Friday, March 11, 2011

The words of Bradley Manning...

Since the beginning of this month, Bradley Manning has been stripped naked every night and made to parade in front of his officers and guards in the nude. It started on 2 March when Manning was informed that his attempt to have his harsh treatment in prison ameliorated had been unsuccessful. This is an edited version of his description of what happened next:

Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, I asked the brig operations officer, MSG Papakie, what I needed to do in order to be downgraded from maximum custody and prevention of injury status. MSG Papakie responded by telling me that there was nothing I could do to downgrade my detainee status and that the brig simply considered me a risk of self-harm.
Out of frustration, I responded that the PoI restrictions were absurd and sarcastically told him if I really wanted to harm myself, that I could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of my underwear or with my flip-flops.

Later that same day, I was told that I would be stripped naked at night due to something that I had said to MSG Papakie. Shocked, I replied that I hadn't said anything. I had just pointed out the absurdity of my current confinement conditions.

Without consulting any brig mental health provider, chief warrant officer Denise Barnes used my sarcastic comment as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon me under the guise of being concerned that I was a suicide risk.

I was not, however, placed under the designation of suicide risk. This is because suicide risk would have required a brig mental health provider's recommendation in order for the added restrictions to continue.

In response to this specific incident, the brig psychiatrist met with me. After speaking to me, he assessed me as "low risk and requiring only routine outpatient follow-up [with] no need for … closer clinical observation". In particular, he indicated that my statement about the waist band of my underwear was in no way prompted by "a psychiatric condition".

Since 2 March 2011, I have been stripped of all my clothing at night. I have been told that the PCF commander intends on continuing this practice indefinitely. Initially, after surrendering my clothing to the brig guards, I had no choice but to lay naked in my cold jail cell until the following morning.

The next morning I was told to get out of my bed for the morning duty brig supervisor (DBS) inspection. I was not given any of my clothing back. I got out of the bed and immediately started to shiver because of how cold it was in my cell. I walked towards the front of my cell with my hands covering my genitals. The guard told me to stand at parade rest, which required me to stand with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder width apart. I stood at "parade rest" for about three minutes until the DBS arrived. Once the DBS arrived, everyone was called to attention. The DBS and the other guards walked past my cell. The DBS looked at me, paused for a moment, and then continued to the next detainee's cell.
I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked.

After the DBS completed his inspection, I was told to go and sit on my bed.

About 10 minutes later I was given my clothes and allowed to get dressed.

After apparent outside pressure on the brig due to my mistreatment, I was given a suicide prevention article of clothing called a "smock" by the guards. Although I am still required to strip naked in my cell at night, I am now given the "smock" to wear. At first, I did not want to wear this item of clothing due to how coarse it was and how uncomfortable it felt.

However, the brig now orders me to wear the "smock" at night.

Given the above circumstances, the decision to strip me of my clothing every night for an indefinite period of time is clearly punitive in nature.

There is no mental health justification for the decision. I am under 24-hour surveillance, with guards never being more than a few feet away from my cell. I am permitted to have my underwear and clothing during the day, with no apparent concern that I will harm myself during this time period.

The determination to strip me of all my clothing every night since 2 March 2011 is without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment.

Under my current restrictions, in addition to being stripped at night, I am essentially held in solitary confinement. For 23 hours per day, I sit alone in my cell. The guards check on me every five minutes during the day by asking me if I am OK. I am required to respond in some affirmative manner.

At night, if the guards cannot see me clearly, because I have a blanket over my head or I am curled up towards the wall, they will wake me in order to ensure that I am OK. I receive each of my meals in my cell. I am not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. I am not allowed to have any personal items in my cell. I am only allowed to have one book or one magazine at a time to read. The book or magazine is taken from me at the end of the day before I go to sleep. I am prevented from exercising in my cell. If I attempt to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise I am forced to stop.

Finally, I receive only one hour of exercise outside of my cell daily. My exercise is usually limited to me walking figures of eight in an empty room.