Will the military be held to account for torturing Bradley Manning?
Upcoming August 27-31 to focus on military’s illegal treatment of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower
Evidence of Bradley Manning’s abusive pre-trial confinement conditions at the Quantico Marine Brig will “shock the conscience of the court,” according to PFC Bradley Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs. The evidence has already shocked the conscience of the public, who protested Bradley’s treatment until global outrage forced the military to finally move the Nobel Peace Prize nominee to better conditions at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On Sunday evening, August 26th, Bradley’s attorney David Coombs will address a public gathering in Washington, DC, on the eve of Bradley’s next Article 39A pre-trial hearing. Supporters of the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower will rally at the Main Gate of Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday, August 27th.
David Coombs will bring a 100-page motion to this motion hearing, scheduled for August 27-31, documenting the torturous conditions and demanding the military be held to account. Mr. Coombs is moving, under Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), to dismiss all charges based on unlawful pretrial punishment.
Military judge Denise Lind ruled last week that Mr. Coombs will be allowed to present the over-sized smock, uncomfortable mattress, and the sandpaper-like blanket that Bradley was forced to use while in solitary confinement in Quantico.
As Glenn Greenwald noted in his initial report on Bradley’s conditions, solitary confinement is tantamount to physical torture:
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.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez investigated the matter in depth, but Judge Lind won’t allow Mr. Coombs to bring him to the stand. Mr. Mendez conducted a 14-month investigation of Bradley’s treatment, concluding it was “cruel, inhuman, and degrading,” and that he’d be able to classify it as torture if he were allowed an unmonitored visit with Bradley. But the military refused that visit, and now Judge Lind’s ruling rewards that decision, deriding Mr. Mendez for refusing a monitored visit–even though that would have violated the U.N.’s policies.
Mr. Coombs will bring Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, Commander of the Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF) at Fort Leavenworth, to testify at Fort Meade. Lt. Col. Hilton will attest to Bradley’s medium-security conditions at Fort Leavenworth, drawing sharp contrast with the punitive measures at Quantico. If, as the military alleges, Bradley was at such grave risk of personal injury that he required solitary confinement in Quantico, why wasn’t he at the same risk at Leavenworth? As Mr. Coombs suggested in court last week, “Either the water at Fort Leavenworth has amazing mental health healing properties,” or Bradley was illegally punished at Quantico.
Bradley knew he was being treated differently than others at Quantico. Included in Alexa O’Brien’s March 2011 summary of Bradley’s mistreatment is a letter from Bradley describing this injustice:
Other detainees usually remain on MAX custody or in POI Status for about two weeks before they are downgraded. I, however, have been left to languish under the unduly harsh conditions of MAX Custody and POI status since my arrival on 29 July 2010. In fact, I am currently the only detainee being held under MAX Custody and the only detainee being held in POI status by the Brig. Any objective person looking at the above facts would have to conclude that this treatment is unjustified. The determination to retain me in MAX Custody and under POI Status after 27 August 2010 was improper and constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment.
Government officials have already acknowledged that Bradley was treated improperly at Quantico. State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley declared that Bradley’s conditions were “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” which led to Crowley’s forced resignation days later. Mr. Crowley’s statements inspired more supporters nationwide and across the globe to call for an end to this abuse. Protests escalated, and the military finally transferred Bradley to Fort Leavenworth in late April 2011.
At this upcoming hearing, the military may be held to account for mistreating Bradley in Quantico, but only if concerned citizens the world over speak out and not allow the U.S. military to dodge this spotlight on their inhumane treatment of an American hero.
If Judge Lind rules against Mr. Coombs’ motion to dismiss all charges, the issue of Bradley’s illegal treatment would again be addressed at the sentencing phase of Bradley’s court martial–if he were to be convicted of any charges. In similar situations, the military has been ordered to give anywhere from one-day confinement credit for each day of illegal treatment, up to ten-days credit for each day of pre-trial punishment.
Help hold the U.S. military accountable for torturing Bradley! Host or join an event in your community during Bradley’s next court hearing August 27-31, or stand with us at Fort Meade, Maryland—both outside and inside the court room.
Register your event at events.bradleymanning.org today!