At this moment, five years after two combat tours in Iraq, a meritorious combat promotion and an honorable discharge my Marine son is a patient in a veterans hospital in Roseburg, Oregon. He has been there for almost a month this time and will spend another two months before finding a place to live close to the hospital. Long ago he lost all illusions that he suffered and sacrificed to protect his family and country; or that he was fighting for freedom and democracy; or for any greater good at all. He let go of those illusions but still believes in the ideals he thought he was fighting for and so to think that the Marine Corps brig at Quantico violates those ideals by torturing a 23 year old Army private, said to stand barely 5’5″ tall is an affront to every warrior who ever put themselves in harms way believing in the US Constitution.
Bradley Manning has been accused and charged with leaking evidence of US war crimes to Wikileaks. Instead of prosecuting those crimes the government has chosen to subject Manning to inhumane treatment.
The Brig has stripped PFC Manning of all of his clothing for the past three nights, and they intend to continue this practice indefinitely. Each night, Brig guards force PFC Manning to relinquish all of his clothing. He then lies in a cold jail cell naked until the following morning, when he is required to endure the humiliation of standing naked at attention for the morning roll call. According to Marine spokesperson, First Lieutenant Brian Villiard, the decision to strip him naked every night is for PFC Manning’s own protection. Villiard stated that it would be “inappropriate” to explain what prompted these actions “because to discuss the details would be a violation of PFC Manning’s privacy.”
The defense communicated with both PFC Manning and the Brig forensic psychiatrist and learned more about the decision to strip PFC Manning of his clothing every night. On Wednesday March 2, 2011, PFC Manning was told that his Article 138 complaint requesting that he be removed from Maximum custody and Prevention of Injury (POI) Watch had been denied by the Quantico commander, Colonel Daniel J. Choike. Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, PFC Manning inquired of the Brig operations officer what he needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum custody and POI. As even Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has stated, PFC Manning has been nothing short of “exemplary” as a detainee. Additionally, Brig forensic psychiatrists have consistently maintained that there is no mental health justification for the POI Watch imposed on PFC Manning. In response to PFC Manning’s question, he was told that there was nothing he could do to downgrade his detainee status and that the Brig simply considered him a risk of self-harm. PFC Manning then remarked that the POI restrictions were “absurd” and sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.
Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used PFC’s Manning’s sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that PFC Manning was a suicide risk. PFC Manning was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk Watch. This is because Suicide Risk Watch would have required a Brig mental health provider’s recommendation, which the Brig commander did not have.
The conduct of the brig commander is beneath the dignity of the United States Marine Corps. The brig commander should be charged with conduct unbecoming a United States Marine.