LONDON - Bradley Manning, the prime suspect in the leaking of the Afghan war files, raged against his Army employers and "society at large" on his Facebook page in the days before he allegedly downloaded thousands of secret memos, a U.K. newspaper reported Saturday.
The U.S. Army intelligence analyst, who is half British and went to school in Wales, U.K., appeared to sink into depression after a relationship break-up, the Daily Telegraph said. It quoted Manning as posting he didn't "have anything left" and was "beyond frustrated."
In an apparent swipe at the Army, Manning also wrote: "Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment," and quoted a joke about "military intelligence" being an oxymoron, the Telegraph said.
The Facebook revelations come as The New York Times reported that Army investigators were broadening their inquiry about the recent disclosure of classified military information to include Manning's friends and associates who may have helped the alleged leaker.
Manning, 22, is on suicide watch after being transferred from Kuwait to a Washington, D.C., prison, where he is awaiting court martial.
He is suspected of leaking more than 90,000 secret military documents to the WikiLeaks website in a security breach that U.S. officials claim has endangered the lives of serving soldiers and Afghan informers.
Supporters claim the war logs leak exposed Afghan civilian deaths covered up by the military.
Manning's family, who live in Pembrokeshire, England, told the Telegraph he had done the right thing."
The Pentagon, which is investigating the source of the leak, is expected to study Manning’s background to ascertain if they missed any warnings when he applied to join the U.S. Army and the postings on his Facebook page are likely to form part of the inquiry, the Telegraph claimed.
Manning began his gloomy postings on Jan. 12, saying: "Bradley Manning didn't want this fight. Too much to lose, too fast," the Telegraph said.
At the beginning of May, when he was serving at a military base near Baghdad, the Telegraph said, he changed his status to: "Bradley Manning is now left with the sinking feeling that he doesn't have anything left."
Five days later he said he was "livid" after being "lectured by ex-boyfriend", then later the same day said he was "not a piece of equipment" and was "beyond frustrated with people and society at large," the paper said.
The Telegraph said Manning's personal page tagline reads: "Take me for who I am, or face the consequences!"
His uncle, Kevin Fox, told the Telegraph that the soldier’s arrest and imprisonment in a military jail had taken its toll on his mother, Susan, who lives in Haverfordwest.
“She hasn’t been well,” Fox told the paper, adding that if Manning had leaked the documents: “I think the boy did the right thing.”
Another close relative, who the paper said asked not to be named, said: “His mum didn't know anything about what he was doing and it's come as a big shock. She's very upset.”
Susan Manning, 56, moved to the U.S. in 1979 after marrying Bradley’s American father, Brian Manning, a former serviceman based at the Cawdor Barracks in Brawdy, near Haverfordwest. Bradley Manning was born in Oklahoma but the couple divorced in 2001, the Telegraph said. Susan and Bradley Manning then moved back to Wales.
'Quite a loner'
Former schoolmates told the Telegraph they recalled Bradley Manning as a bit hot-headed and a computer nerd who didn't get along well with his father.
Jenna Morris, a 23-year-old sales manager who went on holiday to Disney World in Florida with Bradley and his cousins, told the paper Manning “was a quiet lad" who had "a tough upbringing."
“His parents had an acrimonious divorce. He didn’t get on well with his dad; they had quite a volatile relationship. His dad was very strict and shouted at him a lot," she told the paper. “He had a tough time when he came back here with his mum because moving to another country after a break-up was hard. He was quite a loner and he didn’t really have a lot of friends. He had quite a bit of trouble at school and was picked on, but he didn’t care.”
The New York Times, citing people with knowledge of the investigation, that the probe was looking at a group of Manning's friends and acquaintances in Cambridge, Mass. The friends, who include students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, might have connections to WikiLeaks, which made the documents public, the Times said.
It was unclear whether the investigators have specific evidence or were simply trying to determine whether one person working alone could have downloaded and disseminated tens of thousands of documents, the Times said.
The Army has charged Manning with disclosing a classified video of an American helicopter attack to WikiLeaks, as well as more than 150,000 classified diplomatic cables. Military officials said Friday that the private was also the main suspect in the disclosure to WikiLeaks of more than 90,000 classified documents about the Afghan war, some of which were published this week by the Times, the German magazine Der Spiegel and the British newspaper The Guardian, the Times said.