Day Three at the Bradley Manning Pre-Trial

by JoHarrington

Trapped in stifling conditions; denied information, even when moved in shackles on airplanes; kept blind and sleep deprived. Bradley Manning finally gives his testimony.

By day three at the Fort Meade hearing, it had been established that Bradley Manning's imprisonment was being supervised at the highest level. Information was passed at least weekly to the Pentagon about his conditions.

The commanding officers at Quantico Marine Corps Base had repeatedly ignored the recommendations of psychiatrists and external correctional officers. It had been confirmed that Manning's incarceration did follow lines ruled as torture by the United Nations.

On November 29th 2012, Manning himself testified.

Day Three: The Testimony of Bradley Manning

This was the first time since his arrest that anyone outside the military compounds, and his small number of permitted visitors, had been able to hear from the man himself.

For all the talk of torture and mental breakdowns, Bradley Manning appeared calm, energetic, intelligent and in good spirits, as he took the stand at Fort Meade.

The onlooking press and supporters in the public gallery were able to get a sense of the man at the center of it all.

It was mentioned that he enjoys reading non-fiction books, particularly scientific studies. His favorites include the works of Physicist Brian Greene and Geneticist Richard Dawkins.

In addition, he keeps grounded by hearing as much about current events as he could in his situation.  It kept his tiny world from narrowing in.

It was all a far cry from the views of commanding officers, who had kept him on Prevention of Injury (POL) and Suicide Risk throughout his time at Quantico.  Manning discerned no real practical difference between those two statuses.  Nor did he realize that experts were advocating that the close restrictions that they engendered be lifted from him.

On day two of the pre-trial hearing, Captain Hoctor and his colleagues testified about their psychiatric evaluations of Bradley Manning. They had all recommended that he be taken off POL status.  Hoctor did so on a weekly basis.

But Manning now testified that he was specifically told the opposite by a guard.  Hoctor had not asked for it to happen, so he was going to be labelled as at risk until that occurred.

This was misinformation designed to maintain a situation where he could be incarcerated under high scrutiny.  But there were other moments when his trust was more blatantly betrayed.

How Bradley Manning Learned not to Trust Anyone

His own father betrayed his wishes; while a prison guard used Manning's confidences to create yet more humiliating restrictions.

During his months in Quantico, Bradley Manning was allowed some select visitors.  It wasn't always to his advantage.

He told the pre-trial court that his friend David House had initially been added to the visitors' list. Manning had warned him against 'stir(ring) up the media', as he believed it would cause more trouble for him inside. 

House had appeared to accept this, but every visit was met with a waiting world hanging on his reports.

House had described each of his meetings with Manning to blogger Jane Hamsher.  He'd also appeared on various other media and news outlets, raising awareness of the case. 

It wasn't fully explained how Manning got to hear about it all, but he did.  He instantly requested that House no longer be permitted to see him.

On another occasion, Manning's own father had appeared 'out of the blue' for a visit.  In the course of their conversation, Manning expressed his gratitude and relief that none of his family had granted interviews with the media. 

Mr Manning Sr gave no indication to his son about where he was going after the visit.  It was straight to a studio for precisely one of those interviews.   Bradley took him off the visiting list, as soon as he heard.

Earlier in his testimony, Manning had also contextualized the whole 'suicide by underwear elastic' quip, which had resulted in him losing the privilege of wearing clothing.  In an obvious 'good cop, bad cop' ploy, Staff Sergeant Pataki was the guard who appeared sympathetic to Manning's plight in Quantico.

It was in conversation with him that Manning made the infamous sarcastic comment about his underwear being a potential suicide weapon.  Pataki appeared to take it in the tone in which Manning intended. "I felt like he was listening and understanding, and he smiled a little. I thought I'd actually started to get through to him."

But Pataki took that to his superiors and the comment was used as an excuse to strip Manning of his clothing, and his underwear.

Brian Manning on Frontline Talking about his Son

Bradley Manning's father went public for this interview after visiting his son. Bradley had expressed gratitude that none of his family had gone to the press.

Manning's 'Indoctrination' period in Kuwait

Following a preliminary hearing, where Bradley Manning was accused of aiding Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Manning was placed into a cage.

Bradley Manning was arrested on May 27th, 2010, after hacker Adrian Lamo turned to the FBI with information. Namely that the teenager may be behind certain footage and documents exposed by WikiLeaks.

In the pre-trial hearing Manning testified about what happened after he was taken into custody.

Initially, he was held in living quarters, escorted everywhere, but fundamentally comfortable. Then he was transferred into the 'indoctrination' phase, at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.  This wasn't so pleasant.

Manning was placed into a cage, measuring 8ft by 8ft by 8ft.  It was stifling hot, as the air conditioning had broken in the desert. The lights were left off. He was given a manual containing the rules and remained in the cage at all times, except when escorted into the shower.

By day two, he'd collapsed through dehydration.

Truth and Consequences by Greg Mitchell and Keven Gosztola

Bradley Manning's Pre-Trial Detainment at Camp Arifjan

Things lightened up very slightly after that.  While still at Camp Arifjan, in Kuwait, Bradley Manning was transferred into a detainment tent facility with other prisoners.

He was housed in a twenty man tent and had plenty of opportunities to mix with others. As a naturally extroverted and sociable person, this suited Manning to the ground.  Given the desert heat, their 'day' took place overnight.  Wake up calls were at 22:00 hours, while bedtime occurred around 14:00.

Manning was able to walk outside, in an area restricted for prisoners; watch movies in a television tent; chat with other detainees in a shared refectory; or hang out in a recreation tent.

He was also able to make phone calls. He had memorized his aunt's number and called her.  It was a happy link to the outside world.

But after just a fortnight, it all stopped.  He was back in the cage, in which he'd spent his 'indoctrination' period; and that's where he'd stay for the next month and a half.

Bradley Manning: Caged in Kuwait

At this point, Bradley Manning still had not been formally charged with any crime. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture would later condemn his treatment.

If the heat and darkness were physically draining, then the psychological trauma was worse.

Bradley Manning had no idea what was going on.  He'd not been charged. He had no access to news in any form.  All telephone calls were stopped.  He did not know what was happening in the wider world, nor even in the camp outside that stifling tent.

There were two cages, but only his was occupied.  He had a rack bed, a toilet, his uniform (and two changes of clothing), sheets, a pillow and a succession of books, which he requested to be checked out of the camp library.

There was no privacy.  Nor was he ever told why he'd been transferred back into this cage.

At the Fort Meade pre-trial hearing, Manning admitted that he began to 'deteriorate in terms of awareness of my surroundings and what’s going on.'  Around three times a day, his cage would suddenly be raided by guards.  They would search every inch of it and give him a 'shakedown'.  Then they'd go. He was never told what they were looking for.

He soon began to exhibit signs of distress.  By Manning's own admission, he had 'fallen apart'. He began to become upset, crying and banging his head against the cage's bars. At one point, he twisted his bedsheet into a kind of noose.  This was produced as evidence of his suicidal tendencies at the Fort Meade hearing (pictured above).

But he never used it.  He had nowhere to hang it and he stated that he was never really serious in that intent.  Plus he was being watched constantly.

The camp's medical professional, Captain Richardson, gave him medication to subdue his upset.

Then, on July 29th 2010, Bradley Manning was on the move again.

Kindle eBooks about the Bradley Manning Case

Downland these books to read about Bradley Manning on your eReader.

A Long Flight into the Unknown

All Manning knew was that he was in irons and he was being taken out of Kuwait. Knowing what he did, this caused some alarm.

He was not told where he was going.  A young man learned in the ways of rendition and torture, standing informally accused of whistle-blowing the same to WikiLeaks, was placed onto a plane and not informed what was happening to him.

Manning later testified that this journey caused him some anxiety.  He'd whittled down the possibilities and had worse and best case scenarios.  He did not want to end up in Guantanamo Bay.  

By now, he had some information about how serious it all was.  He later told the courtroom, “I had been conveyed some severity of the charges, but I didn’t really have a lot of guidance legally because of having guards listening. I didn’t know how the American detention system worked.”

Therefore, it was with some relief that his nightmarish journey ended in Virginia, USA.  His first sight of Quantico Marine Corps Base was one of joy.  It was all going to be done above board, and he was going to be alright.

Manning Described his Processing at Quantico as a 'Shark Attack'

His reception at the marine corps base was designed to be disorienting and to achieve the status pre-ordained for him.

By the evening he reached Quantico, Bradley Manning had slept for only 90 minutes in over twenty-four hours.  He was exhausted, confused and uncomfortable, but also relieved to be on American soil.

He was ushered instantly into a holding bay, where he was strip-searched. Standing naked, his entire body was scrutinized for scars, marks and tattoos.  Notes were taken.

Then he was escorted into a 'dark room next door'.  A bewildering array of questions were yelled at him, and none of his answers were deemed correct. Yet they covered such innocuous subjects as his name, address and rank; and accusations of suicidal intent.

He was told to face the bulkhead, but not directed to what the bulkhead was.  He was yelled at for getting it wrong.  He found that he could not possibly meet their expectations, because the questions and instructions were stacked in ways to wrong foot him.

Bradley Manning told the pre-trial courtroom, at Fort Meade, that it all felt like a 'shark attack'.  Guards swarmed about him.  They gave him documentation.  They made him cross out dates and add new ones.  He was disoriented and desperately craving sleep.  The questions kept on coming.

Over and over again he was asked, "Are you suicidal?"  Questions yelled into his face.  He told them that he was not.  They pushed a form before him.  In his confusion, he accidentally indicated that he was suicidal upon it. It was taken away before he could correct it.

He entered Quantico on Suicide Watch status.  It legally allowed for around the clock restrictions.

The Narrow World of Bradley Manning in Quantico

At the pre-trial hearing, at Fort Meade on November 29th 2012, Manning described his environment and daily life in Virginia.

There was no sunlight in the cell. No way of knowing if it was day or night.  Just a fluorescent light which illuminated him 24/7, and another in the corridor outside, which shone into his eyes as he tried to sleep.

He couldn't turn away. The personnel at the observation desk opposite needed to see Bradley's face at all times.

If he pressed his cheeks far enough against the bars, there was a spot just down the corridor, where a reflection of a reflection might provide a notion of daylight.  He was in this cell for at least 23 and a half hours a day.

It was 6ft by 8ft with a metal rack bed fastened to the wall and floor.  The mattress had a pillow stitched into it.  It could not be moved.  A toilet sat alongside where his head would rest, with a sink adjacent to that.  He was given an abrasive blanket, which scratched his skin and caused a rash.  This was Bradley Manning's world.

Because he was technically still on duty, Manning was not allowed to lie down upon the bed during the hours of 05:00 and 17:00 hours.  He had to stand to attention, or sit in a certain position. Upright, formal.  Occasionally, he perched cross-legged on the edge of the bed. It was unauthorized and it could get him into trouble.

Every five minutes, a Brig Officer would appear at the cell door.  It was routine and regulatory.  "Are you alright?"  He or she would ask.  It was required that he respond, "Yes, Sir" or 'Yes, Ma'am."

For twenty minutes every day, he was allocated exercise and shower time. On these occasions, he was escorted outside in chains. 

But for the most part he sat on the edge of his bed, feet towards the observation desk, face on view.  At first, they took his glasses away, but that rendered him nearly blind.  The prisoner's manual given to him to learn the rules had to be held close to his eyes.  It obscured his face, so they gave him back his glasses.

When his clothes were taken away, he was given a suicide smock to wear. It was heavy and cumbersome, once actually trapping his arms inside it.  A corporal had to come and free him from its bondage.

At night, he slept naked, beneath the abrasive blanket.

More Articles about Bradley Manning's Pre-Trial Hearing

With the United Nations condemning the USA for torturing one of its own citizens, something had to be done. In November 2012, an American courtroom heard the charges.
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.
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
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

What are your thoughts on the third day's findings?

JoHarrington on 12/10/2012

You're very welcome. I'm very behind on these articles myself, but I hope to get caught up soon.

cherylone on 12/10/2012

Wow, I can't believe such things are actually allowed to happen. I have been keeping up as best as I can. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

JoHarrington on 12/10/2012

You're very welcome. I'm aware that I'm very behind on these. He's on day nine and I've only written to day three so far. I plan to rectify that before the end of the week.

Thank you for reading.

kate on 12/10/2012

unbelievable. Thanks for keeping us posted on this one

JoHarrington on 12/10/2012

I'm in agreement here. Thank you for commenting.

FreeBradleyManning on 12/10/2012

It's awful how they treated him. Free Bradley Manning!

JoHarrington on 12/09/2012

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture totally disagreed on their assessment.

And yep.

HollieT on 12/08/2012

So, after they humiliated him, isolated him from loved ones and deprived him of sleep for who knows how long, they offered him what can only be described as a straight jacket when he refused to admit to suicidal tendencies. And they honestly believe that because he was 'only' harmed psychologically, it could never be considered real torture.

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