I was one of 32 arrested during a Free Bradley Manning rally outside the gates of the Marine Corps Base
March 16, 2011
Commandant Colonel Daniel J. Choike
Marine Corps Base
C/o of Thomas V. Johnson, public information officer, at Thomas.V.Johnson@USMC.mil
We are members of organizations concerned about the
It is remarkable that a
The treatment received by PFC Manning is shocking. As if the prolonged isolation of solitary confinement was not enough, most recently the prisoner was humiliated by forced nudity. For whatever reason, the prisoner was given an uncomfortable smock to wear, and it is understandable why Manning would not want to wear it. This treatment is being doled out to a military prisoner who has only been charged, but not convicted.
We can imagine several reasons for the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning. However, we do not want to speculate, and would rather discuss this matter with you. Regardless of the reasons, we have to speak out against this ignoble mistreatment.
We know that the excuse being given for continuing the POI conditions (and the nudity at night) is for Manning's own safety and well-being, but this is not a credible justification. The brig psychiatrist's repeated judgment is that such treatment is not well-founded or necessary, and both the defendant and his counsel have complained. The assertions that his treatment is "ordinary," that he is being treated "like any other prisoner in his status" are deliberately misleading, since they fail to convey that his status combining Maximum Security and POI is unique at the brig, unprecedented (?) for such a prolonged period, and neither condition is justified for this defendant, let alone the combination, any more than the brief, unjustified Suicide Watch. The continuation of these conditions by the brig authorities against the recommendations of the brig psychiatrist is abusive and punitive, and therefore illegal.
On Dec. 19, 2010, Manning’s lawyer, David E. Coombs, provided details of the incarceration
Manning is barred from interaction with other prisoners even during his one hour of “exercise” in an empty room. On Mar. 3, 2011, Pentagon spokesperson Geoffrey Morrell defended the general conditions of Manning’s maximum security imprisonment due to “the seriousness of the charges he’s facing, the potential length of sentence [and] the national security implications.” [NYT, March 4, 2011]. He failed to mention due process or Constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment
The most damaging condition is the prolonged isolation. David House, who has visited Manning, filed a report at FireDogLake (which had been following the soldier’s plight closer than any site) expressing concern for Manning’s possible mental deterioration. The cruel treatment is likely to create long-term psychological injuries. On Jan. 5, 2011, on Democracy Now!, Dr. Atul Gawande said, “People experience solitary confinement as even more damaging than physical torture.” See Gawande’s article in the New Yorker, “Hellhole,” March 30, 2009, on the psychological damage of long-term solitary confinement. The maximum security condition has no legal justification for this long period and must be reduced to medium security (allowing interaction with other prisoners during the workday), along with termination of the totally unjustified POI.
On March 4, Congressperson Dennis Kucinich released a press release in conjunction with his repeated requests to visit with Manning. Again he expressed his grave concern about the treatment of Manning
“After initial allegations of mistreatment, I requested a visit with Private Manning to see for myself the conditions of his treatment. Despite the fact that Manning has not been found guilty of any crime, his lawyer reports that he is in isolation 23 out 24 hours every day, conditions which may violate his 8th Amendment protection from ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. This treatment is in stark contrast to a presumption of innocence and raises questions of whether Pfc. Manning can be fit for trial.”
Kucinich was quite specific about the decision to strip the prisoner
On March 5, Coombs also addressed the forced nudity, and indicated he believes “they intend to continue this practice indefinitely.” He added these specifics
Coombs did a follow-up
It was astonishing to read Coombs’ understanding of the decision-making
We think it is urgent to sit down and discuss the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning. We concur with the observation made by David E. Coombs
We look forward to your response, as we believe citizen activists have the right to challenge misbehavior by government officials. Your response will be shared with others concerned with the mistreatment of Bradley Manning. Thank you for considering our request to meet with you.
On behalf of the