Did Bradley Manning say the American flag “meant nothing”?

A former supervisor testified that Manning said he felt no allegiance to the U.S. 


Joe Kloc

Internet Culture

Published Jul 20, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 11:01 am CDT

An army specialist testified that Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old soldier on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents, said he had no allegiance to the U.S.

According to the Huffington Post, the testimony came from Jihrleah Showman, a former supervisor of Manning’s in Iraq. “He said the flag meant nothing to him and he did not consider himself to have allegiance to this country,” Showman told the court.

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, questioned whether the conversation ever took place. He argued that despite filing reports about incidents as trivial as Manning’s excessive caffeine consumption, Showman never made a formal note of the incident. 

“It would be a serious matter because he had access to classified information,” he said. 

Showman stated that she had brought the matter to her boss.

It’s worth noting that Manning and Showman were often at odds. Manning apparently once punched Showman in the face. The conversation, if it did take place, may have been more analogous to an angry employee venting about his employer (in this case, the U.S. Army) than a profound contempt for one’s country.

Manning is accused of “aiding the enemy” for uploading a trove of classified reports to WikiLeaks in 2010 that, among other disclosures, revealed the extent of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. 

A soldier is guilty of giving aid to the enemy under U.S. law when he, “without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to, or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.” 

Showman, perhaps the prosecution’s final witness before Manning is sentenced, made an attempt to establish the soldier’s intent to share the information he leaked with the enemy.

On Thursday, the defense’s motion to have the aiding the enemy charge dropped was declined by the judge. If found guilty, Manning could face life in prison.

Photo by savebradley/Flickr

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*First Published: Jul 20, 2013, 6:04 pm CDT