly complain out in the open because the software which bugs out is often times on machines which are stamped with big red SECRET stickers
(9:06:57 PM) ZJ: that's pretty lame
(9:07:12 PM) bradass87: it is, it is
(9:07:52 PM) bradass87: but, luckily i use my DC contacts from Starbucks and get the word out to those higher up in the chain...
(9:08:15 PM) bradass87: its not what y'know, its who y'know ;-)
(9:08:56 PM) ZJ: I can imagine two guys in sunglasses meeting at a starbucks to quickly hand over an envelope... just to get some minor bug repaired
(9:10:32 PM) bradass87: lol, glamorous, but no... its more like i knew this lt colonel from the DIA at starbucks before i was in the military... slept with him once or twice, then i get in the military, i notice the problems, call him and say, hey, find someone who can fix this
(9:12:45 PM) bradass87: in public eye, US intel services are mysterious; in the real world,intelligence is a goofy, clunky, and annoying process, slowly adapting and getting streamlined
(9:12:53 PM) bradass87: intellipedia :-D
(9:14:26 PM) ZJ: oh yeah, I heard about that
(9:14:29 PM) ZJ: does it work well?
(9:16:11 PM) bradass87: its sloooooow... they need more servers and bandwidth, and there needs to be more people that are actually interested in online collaboration to add stuff through that disemination channel, but yes, the concept works and is slowly becoming useful
(9:23:59 PM) bradass87: there are so many factors that laymen dont think about... readability for typeface sizes, availablity of typefaces on certain machines, colorblindness, varying monitor sizes, and general aesthetic
(9:29:59 PM) bradass87: i spent most of my free time working on a suite of tools: AJAX tools for dynamic pages, PHP/MySQL apps for serverside content, XML-RPC framework for communicating between the front end AJAX and the database, and then a suite of tools for Flash using the XML-RPC
(9:30:55 PM) ZJ: yeah, I don't really do flash/ajax stuff, most of the time it's just static templates, mysql for the more complicated stuff
(9:31:44 PM) bradass87: i like to joke was web 2.0 before web 2.0 =P web 1.9 beta?
(9:34:29 PM) bradass87: but it was company funding and lack of manpower that killed my job at zoto... flickr creamed us because my boss was a marketing retard ...and my video hosting project for zoto, a hard sell for my boss being an intern... was just an untested theory, and an engine to convert uploaded videos and stream them through Flash... turned out another company took that torch and ran with it
(9:34:53 PM) ZJ: youtube!
(9:35:07 PM) bradass87: of course... =P
(9:36:16 PM) bradass87: not bad for a 17 y/o tho, i came out with a concept engine and framework... i guess an alpha version, to show to my boss about the sametime as youtube went beta
(9:39:59 PM) bradass87: a lot of that creative energy has subsided... its still there, its just waiting... ihope
(9:41:48 PM) bradass87: im surprised you havent asked the usual question: why is a gay, libertarian, atheist, computer nerd in the army
(9:42:02 PM) ZJ: well, I can see why you'd have your reasons
(9:42:15 PM) ZJ: if you can use it to your advantage and help other people, that's cool
(9:42:28 PM) ZJ: it does seem like an interesting job, army thing aside
(9:42:32 PM) bradass87: i guess...
(9:43:20 PM) bradass87: oh its fascinating, but it sucks on the count of recieving credit and moving up
(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 eye twitch
(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 talkin gand 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
(10:21:04 PM) bradass87: SIGINT, sounds fun, but is terribly boring in the end...
(10:22:35 PM) bradass87: i think fulfilling childhood dreams can be fun, but im learning that if you dont aim high, you firstly, dont achieve them, and secondly, you find your more *realistic* dreams to be unrewarding...
(10:24:04 PM) bradass87: i want to be like my idols: richard feynman, carl sagan, harvey milk, etc
(10:24:24 PM) ZJ: that would be nice
(10:25:55 PM) bradass87: its not the strongest of people who survive, its the ones most responsive to change
(10:26:10 PM) ZJ: didn't clarence darrow say something like that
(10:26:34 PM) bradass87: close, darwin, just replacing people with species
(10:26:43 PM) bradass87: or the other way around
(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/n1370640054_30195476_4564.jpg
(10:58:56 PM) ZJ: he's a cutie
(10:12:30 PM) bradass87: Rijndael
(AES) kicks ass =P
(10:12:49 PM) bradass87: 12 years, not been broken
(10:14:03 PM) bradass87: thats what we
(the government) use
(10:14:14 PM) ZJ: yeah, I've heard about this
(10:15:04 PM) bradass87: what really sucks tho, is the fact that since, we cant break it... because we use it, but its public... so everyone else uses it...
(10:15:24 PM) bradass87: so, that causes issues
(10:16:58 PM) bradass87 is offering to send file rijndael.cpp
(10:17:09 PM) bradass87: this is my implementation of it...
(10:17:20 PM) ZJ: my file transfer doesn't work on pidgin, it just locks up the entire system
(10:17:32 PM) bradass87: ah, i shee
(10:17:34 PM) bradass87 canceled the transfer of rijndael.cpp
(10:18:09 PM) bradass87: its just a simple implementation of rijndael i made, so i could try and figure out a way to break it
(10:18:25 PM) bradass87: <-- phailz
(5:27:48 PM) bradass87: i lost a lot of money on the market today
(5:27:58 PM) ZJ: oh dear
(5:29:35 PM) bradass87: i banked a lot of money on the possibility citigroup's government deal was going to mean bailout money for the bank, but the government wasnt going to take a preferred stake... they took a 38% preferred stake, and the already dying price dropped 40%
(5:30:27 PM) bradass87: looks like ill be holding my stake for several months, rather than a few days
(5:31:27 PM) bradass87: i did buy more citi shares while its still so low... its not going to go out of business, so the price will go up...... eventually
(5:31:38 PM) ZJ: yeah, might take a while
(5:32:10 PM) bradass87: my advice: don't play the market
(5:32:29 PM) bradass87: you can make money quickly...but you can lose it just as quick
(6:11:59 PM) bradass87: closest thing to civilization for me is syracuse 70 miles south =P
(6:12:53 PM) ZJ: yeah, I don't go downtown much
(6:12:58 PM) ZJ: just during christmas
(6:13:07 PM) bradass87: take the opportunity
(6:13:16 PM) bradass87: i mean: TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY
(6:14:00 PM) bradass87: the streets of the downtown major cities are the most fantastic place in this country
(8:35:53 PM) bradass87: you heard about this right http://www.silencingchristians.com/
(8:36:04 PM) ZJ: yeah, not that I've watched it
(8:36:41 PM) bradass87: im slowly watching pieces of it, i can only take a few minutes at a time
(8:37:19 PM) ZJ: fascists with a persecution complex, what else is new
(8:38:17 PM) bradass87: flashy graphics, buzzwords, and a greener "save the environment" ethic
(8:38:47 PM) bradass87: rick warren reference in there :P
(8:39:31 PM) bradass87: a fuzzy warm and friendly fascist is still a fascist, right?
(8:39:47 PM) ZJ: fascism with a smiley face
(8:41:07 PM) bradass87: Love your family. Recycle. Kill Jews.
(1:01:57 AM) bradass87: my favorite cliche in movies and television
(1:02:08 AM) bradass87: the military command room
(1:02:55 AM) bradass87: everything is so sleek and high tech, multiple screens, bright lights, and lots of space, huge amounts of it
(1:04:30 AM) bradass87: in reality, its a dimly lit room crowded to the point you cant move an inch withou thaving to quietly say "excuse me sir" "pardon me sergeant major"... cables trip you up everywhere, papers stacked everywhere...
(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
(8:29:34 PM) bradass87: in DC =D
(8:29:59 PM) bradass87: hi, btw
(8:34:47 PM) ZJ: hi
(8:36:36 PM) bradass87: taking classes in the day, playing politics in the evening
(8:36:40 PM) bradass87: i love this town
(8:38:09 PM) bradass87: im attending two major events... a gavin newsom gubernatorial fundraiser, then a stonewall democrats capitol champions thingie
(8:38:33 PM) ZJ: sweet
(8:39:11 PM) bradass87: ive got a photo scheduled
(with) gavin newsom, and ill be hobnobbing with congressional folk at the other event
(9:56:00 PM) bradass87: im not sure how my life is going to pan out over the next 26 months...
(9:57:11 PM) bradass87: 2 months pre-deployment, 12 months of iraq... and another 12 months of recovery and garrison... all assuming i dont get discharged under DADT... but the moment i leave the military, im planning on breaking out in all directions
(9:57:46 PM) ZJ: man, stay safe in iraq
(10:01:26 PM) bradass87: im an analyst, i shadow a brigade commander... also, the shia majority in the location we are going doesn't want to screw around with the US... theyre stockpiling fresh weapons... because the moment they leave, they plan on removing sunnis out of the region to the southeast and northeast of baghdad
(12:58:07 AM) bradass87: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6217214475742003000 very interesting... "how to start a cult" -- very very similar to basic training