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Bradley Manning pre-trial hearing, on torture and mistreatment

By Anne Sewell     Nov 30, 2012 in World
While the deal has not yet been accepted, a military judge has approved the verbiage of Private First Class Bradley Manning's appeal, where he would plead guilty to some charges of sharing sensitive information to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
If this deal is agreed upon it could land Manning 16 years behind bars.
In court on Thursday, Manning recalled his treatment while detained in both Kuwait and Quantico, Virginia.
Manning took to the stand on Wednesday for the first time in his pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade. Appearing nervous, Manning answered questions on his arrest in Baghdad 2010, and also the ensuing treatment he received while in detention.
When describing his incarceration at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, he characterized his cell there as a "cage," dark and with no air conditioning. He said that he felt like a caged animal. "I was a mess, I totally started to fall apart."
"I began to really deteriorate. I was anxious all the time about not knowing anything, days blend into night, night into days. Everything became more insular," Manning said.
In the courtroom, lawyers for the defense drew up a life-sized outline of Manning's cell in Quantico, and Manning walked around this outline, describing the different aspects of his cell. He apparently wore a "bulky suicide smock" while locked up in the cell.
Manning claimed that while incarcerated, two or three times a day his guards would give him a "shakedown", which involved him being taken out of the cell, then the guards would begin tearing apart everything he had in the cell.
The defense argues that the charges against Manning should be dropped completely. Alleging harsh and torturous conditions while locked up in solitary confinement, they stated that he was punished enough while he was in Quantico.
Torture during his incarceration included forced sleep deprivation and forced nudity. Manning's glasses were confiscated, he had to request toilet paper and was forced to remove his underwear at night.
Manning described how he was transferred to the Joint Detention Facility at Fort Leavenworth in April 2011. He said it felt strange to be able to move around without leg and arm restraints.
"It felt awkward," Manning said. He was further surprised to be not only given underwear, but he had a T-shirt, shorts, sheets, blankets, a pillow and toiletry items, which was, at least, an upgrade from the previous facility.
From the pre-trial hearing, it is not sure whether prosecutors will continue to pursue other counts, the most serious of which is "aiding the enemy." If convicted on that charge, Manning could be looking at life imprisonment.
Court is now in recess until Friday morning when Manning will undergo cross examination from the prosecution. The full trial is set to continue in February 2013.
On the subject of Manning, Democracy Now! interviewed WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange on Wednesday. When asked what is happening about Manning, Assange replied:
"What is happening this week is not the trial of Bradley Manning; what is happening this week is the trial of the US military. This is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture."
"There’s a question about who authorized that treatment. Why was that treatment placed on him for so long, when so many people—independent psychiatrists, military psychiatrists - complained about what was going on in extremely strong terms? His lawyer and support team say that he was being treated in that manner, in part, in order to coerce some kind of statement or false confession from him that would implicate WikiLeaks as an organization and me personally. And so, this is a matter that I am - personally have been embroiled in, that this young man’s treatment, regardless of whether he was our source or not, is directly as a result of an attempt to attack this organization by the United States military, to coerce this young man into providing evidence that could be used to more effectively attack us, and also serve as some kind of terrible disincentive for other potential whistleblowers from stepping forward."
Manning was imprisoned for providing information to WikiLeaks as a whistleblower, including the now famous video "Collateral Murder" which shows the US military gunning down civilians and journalists in Baghdad.
Then a 22-year-old intelligence analyst, on July 6, 2010, Private Bradley Manning was charged with disclosing the video. The Apache crew and those behind the cover up depicted in the video have yet to be charged.
On April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released the classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad - including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has reportedly been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
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