Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bradley Manning and how GID and gay are not interchangeable

Today was day two of Bradley Manning's Article 32 hearing. Brian Bennett (Los Angeles Times) reports the prosecution talked about what they claimed to have which is various data discovered on "computer drives, compact discs and media cards" at Bradley's military sleeping quarters in Iraq and at his aunt's Maryland home, chat logs with paid snitch Adrian Lamo and that they paraded three people who are apparently all dependent upon the government for their paychecks. One prosecution witness, , used his time to name Jason Katz who is not related to Bradley's case but who the government employee wanted to insist had stolen video of a Granai, Afghanistan airstrike. Really? Should he be disclosing that? Maybe Mark Mander and the prosecution should be put on trial for disclosure of state secrets? Maybe the government needs to do an assessment on that (and then refuse to release it).

Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning has been at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key, for months. In March, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted.

The 24-year-old's Article 32 hearing (which will determine whether or not the government moves forward with a court-martial) began yesterday:

Today, Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post) reports, Coombs requested that Lt Col Paul Almanza step down as presiding officer in the hearing due to the fact that, in addition to the military, Almanza also works for the Justice Dept which has an ongoing WikiLeaks investigation. Almanza refused to recuse himself. Scott Shane (New York Times) adds, "Mr. Coombs appealed the recusal decision to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals and asked the court to halt the hearing until it could rule. A decision on a possible postponement could come as early as Saturday, when testimony is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m." Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers' Miami Herald) offers, "Making his first court appearance, Manning sat unemotionally behind the defense table wearing dark-rimmed glasses and a combat patch from the 10th Mountain Division on his Army uniform. He stared ahead, not glancing at the row of supporters sitting behind him and his defense team, which includes two military lawyers. After 19 months in military custody at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., he appeared thin but healthy."

Annie Linskey (Baltimore Sun) notes of today's hearing, "Defense attorneys spent little time challenging Manning's retrieval of the information, but instead used the government witnesses to draw a picture of a bright but deeply troubled soldier who was allowed to poke through a trove of top-secret information even after showing clear signs of emotional distress." Kirit Radi (ABC News) emphasizes Bradley's attorneys (David Coombs is Bradley's civilian attorney, the military attorney is Major Matthew Kemkes) raised the issue of Bradley being gay and also the issue of gender identity disorder. I'm biting my tongue throughout here and am not happy with reports of day two (both that I'm reading and that I'm getting on the phone). I'm going to set the bulk of that to the side but I'm sorry as much as I support Bradley, I don't support harming others.

You are not both gay (male-to-male sexual desire) and suffering from gender identity disorder. GID generally is the belief/feeling/fact that you were born into the wrong gender and you are trapped in a body that does not reflect your true gender. This may lead someone to seek sexual reassignment surgery. True GID is a long term belief/feeling/factual awareness that your physical gender is wrong. People can have GID-like thoughts or beliefs (or fantasies) that are short-term. They are not 'cured' so much as they realize, in therapy, that there were other issues. In addition, sexuality is fluid and people can have a thought or two that might seem to indicate GID but isn't actually GID. One of the few things that has been maintained here at this site is that we have never had anything up here that could knowingly hurt a trouble pre-teen or teen and I'm not going to have it now. So I want to be very clear that GID is in the normal range of human behavior. I want to be very clear that anyone can have thoughts similar to GID that does not mean that they have GID. Adolescents especially, trying to figure out the world and there own place in it and possibly already bullied that there's something 'wrong' with them or their desires, need to understand that there's nothing wrong with GID and that it isn't fleeting.

And we're staying on this topic, it's too important to me.

14-year-old Will is attracted to boys at school. At some points, he fantasizes either about dressing as a woman or a partner dressing as a woman. That's not GID. That needs to be stressed because 14-year-old Will probably hears that he's not a 'real' man or that he's a girl or something else from a bully at school. And role play is role play. Whether it's cross dressing or playing gladiators or whatever.

14-year-old Rita is attracted to girls at school. She shares some feelings with her best friend Kate who's also a lesbian. She explains to Kate that she really wants to penetrate her girlfriend during sex and Kate understands instantly because she enjoys that with her girlfriend as well. Kate shares information on various devices and toys (as well as fingers and tongue). But that doesn't satisfy Rita. Rita, in her mind, doesn't want to pretend to be a man, she feels she is a man. She believes she was born into the wrong body.

Boys can have 'softer' feelings or attitudes and girls can have 'rougher' feelings or attitudes while being straight or gay or bi. That's because most of the societal expectations result from society practicing gender stereotyping. A boy or man can be "girlish" in society's eyes without having GID or without even being gay. A girl or woman can be "mannish" in society's eyes without having GID or without even being a lesbian.

In a country plagued with sexual confusion and often in the midst of a national sexual panic, terms like GID can't just be tossed around loosely in an article. They need to be explained and explored. There are boys in school today who will realize they suffer from GID. They deserve support and love as much as anyone else. But a country whose adults have already harmed so many children -- through incest, through sexual assault, through bullying, through misleading and wrong information about sex and gender and having sex -- should step very lightly when discussing sexual issues -- not to avoid them but to ensure that everyone understands the terms you are using.

Just this week, a man I didn't know came up to talk after we'd done our Iraq talk to a group and, while sharing, he ended up bringing up a number of gender-related issues and the fact that, when he was in middle school, the principle would come into his math and English classes and attack him as 'strange' and 'weird' and 'fruity' and encourage others to as well. That wasn't children taunting a peer -- which is bad enough. That was an adult actively seeking to attack a child whose behavior obviously raised issues within the adult.

Bradley's 24 and in the military. He's still a young man but he is a man. He is either a gay man or he has Gender Identity Disorder. He needs a good therapist to work this through (if he hasn't already). But one is desire, as a male, to have sex with another male. The other is feeling/knowing that your body has betrayed you by being the wrong gender and that you need to rectify that. GID does not make you "crazy" or "bad." It is a condition and when it's a true condition (as opposed to masking something else) the solution to it is gender reassignment surgery.

Kirit Radia reports that the defense raised the issue of "Breanna Manning." This was not a draq queen issue, as portrayed in Radia's report [a gay man can enjoy dressing up as a woman but not want to be a woman, that would be a draq queen].

The issues being raised in the court are major issues and there's no indication that anyone -- presiding officer, prosecution, defense -- knows a damn thing about what's being addressed. Bradley needs a civilian therapist and needs one right away. The government owes that to him. It needs to be a civilian therapist because he needs to know that he can trust the therapist and that the therapist is present to help him, not to try to score points for the prosecution.

Some would argue, "A therapist? He can do that on his own time." The military's already held him for over a year now. The government should immediately make arrangements for Bradley to see a private therapist. This is insane. (Bradley would have the right to turn down such an offer and might choose to but the government has a responsibility to provide a therapist who is not answerable to the government and does not serve in the US government.)

These issues should have been addressed prior to the hearing. That the US military had him in custody for over a year when he apparently believes he suffers from GID and nothing was done to address this issue, no therapy was provided to him, is abuse on the part of the government. That people are using terms like "gay" and "GID" interchangeably in a hearing goes to the lack of awareness and outright ignorance. And the hearing underscores that Bradley didn't get the oversight he needed while serving because he's still not getting after a year in confinement.

Kevin Gosztola is Tweeting the hearing as well as live blogging it at Firedoglake. This is him on today's hearing:

There appear to be two arguments being crafted by the defense: one is Bradley Manning had behavioral health issues and emotional problems, which the military should have done something about or they should have never deployed Manning in the first place. The second is loosely related but has more to do with the lack of information security in the SCIF where Manning worked.

Coombs argued the SCIF at the base where Manning was stationed had no standard operating procedure (SOP). Captain Steven Lim, a top intelligence officer in Manning’s unit, asserted there was an SOP. Lim was then questioned on Sgt. First Class Paul Adkins’ training. Apparently in one hour, after 100 slides, Adkins was expected to be consider trained to keep the SCIF secure.

The procedure for inventorying and applying to get DVDs/CVDs for burning classified information on to a disc was illuminated through Coombs’ cross-examination of Lim. CDs and DVDs could carry classified information but they were to have labels and standard forms to easily identify was on the discs. They were required to do this so classified materials were not put into an unclassified machine. The inventory process included having to sign out materials. It was explained by Lim that CDs are used for taking products to be translated by linguists, especially if the information could not be emailed.

However, Coombs mentioned he had seen photos of the SCIF with “CDs laying all over.” Many of the CDs were not labeled. From time to time, this is how many CDs were handled. Soldiers are allowed to have music but the bringing in of music CDs was scarcely regulated. Soldiers are allowed to leave with writeable CDs if they had “official purposes” but that was “trusted and not enforced.

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