Well that sounds counterproductive…
Earlier this year, an historian and writer named Larry Goldsmith wrote a scathing article in CommonDreams, faulting the established gay advocacy groups for not going to bat for Pfc. Manning, who is accused of leaking classified info to Wikileaks. His argument went like this:
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Human Rights Campaign, having invested millions lobbying for “gays in the military,” have no comment. Of course not. Bradley Manning is not that butch patriotic homosexual, so central to the gays-in-the-military campaign, who Defends Democracy and Fights Terrorism with a virility indistinguishable from that of his straight buddies. He is not that pillar of social and economic stability, only incidentally homosexual, who returns home from the front to a respectable profession and a faithful spouse and children.
No, Bradley Manning is a poor, physically slight computer geek with an Oklahoma accent. He is, let us use the word, and not in a negative way, a sissy. Having grown up in a dysfunctional family in a small town in the South, he is that lonely, maladjusted outsider many gay people have been, or are, or recognize, whether we wish to admit it or not. He broke the law, the President says. And he did so–the liberal press implies, trying terribly hard to temper severity with compassion–because he wasn’t man enough to deal with the pressure. He did so because he’s a sissy and he couldn’t put up with the manly rough-and-tumble that is so important to unit cohesion, like that time three of his buddies assaulted him and instead of taking it like a good soldier he peed in his pants. And then of course he was so embarrassed he threw a hissy fit and sent Wikileaks our nation’s most closely guarded secrets, like some petulant teenage girl who gets her revenge by spreading gossip. This is, of course, the classic argument about gays and national security–they’ll get beat up or blackmailed and reveal our secrets. And NGLTF, Lambda, and HRC, with their impeccably professional media and lobbying campaign, based on the best branding and polls and focus groups that money could buy, have effectively demolished that insidious stereotype.
They have demolished it by abandoning Bradley Manning.
Yep. Pretty scathing.
And now … here’s Manning’s defense strategy:
FORT MEADE, Md. — The young Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets spent his 24th birthday in court Saturday as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” played an important role in his actions.
Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning began laying out a defense to show that his struggles as a gay soldier in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.
Wait, isn’t that kind of like arguing that a gay soldier couldn’t handle the pressure and so he got pissy and leaked government material and therefore he shouldn’t have been trusted with our secrets? Am I the only one who’s confused???
But wait, there’s more:
The basis for the charges Manning faces are transcripts of online chats with a confidant-turned-government-informant in which Manning allegedly confesses his ties to WikiLeaks and also reveals he is gay.
Maj. Matthew Kemkes, a defense lawyer, asked Special Agent Toni Graham, an Army criminal investigator, whether she had talked to people who believed Manning was gay or found evidence among his belongings relating to gender-identity disorder. The condition often is described as a mental diagnosis in which people believe they were born the wrong sex.
Graham said such questions were irrelevant to the investigation. “We already knew before we arrived that Pfc. Manning was a homosexual,” Graham said.
Prosecutors objected several times to the questions. Kemkes responded that if the government can argue that Manning intended to leak secrets, “what is going on in my client’s mind is very important.”
Well there you have it. The government is now arguing that Manning should not be judged according to his sexual orientation, but by his character and actions alone — the exact argument that proponents of lifting the ban against open service have been making for decades — while Manning’s own lawyers are arguing that sexual orientation is central to their case.
The defense also attempted to argue that the materials weren’t even really classified, which seems like a pretty big reach, since it’s the government itself that decides what is and isn’t classified. But the argument that after all, Manning was beaten down by homophobia so he lashed out and leaked, is so counterproductive, and should be so offensive, to every gay serviceman, 99.9999% of whom never leaked classified information, even when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was in place, and even when an outright ban on gay service was in place before DADT, I can’t believe the defense is even going there.
I mean, it wasn’t long ago that we weren’t supposed to mention Manning’s sexual orientation, because it was seen as implying that gays can’t keep secrets if people are mean to them. But damned if his lawyer isn’t arguing exactly that.