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Human Rights: A Quaint & Obsolete Relic

(1 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Bradley Manning’s detention conditions got worse this week. He is now being held in total isolation in the brig at the Quantico, VA Marine Base. As has been reported by his friend David House, the only visitor he is allowed besides his lawyer, Manning’s mental and physical condition has been deteriorating steadily during his seven month long detention. Manning has no history violence or disciplinary infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offense.

Last Friday Jane Hamsher reported on Manning’s detention and a complaint that has been filed protesting his abuse:

For over five months, Bradley Manning has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch at the Quantico Brig against the recommendations of three forensic psychiatrists. Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, has filed an Article 138 Complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, asserting that this represents an abuse of Brig Commander James Averhart’s discretion.

Coombs’ complaint was filed after the Brig Commander placed Manning under “suicide risk” and MAX custody earlier this week, which made his conditions dramatically worse. Glenn Greenwald broke the story about the inhumane conditions of Manning’s pre-trial confinement last month, shortly before the New York Times reported that the Justice Department strategy regarding Wikileaks was to “persuade” Manning to testify against Julain Assange.. . . . .

Bradley Manning has not been convicted of anything. Abusing his mental health classification while attempting to “persuade” him to testify against Julian Assange has alarming echoes of the techniques used to elicit false confessions from terrorist suspects.  It should alarm everyone that we could be watching pre-trial coersion becoming acceptable American shores.  If so, we can all wave goodbye to “innocent until proven guilty.”

Today Jane, accompanied by David House, went to Quantico to visit Manning and deliver a protest petition to brig officials. Instead they were detained at the gate and harassed by the MP’s who readily admitted they were ordered to do so.

Between 1:00 – 1:30 MPs took their IDs and made them sign a form that they could not deviate to the brig or else they would be considered trespassing. At this time, one of the MPs asked for Hamsher’s auto insurance card. MP Gunnery Sgt. Foster informed Hamsher that her car would be towed after declining to accept a digital copy of Hamsher’s insurance card. House and Hamsher offered to drive off the base but were denied, despite being detained only ten feet inside the base’s perimeter. The MPs then took the Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses of House and Hamsher.

Around 1:40 the tow truck arrived and MPs instructed House and Hamsher to leave their vehicle, informing them that their vehicle would be searched. At 2:00 pm House observed military officers arriving and entering the MP outpost which oversaw their detainment. House expressed concern that he would miss Manning’s visiting hours but was told that he could neither exit nor move forward to the base. No explanation for House and Hamsher’s detainment was provided until, and they were held until 2:50 when they were informed they could leave the base. They were detained for two hours up until Manning’s visitation time period expired at 3:00 pm.

House and Jane have visited Manning in the past but not since Amnesty International filed a complaint to Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling for an investigation into the conditions of Manning’s confinement. The Amnesty International complaint came on the heals of the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, submitting a formal inquiry about the conditions of Manning’s detention. House was banned today from seeing Manning. One of the question now is will he be banned in the future because of his reports on Manning’s condition under these harsh conditions.

I look around at the reports about the resumption of the military commissions at Guantanamo and the new policies on the use of Miranda in terrorist interrogations and I wonder is this still the United States? What happened to our principles of justice, not that they ever favored the underprivileged? Is this country turning into the new Soviet Russia?

Up Date: A thank you from Jane

I just wanted to say a quick thank-you to everyone today for your support when David House and I were being detained at Quantico.

I don’t think any of this had anything to do with me, or frankly the 42,000 petition signatures. The only thing I did was provide housing and transportation to David House, because he’s just out of college and Glenn Greenwald told him he could stay with me when he comes to visit Manning.

Everyone but David has stopped coming to see Bradley, and it takes a lot of courage to do what David is doing. It’s a very intimidating situation. So I try to support him by giving him a place to stay and driving him to the base when he comes to town. That’s really my only involvement.

There is no doubt in my mind that the primary objective of everything that happened today was to keep Bradley Manning from having the company of his only remaining visitor. The MPs told us they were ordered to do this, the brass showed up to make sure that they did, and they held us until 2:50 by repeatedly asking for information they already had whenever we asked to leave.

(emphasis mine)

Up Date: Account of the events as they were happening from Jane Hamsher’s Twitter (read from the bottom up):

Jane Hamsher

uantico top brass made sure we were held until visiting hours were over & impossible 4 @DavidMHouse 2 see Manning. Message clear.

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Jane Hamsher

CRYSTAL clear @tominwindsor: Marine top brass showed up personally 2 make sure Bradley Manning got no visitor this week.

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weezmgk by janehamsher

@dgeary Yep. The rubbish USMC are pulling on @JaneHamsher is not going to play well for them in the press. Make them look fearful.

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Jane Hamsher

Quantico Marine brass showed up PERSONALLY 2 make sure @DavidMHouse never got 2 see Manning. Next visiting period: next week.

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Jane Hamsher

Tow truck driver says we also have to pay 4 time he had 2 wait for Quantico marines 2 release us: $300.

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Jane Hamsher

Marines now say House can’t walk to see House but can go off base, get a cab & come back on. But visitation over at 3pm.

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Jane Hamsher

Nobody knows why Marines are holding Bradley Manning who is in the Army anyway. Manning attorney unable to get an answers.

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Jane Hamsher

For those just catching up, here’s FDL’s Bradley Manning Wikileaks Timeline:

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Jane Hamsher

Talking with my attorney, wants 2 know what why being detained: “Either u have clearance 2 b on base or you don’t & they turn u away.”

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Jane Hamsher

On phone w Trevor Fitzgibbon @fitzgibbonmedia who is working w Bradley Manning supporters. @DavidMHouse calling Manning attorney.

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Jane Hamsher

For whatever reason, Quantico Marine brass don’t want Manning 2 have visitor now. Isolation & enforcement of solitary confinement complete.

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david houseby janehamsher

MPs looking for a reason to arrest us; brass arrives. The US government is like any animal: scare it and it will try to tear your face off.

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Jane Hamsher

Some officers have now entered the guard house & are talking 2 military police. @DavidMHouse & I detained w no explanation for 1 hr 20 min.

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Jane Hamsher

Some offers have now entered guard house.

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Jane Hamsher

Even though @DavidMHouse on approved list 2 see Bradley Manning, Quantico guards refusing 2 let him do so w no explanation. Still detained.

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Jane Hamsher

Still holding us, my car on tow truck but Quantico guards still won’t let us leave.

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Jane Hamsher

In tow truck, waiting 2 b escorted off Quantico base. No idea how @DavidMHouse & I get back to DC.

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Jane Hamsher

Me: “Can I go 2 store I can see fm here & print out insurance if u won’t accept electronic?” Foster: “No.” 15 min ago, could’ve had by now.

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Jane Hamsher

I called Lt Villard on Friday 2 say we were coming 2 Quantico, give courtesy head’s up we were coming. I guess I know he got the message.

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Jane Hamsher

Quantico Guard: “are u leaving anything in your car” Me: “I can’t check when they’re driving it on to tow truck.”

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Jane Hamsher

It’s 28 degrees, forcing us 2 stand outside.

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Jane Hamsher

Military police searching & impounding my car. Won’t let @DavidMHouse on 2 see Bradley Manning, won’t say why.

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Jane Hamsher

Now guards going 2 inventory vehicle.

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Jane Hamsher

Quantico guards didn’t give registration back 2 me, but demanding it again.

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Jane Hamsher

Forcing @DavidMHouse 2 go 2 court. Wouldn’t give ticket, gave him a summons 2 appear in court.

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Jane Hamsher

Me “you won’t accept electronic proof of insurance.” SGT: “has to be printed.” Me: “it was printed off that.” “Unless u have a printer.”

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Jane Hamsher

Escorting us off base, hooking my car up to tow truck now.

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Jane Hamsher

Gunny Foster towing my car bc they won’t accept my electronic proof of insurance, demanding paper.

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Jane Hamsher

We gave SS# @JavaJoeX . They still won’t let us leave OR allow @DavidMHouse 2 go 2 brig even though he is on visitor list 4 Bradley Manning

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Jane Hamsher

Question not whether we can get on base @FirstTeamTommy, that is their discretion. They won’t let us OFF & won’t say why.

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Jane Hamsher

We’re at the guard gate @SundevilSal, but question is whether they can arrest us 4 refusing to provide SS# rather than let us leave.

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Jane Hamsher

We’ve been coming 2 Quantico 4 months @chrisvcb, @DavidMHouse has official permission 2 visit Bradley Manning,

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Jane Hamsher

Now Military Police asking @DavidMHouse 4 his SS# AGAIN.

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Jane Hamsher

When Gunny Foster asked 4 my SS# I said “what if I refuse?” He said he’s Military Police & he can arrest me. Is that true?

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Jane Hamsher

We’re literally being detained without any explanation at Quantico 40 min now. Won’t let us leave. #Wikileaks

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Jane Hamsher

I go 2 McDonalds every time we come 2 Quantico while @davidmhouse visits Manning @TheTonyLee bc guards told me 2. Now “tresspassing.”

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Jane Hamsher

The guards absolutely knew we were coming @auerfeld & told to harass us. “This was what I was told to do” said Gunny Foster

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Jane Hamsher

I go 2 McDonalds every time we come 2 Quantico while @davidmhouse visits Manning @TheTonyLee bc guards told me 2. Now “tresspassing.”

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Jane Hamsher

Now Quantico guards want @davidmhouse driver’s license back for 2nd time.

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Jane Hamsher

Can’t leave base, can’t go 2 brig, can’t get my driver’s license, Gunt Foster threatening 2 arrest us. Haven’t done a thing.

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Jane Hamsher

Gunny Foster Military Police #1715 writing me ticket for not hving latest insurance card. Sorry to 42,000 people who signed Manning petition

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Jane Hamsher

Now been here at Quantico gate for 30 min. Will not let us leave base, holding us.

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Jane Hamsher

Quantico guards say I’ll be arrested if I go to McDonalds while @davidmhouse visits Manning. “That privilege has been withdrawn.”

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Jane Hamsher

Guess Lt Villiard better at reading FDL than returning phone calls. For first time, made us sign letter saying we won’t deliver any pkgs.

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Jane Hamsher

janehamsher Jane Hamsher

Demanding my social security number before they’ll let me on Quantico base, but won’t say why. Never happened before.

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Jane Hamsher

Called Lt Brian Villiard of Quantico on Friday and again today as courtesy to say we were coming re: Bradley Manning, never called me back.

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Jane Hamsher

At Quantico w @DavidMHouse to deliver 42,000 sigs 4 Bradley Maning to brig. Holding us at gate, never happened before: action.firedoglake.com/page/s/bradley…

9 comments

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  1. TMC

    This incident caused a kerfluffle at a couple of so-called progressives blogs where was criticism from the Obama loyalists, who focused their attacks on Jane Hamsher and annoyance that so much attention has been given to a white guy completely missing the point that isolated confinement is an abuse of human rights. That is it is being used against Manning, as it was against Jose Padilla, is a true abuse of power by the Justice Department.

    Glenn Greenwald, too, has been singled out by the Obama apologists for his criticism of Manning’s treatment. This is Glenn’s take on the issue:

    There’s an emerging theme circulating in some precincts that those protesting the conditions of Manning’s detention are somehow acting improperly because they ignore — and even implicitly endorse — all the other cases of prisoners in the U.S. being held in prolonged isolation.  This claim was first concocted by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella in a recent Op-Ed in The Guardian, in which they glaringly fail to identify a single person guilty of these accusations, opting instead for the consummately cowardly and slimy reliance on the “some say” strawmen tactic favored by mendacious politicians.  Thus we find accusations hurled at the following, all without names, citations or even links:  “many have argued . . . .  progressive commentators . . . these writers – and their readers, if comments are any measure . . . they depict . . . writers and readers make the point . . . . We have also seen articles suggesting. . . . ”

    It’s hard to overstate the intellectual dishonesty and cowardice of those who use this tactic (as always, if you defend yourself from these nameless accusations, the accusers will simply claim they didn’t mean you; if you don’t, the insinuation hangs over you).  As a general rule:  if you want to take issue with what someone has said, name them specifically and link to them (or at least cite and quote from the offending article) so that there’s accountability and a way for readers to check the veracity of your claims.

    This accusation is necessary to address because it’s now become a popular means among Obama apologists for discrediting objections to Manning’s detention (and, in the hands of some of the Internet’s most bottom-scraping, Obama-revering commenters, has even morphed into a claim that the focus on Manning is racially motivated: i.e., he’s white, hence the unique concern over his treatment).  It’s also necessary to address because this Guardian Op-Ed does link to my original article reporting on Manning’s conditions — not to necessarily suggest that I stand accused of these crimes of selective concern, but as an example of Manning’s detention being “discussed, lamented and protested throughout the left-leaning blogosphere.”  I just want to comprehensively address this little smear one time before it proliferates further.

    Glenn provides links to his criticism over the years on the abuse in the US prison system and of the treatment of Jose Padilla when there was crickets from the the concern trolls.

  2. TMC

    Commander James Averhart was relieved of his command on Monday and replaced by Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes.

    The change in command was ordered back in October and is not related to the concerns raised by Manning’s lawyer, said Villiard. But Manning’s lawyer is holding out hope that the new commander will move his client to a less restrictive incarceration status.

    “We are hopeful that she will do a complete review of PFC Manning,” custody situation, Manning’s lawyer David Coombs told CNN. Manning’s current situation “is unwarranted and unnecessary while he awaits trial.”

    If this was ordered back in October, why wasn’t it carried out then? I suspect, knowing what  motivates the military, that this was a lame “saving face” move.

    Cmdr. Averhart’s lies about his reasons for Manning’s harsh confinement flies if the face or recommendation from “the military psychiatrist involved has consistently recommended putting Manning in even less stringent conditions, adding there was no reason to keep him on Prevention of Injury Watch”.

    This prolonged inhumane detention has no other purpose but to break Manning and get him to testify against Assange. The government has been have been unable to make any direct connection between” Manning and Assange. So, the DOJ has no case against Assange and now appears that this case against Manning is because he exposed war crimes that the US and the DOJ are failing, or refusing, to address.

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