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Posted by on Dec 18, 2010 in International, Law, Politics, Society, War | 0 comments

The Shameful Treatment of Bradley Manning

David Coombs, the attorney representing Army PFC Bradley Manning, has a detailed description on his blog of what a typical day is like for Bradley Manning (emphasis is added; the italicized text is my commentary):

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. [But Manning has been held there, in Maximum Custody, and in total solitary confinement except for one hour a day, for five months without trial. And for the two months prior to arriving at Quantico, he was held in Kuwait under similar conditions.] Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to PFC Manning.

Due to being held on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch:

PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day.

The guards are required to check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay. PFC Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay.

He receives each of his meals in his cell.

He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell. The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.

He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

He does receive one hour of “exercise” outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.

This list confirms every factual detail reported by Glenn Greenwald the other day in his piece titled “The Inhumane Conditions of Bradley Manning’s Detention.”

In a new post today, Glenn mentions Coombs’ blog post, and also notes that his facts have been confirmed by other sources as well:

Speaking of government falsehoods:  military officials have predictably begun attacking my article reporting on the conditions of Manning’s detention — they also sent a statement during my MSNBC interview yesterday claiming there were “inaccuracies” in what I wrote — but they do not, and cannot, identify any inaccuracies, because there were none.  Yesterday, The Guardian described in its headline:  “Bradley Manning’s health deteriorating in jail, supporters say,” while The Daily Beast yesterday published an article containing an interview with Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, which confirms every key fact I reported[.]

About the conditions of PFC Manning’s detention, Glenn writes that they “constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.”

Solitary confinement has such a long history as a tool to break prisoners’ will and psychological ability to resist, and its effectiveness at doing that is so well-documented, that there should not even be a need to argue the point. Sad to say, though, one does have to make that argument (Glenn’s emphasis):

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.  In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.”  By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity.  A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that “solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.”

For that reason, many Western nations — and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses — refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence.  “It’s an awful thing, solitary,” John McCain wrote of his experience in isolated confinement in Vietnam. “It crushes your spirit.”  As Gawande documented: “A U.S. military study of almost a hundred and fifty naval aviators returned from imprisonment in Vietnam . . . reported that they found social isolation to be as torturous and agonizing as any physical abuse they suffered.”

And of course the Obama administration IS trying to break Manning:

… The Independent yesterday shed further light on one of the motives for the repressive conditions imposed on Manning:  namely, that U.S. officials believe it is “crucial” to “persuade” Manning to testify against WikiLeaks if they are to convict Assange, i.e., to “persuade” Manning to say that WikiLeaks did not merely passively receive classified information, but actively provided Manning technical and other assistance in advance to access and disseminate classified information.  The more inhumane the conditions are of Manning’s detention, the greater pressure the Government can apply to induce him — “persuade” him — to testify how they need him to testify in order to prosecute Assange.

This is Barack Obama’s America, folks. Yep, the guy who was going to give us our country back. What a sick joke.

The only comfort I get is when I read someone who writes it just as angry as I feel. Makes me feel a bit less alone:

There is absolutely no reason for this whatsoever, other than the fact that the United States has morphed into a brutal and repressive regime that is terrified of dissent. …And yet, this goes on every day in the greatest nation in the world, the home of the free and the land of the brave. Brought to our collective knees in terror of a rosy-cheeked private who had the balls to allow our lies to be published. And for that, we must emulate those great men who have gone before us- Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and other great human rights leader, and publicly make a show of our ability to crush one man. Because that is what this is- a message to every one else. There is no other reason to be subjecting Manning to this behavior, as he could be safely secured at any county jailhouse in this nation. Hell, he could be returned to his unit and confined to quarters, and nothing would happen.

We’re basically scum these days. It’s really sad. And I do not know how Lt. Villard and those like them live with themselves or sleep at night. I really don’t. Spare me the “they’re just following orders” crap. But we’ll go on spouting bullshit about Human Rights in every international forum we can find. American exceptionalism!

I couldn’t have said it better. It’s exactly how I feel.