FT. MEADE, Md. -- Long before he was unmasked as the biggest leaker of classified intelligence secrets in U.S. history, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's boss, who worked with him inside a small plywood unit near Baghdad, suspected that he might be a spy. Her suspicions and his odd behavior finally culminated late one night in a flash of angry tempers and fisticuffs.
The clues, she testified in his court-martial Friday, were everywhere. He worked long hours, stayed late and kept to himself inside the special classified intelligence collection "skiff" called Forward Operating Base Hammer. He inadvertently left his camera lying around. He sometimes slept in a ball in the corner. He smoked heavily and, when it came to hot coffee, he "had excessive caffeine consumption," recalled Jihrleah Showman, a former Army specialist and Manning's supervisor.
There were other telltale signs. He complained someone was eavesdropping on his conversations, and "he indicated he was very paranoid," she said.
Once, she said, she pointed to the U.S. flag decal on the shoulder of her Army uniform and he responded that "the flag meant nothing to him and that he did not believe himself to have allegiance to this country or its people." He told her he joined the Army to earn money for college, and to learn more about computers, she said.
She said she told her supervisors that Manning was a "possible spy."
That led to a clash in the middle of the night in the "skiff" when Manning and Showman finally faced off. She said she had been awakened and told to report back to the unit to investigate why Manning was still there.
Once she arrived, they shouted, a table tumbled and he hit her in the face, she said. On the ground, she wrestled him into submission. "He should never had messed with me," said Showman, who used to play football. "Back then, I had 15-inch biceps."
Manning sat quietly in the courtroom, listening to her testimony. It was part of the government's final rebuttal case as his court-martial heads next week to closing arguments and a likely verdict.
If convicted of all charges, the 25-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison. Showman, after four years in the Army, has retired from military service.