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?