We first interviewed Mr. Brian Manning after he had come from a visit to the Quantico Brig where he says he had met twice with Bradley — for 90 minutes on Saturday, the 26th and three hours on Sunday, the 27th. The next day, he sat down with us for an on-camera interview.
At most, we expected to talk for a couple of hours. Instead, the interview spanned five hours, not including a short break for lunch. Throughout, Brian patiently answered any and all questions. There were no conditions or subject areas that were deemed off limits.
A week later, we received an email from Brian in which he expressed concern over a report posted by Bradley’s attorney about a change in the conditions of Bradley’s detention. Brian said he hadn’t spoken to the attorney, but wanted to go back on the record to lodge a public protest over the government’s actions. We told him we would help get his message out. We flew to Oklahoma City to do a second interview on March 7th.
We filmed for another two hours. Excerpts from that interview are posted below. Brian also drove us around the town of Crescent, where Bradley grew up, about an hour north of Oklahoma City. After his parents’ divorce, Bradley, then 12, moved back to his mother’s native home in Wales in the U.K. He returned to Oklahoma to live for a short time with Brian and his second wife before joining the Army.
We will be reporting extensively on Bradley Manning’s upbringing and young adulthood, as well as his alleged crimes, in two upcoming FRONTLINE reports.
This is Brian Manning’s first media appearance, a FRONTLINE exclusive.
In response to this interview, the Pentagon issued a statement disputing Brian Manning’s claims. In it they explain that they are keeping Bradley under what’s called a prevention of injury watch for his own good. Brian Manning told FRONTLINE that the last time he saw his son, he showed no signs of having suicidal intentions.
At another point in the interview Brian Manning discussed how he was himself once an intelligence analyst for the Navy. And, he said, like his son, he signed a contract promising never divulge classified information. While many have talked about Bradley as whistleblower, Brian Manning says violating the government’s trust is simply wrong.
Throughout our discussion Brian Manning says he doesn’t know who could have ever leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks. He says he certainly doesn’t believe it was Bradley.
In total, we interviewed Mr. Manning for over seven hours. He was open to answering our questions and very much wanted to set the record straight on all that’s been said elsewhere about his parenting and about Bradley’s upbringing. In all that time, he remained remarkably stoic.
COMING March 29th, on-air and online: FRONTLINE’s profile of Pfc. Bradley Manning