FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2011
Nathan White (202)225-5871
Kucinich Challenges PR Stunt on Manning, Pentagon Offers No Answers, Only Contrivance
Kucinich Calls DOD “Media Day” a “Stunt,” Urges Media not to Become Complicit in a Cover Up
WASHINGTON - April 28 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who has repeatedly challenged the Defense Department’s treatment of Private First Class (Pfc.) Bradley Manning and sought to meet with Manning, today challenged the purpose of a so-called “Media Day” at the Joint Regional Correctional Facility, Ft. Leavenworth, where Pfc. Manning is currently being held. Pfc. Manning was transferred to Ft. Leavenworth from the Marine Corp Brig
“Instead of answers and accountability for the potential mistreatment of Pfc. Manning, the Department of Defense only offers fake transparency in the form of a guided tour of his new prison. Instead of responding to criticism from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Army will offer the media a scripted fantasy of Manning’s brand new facility. With this stunt, it is clear that the Department of Defense and the Army are more concerned with public relations than the rights and security of Pfc. Manning.
“This fake transparency ignores the central question
“If it is determined that there has been a deliberate effort to break Pfc. Manning physically and/or mentally prior to his trial or subvert his rights in any way, then the news media, which is participating in the public relations exercise today at Ft Leavenworth could become complicit in a cover up.
“The Department of Defense must grant my legitimate request to meet with Pfc. Bradley Manning and fully answer serious questions about his treatment.
“I urge the news media not to be taken in by this contrived pretention of transparency. The American people rely on the news media to investigate the cover up of abuses, not tell us about the nice, new prison the Army has built,” said Kucinich.
WikiLeaks suspect now 'medium custody' prisoner
by Joshua J. McElwee on Apr. 28, 2011
The announcement came at the end of a morning press tour of the facility here where Manning is being held. NCR was part of the tour, which included about a dozen representatives from local, national, and international press organizations.
Manning was moved to the Joint Regional Correctional Facility here April 20 from the Marine brig in
The conditions of his imprisonment at
The commandant of the Fort Leavenworth facility, Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, said the suspected Army private’s new classification -- which “starts tomorrow morning” -- allows Manning to receive Army inspected mail freely, make phone calls, and meet with preapproved visitors.
Prisoners at the facility are housed separately depending on whether they have or haven't faced trial. There are currently ten “pre-trial” prisoners at the facility, said Hilton. Each are placed in individual 80 square foot cells and are connected by a shared common room to three other cells.
During the tour of the six-month-old facility, members of the press were able to see its indoor recreation center, work rooms, outside recreation area, medical facilities, and an empty cell block which Army officials said was similar to the one where Manning is housed.
Each of the cells contained a metallic toilet and sink, along with a bed and metal seat attached to the wall. There was a light switch on the wall inside the cell. Army officials said the space gives the prisoner 35 square feet of "unencumbered space" which can be used for exercise, including jogging in place.
Medium custody prisoners are afforded three hours of recreation each day, one hour of which is outdoors, Hilton said. They also have allotted time each day to use a recreational library. No internet use is allowed by inmates.
The indoor recreation facility was housed inside a large, gym-like structure with six basketball hoops and about a dozen stationary exercise machines. The outdoor area, located on the north side of the complex, was about a football field long, with an open grass field, two basketball courts, and more exercise equipment.
Hilton said prisoners' visitors must be approved by the facility. While visits by journalists are forbidden, visits from nongovermental organizations such as Amnesty International are decided "on a case by case basis." Prisoners are allowed to have up to five visitors at one time.
While one of Manning's key supporters hailed today's announcement as "very good news," he called for those responsible for Manning's treatment at
"Solitary confinement is a form of torture and to punish [Manning] pre-trial as he was amounted to mistreatment and punishment before conviction," Kevin Zeese, the operator of the Bradley Manning Support Network, wrote in an email to NCR.
"The UN rapporteur on torture should now be allowed an official visit with Manning, an unmoitored visit, where his new conditions can be confirmed and where he can be interviewed about his treatment over the last year.
"While this is good news today, we do not forget that Bradley Manning is still incarcerated for nearly a year without trial. The documents he is accused of leaking show war crimes and other crimes....None of these people are being punished in any way, while Manning who has not been convicted of anything remains in confinement."
The press tour of the facility has also already spurred a series of questions from another of Manning's supporters.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who was denied the ability to visit Manning while he was imprisoned at
“How was Pfc. Manning treated during his long, solitary pretrial confinement at