The US Dept of Defense said this week that Private Bradley Manning, held in connection with a release of sensitive government material, is not being held in solitary confinement and warned journalists to be “extraordinarily careful” in their reporting
In a news briefing with reporters on Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell insisted Private Bradley Manning is not being held in solitary confinement, calling it a “misnomer” and statements by “liberal bloggers” to the contrary are inaccurate.
A transcript of the news briefing has been made public and when asked why Manning is being held in solitary confinement, Morrell said:
“He's not being held in solitary confinement. That's a misnomer, among many in the reporting of this case. What I -- let me describe how Private First Class Manning is being held. He is not in solitary confinement. He is not in isolation. He is in max -- he is a maximum-custody detainee in a prevention-of-injury status. He is not on suicide watch. He is being held in the same quarter section with other pretrial detainees. He's allowed to watch television. He's allowed to read newspapers He's allowed one hour per day of exercise.”
That statement contradicts what Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs wrote on his website in describing the Article 138 Complaint filed with Colonel Daniel Choike, Quantico base commander last week. He labels Manning’s treatment as “solitary confinement” and “abuse.”
Amnesty International, in a letter (pdf) to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, states Manning’s treatment appears “to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive,” and urges Gates to remove Manning from the “undue restrictions” he is currently subjected to at Quantico.
In the news briefing, Morrell warned journalists about their reporting of Manning and the Wikileaks affair:
“But I would avail myself of this opportunity to admonish or warn you all to be extraordinarily careful about how you report on this story, because one thing I can -- I do feel comfortable in telling you is that this case is being taken extremely seriously by the investigators both here in the Defense Department and, of course, at the Department of Justice. They are hard at work at on building a case here.”
Morrell labeled news reports that Manning is being mistreated as inaccurate:
“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.”
Morrell said Manning’s treatment was “completely appropriate,” the Department of Justice has given the ongoing investigation its “highest-level attention” and “many, many resources” are being devoted to the investigation.
Manning’s treatment at Quantico was first made public by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald last month. Since then, the government has been on the defensive over its treatment of Manning. Last week, FiredogLake’s Jane Hamsher drove David Houser to Quantico for a visit with Manning. Their encounter with military personnel at the front gate was documented via a live Twitter feed.
First Lt. Scott Villiard, Quantico spokesman is on record stating Manning’s confinement is not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” according to Salon.