Summary of testimony of Casey Manning Major at the court martial of PFC Bradley Manning on Aug. 14, 2013
Reporter’s note: I attended the pre-sentencing hearing of United States v. PFC Bradley Manning in Fort Meade, Maryland on Aug. 14, 2013, and I am making available my notes (with some omissions and minimal edits) of the court proceedings due to the limited public access to official transcripts in the Manning case.
Summary of testimony by Casey Manning Major, older sister of PFC Bradley Manning, at the pre-sentencing hearing on Aug. 14, 2013. The hearing was presided by Judge Denise Lind in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Casey Manning Major is the older sister of PFC Bradley Manning. She resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Casey and Bradley’s mother, Susan, who is from the U.K. Their father is Brian Manning.
On her parents’ alcoholism:
“Well, growing up, when you’re around [that] all the time, you kind of think it’s normal. So probably 12 or 13, 14 is when it started to dawn on me that they have a problem with alcohol.”
“My mother would drink hard liquor, usually mixed with Coca Cola, something like that – usually rum or vodka.”
Mom was drunk “at least every day” and Casey said that she had seen her mother “too many [times] to say.”
“My dad…I would say he was a functional alcoholic. He would drink at night but not to the point where he wouldn’t be able to get up for work the next day…And on weekends, he would drink harder…the weekend to relax, wouldn’t have to go to work.”
Casey said her mother would become “sad” and “depressed” after drinking.
“In the morning, when she got up, usually it was mid-morning or lunch time. And she was mean, very mean. Yelled, screamed at you to get her cigarettes. I mean, she would yell from the other room to get her cigarettes or make her a cup of tea or something like that. I assume it’s because she had a hangover. That’s why she was so mean.”
Casey said Susan would begin drinking around lunch time and continue until “she passed out or went to bed.”
On Susan Manning’s alcohol consumption during her pregnancy with Bradley:
Casey said that her mother continued to drink alcohol even after she found out that she was pregnant with Bradley. Casey noted that Susan did not realize she was pregnant until the end of the first trimester when the family returned from a trip to California in June of 1987. “We got off the airplane and my dad had commented to my mom that it looked like she had put on weight.”
Bradley was born on Casey’s 11th birthday.
On Bradley’s turbulent upbringing:
Even in her early teens, Casey had to take care of her infant brother whenever her parents were too intoxicated. “In the middle of the night, I would get up and make a bottle, change a diaper, rock him back to sleep,” said Casey. “My mom wasn’t getting up. My dad wasn’t getting up.”
The Manning family settled in Crescent, Oklahoma – a rural area.
Casey learned how to drive at 11. Her mother didn’t learn how to drive because driving made her “real nervous”.
Before Casey moved out at the age of 18, she was the primary caretaker and playmate of Bradley. “I had a falling out with my dad, so I didn’t want to be around my dad or my mom. I missed my brother terribly, but I just didn’t want to be around my parents.”
Casey was approached by her father, Brian, to move back home in the summer of 1998. “My dad had contacted me, because my dad and mom were not getting along. And he thought it would be easier to have me and come help out with my mom and my brother. But I think I was just being set up…I think I was being set up by my dad so he could leave.”
On her parents’ separation and Susan’s attempted suicide:
Brian did eventually leave Susan, which prompted her to attempt suicide.
“My dad told my mom he was leaving, and my mom took a bottle of Valium – a full bottle of Valium. And then she was drinking heavily at that time.”
Casey, who was awoken by her mother in the middle of the night, called poison control and was instructed to take her mother to the nearest hospital.
“I woke my dad up and then woke Brad up, and told him we needed to take her to the hospital. It’s a rural area, so the ambulance would have taken way too long to get there. So we just went.”
Casey recounted how Brian refused to “get in the back [of the car] to make sure that [Susan] is still breathing and check her pulse”. “Unfortunately, my 12-year-old brother [Bradley] had to go back there and make sure his mom was still breathing [during] the car ride over [to the hospital]. And my dad didn’t want to drive because he had been drinking, so I had to drive.”
After Susan was treated for the attempted overdose at the emergency room, she was admitted to the psychiatric ward where she stayed for about a week. Brian left the family.
Although Susan was prescribed anti-anxiety medications following her release from the hospital, she repeatedly threatened to kill herself if Casey had to leave for work or school.
“I was trying to go to class or work, and anytime I would try to leave, [Susan] would tell me if I left she was going to kill herself…I tried to stay there and not go to class and call in sick to work as much as I could. I missed a lot of class. I ended up having to go to the school and talk to them. And they luckily were nice enough to let me withdraw without penalty for my classes. And then it got to the point where…she was just planning to kill herself so many times…I ended up…I had to leave. I had to work. So I just left her.”
Casey also testified that her mother would become violent when she drank too much.
“One night [Susan] had been drinking heavily. I don’t remember what the argument was, but she had come at me. And I put up my hands defensively and kind of pushed her. And she’s not very big; she’s little. And when I pushed her, since she was so drunk, she fell over. And because I thought she was going to hit me; she was going to attack me; she came at me. So I kind of pushed her away. She fell and hit her tailbone. And she was laying not he floor. I turned around and Brad was there. He had seen the whole thing. And I told him to go back to bed. And I asked her if I could put her in bed. She’s screaming profanity at me, saying to leave her there. So I got the blanket off her bed and threw it on her. And then I told Brad, just leave her…I tried to call an ambulance; she said no…I went back up in my room…And then just a few minutes later, I could hear her calling Brad. Brad had gone in there and she was wanting him to get her drink that was over there on the table. And I told Brad, ‘Don’t get her drink.’ I said, “You can either stay in your room and ignore her or you can come up in my room and sleep on the floor.” He chose to sleep on the floor that night. And the next day she asked me to leave.”
Bradley was 12 or 13 at the time of this incident.
Casey said that she had little contact with Bradley after moving out.
On Bradley’s move to Wales:
In the fall of 2001, Susan and Bradley, then 13, moved to Wales. Casey said she was “devastated” by their relocation. “I missed my brother. I was worried that she would lean on him very heavily, like she had always leaned on me. And I didn’t want my brother to go, but I was in school and working, and they are not going to give custody to me.”
On Bradley’s relationship with his father and step-mother:
Casey and Bradley briefly reunited at her wedding in 2004. By then, her father had remarried. In Spring of 2005, Casey found out that Bradley was moving back to live with his father – an arrangement that drew concern from Casey. “I was a little worried because he was going to move back in with my dad. They hadn’t been in the same household for years and the step-mom situation…She didn’t like me, so I’m assuming she wouldn’t like having another woman’s child in her house.”
Bradley lived with his father and step-mother for less than a year before he was kicked out. Bradley, then 18, stayed with Casey and her husband for a few days shortly thereafter. “He didn’t want to be a burden to me. My husband and I had a one-bedroom apartment and he was sleeping on the couch and he didn’t want to be a burden.”
On how Bradley has changed over the last three years:
“He has matured. I mean, it’s amazing how much he has matured. He’s settled down. It’s a lot easier to carry on a conversation with him. I mean, he was so young. Three years is a long time. So he has really matured.”
“I just hope he can be who he wants to be. I hope he can just be happy.”
- WhatTheFolly.com: Court Martial of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning
- WhatTheFolly.com: PFC Bradley Manning apologizes for “unintended consequences” of leaks
- WhatTheFolly.com: Military judge reduces maximum sentence for PFC Bradley Manning
- WhatTheFolly.com: Human rights, civil liberties & free press advocates express concern over ‘dangerous’ precedent set by Manning’s conviction on espionage charges
- WhatTheFolly.com: PFC Bradley Manning acquitted of “aiding the enemy” but found guilty of Espionage Act, theft & computer fraud charges
- Bradley Manning Support Network’s website