The Bradley Manning Project

A prisoner accused of a crime was held from May 2010 until April 2011 in a Virginia military prison but was never brought to trial. He was being punished before trial by being held in solitary, with no prisoners in the adjacent cells to talk to. He slept under bright lights and cameras, and for some time he was forced to sleep naked. He was asked every 5 minutes if he was ok. He was required to respond, even if asleep. Done for 11 months, 23 hours a day, this is torture, and violates international law, United States law, the Constitution, and standards of human decency. Pretrial punishment is illegal.

A growing wave of outcry developed. There were arrests at Quantico's gate, a letter to the President from his mentor in Constitutional Law and 300 other lawyers. Then there was a stumble by the President. He accidentally spoke of the prisoner as if he were already convicted. A hasty press conference was called, announcing that the prisoner awaiting trial would soon be moved to a medium security cell at Fort Leavenworth. The torture was over.

How soon will this prisoner be brought to trial? How much of a case does the Army have against him? Possibly a very weak one, for it to be so long in the making. Perhaps there will be a "show trial".

Unfortunately, bringing him to a proper trial would make a public record of US violence against civilians. Machine gunners in a helicopter shot newsmen and kids who were witnessing a firefight. The prisoner is accused of exposing this crime. So he sits, waiting forever.

Or until we get him out.

His name is Bradley Manning.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bradley Manning Judged Fit To Stand Trial

Military psychiatrists have determined that Bradley is fit to stand trial. He was observed to be pausing a bit before answering questions last January when he was back in the Quantico brig, but reportedly this was overcome by antidepressants.

According to New World Liberty, reporting on a story by CBS, the army is claiming that the 11 months in solitary at Quantico were necessary so that the psychiatrists who declared Manning fit for trial could be given security clearances. Apparently the clearances for some were being held up. Some but not others. Another Army psychiatrist several times declared Manning "not a suicide risk".

So whoever it was who was holding up the security clearances for Manning's psychiatrists - this person is a player in the game. In ten more years, after computers have become 32 times more powerful, his name will be a crossword puzzle hint.

David Martin, author of the CBS story, also notes that Manning is unlikely to come to trial while the Department of Justice is still constructing its case against Julian Assange, the Wikileaks manager who has been publishing the leaked documents one by one.

That is to say, Bradley Manning is at serious risk of further long-term pre-trial detention. A quick trial, guaranteed by the Constitution, doesn't seem to be in the works.

Maybe the President should know about it...

Bradley Manning At Leavenworth

May 3rd, 2011 - David Coombs, Bradley Manning's lawyer, writes about a typical day at Fort Leavenworth prison for Manning, who awaits trial, accused of releasing documents to WikiLeaks:
"PFC Manning is now being held in Medium Custody. He is no longer under Prevention of Injury watch and is no longer subjected to harsh pretrial confinement conditions."
"Unlike at Quantico, PFC Manning cell has a large window that provides adequate natural light. His cell also has a desk, a bed, and a toilet. The cell is approximately 80 square feet. He is provided with a normal mattress, sheets and a pillow. None of his clothing is taken away from him at night. PFC Manning is able to have all of his personal items in his cell, which include his clothing, his legal materials, books and letters from family and friends. He is also able to have a pen and paper at all times in his cell, and is able to write whenever he chooses."
Manning's cell opens onto a common area that he shares with several other inmates awaiting trial. Meals are in a cafeteria. Outdoor exercise and a library are available. His situation now seems to be a model of what is appropriate for pre-trial detention.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Manning To Be Moved To Leavenworth

According to the New York Times, in a hastily arranged press conference, the army announced that Bradley Manning, the accused leaker of classified material to Wikileaks, will be moved out of the Marine brig at Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, a military prison where many others awaiting trial are held.


We will continue to follow his case.

Slow Torture

Most people have heard about "Chinese water torture". Drip, drip, drip. The successive drops of water landing on your head are enough to make you crazy. It is a slow form of torture, slow and painless, and it leaves no marks. You were obviously crazy to begin with.

Long-term solitary confinement is a similar slow form of torture. It leaves no marks. Stop talking for nine months, and you forget how to talk. Stop listening and you forget how to listen. Hallucinations begin. The brain devolves.

Long-term solitary was used in the Charleston SC brig on prisoner Jose Padilla. This, along with stress interrogation, reduced his mind to shambles.

By January 2011, after almost nine months imprisonment, Bradley Manning was beginning to speak only slowly and haltingly, evidence that the regime of confinement was having some effect. According to FireDogLake, his guards began to play brutal games, taking turns giving him contradictory orders. And...
"... After Manning returned to his cell from recreation, Averhart came to his cell, declared he was, for all practical purposes, Manning’s God. Then, he ordered Manning be stripped and put on suicide watch..."
Manning was required to sleep naked under bright lights.

Protests occurred, growing ever-larger for several months. The committee of 300 lawyers whose protest letter is below may have helped impel this decision, as well as the many letters to the President written by individuals. And the protests and arrests.

At the end of April, Manning was moved to Fort Leavenworth and put in medium custody, where he has human contact and was doing well when last heard from.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Letter From Laurence Tribe And Friends

President Obama sits in the captain's chair of the American military. He is the supreme commander of the armed forces. He can order that Bradley Manning be released on bail until he comes to trial. Contrary to some people's belief, he does not exert command authority over all Americans, but he does have the ability to assert command authority over the military.

Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of Constitutional Law who was Obama's mentor at Harvard, where Obama ran the Harvard Law Review, has joined with over 250 other lawyers, calling on Obama to obey the 5th and the 8th amendments to the Constitution and to stop the pre-trial punishment of Bradley Manning. Here is their letter.

Here are some choice parts of the letter:

"Private Manning’s Humiliation

Bradley Manning is the soldier charged with leaking U.S. government documents to Wikileaks.

He is currently detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.

For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for 23 hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question “Are you OK?” verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again, “are you OK” every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a "smock" under claims of risk to himself that he disputes."

"The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, “the administration or application… of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.” "
"If Manning is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and punished according to law. But his treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no excuse for his degrading and inhumane pre-trial punishment. As the State Department’s PJ Crowly put it recently, they are “counterproductive and stupid.” And yet Crowley has now been forced to resign for speaking the plain truth.

The Wikileaks disclosures have touched every corner of the world. Now the whole world watches America and observes what it does; not what it says."

The letter also points out that Manning has been declared not to be a suicide threat or a social problem by the prison psychiatrist several times, yet he is being held in isolation in maximum security:
"Private Manning has been designated as an appropriate subject for both Maximum Security and Prevention of Injury (POI) detention. But he asserts that his administrative reports consistently describe him as a well-behaved prisoner who does not fit the requirements for Maximum Security detention. The Brig psychiatrist began recommending his removal from Prevention of Injury months ago. These claims have not been publicly contested. In an Orwellian twist, the spokesman for the brig commander refused to explain the forced nudity “because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.”"
Would you like to sign the Tribe letter?
"If you'd like to add your signature, please send your name and institutional affiliation to Signatories added below in periodic updates."

The more who sign the Tribe letter, the freer we will be.

Obama can release him on bail.

You can tell Obama that you would like him to do this. For the survival of the system we believe in. Yes, you can!