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Trial of Wikileaks Suspect Raises Clearance Questions

At a military hearing of Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to the website Wikileaks, a major issue being presented by the defense team is whether Manning should have had access to sensitive information in the first place.

Described by his defense team as a troubled soldier dealing with gender identity issues, Manning’s attorneys sought to place responsibility on his military chain of command for ignoring signs he shouldn’t have been given access to classified computer systems.

Under cross examination by the defense, federal witnesses have acknowledged failures in procedure that allowed Manning to keep both his security clearance and access to secure facilities despite his exhibiting behavior described as “unstable.”

One issue preventing superiors from taking further action that was cited in the trial was the shortage of intelligence analysts with the knowledge and skills to take Manning’s place.

While gender identity is being cited by the defense as an issue that should have alerted superiors, as the article “Sexual Behavior and Security Clearances” states, it’s sexual behavior that indicates personality or emotional disorder that’s the problem, not specific sexual behavior itself… To quote the article:

Today sexual behavior is relevant when it is compulsive, self-destructive, high-risk, or criminal; creates susceptibility to coercion; occurs in public; or shows poor judgment. If at least one of these factors is not present, sodomy, promiscuity, adultery, group sex, cyber-sex, swinging, pornography, sadism, masochism, fetishism, bondage and degradation, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexualism, and transvestism are not disqualifying conditions for a security clearance. Potentially disqualifying sexual behavior is usually a complex issue and often involves other adjudicative criteria, such as Criminal Conduct, Personal Conduct, Use of Information Technology Systems and sometimes Foreign Influence.

It would appear the combination of Manning’s self-professed gender identity issues – which were causing severe preoccupation and concern – combined with unpredictable and violent behavior, should have alerted his chain of command and led to actions that would have suspended his security clearance.

The prosecution completed laying out its case against Manning today in the Article 32 hearing, which will determine if he’ll go to court martial for the 22 charges against him, including aiding the enemy.

Comment Archive

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    I’m still trying to understand the nexus between his ‘gender identity issues’ and disclosing classified information to unauthorized parties.

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    I’m thinking the same thing. And why would someone so ‘gender confused’ join the US Army to begin with? The Army isn’t exactly a safe haven for such issues.

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    Blues Clues

    It is now.

    Merry Christmas everyone.

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    Merry Christmas BW!

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    Fes, the nexus was that at the time DADT was still in effect and his chain of command knew or reasonably should have known he was openly protesting this on FB, living life as an open homosexual, etc. But notice now they try to frame his problems as “gender identity issues” without coming right out and labelling it homosexuality.

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    In the DC metro area, I deal with many cases wherein the subject (for obvious reasons) discloses to me his/her sexual orientation as being glbt. I bite my tongue and add a “subject cannot be blackmailed/coerced for…” disclaimer on there, but it’s 2011 and I’ve never heard of anyone asking about it for case review purposes.

    That being said, as a gay personnel security professional myself, I sincerely hope the full extent of the law is yielded upon Manning. He should be made an example of- your sexual orientation and gender identity won’t play a role in a clearance decision. On the other side of the coin, you can’t use it as a defense when you’ve clearly jeopardized classified information. Equal protection under the law…

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    Kid deserves to get the book thrown at him. This has nothing to do with wanting to expose the corrupt American war or whatever. He wanted fame. Mostly he just wanted attention. He absolutely knew what he was doing and should pay the price for it.

    On the other hand I’m surprised at how many of his supervisors plead the 5th on the stand. Manning overturned a table in anger, tried to assault other soldiers, and sent a picture of himself cross-dressing to his boss with a note that his sexuality issues were making it too difficult to work. How many red flags do you need before you start a clearance review? By that point he was basically jumping up and down saying “I’m unstable! I’m unstable!”

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    The Army failed on their part…Most security managers and Commanders do not understand the SCI regs, let alone the Army regulations. It’s all apart of the bodies needed overseas. Their were flags that went up, but no one paid attention too. The Army is the only branch that do not teach the security regs as good as the other branches. For example the Navy has security as a job, the Army does not it is an additional duty. This is where you start running into problems. The whole system need to be looked at and adjusted.