In one of the ugliest news conferences I have ever witnessed, “Defense Department Spokesman Geoff Morrell dismissed allegations that Private First Class Bradley Manning has been improperly detained for his alleged role in the release of classified documents by WikiLeaks”. Morrell then proclaims that ALL prisoners are enduring the same conditions that Amnesty International has declared ‘inhumane’ as Bradley Manning.
Read the transcript here.
So assertions by liberal bloggers, or network reporters or others that he is being mistreated, or somehow treated differently than others, in isolation, are just not accurate. And I’m glad you asked the question, so I had the opportunity, hopefully, to clear that matter up once and for all.
Q: Could I just follow up on that? I mean, all of that being said, he still does spend 23 out of every 24 hours in that cell by himself. He’s not allowed to exercise in the cell. He’s not allowed to arbitrarily just write letters. He has to specifically ask for anything more than, say, one book at a time. Are — is there any concern that — because from what we’ve heard, even the forensic psychologist who spoke with him and examined him recommended that he not be on this protective order. I think that there’s a — there’s a question out there as to exactly how the brig commander — what criteria is being used to keep him under this order for such a long period of time, considering he’s still in a pre-trial status.
MR. MORRELL: Just as though he is not being treated any worse than any other detainee, he is not being treated any better than any other detainee. He is not going to receive special privileges, which is essentially what you are asking him to receive. He is being treated exactly like everyone else in the brig is being treated. That’s what’s appropriate. We treat them all equally. And I don’t understand why there would be a need for an exception to those rules to be made for Private Manning — or anyone else, for that matter.
Q: Well, are there other prisoners who have been under this protective order for the length of time that Private Manning has?
MR. MORRELL: That’s probably a question that’s best addressed to my colleagues at Quantico, in terms of the population at the brig there, how long some have been there versus others. I don’t believe that this is an unusually long period of time. A case is being built to prosecute him on the charges that were — again, to correct another mis-report yesterday that — you know, there were cable news reports yesterday that somehow Private Manning was being held without charge — not just that he was being held in conditions that the media thought were inappropriate, but that he was being held without charge — and how un-American that is.
As you all know who work in this building, who received the charge sheet back in July, he most certainly has been charged. And he has not only been charged with illegally downloading classified information, but he has been charged with disseminating classified information to people unauthorized to receive it. So those are very serious charges levied against him, related to a very discrete incident involving mostly the downloading of Apache gunship video from Iraq, but also some cables as well were mentioned in the charging sheet back in July. He is, as we mentioned a person of interest in the much larger leak by WikiLeaks of additional classified documents, cables and tactical field reports and so forth. But I think the manner in which he is being held is completely appropriate and completely consistent with how any and all detainees at the brig are treated.
UPDATE: Manning’s lawyer David Coombs issued a response to Geoff Morrell’s claims Manning is treated the same as every other detainee.
Despite the assertion of Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, PFC Bradley Manning is not being treated like every other detainee at the Quantico brig. Morrell stated during today’s Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning’s “confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.” This statement is patently false.
PFC Manning is being treated differently. He is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions. What is the difference?
(1) Supervision must be immediate and continuous. A DD 509, Inspection Record of Prisoner in Segregation, shall be posted by the cell door and appropriate entries made at least every 15 minutes.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work details outside the cell.
(3) They shall be assigned to the most secure quarters.
(4) Two or more staff members shall be present when MAX prisoners are out of their cells.
(5) MAX prisoners shall wear restraints at all times when outside the maximum-security area and be escorted by at least two escorts (confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406).
(1) Supervision shall be continuous within the security perimeter and immediate and continuous when outside the security perimeter.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work outside the security perimeter.
(3) They shall wear restraints outside the security perimeter unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs otherwise.
(4) They shall be escorted by at least two confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406, unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs only one escort is required.
(5) They may be assigned dormitory quarters.
Under the above restrictions, every other detainee is allowed outside of their cell for the majority of the day. The facility is not locked down when they are walking in the brig. They do not wear hand and leg restraints outside of their cell. They are not escorted by guards when outside of their cell. Every other detainee is assigned to work details during the day. These work details allow them move freely within the facility and also outside of the facility whenever within the security perimeter.
If Manning is reduced to medium watch then and only then will he be treated like every other detainee in the brig.