In 2009, Bradley Manning, who allegedly provided hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, was stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York. He had been trained as an intel analyst and, at first, entertained high hopes for his career — he wanted to help save lives. But Army life quickly took a toll. For one thing, his fellow soldiers picked on him for his sexual orientation, “heating [it] up with one or two physical attacks,” he said.
And so while the barracks were mostly empty, Manning sat at his computer and lost himself in the Internet. On the Web, he reached out to like-minded strangers. Over a span of about six months, he chatted with Zachary Antolak, who goes by the name Zinnia Jones on YouTube — ZJ for short. Zachary is a woman. “[Y]ou remind me of … well … me,” Manning wrote to her in one of their chats, logs of which were provided to New York.
Excerpts from the chat logs were used in this week’s magazine for the story, Bradley Manning’s Army of One. Here are the full logs: