Kevin Gosztola has been providing detailed updates on the latest Bradley Manning hearings
, focused mainly on the conditions associated with the treatment of Manning after his arrest, and whether or not it amounted to "unlawful pretrial punishment" or involved reasonable precautions by the military. Specifically, as we had discussed, Manning was held in conditions that amounted to torture
under key definitions of torture -- held in "intensive solitary confinement" in total isolation, not allowed to have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Over 250 legal experts condemned
his treatment and the State Department's spokesperson even lost his job
for saying publicly
that Manning was being mistreated, and that it wasn't productive.
The legal issue is that if this treatment was seen as punitive then that's a problem. People can be held pre-trial, but they're not supposed to be "punished" as part of the process. The Defense Department has been trying to claim that the treatment of Manning had to do with fears that he would harm himself, and the latest hearings were to figure out which version of the story is really accurate. The details look pretty damning for the Defense Department. For example, it appears that officials were more concerned about the media, not about Manning's condition:
Going through emails, it came out that Lt. Gen. George Flynn, superior officer, was concerned with media and not Bradley Manning’s conditions. For example, when David House and Firedoglake editor-in-chief Jane Hamsher were harassed at the gate of Quantico, Flynn was in on this incident. He was up on what the public affairs planned to say to any questions from media on the incident. But, he was not up on weekly updates coming from officers in the brig.
Later, the same Lt. Gen. Flynn apparently got upset that the NYTimes had information on Manning's mistreatment and he hadn't been forewarned about the media situation:
Lt. Gen. Flynn was upset that he read about Manning standing outside his cell naked in the New York Times. “It would be good to have leadership have heads up on these things before they’re read in the early bird!” Lt. Col Flynn wrote in an email. The “early bird” is a military synopsis of various news stories/press releases.
And then there's the fact that the "psychologist" relied on to assess Manning's mental state... wasn't actually a psychologist but a dentist
Also, a “forensic psychiatrist” that the Brig was consulting was a Dentist. She didn’t really have qualifications as a psychologist. She was a doctor on staff there and they went to her for assessments on Manning’s condition.
On top of that, evidence was presented of guards joking about taking away Manning's underwear in response to comments Manning had made. It certainly raises significant questions about why they were treating Manning this way and if it actually had anything to do with his own safety... or if they just liked taunting him.
One Quantico Brig officer (female) sent email where he joked about the removal of Manning’s underwear after comments he made on March 2, 2011. Here’s a version the press pool currently believes we heard read in court:
“As Dr. Seuss would say I can wear them in a box, I can wear them with a fox, I can wear them with socks. I can wear them in the day so I say. I can’t wear them at night. My comments gave the staff a fright.”
It is Green Eggs & Ham.
Coombs asked Choike if he believed joking about the underwear was something that an officer should have done. Choike then said something to the effect that he realized this could be brought up by Manning with his attorney and it might become “another media issue.”
Even if you think Manning violated the law, it seems pretty damning to see him treated this way pre-trial.
Separately, prior to the discussion about Manning's conditions, the government officially opposed Manning's attempt to plead guilty to certain lesser charges (as discussed earlier
) in the hopes of speeding up the trial and getting potential leniency on some of the more serious charges. This issue more or less got tabled for procedural reasons, as Manning is still arguing that the government failed to provide a speedy trial and the court notes that if it excepts the plea, that would also waive the speedy trial issue. So, the court will handle the issue of whether or not the government failed to offer a speedy trial before taking on the plea issue.