Democracy Now! ~ Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He Would "Die in Custody" ~ With Michael Ratner, Julian Assange, Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez (11-30-12) ~ Plus 3 Articles About Bradley Manning's Trial
Democracy Now! November 30th, 2012
Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He
Would "Die in Custody"
Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of
thousands of classified documents to the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks,
has testified for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Speaking
Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning revealed the emotional tumult he
experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait after his arrest in 2010, saying, "I
remember thinking, Im 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 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. "Whats remarkable is that he still has this
incredible dignity after going through this," says Michael Ratner, who was
in the courtroom during Mannings appearance. "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 shouldnt be kept on suicide
risk or POI, theyre still keeping him in inhuman conditions, you can only
ask yourself theyre trying to break him for some reason. The lawyer,
David Coombs, has said its so that he can give evidence against Julian
Assange and WikiLeaks." Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for
Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
<http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/michael_ratner> Michael 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 whistle blowing 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, Im 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 Mannings 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 Mannings 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 Quanticos 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.
Theres a question about who authorized that treatment. Why was that
treatment placed on him for so long, when so many peopleindependent
psychiatrists, military psychiatristscomplained 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 mans 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: Thats Julian Assange, founder and editor-in-chief of
WikiLeaks, now under political asylum in Ecuadors London embassy. He was
speaking about Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking
hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Assanges website,
WikiLeaks. Manning testified Thursday at this pretrial proceeding for the
first time since he was arrested more than two years ago.
For more. were joined by Michael Ratner. Hes 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
Ive ever been in. I mean, for days weve been waiting to see whether
Bradley Manning was going to testify, and its testimony about the
conditions he was held in really for almost two years, but certainly the
part in Kuwait and Quantico. And weve seen him in the courtroom, but we
didnt see him ever take the stand. So were sitting in this small
courtroom. Theres 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, Bradleys lawyer, says, "Bradley Manning will come
to the stand."
And you could have heardI 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. Ill ease you into it." When Bradley opened his mouth,
he was not nervous. I mean, he wasthe 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 wouldnt keep him on the suicide risk, they
wouldnt keep him on preventive injury status, where he didnt have clothes
and all of that. And he couldnt 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 thats 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 dayor nightwas 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
And he said, "For me, I stopped keeping track. I didnt know whether night
was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became
these cages. And Im a person," he saidthis was really, I thoughtall of us
really were interested in it. He said, "Im 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, youre 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 Quanticothat was right
after Kuwaitsaid hes 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 couldnt 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," thats short for preventive injury, "he doesnt have to be on
suicide risk watch."
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what that means when hes put on those.
MICHAEL RATNER: Right, Im glad you asked that, because this was so
dramatic. They showed a video at some point at the trial of whatof where
Bradley Manning was kept. And theres no natural light. If he presses his
face to the screenits not really bars, its like a square screenhe 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. Theres a bright light on himagain, sensory stuff, if you look at
that24 hours a day.
They show in the video, when theywhen they actuallysomething happens where
they decide theyre going to put himhes always on POI, but theyre going
to put him back on suicide risk. And they showed the video ofits
videoedof 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, hes standing there stark
naked. They only show you the top, but hes standing there stark naked in
front of these really beefy, big marines in camouflage. Thats the scene you
And then theres another video showing, hes trying to ask, "Why am I here?
What did I do wrong?" And theyre lying to him. One of them, whos playing
like Mutt and Jeff, saying, "Well, youre a greatif I had a hundred, you
know, defendants like youor prisoners like you, it would beyou know, I
would be great." Theyre lying to him all the time.
And what comes out, because as that videoas 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 dont remember his name.
AMY GOODMAN: And this is, of course, all under President Obama.
MICHAEL RATNER: Right. Right, thats correct. I mean, this was when hes 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. Thats night.
Daywhat happens during the day? Hes 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 hes on duty, supposedly, he has to
either stand or he can sit on that metal bunk with his feet on the ground
and cant lean against anything. Thats 10 or 15 hours a day of what you
have to call sensory deprivation.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Michael, Id like to ask you aboutgiven that hes been
under these conditions now for two-and-a-half years, its 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 thats the
best you can do when youre pretrial. Then, you mix with the population. You
getyou get all your hygiene items.
Theres a scene in thisin thiswhere he has to actually beg for a piece of
toilet paper. He has to stand in frontat 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 hes 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 dont think theres anything
therebut against my client, Julian Assange. They are trying to break
Whats remarkable is that he still has this incredible dignity after going
through this. But I think all these prison conditions weresure, they were
angry at Bradley Manning, but in the face of that psychiatric statement,
that this guy shouldnt be kept on suicide risk or POI, theyre still
keeping him in inhuman conditions, you can only ask yourselftheyre trying
to break him for some reason. The lawyer, David Coombs, has said its so
that he can give evidence against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
AMY GOODMAN: So this pretrial hearing, where does it lead? Therehe 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, "Ive asked for dismissal of all the charges, because the government
essentially has dirty hands." They cant 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 theyre saying, even
if its not about the truth of what happened and the facts, were going to
get rid of the case.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And hes also asked for 10 days credit for every day that he
was held in those kind of conditions?
MICHAEL RATNER: Right. So hes held, I think, some 293 days. He would get
credit for almostyou know, a number of years off his sentence. In the end,
hes asked for 10 for one, understanding that he may not win ultimate
But what it also really did is it showed us how this governmentand when
Julian Assange said yesterday on your show, Amy, this is really about the
U.S. being on trial, thats what this is. This is how the U.S. treatstreats
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 ishe said, "Ill 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.
WikiLeaks Suspect Bradley Manning Gives Evidence for First Time
Manning takes stand at pre-trial hearing and speaks at length about his
treatment by the military following his arrest in 2010
* Ed Pilkington <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/edpilkington> at
Fort Meade, Maryland <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/maryland>
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/> , Thursday 29 November
After 917 days in military captivity, the world finally heard on Thursday
from Bradley Manning <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/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
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/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
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-military> while he was incarcerated for
having allegedly handed hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables to
WikiLeaks <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/wikileaks> .
His defense 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.
Manning seemed initially nervous but relaxed into his subject. He described
a breakdown he had in Kuwait in the days after his arrest. "I was in a
pretty stressed situation," Manning said. "I had no idea what was going on
with anything. I was getting very little information.
"I began to really deteriorate. I was anxious all the time about not knowing
anything, days blend into night, night into days. Everything became more
Manning described how his guards stopped taking him out of his cell,
preventing any interaction with other detainees. "I didn't have a good
understanding of the reasons. Someone tried to explain to me but I was a
mess. I was starting to fall apart."
He claimed that two or three times a day his guards would give him a
"shakedown". This involved taking him out the cell, then tearing apart
everything he had in the cell.
Coombs asked Manning whether he had any recollection of an incident on 30
June 2010, when he had lost control of himself to the extent that doctors
had to intervene. "He was screaming, babbling, banging his head against the
cell," said Coombs.
Manning replied: "I knew I had just fallen apart, everything is foggy and
hazy at that point."
The soldier said he thought he would die in Kuwait. "I remember thinking I'm
going to die. I thought I was going to die in a cage," he told the hearing.
A few weeks later, on 29 July, Manning was transferred from Kuwait to
Quantico marine base in Virginia. "I had no idea where I was going," said
Manning, who thought he might be taken to Germany. "I was very scared, I had
On board the plane, he was placed in full restraint. "The captain went over
the intercom, 'We'll be arriving in Germany'," he said. After an hour and a
half on the ground, Manning was put back on the plane. Only when the crew
announced they were going to Baltimore did Manning discover he was being
returned to the US.
That made him feel better, he said. "I didn't think I would set foot on
American soil for a long time."
Coombs told how conditions in Quantico were tough, however. He drew a
life-size representation of the cell on the floor of the court, and asked
Manning to step into it, to recreate his conditions. Manning told how he
could see a reflection of a skylight through a small gap in the cell door if
he angled his head in a particular direction.
Earlier, before Manning took the stand, the military judge accepted the
terms under which he would enter a guilty plea to seven charges for
disseminating classified documents.
Colonel Denise Lind approved the language of the offences to which Manning
would admit. She said those carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.
The Associated Press reported that the judge's ruling on his plea language
does not mean that pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in
In the proposal, Manning admits to leaking a battlefield video file, some
classified memos, more than 20 Iraq war logs, more than 20 Afghanistan war
logs and other classified materials. He would also plead guilty to
wrongfully storing classified information.
Manning had made the offer
nsibility-trial> as a way of accepting responsibility for the biggest leak
in US military history. Government officials have not said whether they
would continue prosecuting him for the other 15 counts he faces, including
aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
WikiLeaks Suspect Manning Mistreated by Military, Psychiatrist Says
Bradley Manning was held in solitary confinement despite expert's claim he
was no longer a suicide risk
* Ed Pilkington <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/edpilkington> in
Fort Meade, Maryland
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/> , Wednesday 28 November
The psychiatrist who treated the
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/wikileaks> WikiLeaks suspect,
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/bradley-manning> 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 recommendations. 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.
"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," Hoctor said.
The psychiatrist was testifying at Manning's court martial for allegedly
being the source of the massive leak of hundreds of thousands of
confidential US government documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The 24-year-old soldier, who worked as an intelligence analyst until his
arrest in Iraq in May 2010, faces 22 counts and possible life in military
Manning's defense lawyers are attempting to have the charges thrown out or
any eventual sentence reduced by seeking to prove that the soldier was
subjected to unlawful pre-trial punishment at Quantico. During the nine
months he was in custody at the marine base in Virginia he was put on
suicide watch and a "prevention of injury" order, or PoI, that kept him in
solitary confinement and exposed him to extreme conditions that were
denounced by the UN and Amnesty International as a form of torture.
Hoctor began treating Manning from the day after he arrived at Quantico on
29 July 2010, seeing him initially every day and then later once a week. At
first he recommended that the soldier be put on suicide watch - the most
stringent form of custody - given that he had mentioned killing himself
while previously held in Kuwait and that nooses that he had made were found
in his cell.
But within a week of seeing Manning he changed his recommendation, reporting
to officers that in his medical opinion the soldier could be put on the
lesser PoI status. His advice was ignored for a couple of weeks, Hoctor told
the court. "At Quantico they often did not immediately follow, or sometimes
did not follow at all, my recommendations."
The failure to act on the doctor's recommendation was an apparent violation
of the instructions under which marine installations operate. The
regulations state that "when prisoners are no longer considered to be
suicide risks by a medical officer, they shall be returned to appropriate
By 27 August 2010, Hoctor testified, he had spent enough time with Manning
to recommend a further easing of conditions. From then on he advised in a
regular weekly report that Manning should be taken off PoI altogether and
returned to the general brig population.
"I was satisfied he no longer presented a risk. He did not appear to be
persistently depressed, he was not reporting suicidal thoughts, in general
he was well behaved."
Specifically, Hoctor was convinced that Manning no longer needed to be
subjected to restrictive conditions that included: no contact with other
people, being kept in his cell for more than 23 hours a day, being checked
every five minutes, sleeping on a suicide mattress with no bedding, having
his prescription glasses taken away, lights kept on at night, having toilet
Only on two occasions did Hoctor report that Manning appeared upset and
should be put temporarily under close observation. The first incident
occurred in December 2010 when Fox News erroneously reported that Manning
had died, and the second in January 2011 when the soldier broke down in
tears while in the exercise room.
Yet the psychiatrist's recommendation that other than these isolated
incidents Manning should be treated like other inmates was consistently
ignored. The soldier was kept on PoI throughout the rest of his time at
The blanket denial of his expert opinion was unprecedented in his quarter
century of practice, the psychiatrist said. "Even when I did tours in
Guantanamo and cared for detainees there my recommendations on suicidal
behavior were followed."
Hoctor said he openly protested about the thwarting of his expert opinion at
a meeting with the commander responsible for the brig, Colonel Robert
Oltman, on 13 January 2011. At the meeting Oltman informed the doctor that
Manning would be kept on PoI "for the foreseeable future".
Hoctor said that the marine commanders should no longer pretend they were
acting out of medical concern for the detainee. "It wasn't good for Manning.
I really didn't like them using a psychiatric standard when I thought it
clinically inappropriate," Hoctor said.
The court heard that Oltman replied: "You make your recommendations, and
we'll do what we want to do."
Earlier the court martial heard from Oltman himself, who told the judge
presiding over the proceedings, Colonel Denise Lind, that he had chosen to
overlook Hoctor's advice because he didn't fully trust the doctor. A few
months before Manning arrived at Quantico, an inmate of the brig, Captain
Michael Webb, had killed himself while under Hoctor's care.
"I did not have the utmost confidence in Captain Hoctor," Oltman testified.
When that lack of trust was put to Hoctor by Manning's defense lawyer, David
Coombs, the psychiatrist replied: "If they felt that way they should have
got another person to do the job."
Despite the unprecedented conditions that Manning was held under, Hoctor
said the detainee coped quite well. "Most people would have found it very
difficult, being watched every five minutes, but he did better than expected
I think he decided he was going to be strong."
Bradley Manning: Marine Commander Warned Detention Was Inappropriate
WikiLeaks suspect held at Quantico for nine months despite recommendation of
90 days maximum, pre-trial hearing told
* Ed Pilkington <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/edpilkington> in
Fort Meade, Maryland
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/> , Wednesday 28 November
The former commander of Quantico marine base in Virginia has revealed to the
court martial of <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/bradley-manning> 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
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/wikileaks> 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. The soldier's treatment there prompted
dy-wikileaks> protests from the UN, Amnesty International and other
organizations that likened it to torture.
Choike's admission that he had been aware of problems relating to Manning's
incarceration at the Quantico brig came on Tuesday, at the end of an intense
first day in the latest pre-trial hearing in the soldier's court martial.
The army private, who worked as an intelligence analyst in a military base
outside Baghdad from 2009 until his arrest in May 2010, faces 22 counts
relating to the transfer of hundreds of thousands of confidential US
documents to the whistle blowing website.
After about seven hours of questioning, Choike told the judge presiding over
the court martial, Colonel Denise Lind, that he had been concerned from the
beginning that the brig at Quantico was unprepared for the long-term
detention of such a high-profile case as Manning. He said he was worried
about dealing with the media, about co-ordination of command and about
medical handling of the detainee.
He added that he "constantly" told his superior, Lieutenant General George
Flynn, based in the Pentagon, that there were problems with the soldier's
prolonged detention in Quantico.
On Wednesday morning the court learnt that concern about the way Manning was
being treated within the Quantico brig reached high levels within the
military. An email was read out from Lieutenant Colonel Wright, the most
senior expert on corrections issues within the Marines.
He wrote to the commander of the brig to express his "concerns about recent
decisions", in particular the removal on 2 March 2011 of Manning's
underpants at night. Wright pointed out that the move was a contradiction
it treated Manning as if he were a suicide risk, and yet he had not actually
been placed under a suicide risk order. "This is not the way we do
business," Wright wrote.
Despite his reprimand, the chief warrant officer at the brig, Denise Barnes,
continued to remove the soldier's underwear every night for the next six
weeks, until his transfer to a lesser-security regime at Fort Leavenworth on
20 April 2011.
The morning was taken up with defense questioning of Robert Oltman,
Quantico's security battalion commander in charge of the brig. Like Choike's
earlier testimony, Oltman expressed his dissatisfaction that Manning had
been placed in Quantico in the first place, given the parlous state of its
"We indicated we didn't think our facility was the best for his detainment.
It was supposed to be closed, it was not in the best of conditions, it
needed repair," he said.
The testimony throws into a new light the events at Quantico during
Manning's nine-month incarceration. His treatment under a so-called
"prevention of injury" order, or PoI, has become a cause célèbre for his
supporters, who believe that the soldier was subjected to unlawful pre-trial
punishment in an attempt to squeeze him for information that might prove
useful in any ensuing prosecution of WikiLeaks and its founder,
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/julian-assange> Julian Assange.
This week's hearing is attracting considerable media attention,
-trial?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487> because it holds the promise that Manning might
speak in public for the first time. He is listed on the defense roster of
witnesses, though he has not yet been added to the official order of play
for the hearing.
Should Manning be called, it is not likely to be on Wednesday. His defense
lawyer, David Coombs, is expected to question first Marine Colonel Robert
Altman, who was commander of the brig while the soldier was detained there.
Then the defense will turn to three forensic psychiatrists who were
responsible for Manning's medical care at Quantico: navy captains William
Hoctor and Kevin Moore and army colonel Rick Malone.
The defense will be quizzing the doctors about the recommendations they made
to the military hierarchy about the state of Manning's mental health. Court
documents already released suggest that they advised on several occasions
that the soldier was well enough to be taken off the PoI and returned to the
general brig population, as he was no longer a suicide risk, yet the marine
commanders ignored their specialist advice, in contravention of military
Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits punishment
before trial of any individual, on the same assumption as that in civilian
law that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Should the judge be
convinced by the defense argument that Manning was subjected to unlawful
pre-trial punishment at Quantico, she has the power to reduce his sentence
should he be found guilty, or even throw out all the charges.
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