Bradley Manning Seeking All Charges To Be Dropped, His Future Dependent Upon Mood of Society
Bradley Manning was brought to the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va. seven months after being arrested in Iraq in December 2010. He was already renowned worldwide has the intelligence officer whistleblower by the time of his incarceration. Now, nearly two years after, he is still awaiting his trial, during which his defense plans to argue that Manning deserves a 10-1 credit per day he was incarcerated after a certain date.
Standing accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley is set to stand trial on charges including violating the Espionage Act, which carries a possible lifetime sentence. At Quantico, Bradley was held from July 2010-April 2011, his lawyer claim he was punished before his case had been heard. At Fort Meade this week, they will ask a military judge to dismiss all the charges against Bradley, unless the prosecution delays the appeal somehow, reports The Baltimore Sun.
For the first five months at Quantico, his lawyers say he was held under “the functional equivalent of solitary confinement.” Confined to a six-by-eight foot cell, devoid of a window and natural light, he was held 23 and a half hours each day.
He was awaken each morning at 5am and required to stay away until 10pm. He was not permitted to lie on his bed or lean against the cell wall nor exercise while in his cell. Guards were forced to check on him every five minutes. If he could not be seen because he was under his coarse, no-tear blanket which gave him rashes and burns or facing a wall, they would awake him.
The “egregious” conditions at Quantico from his arrival to his transfer to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, amounted to pretrial punishment, and is in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as the US Constitution. Bradley’s lawyer, David Coombs, stated in court papers that Manning was kept in a maximum-security custody and prevention-of-injury status in spite of commendation from brig psychiatrists, who stated that Manning’s prevention-of-injury status was causing him more psychological harm.
An unnamed senior officer apparently told brig officials that “nothing is going to happen to PFC Manning on my watch” and “nothing’s going to change.” Manning’s lawyer describes the conditions as the “flagrant violation of Pfc. Manning’s constitutional right to not be punished prior to trial.”
Today, at Fort Leavenworth Joint Regional Correctional Facility, the 24-year-old Manning is classified as a medium custody detainee. He eats and socializes with other detainees, and walks around with metal shackles. He can also keep personal hygiene items in his cell.
Dwight H. Sullivan, a former Marine Corps attorney who now teaches military law at George Washing University, confirms military law allows for charges to be dismisses when a suspect is found to have been punished pretrial. Cases, however, are a rarity. ”It’s not something that one often sees,” Sullivan said. Generally, he said, a judge who finds that a suspect has been punished before trial may credit that punishment against any eventual sentence.
Bradley is listed as a witness fr his pretrial hearing set to begin Tuesday at Fort Meade, when he is expected to testify about his confinement at Quantico.
The Brig at Quantico’s treatment of Bradley, in a short term perspective, stems from the tense environment in the military during Vietnam, when many soldiers were in outright rebellion. At one brig, in particular, a rebellion broke out.
On August 16, 1968 there was a rebellion at the Marine brig at Danang. And two weeks later, 250 GIs rose up at the Longbing Jail near Saigon, destroying buildings, battling with guards, and holding the prison for nearly a month. In the US, in 1969 alone, the stockades went up at Ft. Dix, Ft. Jackson, Ft. Riley (three times) and Camp Pendleton, alongside other places. The Black Panther played a central role in each uprising. At Dix, one prisoner demanded: “Free Huey P. Newton, the New York Panther 21, the Presidio 27, and all political prisoners!”
In August 1968, one of the most significant mutinies of the Vietnam War took place at Ft. Hood, Texas. On August 23, 100 black soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division met to discuss racism and the use of troops against civilians. 43 GIs then publicly announced they would refuse to go to Chicago for riot duty during the Democratic Party National Convention. The 43 were arrested, suspected of mutiny, a capital offense, just like Bradley is up against. The given the political atmosphere of society during that period, the brass decided to give light sentences and transfers to the 43.
So you see, Bradley Manning’s future depends upon all of us. If a guilty verdict is deemed to politically dangerous, then it will most likely not be handed out. But, that will take a considered movement in favor of freedom in the military and an end to war. Manning’s attorneys will portray him as a troubled young man, struggling with gender identity, and feeling isolated from his fellow soldiers. They will also argue that he should have never been grated access to classified materials.