Activists Trying to Visit Bradley Manning Detained by Military Police
Earlier today David House and FireDogLake publisher Jane Hamsher were detained at Quantico when they tried to check on Bradley Manning and deliver a 42,000 signature petition demanding an end to the inhumane conditions of his arrest. Manning remains locked up in solitary confinement, despite claims that his brutal treatment -- 23 hours a day in a cell, no exercise, no pillow or comfortable blanket -- has led to his physical and mental deterioration.
According to Michael Whitney at FireDogLake, Hamsher and House were stopped by military police at the entrance of Quantico, who allegedly divulged only that orders to hold them had "come from the top." They were held for several hours. Here's a description of events fromFireDogLake:
From 1:00 – 1:30 MP’s took their ID’s and made them sign a form that they could not deviate to the brig or else they would be trespassing. At this time, one of the MP’s asked for Hamsher’s insurance card. Hamsher attempted to produce a digital copy of the card, at which point MP Gunny Foster informed Hamsher that her car would be towed. House and Hamsher offered to drive away off the base but were denied, despite being detained only ten feet inside the base’s perimeter. The MP’s took the Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses of House and Hamsher.
Around 1:40 the tow truck arrived and MP’s instructed House and Hamsher to leave their vehicle, informing them that their vehicle would be searched. At 2:00 pm House observed military officers arriving and entering the MP outpost which oversaw his detainment. House expressed concern that he would miss Manning’s visiting hours but was informed that he could neither exit nor move forward to the base. No explanation for House and Hamsher’s detainment was provided until at 2:50 when they were informed they could leave the base. They were detained for two hours up until Manning’s visitation time period was set to expire at 3:00.
Both Hamsher and House (who's on the visitation list at Quantico) tweeted updates throughout their ordeal. "Quantico top brass made sure we were held until visiting hours were over & impossible 4 @DavidMHouse 2 see Manning. Message clear," tweeted Hamsher. Over her feed Hamsher also reminded her followers that Manning has not been convicted of a crime.
Given that Manning has not even been tried yet and does not appear to be a danger to himself or others, critics have speculated that his harsh imprisonment is designed to coerce him into testifying against Julian Assange. The DOJ currently has no grounds for a criminal case against the founder of WikiLeaks and may be trying to cook up allegations of collusion between Manning and Assange. In December Glenn Greenwald wrote, "The need to have Manning make incriminating statements against Assange -- to get him to claim that Assange actively, in advance, helped Manning access and leak these documents -- would be one obvious reason for subjecting Manning to such inhumane conditions: if you want to have better treatment, you must incriminate Assange."
For two days last week, Manning faced even more severe restrictions when he was placed on suicide watch against the advice of the jail psychiatrist: he was stripped to his underwear, held in his cell full time, and had his eyeglasses taken away. After his lawyers protested that the switch was punitive, Manning was put back on "prevention of injury" status -- The petitionHouse and Hamsher were on their way to deliver to the commanding officer of the brig where Manning is held, says the following:
The severe isolation is already having negative effects on Pfc. Manning’s health, according to his attorney and a friend. And his psychologist says he is of no danger to himself or others, making the longstanding POI order unnecessary.
The conditions of Pfc. Manning’s detention are cruel, inhumane, and disproportionate for the crime with which he has only been charged.
We urge you to lift Pfc. Manning’s POI order and allow him to exercise, communicate, and sleep as allowed under maximum custody.