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Nov 30 2012

Bradley Manning talks about his treatment

At his hearing, the alleged Wikileaks leaker describes his harsh treatment while being detained and how he tried to keep himself sane.

The more he protested the harsh conditions under which he was being held, the more that was taken as evidence that he was a suicide risk, leading to yet more tightening of the restrictions imposed upon him.

He was under constant observation, made to go to the toilet in full view of the guards, had all possessions removed from his cell, spent at times only 20 minutes outside his cell and even then was always chained in hand and leg irons.

He told a sergeant that he thought was sympathetic to him that these precautions were useless since if he wanted to commit suicide, he could do it with his flip-flops and his underwear.

That night guards arrived at his cell and ordered him to strip naked. He was left without any clothes overnight, and the following morning made to stand outside his cell and stand to attention at the brig count, still nude, as officers inspected him.

The humiliating ritual continued for several days, and right until the day he was transferred from Quantico on 20 April 2011 he had his underwear removed every night. The brig authorities later stated that in their view the exceptional depriving of an inmate’s underpants was a necessary precaution, in the light of his ominous comments about using his underwear and flip-flops to harm himself.

They piled one petty humiliation upon another.

The cell contained a toilet that was in the line of vision of the observation booth, and he was not allowed toilet paper. When he needed it, he told the court, he would stand to attention by the front bars of the cell and shout out to the observation guards: “Lance Corporal Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!”

It seems clear that they were trying to break him mentally.

He was put on a schedule whereby he would be woken up at 10 o’clock at night and given lights out at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. “My nights blended into my days and my days into nights,” he told the court.

At night the light situation was even worse. Because he was considered a possible risk of self-harm throughout his time at Quantico, he was under observation throughout the night, with a fluorescent light located right outside the cell blazing into his eyes. While asleep he would frequently cover his eyes with his suicide blanket, or turn on to his side away from the light, and on those occasions, sometimes three times a night, the guards would bang on his cell bars to wake him up so they could see his face.

It is a chilling account. It would drive anyone crazy.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Emrysmyrddin

    Surely ‘Breanna’?

  2. 2
    Marcus Ranum

    It’s pretty obvious that they weren’t so much worried about him committing suicide as trying to drive him to it. :(

  3. 3
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Surely ‘*her* harsh treatment’?

  4. 4
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Well it’s a difficult subject, isn’t it? Manning has never stated publicly that xe is trans – there is only some private chat logs where it is hinted at, though strongly – and the name Breanna never appears in any statement or communication from Manning at all that I can tell.

    Even Zinnia Jones, who knew Manning slightly and interviewed Manning after the arrest, calls Manning ‘Bradley’.

    As a cis male, I’m really hesitant to even say anything at all on the matter – and I wouldn’t excepting that I spent several hours a couple of weeks ago trying to find a definite answer and could not. However, I’m willing to take ZJ’s lead. Until Manning confirms a trans identity and chooses to be called by a different name, I think it would be best to just say Bradley Manning (and carefully avoid gendered pronouns).

    If I’m wrong and I’ve missed something, please correct me on this.

  5. 5
    Mano Singham

    I have heard about this from third parties but until Manning unequivocally expresses a preference otherwise, I am going to stick with Bradley.

  6. 6
    lochaber

    I’m a little uncertain about Manning’s rank (lance corporal in the paragraph above, wikipedia has it listed as private first class, and I typically hear private in common use).

    Anyways, we could just use ‘Private Manning’ – There has been so much noise about this issue that there shouldn’t be too much confusion in regards to other Mannings, and it’s gender neutral.

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