Bradley Manning is a whistleblower, human rights defender and worthy recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. Yet powerful forces in the US state are working to lock him up and throw away the key. The vindictive nature of his incarceration is exposed in the defense motion to dismiss the charges against him for unlawful pre-trial punishment.
What is clear from the defense motion is that Bradley Manning was wrongfully kept in ‘MAX’ custody and wrongfully held under ‘POI’ (Prevention of Injury) status, for months at the behest of unknown higher authorities and against the protestations of military psychiatrists.
The defence motion has been redacted in places to hide the identities of the military staff directly responsible for Bradley Manning’s treatment but here are some important extracts from the full document:
PFC Manning has been held in pretrial confinement since 29 May 2010, a total of 791 days. For 265 of these days, PFC Manning was held in conditions tantamount to solitary confinement at the Quantico Brig.
Manning was transported … to the Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ) Pretrial Confinement Facility (PCF) on 29 July 2010. The Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) reviewed the inmate background summary and completed an initial custody classification determination … The DBS determined that PFC Manning’s score was a “5,” significantly lower than the “12 + Points” normally required for a MAX custody determination. Despite the low score, the DBS chose to override the custody determination and assign PFC Manning to MAX custody.
Following his arrest Bradley Manning was initially held to be a suicide risk and then at risk of self-harm but:
On 27 August 2010, [a psychiatrist] determined that PFC Manning was no longer considered a risk of self-harm and recommended that PFC Manning be taken off of POI status.
In fact PFC Manning was held in both ‘MAX Custody’ and under ‘Prevention of Injury Status’ for the next eight months
Conditions of Detention
During this period, PFC Manning was held in his 6 x 8 cell for 23-24 hours a day. His cell did not have a window or any natural light and he was subject to the following restrictions:
a) PFC Manning was placed in a cell directly in front of the guard post to facilitate his constant monitoring.
b) PFC Manning was awoken at 0500 hours and required to remain awake in his cell from 0500 to 2200 hours.
c) PFC Manning was not permitted to lie down on his rack during the duty day. Nor was PFC Manning permitted to lean his back against the cell wall; he had to sit upright on his rack without any back support.
d) Whenever PFC Manning was moved outside his cell, the entire facility was locked down.
**Redacted****Redacted** describes this as follows,
“While a maximum custody inmate is outside of a secured area, the facility will commence a lockdown until the inmate is returned to a secure area. No other inmates are allowed to move throughout the facility while a maximum custody inmate is outside of a secured area. At no time will maximum custody inmates be outside of a secured area at any time.”
e) Whenever PFC Manning was moved outside his cell, he was shackled with metal hand and leg restraints and accompanied by at least two guards.
f) From 29 July 2010 to 10 December 2010, PFC Manning was permitted only 20 minutes of “sunshine call.” Aside from a 3-5 minute shower, this would be the only time PFC Manning would regularly spend outside his cell. During this sunshine call, he would be brought to a small concrete yard, about half to a third of the size of a basketball court.
PFC Manning would be permitted to walk around the yard in hand and leg shackles, while being accompanied by a Brig guard at his immediate side (the guard would have his hand on PFC Manning’s back). Two to three other guards would also be present observing PFC Manning. PFC Manning would usually walk in figure-eights or some other pattern. He was not permitted to sit down or stay stationary.
g) Initially, Brig guards provided PFC Manning with athletic shoes without laces which would fall off when he attempted to walk. PFC Manning elected to wear boots instead because at least the boots would stay on when he walked.
h) From 10 December 2010 onward, PFC Manning was permitted a one hour recreation call. At this point, the Brig authorized the removal of his hand and leg shackles and PFC Manning was no longer required to be accompanied by a Brig guard at his immediate side.
**Redacted****Redacted**describes PFC Manning’s recreation privileges as follows:
“Because the outdoor recreation area is not a secured area, restraints are not normally removed from maximum custody inmates. All inmates, unless in a SR, POI or disciplinary status are allowed to exercise while in their cells provided that it does not disrupt the good order and discipline of the facility.
Due to the extended period of time that PFC Manning has been in a SR or POI status, and not allowed to exercise within his cell, I authorized PFC Manning’s restraints to be removed while conducting recreation call inside although he is not in a secured area.”
Although PFC Manning was technically “permitted” to use exercise equipment at the gym, most of this equipment was unplugged or broken down. In addition, depending on the guards, they would not permit him to use certain types of equipment (e.g. the chin up bar). So as to avoid any problems with the guards, PFC Manning would usually walk around the room as he had during his sunshine calls. Three or four guards would be monitoring PFC Manning during his recreation call.
i) PFC Manning was only authorized non-contact visits. The non-contact visits were permitted on Saturdays and Sundays between 1200 and 1500 hours by approved visitors. During these visits, he would have to wear his hand and leg restraints.
j) PFC Manning was required to meet his visitors in a small 4 by 6 foot room that was separated with a glass partition. His visits were monitored by the guards and they were audio recorded by the Brig. The recording equipment was added by Army CID after PFC Manning’s transfer to the Quantico Brig.
k) PFC Manning was only permitted non-contact visits with his attorneys. During these visits, he was shackled at the hands and feet.
l) PFC Manning was not permitted any work duty. However, “special quarters work and training reports” were routinely filled out pertaining to PFC Manning (presumably reports generated from observing PFC Manning cleaning his cell).
Additional restrictions due to Prevention of Injury Status
Owing to PFC Manning being placed on continuous POI status, he was subject to the following further restrictions:
a) PFC Manning was subject to constant monitoring; the Brig guards were required to check on him every five minutes by asking him some variation of, “are you okay?” PFC Manning was required to respond in some affirmative manner. Guards were required to make notations every five minutes in a logbook.
b) At night, if the guards could not see him clearly, because he had a blanket over his head or he was curled up towards the wall, they would wake PFC Manning in order to ensure that he was okay.
c) At night, only some of the lights would be turned off. Additionally, there was a fluorescent light in the hall outside PFC Manning’s cell that would stay on at night.
d) PFC Manning was required to receive each of his meals alone in his cell. He was only permitted to eat with a spoon.
e) There were usually no detainees on either side of PFC Manning. If PFC Manning attempted to speak to those detainees that were several cells away from him, the guards would order him to stop speaking.
f) PFC Manning originally was provided with a standard mattress and no pillow. PFC Manning tried to fold the mattress to make a pillow so that he could be more comfortable when sleeping. Brig officials did not like this, so on 15 December 2010 they provided him with a suicide mattress with a built-in pillow. This built-in pillow was only a couple
of inches high and was not really any better than sleeping on a flat mattress.
g) PFC Manning was not permitted regular sheets or blankets. Instead he was provided with a tear-proof security blanket. This blanket was extremely coarse and irritated PFC Manning’s skin. At first, PFC Manning would get rashes and carpet burns on his skin from the blanket. Eventually, his skin became accustomed to the coarseness of the
blanket and he got fewer rashes. The blanket did not keep PFC Manning warm because it did not retain heat and, due to its stiffness, did not contour to his body.
h) PFC Manning was not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.
i) PFC Manning was only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read. If he was not actively reading, the book or magazine would be taken away from him. Also, the book or magazine would be taken away from him at the end of the day before he went to sleep.
j) For the last month of his confinement at Quantico, PFC Manning was given a pen and five pieces of paper along with his book. However, if he was not actively reading his book and taking notes, these items would be taken away from him.
k) PFC Manning was prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempted to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he would be forced to stop.
**Redacted** writes, “inmates are not authorized to cover their entire face with blankets while sleeping. Inmates
are not to be awakened for the purpose of bed checks, however positive identification must be made if no part of an
inmate is visible. The only way for this to be possible is to … awaken the inmate …”
He was also “permitted” one copy of the Brig’s rules and regulations.
l) When PFC Manning went to sleep, he was required to strip down to his underwear and surrender his clothing to the guards.
m) PFC Manning was only permitted hygiene items as needed. PFC Manning would have to request toilet paper every time he wanted to go to the bathroom; at times, he had to wait for guards to provide him with toilet paper.
n) There was no soap in his cell. PFC Manning requested soap to wash his hands after using the bathroom; guards would sometimes get the soap, and sometimes not.
o) PFC Manning was not permitted to wear shoes in his cell.
p) PFC Manning was initially only permitted correspondence time for one hour a day; after 27 October 2010, this was changed to two hours per day.
Multiple Psychiatrists Recommended for Eight Months that PFC Manning Be Downgraded from POI Status
On 18 January 2011 and 5 March 2011, the Brig increased the already onerous restrictions placed on PFC Manning in the following manner:
a) From 18 January 2011 until 20 January 2011, PFC Manning was forced to strip down to his underwear during the day.
b) From 18 January 2011 until 20 January 2011, PFC was forced to sleep naked at night.
c) From 18 January 2011 until 20 January 2011, PFC Manning’s eyeglasses were taken away from him.
d) From 18 January 2011 until 20 January 2011, PFC Manning was not permitted out of his cell and was on 24-hour suicide watch.
e) From 2 March 2011 until 6 March 2011, PFC Manning was forced to surrender all his clothing at night and sleep naked.
f) From 2 March 2011 until 6 March 2011, PFC Manning was forced to surrender his eyeglasses during the day and at night. After 6 March 2011, his eyeglasses were returned to him during the day, but continued to be removed from him at night.
g) On 3 March 2011 until 6 March 2011, PFC Manning forced to stand naked at parade rest where he was in view of multiple guards.
h) From 7 March 2011 onward, PFC Manning was required to wear a heavy and restrictive suicide smock which irritated his skin and, on one occasion, almost choked him.
Order that PFC Manning Would Not Be Downgraded from POI and MAX
On 13 January 2011, **Redacted** and **Redacted**, held a meeting to discuss PFC Manning’s confinement conditions. The current **Redacted**, and his leadership staff were present. So too was the incoming **Redacted**. Along with the Brig leadership, the Brig psychiatrists ****** (**Redacted**) and the Brig Judge Advocate, were also present.
At that meeting, **Redacted** ordered that PFC Manning would be held in maximum custody and POI indefinitely. **Redacted** stated that
“nothing is going to happen to PFC Manning on my watch.”
“nothing’s going to change. He won’t be able to hurt himself and he won’t be able to get away, and our way of making sure of this is that he will remain on this status indefinitely.”
At this point, **Redacted** got very upset and voiced his concerns. **Redacted** said something to the effect of,
“Sir, I am concerned because if you’re going to do that, maybe you might want to call it something else, because it’s not based on anything from behavioral health.”
In response, **Redacted** said
“We’ll do whatever we want to do. You [the Brig psychiatrists] make your recommendation and I have to make a decision based on everything else.”
“Then don’t say it’s based on mental health. You can say it’s MAX custody, but just don’t say that we’re somehow involved in this.” ***
**Redacted** said, “That’s what we’re going to do.”
**Redacted** made it clear to those present at the meeting that the decision to keep PFC Manning in MAX and POI was coming from those higher in the chain of command.
(“He indicated that Manning would remain in current status (POI) unless and until he received instructions from higher authority (unnamed).
Repeated pleas for Bradley Manning
Psychologists for Social Responsibility wrote a letter outlining the very harmful effects of prolonged solitary confinement and implored officials to
“rectify the inhumane, harmful, and counterproductive treatment of PFC Manning.”
Department of State spokesman P J Crowley referred publicly to PFC Manning’s conditions of confinement being “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”
He was later fired for this comment. He also said:
Based on 30 years of government experience, if you have to explain why a guy is standing naked in the middle of a jail cell, you have a policy in need of urgent review. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point.
European leaders urged the United States to allow the United Nations to investigate claims of illegal pretrial punishment.
Concerned citizens called Quantico and organized rallies and marches to bring awareness to PFC Manning’s conditions of confinement.
All these pleas fell upon deaf ears. Quantico continued to hold PFC Manning under MAX and in POI (or under Suicide Risk) for almost nine months.
Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning after a 14-month investigation into his treatment. He concluded that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture:
“The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.”
In light of the foregoing, the Defense requests this Court dismiss all charges with prejudice owing to the flagrant violation of PFC Manning’s constitutional right to not be punished prior to trial. Should this Court determine that dismissal is not an appropriate remedy, the Defense requests meaningful relief in the form of at least 10-for-1 sentencing credit for the 258 days PFC Manning inappropriately spent in the equivalent of solitary confinement and, if PFC Manning elects to proceed judge-alone, consideration of the unlawful pretrial punishment issue in sentencing.
HRI comment: We regard Bradley Manning as a human rights defender, and now a victim of human rights abuses. He should be released from custody and recognised for the bravery of his service to America and the world, above and beyond the call of duty.