Is Quantico base commander retaliating for Article 138 complaint defending Bradley Manning?

In a stellar example of the military behaving badly, Quantico guards harassed Bradley Manning visitors on the approved list denying access to Manning. Manning is being held on suspicion of releasing information to Wikileaks, including the Collateral Murder video and a trove of US diplomatic cables. Inexplicably, Manning an Army specialist is being held at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia under conditions regarded as torture.

David House, an approved and regular visitor of Manning and blogger Jane Hamsher (normally waits at a McDonald’s for House to finish his visit), was prevented from visiting and Hamsher had her car towed.

The defense asserts that the action of holding PFC Manning in Maximum (MAX) custody, under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch for over five months and recently placing him under suicide risk was an abuse of CWO4 James Averhart’s discretion, and a wrong within the meaning of Article 138, UCMJ. As redress, the defense has requested that Colonel Choike order PFC Manning’s removal from suicide risk and POI watch and that he order the reduction of PFC Manning classification level from MAX to MDI.

On January 18, 2011, over the recommendation of two forensic psychiatrists, the commander of the Quantico Brig, CWO4 Averhart, placed PFC Manning under suicide risk. The suicide risk assignment meant that PFC Manning was required to remain in his cell for 24 hours a day. He was stripped of all clothing with the exception of his underwear. His prescription eyeglasses were taken away from him. He was forced to sit in essential blindness with the exception of the times that he was reading or given limited television privileges. During those times, his glasses were returned to him. Additionally, there was always a guard sitting outside of his cell watching him.

The Army Staff Judge Advocate’s Office was made aware of this situation on January 19, 2011. To its credit, the Army Staff Judge Advocate’s Office worked through the military channels at the request of the defense to ensure that the Quantico Brig conducted a timely review of the necessity for the suicide risk restrictions. Based upon this review, CWO4 Averhart removed the suicide risk restrictions at 3:21 p.m. yesterday and placed PFC Manning back into POI watch.

Conditions are still untenable for Manning with guards waking him every five minutes to make sure he is ‘okay’.

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