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<nettime> In brig, WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning ordered to sleep wi
J.A. Terranson on Sun, 6 Mar 2011 22:36:53 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> In brig, WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning ordered to sleep without clothing


By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 6, 2011; A08

Military jailers are forcing Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old soldier 
accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.org, to strip naked 
in his cell at night and sleep without clothing, a requirement his 
attorney says was imposed after Manning made a "sarcastic quip" about his 

For most of the past eight months, Manning has been required to sleep 
wearing only boxer shorts, because of his status as a detainee under 
"prevention of injury watch," said 1st Lt. Brian Villiard, a spokesman for 
the military detention facility, or "brig," in Quantico. Beginning 
Wednesday night, the facility commander ordered that Manning turn over his 
boxers, too.

"The intention is not to cause any sort of humiliation or embarrassment," 
Villiard said. "The intention is to ensure the safety and security of the 
detainee and make sure he is able to stand trial."

Villiard said he could not explain how Manning might harm himself if he 
were allowed to keep his underwear, citing rules to protect detainees' 
privacy. All he could say was that "circumstances warranted" the measure, 
which was ordered by the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise 
Barnes. The requirement will remain in effect until a review next week, he 

But Manning's attorney, David E. Coombs, said he thought the order was 
"punitive" under the "guise of being concerned" about Manning's welfare.

In a blog post Saturday, Coombs gave this account of how the boxers were 
taken away: On Wednesday, Manning was told he would continue to be kept 
under the restrictions of prevention of injury watch, that there was 
nothing he could do to change his maximum-custody status and that the brig 
commander considered him at risk of self-harm. Manning then said that the 
restrictions were "absurd" and that if he wanted to harm himself using an 
item of clothing, he could do so "with the elastic waistband of his 
underwear or with his flip-flops."

Without consulting the facility's mental health provider, the brig 
commander used Manning's quip as "justification" to increase the 
restrictions on him, Coombs said. He said Manning was not placed under 
suicide watch because that would have required a mental health provider's 
recommendation that the brig commander lacked.

In response to this specific incident, the brig psychiatrist assessed 
Manning as "low risk," Coombs wrote. In particular, the psychiatrist said 
that Manning's statement about his underwear waistband was "in no way 
prompted by 'a psychiatric condition.' "

Villiard did not immediately respond to messages left late Saturday 
seeking comment on Coombs's claim.

The conditions of Manning's confinement have become controversial, with 
the United Nations special rapporteur on torture saying he submitted a 
formal inquiry to the State Department about Manning's treatment. The 
State Department confirmed Saturday that U.S. officials "have met with the 
special rapporteur and are preparing a formal response."

Under prevention of injury watch, Manning sleeps on a mattress with a 
built-in pillow. He has no sheet, only a blanket designed so that it 
cannot be shredded.

He is in maximum custody, which means he is allowed out of his cell for 
only one hour each day - to exercise by himself, indoors or outdoors. The 
maximum-custody designation is based on the seriousness of the alleged 
offense and the potential length of the sentence, as well as the 
military's duty to protect him from himself and others, Pentagon spokesman 
Geoff Morrell said last month.

Morrell said he had visited Quantico to observe the conditions of 
Manning's detention. "I came away enormously impressed by the 
professionalism of the brig staff and reassured that the manner in which 
they are housing and treating him is appropriate," he said.

Morrell said that he did not actually speak to Manning but "was just able 
to see him." He said he was accompanied by Pentagon general counsel Jeh 

"There's this misperception out there that he is in somehow in solitary 
confinement, out on his own somewhere in a dark and dreary cell," Morrell 
said. "That could not be further from the truth."

Coombs said that although Manning is technically not held in solitary 
confinement, "the cumulative effect of his confinement conditions are 
tantamount to solitary confinement." He said that there are no other 
detainees on either side of his cell and that the cell lacks a window or 
natural light. If Manning tries to speak to others several cells away, 
"the guards will likely view it as disruptive and require him to stop 
speaking," he wrote in his blog.

On Friday afternoon, Manning was the only detainee in maximum custody; two 
other maximum-custody detainees had left that morning, Villiard said.

The jail has 30 cells arranged in a U formation. Though the detainees may 
talk to one another, the cells are designed so that no detainee has a 
direct line of sight to another, Villiard said.

On Wednesday, the government denied Manning's request to be removed from 
maximum custody and prevention of injury watch, said Coombs, who will 

Villiard said the prevention of injury watch status is reviewed every week 
with input from mental health providers.

Coombs has asserted that the facility's forensic psychiatrist recommended 
that the watch be lifted. A separate psychiatrist hired by the defense 
concurred, he said. 

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