RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Journalist Martin Smith has been investigating the Bradley Manning case for the PBS series "Frontline." He got an exclusive interview with Manning's father and uncovered some audio that offers insight into Manning's past.
MARTIN SMITH: His mother took him and they moved back to Wales, where she was from. So he goes to high school there and he's sort of seen as geeky and he starts talking politics. He opposed the war in Iraq, and talked about that with friends. After graduation from high school, he decides he wants to come back to the States. And he decides he's going to move back - at least temporarily - and live with his father and his new stepmother.
MONTAGNE: Unidentified Man: Oklahoma City 911.
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SMITH: Unidentified Man: Ma'am...
MONTAGNE: Now, as strong as that sounds, you can also make out in this call - Bradley speaking to his father, saying, Dad, are you OK? So you're never clear on what a call like this exactly means. But what do you take it to mean?
SMITH: The police came and separated Bradley from the home. There was no talk that this had anything to do with him being gay. And he did not return home ever again. This was the breach in the relationship between him and the father.
MONTAGNE: Although his father, Brian Manning, says that he talked his son Bradley into joining the Army. And when Brian Manning, the father, talked to you, you ask him if he had any idea what would prompt his son, if indeed he had done it, to leak classified information. Let's listen to a little of that exchange.
BRIAN MANNING: I don't know why he would do that. I really don't.
SMITH: Was he patriotic?
MANNING: I don't think he followed any regime of any kind. I imagine he was just as much as you and I.
SMITH: Well, you knew - he's your son. You knew him. Was he patriotic?
MANNING: It never came up. I mean, he never said anything anti-American.
SMITH: He joined the Army.
MANNING: At my twisting his arm, yeah.
SMITH: He didn't want to join the Army?
MANNING: No, he did not. And he had expressed that.
SMITH: Why did you twist his arm to join the Army?
MANNING: Because he needed structure in his life. He was aimless.
MONTAGNE: But then joining the Army did not solve Bradley Manning's problems.
SMITH: No, and I think once he joined the military, there were more incidents. He hit a fellow soldier, he threw chairs, he yelled at superiors. So this was a pattern that might have raised some concern. But I think that given Bradley's behavior at home, his trouble at a number of jobs, that it bears some reporting into, you know, just what hurdles you need to get over in order to get a top security clearance.
MONTAGNE: Bradley Manning has been charged with multiple counts related to leaking classified documents. And again, he's alleged to have done this. Given that, and from what you know of him, is there anything you think might have motivated him to do something like that?
SMITH: So what's evident from that conversation, if you want to assume that BradAss87 is Bradley Manning, that he did it because he was outraged, he did it out of a sense that people should know what's going on and that the government shouldn't be able to hide some of this information from the public.
MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.
SMITH: Renee, thank you very much.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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