Day One at the Bradley Manning Pre-Trial

by JoHarrington

A dentist provided the psychiatric report. Guards paraded to gawp at their naked detainee. A commander made up mocking Dr Seuss poetry. Just some of the pre-trial revelations.

By the time Bradley Manning goes to court martial, he will have been imprisoned by the USA for over 1000 days without a trial.

The unconstitutional nature of this has been verified by leading academics, and it's in the motion to dismiss all charges raised by his lawyer. Before Manning can be tried, a few details have to be established; and that was what the pre-trial was all about.

A military judge heard the evidence. In a courtroom filled with supporters and members of the press, that means that we did too.

Day One: The Testimony of Colonel Daniel Choike

Now retired, Col. Daniel Choike was the Brig. Commander at Quantico Marine Corps. Base for nine months during Bradley Manning's incarceration there.

Choike explained that he was just following orders, when Bradley Manning was held in conditions ruled torturous by the United Nations.

Taking the stand at the pre-trial on November 27th 2012, Choike confirmed that, during his command at Quantico, he had held Manning in solitary confinement for months on end. It was in a room 6ft by 8ft.

His prisoner had been checked every five minutes, and forced to sleep with the light on at all times. His belongings had been taken away.  Moreover, Manning was required to be naked overnight, and during morning inspection.

But it seems that the directives came from Lt Gen George Flynn, a three-star general based at the Pentagon.

Manning's lawyer David Coombs produced an e-mail, sent by Flynn to Choike shortly before Manning's arrival at Quantico.  Flynn wrote that he "would like to be proactive and make sure we hold the moral high ground if this issue takes hold in the press". 

While Choike confirmed that Flynn had been kept informed at every step of the way, he also insisted that the day to day decisions were his own.  Flynn merely set the parameters.  However, those parameters made it clear that this was to be a tough regime.  No changes could be made to Manning's status without first informing the general.

Flynn deliberately put nothing in writing.  His thoughts and instructions were all made verbally.  He also appeared concerned that politically embarrassing information would be circulated in the press.

Books about Bradley Manning

Guards Joked While Bradley was Forced to Stand Naked

Manning's 'Prevention of Injury' (POL) status allowed tough restrictions and regular checks to be applied to him.

It was judged that Bradley Manning was at high risk of suicide, so his possessions were taken away from him. 

He then sarcastically quipped that, if he wanted to harm himself, he could do it with his flip-flops or underwear.  So they took them away too. 

The POL status seems to have legitimized a whole range of confusing or highly restrictive procedures. He was placed under it because of 'erratic' behavior, which included dancing in his cell and playing 'peek-a-boo' through the bars.

While under medication, he had also licked the bars of his cell.  Choike finished with stating that 'poor judgment in the past and poor family relationships' had contributed to ruling Manning a POL case.

At night, this involved Manning lying naked, with the lights on at all times.  Each morning, he was to stand to attention, feet placed shoulder-width apart, while Quantico's guards filed past. He was still naked.  He'd been offered a choice between a blanket or a suicide smock, but when he reached for the blanket, it was snatched away.

The situation appears to have amused one of his captors, who composed a ditty on a theme of Dr Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham.

"I can wear them in a box,
I can wear them with a fox,
I can wear them in the day,
I can wear them so I say,
But I can't wear them at night,
My comments gave the staff a fright."

David Coombs asked Choike if he thought that the circumstances were a joking matter. The colonel replied that he did not.

Cross-examining for the prosecution, Army Major Ashden Fein affirmed that the decision to place Manning on POL status had a little more substance.  He told Choike, "You were aware of (Manning) licking the bars at night, that he wouldn't interact with staff, that there were times when he wouldn't be responsive at all, that there was an incident of him crying behind an exercise machine."

It was also mentioned that Bradley Manning had crafted some nooses, in his early days at Quantico.  None of this had been revealed earlier, when Colonel Choike laid out his reasoning for the POL status.

Choike added that he had initially advised that Quantico was inappropriate, as a holding bay for Manning, for more than ninety days.  Unfortunately, his prisoner was there for nine months.

A Dentist Made Psychiatric Reports on Bradley Manning

Well, it's all in the vicinity of the head, isn't it? Teeth, brain, skull stuff.

One of the more bizarre revelations made by Choike, at the pre-trial hearing, was that a Quantico dentist had made mental health recommendations for Bradley Manning's treatment.

Despite having no qualifications in the field, she was regularly approached for her assessment on his mental health. She did protest that she was not a psychiatrist; but she was a doctor on staff, so they went to her.

Fortunately her evaluations were joined by reports from better qualified colleagues.

One military psychiatrist judged Bradley Manning's treatment to be worse than at Guantanamo Bay. Another thought it worse than Death Row. They were both ignored.
Updated: 12/14/2012, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/20/2012

My gut feeling is the same, but his lawyer David Coombs has spoken out on this (rarely, as he doesn't usually discuss this with the general public). He says that the military courts are actually the best place for Bradley Manning. The way it's set up is different, but there are also very strict guidelines, which have to be adhered to.

I don't know. It's a case of trusting, because there is no other option, which isn't a great turn of events.

JoHarrington on 12/10/2012

Bradley Manning won with 70% of the vote.

KATE on 12/10/2012

damn i missed the deadline for the vote!

JoHarrington on 12/09/2012

Yes, I did, so thank you for that. He won with 70% of the vote! I wonder how that's going to go down on the other side of the Atlantic?

HollieT on 12/08/2012

I voted for him too, and I was pretty sure that if you hadn't already seen the article you'd want the chance to vote. :)

JoHarrington on 12/08/2012

Thank you very much! I've just nipped there and voted. The polls close in 12 hours time.

HollieT on 12/08/2012

Guardian taking votes for person of the year- Bradley manning nominated.

JoHarrington on 12/07/2012

You are very welcome. It's a subject which I wanted to raise awareness in, particularly since the mainstream press seem to either be ignoring it or relegating it to a couple of lines on page 3.

HollieT on 12/07/2012

Thank you, Jo. I'd seen these articles but was really busy. This is serious stuff and I didn't want to just skim them but read and really think about them. I'm working my way to your other articles on the topic- and I very much admire the time that you have spent bringing them to the fore- we need to be aware of this stuff!

JoHarrington on 12/07/2012

I was so hoping that you'd comment on all of these! I'm happy dancing right now because you have. Your insight is much keener than mine on these things, as I'm coming in from the what-are-they-doing-to-that-Welsh-boy and the human rights angle.

It's all as I suspected.

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