3.11.2011

bradley manning in his own words: truth-teller speaks out about his prison ordeal

This is the first we've heard directly from heroic war resister Bradley Manning, in his own words, since his prison ordeal began. Please share widely.
Stripped naked every night, Bradley Manning tells of prison ordeal

US soldier held on suspicion of leaking state secrets speaks out for first time about experience

'Stripping me of all of my clothing is without justification'

Bradley Manning, the US soldier being held in solitary confinement on suspicion of having released state secrets to WikiLeaks, has spoken out for the first time about what he claims is his punitive and unlawful treatment in military prison.

In an 11-page legal letter released by his lawyer, David Coombs, Manning sets out in his own words how he has been "left to languish under the unduly harsh conditions of max [security] custody" ever since he was brought from Kuwait to the military brig of Quantico marine base in Virginia in July last year. He describes how he was put on suicide watch in January, how he is currently being stripped naked every night, and how he is in general terms being subjected to what he calls "unlawful pre-trial punishment".

It is the first time Manning has spoken publicly about his treatment, having previously only been heard through the intermediaries of his lawyer and a friend. Details that have emerged up to now have inspired the UN to launch an inquiry into whether the conditions amount to torture, and have led to protests to the US government from Amnesty International.

The most graphic passage of the letter is Manning's description of how he was placed on suicide watch for three days from 18 January. "I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness."

Manning writes that he believes the suicide watch was imposed not because he was a danger to himself but as retribution for a protest about his treatment held outside Quantico the day before. Immediately before the suicide watch started, he said guards verbally harassed him, taunting him with conflicting orders.

When he was told he was being put on suicide watch, he writes, "I became upset. Out of frustration, I clenched my hair with my fingers and yelled: 'Why are you doing this to me? Why am I being punished? I have done nothing wrong.'"

He also describes the experience of being stripped naked at night and made to stand for parade in the nude, a condition that continues to this day. "The guard told me to stand at parade rest, with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder-width apart. I stood at parade rest for about three minutes … The [brig supervisor] and the other guards walked past my cell. He looked at me, paused for a moment, then continued to the next cell. I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked."

Full story here.

11 comments:

Kev said...

A State Dept. spokesperson recently said of the military's treatment of Bradley, that the way his colleagues at the Department of Defense were treating Pfc. Bradley Manning "is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."
I would go further and and call it criminal as Kucinich does.

"I just want to say one thing if I had a chance to talk directly to Secretary Gates," Kucinich told MSNBC's Contessa Brewer during a Monday interview. "He's at the end of his career, Secretary Gates. It would be a shame to have a blot on his record which suggests he suborned human rights violations."

"There will be consequences under the law for Secretary Gates for continuing to be complicit in the way this soldier is being treated."
AMEN!

laura k said...

It certainly is criminal, but it's also good for people within the administration to point out that it's not even useful - the same way we point out that torture doesn't even work. Many people scoff at a moral or human rights argument, but will hear a pragmatic argument.

Sadly, I can't imagine there will be any consequences to Robert Gates, but it's a nice thought.

allan said...

Kucinich is being very diplomatic. I'm sure he knows that Gates's entire career is a blot ... a criminal, murderous, blood-soaked blot.

Lorraine said...

I saw PFC Manning's father on PBS' NewsHour the other night and I was completely and utterly shocked. He is nothing if not a case study in emotionlessness.

http://video.pbs.org/video/1836603868/

laura k said...

Lorraine, nothing in the clip you posted supports that observation. But if Manning's father did seem emotionless, it's probably because that's how he's coping. Each of us manages in our own way.

laura k said...

Here's more about Brian Manning's statements about his son's imprisonment. He's a military man. Like many war resisters, Bradley Manning may not have the full support of his parents.

allan said...

PBS transcript.

allan said...

Obama, on Manning's treatment:
"[I] actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are."

Greenwald:
"Oh, that's very reassuring -- and such a very thorough and diligent effort by the President to ensure that detainees under his command aren't being abused. He asked the Pentagon and they said everything was great -- what more is there to know? Everyone knows that on questions of whether the military is abusing detainees, the authoritative source is . . . the military. You just ask them if they're doing anything improper, and once they tell you that they're not, that's the end of the matter."

Obama is acting like we all have the minds of a 3-year-old.

laura k said...

It's the old Achilles heel that the Democrats allow themselves to be vulnerable to time after time - can't be seen to be soft on military!

Even when they had an actual war "hero", the only candidate who had actually served in wartime, they weren't able to defend themselves against charges of military weakness ("swiftboating").

In reality, Obama has lost all those people anyway. Instead of worrying about perceived weakness, he could do the right thing and win a few people back.

But no.

allan said...

It would appear that he believes he's doing the "right thing" now.

Kev said...

Daniel Ellsberg on Obama's statement

President Obama tells us that he's asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, "are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."

If Obama believes that, he'll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they've been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/11/bradley-manning-wikileaks