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Bradley Manning

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  • Ed Pearl
    Breaking News and Commentary from Citizens for Legitimate Government 29 Nov 2012 http://www.legitgov.org All links are here:
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2012
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      Breaking News and Commentary from Citizens for
      Legitimate Government
      29 Nov 2012
      http://www.legitgov.org <http://www.legitgov.org/>
      All links are here:

      -evidence> Manning testifies at WikiLeaks hearing: 'I thought I was going to
      die in a cage' 29 Nov 2012 After 917 days in military captivity, the world
      finally heard on Thursday from Bradley Manning, the army soldier accused of
      being the source of the largest leak of government secrets in US history. In
      a dramatic opening half-hour of testimony on the third day of the pre-trial
      hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning spoke at length for
      the first time about the period after his arrest in May 2010. Manning
      detailed the trauma he experienced at the hands of the US military while he
      was incarcerated for having allegedly handed hundreds of thousands of US
      diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. His defence lawyer, David Coombs, drew a
      life-sized representation on the courtroom floor of the 6ft by 8ft cell in
      which Manning was held at the Quantico base in Virginia after he was brought
      to the US.

      ment> WikiLeaks suspect Manning mistreated by military, psychiatrist says
      --The forensic psychiatrist said that he had never experienced such an
      unreceptive response from his military colleagues, not even when he treated
      terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo. 28 Nov 2012 The psychiatrist who
      treated the WikiLeaks suspect, Bradley Manning, while he was in custody in
      the brig at Quantico has testified that his medical advice was regularly
      ignored by marine commanders who continued to impose harsh conditions on the
      soldier even though he posed no risk of suicide. Captain William Hoctor told
      Manning's pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade that he grew frustrated and angry
      at the persistent refusal by marine officers to take on board his medical

      ng-jail> Bradley Manning: marine commander warned detention was
      inappropriate 28 Nov 2012 The former commander of Quantico marine base in
      Virginia has revealed to the court martial of Bradley Manning that he warned
      his Pentagon superiors that the jail on the base was insufficiently prepared
      to deal with the long-term detention of the WikiLeaks suspect. Daniel Choike
      told a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland, that when Manning arrived
      at the brig on 29 July 2010, having been arrested in Iraq on suspicion of
      being the source of the massive WikiLeaks dump of state secrets, he informed
      his superior officer in the Pentagon that in his opinion Quantico was not
      the right place for the soldier should his detention last long. "I didn't
      feel that PFC Manning should be detained more than 90 days in the brig," he
      said. In the end, Manning spent nine months at Quantico -- three times the
      maximum Choike thought appropriate.

      * * *


      Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He
      Would "Die in Custody"

      Michael <http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/michael_ratner> Ratner,
      president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to
      Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He recently returned from attending part of
      the pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning.

      JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking
      hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website
      WikiLeaks, has testified in a courtroom for the first time since he was
      arrested in May 2010. Speaking Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning
      revealed the emotional tumult that he experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait
      after his arrest in 2010, saying, quote, "I remember thinking, ’I’m going to
      die.’ I thought I was going to die in a cage."

      As part of his testimony, Manning stepped inside a life-sized chalk outline
      representing the six-by-eight-foot cell he was later held in at the Quantico
      base in Virginia, and he recounted how he would tilt his head to see the
      reflection of a skylight through a tiny space in his cell door.

      Manning could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious of 22
      counts against him. His trial is expected to begin in February. He has
      offered to plead guilty to a subset of charges that could potentially carry
      a maximum prison term of 16 years.

      On Thursday, Democracy Now! spoke about Manning’s case with WikiLeaks
      s_bradley> Julian Assange, who is currently residing inside the Ecuadorean
      embassy in London, where he sought refuge nearly six months ago.

      JULIAN ASSANGE: What is happening this week is not the trial of Bradley
      Manning; what is happening this week is the trial of the U.S. military. This
      is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad,
      shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in
      Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the
      U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any
      other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to
      conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur
      for torture, formally found amounted to torture.

      There’s a question about who authorized that treatment. Why was that
      treatment placed on him for so long, when so many people—independent
      psychiatrists, military psychiatrists—complained about what was going on in
      extremely strong terms? His lawyer and support team say that he was being
      treated in that manner, in part, in order to coerce some kind of statement
      or false confession from him that would implicate WikiLeaks as an
      organization and me personally. And so, this is a matter that I personally
      have been embroiled in, that this young man’s treatment, regardless of
      whether he was our source or not, is directly as a result of an attempt to
      attack this organization by the United States military, to coerce this young
      man into providing evidence that could be used to more effectively attack
      us, and also serve as some kind of terrible disincentive for other potential
      whistleblowers from stepping forward.

      AMY GOODMAN: That’s Julian Assange, founder and editor-in-chief of
      WikiLeaks, now under political asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy. He was
      speaking about Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking
      hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Assange’s website,
      WikiLeaks. Manning testified Thursday at this pretrial proceeding for the
      first time since he was arrested more than two years ago.

      For more. we’re joined by Michael Ratner. He’s president emeritus of the
      Center for Constitutional Rights, a lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks,
      and he just got back from attending the pretrial hearing of Bradley Manning
      yesterday at Fort Meade.

      Michael, describe the scene in the courtroom.

      MICHAEL RATNER: You know, it was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes
      I’ve ever been in. I mean, for days we’ve been waiting to see whether
      Bradley Manning was going to testify, and it’s testimony about the
      conditions he was held in really for almost two years, but certainly the
      part in Kuwait and Quantico. And we’ve seen him in the courtroom, but we
      didn’t see him ever take the stand. So we’re sitting in this small
      courtroom. There’s all of these guys in these formal-dress blue uniforms. I
      mean, they look like those Custers or Civil Wars with those little things on
      their shoulders, epaulets. And then, all of a sudden, we come back from
      lunch, and David Coombs, Bradley’s lawyer, says, "Bradley Manning will come
      to the stand."

      And you could have heard—I mean, the room was just mesmerized by what was
      going to happen next. And he says to Bradley, "I know you may be a little
      nervous about this. I’ll ease you into it." When Bradley opened his mouth,
      he was not nervous. I mean, he was—the testimony was incredibly moving,
      emotional roller coaster for all of us, but particularly, obviously, for
      Bradley and what he went through. But it was so horrible what happened to
      him over a two-year period. But he described it in great detail in a way
      that was articulate, smart, self-aware. I mean, he knew what was going on.
      He tried to make it so that they wouldn’t keep him on the suicide risk, they
      wouldn’t keep him on preventive injury status, where he didn’t have clothes
      and all of that. And he couldn’t do it. And he kept trying it, and they kept
      lying to him. And it was really dramatic.

      What it began with was his arrest in late May of 2010. He was almost
      immediately taken to Kuwait. And that’s really where they got him in a way
      that, for a period of time, almost destroyed him. They put him into cages
      that he described as eight-by-eight-by-eight. There were two cages. He said
      they were like animal cages. They were in a tent alone, just these two
      cages, side by side. One of them had whatever possessions he may have had;
      one of them, he was in, with a little bed for a rack and a toilet, dark, in
      this cage for almost two months. He was taken out for a short while and
      then, without explanation, put back in the cage, meals in the cage, etc.,
      all of that.

      And wait until you hear this. They would wake him at night at 11:00 p.m.,
      10:00 or 11:00, and his day—or night—was all night, and he was allowed to go
      back to sleep at 12:00 or 1:00, noon, the next day. So when we think about
      what happened to people at Guantánamo or sensory deprivation or what McCoy
      says in his books on torture, what are they trying to do except destroy this
      human being?

      And he said, "For me, I stopped keeping track. I didn’t know whether night
      was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became
      these cages. And I’m a person," he said—this was really, I thought—all of us
      really were interested in it. He said, "I’m someone who likes current
      events. I take a broader view of the world." And he gave an example of the
      oil spill in the Gulf. And he said, you know, "When that ended," and he
      said, "my world all of a sudden was totally confined to these cages." And
      that was almost two months in Kuwait, something that none of us really knew
      about for this period. And he went on to talk about then what happens when
      he went to Quantico.

      JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Michael, you’re describing a person who was the exact
      opposite of some of the portraits of him that have come out from some
      supposed supporters of his, but also people who have had grudges against
      him, of being an emotionally unstable person. The sense that you got of how
      intelligent and how clear he was about what was happening to him?

      MICHAEL RATNER: Even one of the psychiatrists who testified and who was one
      of the psychiatrists who said this guy should never have been put on
      prevention of injury or suicide risk when he was at Quantico—that was right
      after Kuwait—said he’s highly intelligent. And you could see that. And the
      image was just the opposite of what I would have thought going in there, of
      this person who couldn’t make their way in the world, of who just was unable
      to really function. This person was articulate, strong, self-aware, as I
      said, and it was very sympathetic. I mean, very sympathetic. And not even a
      shade that he shaded anything, not anything close to mendacity, lies,
      nothing. This was incredible testimony.

      AMY GOODMAN: The psychiatrist who treated Bradley Manning while he was in
      prison at Quantico Marine brig testified on Wednesday that commanders there
      consistently ignored his medical advice and continued to impose harsh
      restrictions on Bradley Manning, even though he posed no risk of suicide.
      Captain William Hoctor said he treated prisoners at Guantánamo but had never
      encountered military officials so unwilling to heed his medical advice. He
      testified and said, "I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the
      time, and I had never experienced anything like this. It was clear to me
      they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my
      recommendations had no impact," he said. Michael Ratner?

      MICHAEL RATNER: No, yesterday when I was in court, they put up another
      psychiatrist on, the defense did, Ricky Malone, a very substantial
      psychiatrist, head of Walter Reed at some point, in forensic psychology. And
      he said essentially the same thing. He said, "I went in there. I treated
      Bradley Manning. I gave him a sleep medication when he needed sleep. And I
      went to the person who ran that brig, and I kept saying he does not have to
      be on POI," that’s short for preventive injury, "he doesn’t have to be on
      suicide risk watch."

      AMY GOODMAN: And explain what that means when he’s put on those.

      MICHAEL RATNER: Right, I’m glad you asked that, because this was so
      dramatic. They showed a video at some point at the trial of what—of where
      Bradley Manning was kept. And there’s no natural light. If he presses his
      face to the screen—it’s not really bars, it’s like a square screen—he could
      see the reflection of light on the floor at the end of the hall. Immediately
      across from his cell is the observation booth that looks right into him, so
      even if he goes to the bathroom and sits on the toilet, they see everything
      he does. There’s a bright light on him—again, sensory stuff, if you look at
      that—24 hours a day.

      They show in the video, when they—when they actually—something happens where
      they decide they’re going to put him—he’s always on POI, but they’re going
      to put him back on suicide risk. And they showed the video of—it’s
      videoed—of him passing his clothes through the mail, through the little
      hatch, out of the prison.

      AMY GOODMAN: Like a mail slot.

      MICHAEL RATNER: Like a mail slot. And that night, he’s standing there stark
      naked. They only show you the top, but he’s standing there stark naked in
      front of these really beefy, big marines in camouflage. That’s the scene you

      And then there’s another video showing, he’s trying to ask, "Why am I here?
      What did I do wrong?" And they’re lying to him. One of them, who’s playing
      like Mutt and Jeff, saying, "Well, you’re a great—if I had a hundred, you
      know, defendants like you—or prisoners like you, it would be—you know, I
      would be great." They’re lying to him all the time.

      And what comes out, because as that video—as that clip you read, Amy, of the
      psychiatrist, is that it never happens, really never happens, that the head
      of a brig disregards psychiatric information like they were given about
      Bradley Manning. And here they did. And so, the question you have to ask
      yourself is, where was that order coming from? We know there was a
      three-star general involved. How much did it go up to the Pentagon?

      AMY GOODMAN: Who was the three-star general?

      MICHAEL RATNER: I don’t remember his name.

      AMY GOODMAN: And this is, of course, all under President Obama.

      MICHAEL RATNER: Right. Right, that’s correct. I mean, this was— when he’s in
      that cell, when we talk about the light on, when he sleeps on that little
      bunk and he has to face the light so they can observe him. If he turns over
      to avoid the light, they come in, and they wake him up. That’s night.
      Day—what happens during the day? He’s in that cell 23-and-a-half hours a
      day, maybe 20 minutes of what they call sunshine exercise, which is just
      nothing. And what can he do? Because he’s on duty, supposedly, he has to
      either stand or he can sit on that metal bunk with his feet on the ground
      and can’t lean against anything. That’s 10 or 15 hours a day of what you
      have to call sensory deprivation.

      JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Michael, I’d like to ask you about—given that he’s been
      under these conditions now for two-and-a-half years, it’s not surprising
      that he would be attempting to try to negotiate some kind of a plea deal on
      a reduced sentence. Could you talk about that part, that aspect of what
      happened with the court?

      MICHAEL RATNER: Yeah, yeah. Let me back up on that for one second, because
      he was in Kuwait 'til end of July 2010. He then was taken to Quantico ’til
      April or so of 2011. That's the nine months that this hearing is really
      about and whether the charges should be dismissed because of the serious
      misconduct and torture and cruel treatment by the government.

      So, then he was taken to Leavenworth. And just as an illustration of how he
      did not have to be treated like he was treated at Quantico, they put on the
      head of Leavenworth brig by telephone yesterday, and she said, "Well, as
      soon as he got here, he went right into medium security." And that’s the
      best you can do when you’re pretrial. Then, you mix with the population. You
      get—you get all your hygiene items.

      There’s a scene in this—in this—where he has to actually beg for a piece of
      toilet paper. He has to stand in front—at Quantico, stand there with no
      shirt on, with his boxers, and said, whatever, "Corporal something, this is
      Corporal Manning, or Private First Class Manning, can I have a piece of
      toilet paper?" And he has to stand there at attention, while he’s begging
      for a piece of toilet paper.

      Your question, Juan, what David Coombs, the lawyer for Bradley Manning, has
      said, they are trying to force Bradley Manning into testifying if he knows
      anything, probably falsely, because we don’t think there’s anything
      there—but against my client, Julian Assange. They are trying to break
      Bradley Manning.

      What’s remarkable is that he still has this incredible dignity after going
      through this. But I think all these prison conditions were—sure, they were
      angry at Bradley Manning, but in the face of that psychiatric statement,
      that this guy shouldn’t be kept on suicide risk or POI, they’re still
      keeping him in inhuman conditions, you can only ask yourself—they’re trying
      to break him for some reason. The lawyer, David Coombs, has said it’s so
      that he can give evidence against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

      AMY GOODMAN: So this pretrial hearing, where does it lead? There—he is
      talking about these conditions that many have said amount to torture. What
      could it lead to?

      MICHAEL RATNER: Well, the lawyer, David Coombs, has asked for two things. He
      said, "I’ve asked for dismissal of all the charges, because the government
      essentially has dirty hands." They can’t do this to people and still go
      charge them with crimes. And that has happened rarely, but it has happened,
      where the government engages in such bad conduct that they’re saying, even
      if it’s not about the truth of what happened and the facts, we’re going to
      get rid of the case.

      JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And he’s also asked for 10 days’ credit for every day that he
      was held in those kind of conditions?

      MICHAEL RATNER: Right. So he’s held, I think, some 293 days. He would get
      credit for almost—you know, a number of years off his sentence. In the end,
      he’s asked for 10 for one, understanding that he may not win ultimate

      But what it also really did is it showed us how this government—and when
      Julian Assange said yesterday on your show, Amy, this is really about the
      U.S. being on trial, that’s what this is. This is how the U.S. treats—treats
      people who, in my view, have taken heroic actions around disclosing secrets
      of this government.

      AMY GOODMAN: And what does this possible plea mean, where he admits that he
      gave documents to WikiLeaks but will not plead guilty to aiding the enemy?

      MICHAEL RATNER: Right, I want to explain it as simply as I can.

      AMY GOODMAN: And we only have 30 seconds.

      MICHAEL RATNER: OK, what it means is—he said, "I’ll accept responsibility
      for mishandling of documents." Potential sentence, the judge said, is 16
      years. If the judge accepts the plea, the prosecutor does not have to. Or
      the prosecutor can accept the plea but can still prove that he aided the
      enemy and try and get a more severe sentence.

      So the question here is going to be, is the prosecutor going to stop at the
      16 years maximum sentence, or is the prosecutor going to go on and try and
      get Bradley Manning life? My opinion, of course, is the prosecutor ought to
      stop. Bradley Manning, you know, is someone who has disclosed some of the
      most important secrets of our government having to do with torture and wars
      and U.S. complicity in human rights violations.

      AMY GOODMAN: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for
      Constitutional Rights, a lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, just came
      back from the pretrial hearing where Bradley Manning testified for the first
      time in court.


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