In a report aired on Sunday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Mike Taibbi raised the possibility that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prevented U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning from being openly gay in the military may have played a role in his decision to acquire and leak classified information to WikiLeaks. Before recounting that some in Manning’s hometown of Crescent, Oklahoma, believe he should be strictly punished for his actions, Taibbi also related: "Back in Manning's hometown, they're wondering if his troubled home life and his service in an Army that would not allow him to be openly gay had an impact on his decision to leak sensitive documents."
A bit earlier in the story, the NBC correspondent had also informed viewers of former hacker Adrian Lama’s account of Manning’s complaints about military service. Taibbi: "And in a dozen online conversations, Manning complained he was 'never noticed,' 'regularly ignored,' 'abused,' and said he became the WikiLeaks source because serving in Iraq he was 'actively involved' in something he was completely against."
Below is a complete transcript of Taibbi’s report from the Sunday, December 19, NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: The WikiLeaks story took another turn today with Vice President Biden’s comments on Meet the Press that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange damaged U.S. diplomacy and put lives in danger with his latest round of leaks. Biden said the Justice Department is looking into bringing charges against Assange, but what about the Army private now in custody who allegedly leaked all those documents to Assange in the first place? NBC's Mike Taibbi now on the case of Bradley Manning.
MIKE TAIBBI: In grammar school in Crescent, Oklahoma, Bradley Manning was the undersized sax player in the band and a straight A student with all the answers on the quiz bowl academic team.
JORDAN DAVIS, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF BRADLEY MANNING: He kind of probably made people feel a little stupid just because he tended to use big words.
TAIBBI: Now Manning’s the alleged source of the heart of the WikiLeaks firestorm, an Army intelligence analyst charged with downloading and distributing classified videos and thousands of documents made public by WikiLeaks. Manning was only arrested after he contacted a notorious former computer hacker from California named Adrian Lama. After hearing Manning’s story it was Lama who turned him in.
ADRIAN LAMA, FORMER HACKER: It was the most difficult decision that I've ever made.
TAIBBI: Lama says Manning sought him out because of his reputation as an accomplished computer hacker. And in a dozen online conversations, Manning complained he was "never noticed," "regularly ignored," "abused," and said he became the WikiLeaks source because serving in Iraq he was "actively involved" in something he was completely against. But Lama says he contacted Army counterintelligence when he became convinced Manning was in it for attention and that his huge unvetted document dump would put lives at risk.
LAMA: I regret I had no other choice going forward. I wish that Bradley Manning had talked to me when he was planning it.
TAIBBI: Back in Manning’s hometown, they’re wondering if his troubled home life and his service in an Army that would not allow him to be openly gay had an impact on his decision to leak sensitive documents. But some are already judging him like former Marine Roger Campbell.
ROGER CAMPBELL, U.S. MARINES: I think he should be executed for doing what he did.
TAIBBI: And even his former principal, Rick McCombs.
RICK MCCOMBS, FORMER PRINCIPAL OF BRADLEY MANNING: If found guilty, he deserves all he gets.
TAIBBI: No comment from Manning’s attorneys. Given the current charges against him, he could face 52 years in prison. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, Crescent, Oklahoma.