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Pilkington reports: "Bradley Manning was held in solitary confinement despite expert's claim he was no longer a suicide risk."

Bradley Manning, the Army private charged with the biggest security breach in US history, accused of sending documents to WikiLeaks, is expected to tell a court he has been punished enough after being locked up alone for months. (photo: AP)
Bradley Manning, the Army private charged with the biggest security breach in US history, accused of sending documents to WikiLeaks, is expected to tell a court he has been punished enough after being locked up alone for months. (photo: AP)


WikiLeaks Suspect Manning Mistreated by Military, Psychiatrist Says

By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK

29 November 12

 

Bradley Manning was held in solitary confinement despite expert's claim he was no longer a suicide risk

he psychiatrist who treated the WikiLeaks suspect, Bradley Manning, while he was in custody in the brig at Quantico has testified that his medical advice was regularly ignored by marine commanders who continued to impose harsh conditions on the soldier even though he posed no risk of suicide.

Captain William Hoctor told Manning's pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade that he grew frustrated and angry at the persistent refusal by marine officers to take on board his medical recommendations. The forensic psychiatrist said that he had never experienced such an unreceptive response from his military colleagues, not even when he treated terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo.

"I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this. It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact," Hoctor said.

The psychiatrist was testifying at Manning's court martial for allegedly being the source of the massive leak of hundreds of thousands of confidential US government documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The 24-year-old soldier, who worked as an intelligence analyst until his arrest in Iraq in May 2010, faces 22 counts and possible life in military custody.

Manning's defence lawyers are attempting to have the charges thrown out or any eventual sentence reduced by seeking to prove that the soldier was subjected to unlawful pre-trial punishment at Quantico. During the nine months he was in custody at the marine base in Virginia he was put on suicide watch and a "prevention of injury" order, or PoI, that kept him in solitary confinement and exposed him to extreme conditions that were denounced by the UN and Amnesty International as a form of torture.

Hoctor began treating Manning from the day after he arrived at Quantico on 29 July 2010, seeing him initially every day and then later once a week. At first he recommended that the soldier be put on suicide watch - the most stringent form of custody - given that he had mentioned killing himself while previously held in Kuwait and that nooses that he had made were found in his cell.

But within a week of seeing Manning he changed his recommendation, reporting to officers that in his medical opinion the soldier could be put on the lesser PoI status. His advice was ignored for a couple of weeks, Hoctor told the court. "At Quantico they often did not immediately follow, or sometimes did not follow at all, my recommendations."

The failure to act on the doctor's recommendation was an apparent violation of the instructions under which marine installations operate. The regulations state that "when prisoners are no longer considered to be suicide risks by a medical officer, they shall be returned to appropriate quarters."

By 27 August 2010, Hoctor testified, he had spent enough time with Manning to recommend a further easing of conditions. From then on he advised in a regular weekly report that Manning should be taken off PoI altogether and returned to the general brig population.

"I was satisfied he no longer presented a risk. He did not appear to be persistently depressed, he was not reporting suicidal thoughts, in general he was well behaved."

Specifically, Hoctor was convinced that Manning no longer needed to be subjected to restrictive conditions that included: no contact with other people, being kept in his cell for more than 23 hours a day, being checked every five minutes, sleeping on a suicide mattress with no bedding, having his prescription glasses taken away, lights kept on at night, having toilet paper removed.

Only on two occasions did Hoctor report that Manning appeared upset and should be put temporarily under close observation. The first incident occurred in December 2010 when Fox News erroneously reported that Manning had died, and the second in January 2011 when the soldier broke down in tears while in the exercise room.

Yet the psychiatrist's recommendation that other than these isolated incidents Manning should be treated like other inmates was consistently ignored. The soldier was kept on PoI throughout the rest of his time at Quantico.

The blanket denial of his expert opinion was unprecedented in his quarter century of practice, the psychiatrist said. "Even when I did tours in Guantanamo and cared for detainees there my recommendations on suicidal behaviour were followed."

Hoctor said he openly protested about the thwarting of his expert opinion at a meeting with the commander responsible for the brig, Colonel Robert Oltman, on 13 January 2011. At the meeting Oltman informed the doctor that Manning would be kept on PoI "for the forseeable future".

Hoctor said that the marine commanders should no longer pretend they were acting out of medical concern for the detainee. "It wasn't good for Manning. I really didn't like them using a psychiatric standard when I thought it clinically inappropriate," Hoctor said.

The court heard that Oltman replied: "You make your recommendations, and we'll do what we want to do."

Earlier the court martial heard from Oltman himself, who told the judge presiding over the proceedings, Colonel Denise Lind, that he had chosen to overlook Hoctor's advice because he didn't fully trust the doctor. A few months before Manning arrived at Quantico, an inmate of the brig, Captain Michael Webb, had killed himself while under Hoctor's care.

"I did not have the utmost confidence in Captain Hoctor," Oltman testified.

When that lack of trust was put to Hoctor by Manning's defence lawyer, David Coombs, the psychiatrist replied: "If they felt that way they should have got another person to do the job."

Despite the unprecedented conditions that Manning was held under, Hoctor said the detainee coped quite well. "Most people would have found it very difficult, being watched every five minutes, but he did better than expected - I think he decided he was going to be strong."


 

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+22 # reiverpacific 2012-11-29 09:41
Just confirms Julian Assange's resistance to the very possibility to extradited to the USA's vengeance-based injustice system.
Ask Leonard Peltier, who was illegally extradited from Canada to answer charges his accused alleged cohorts had already been cleared of in court. He is now on his second consecutive life sentence but is a hero-martyr to his people the longer he rots in jail as a "piece of meat", as he describes himself. Yet his spiritual strength derived from his people's "Red Road" increases as his body weakens.
I wish Mr Manning such strength in the face of his brutal accusers and enlightenment to his persecutors as a hero to his country.
 
 
+4 # Archie1954 2012-11-29 10:23
You can't really blame the military for torturing when the president at that time and other Republican government officials were using torture as everyday operating policy.It's just further evidence of the total breakdown of morality and ethics in American society.
 
 
+16 # Urbancurmudgeon 2012-11-29 11:16
The Manning case is a national disgrace. It's just a case of the government getting even with a principled kid for his whistle blowing on all the illegal or immoral crap that they had been getting away with for years.

The files that have been revealed, rather than show important secrets that could endanger our men and women overseas, disclose a lamentable morass of American atrocities and international screw ups. Manning should get a medal rather than a court marshall.
 
 
+8 # AMLLLLL 2012-11-29 12:49
Wouldn't it be great if Manning were acquitted and Col Oltman were brought up on charges? Oltman represents the bully type so common in the service, but when the POTUS announces that Manning "broke the law" it's just as bad.
 
 
+8 # hoodwinkednomore 2012-11-29 13:38
Free Manning now!
Jail Dubya Bush and Cheney now!
 
 
+3 # RMDC 2012-11-30 01:10
The headline of this article is really confusing -- "Manning Mistreated by Military." What? Mistreatment is what militaries are deisgned to do. They kill people. They blow up cities. They destroy whole nations. They torture people. They terrorize people. The military can do nothing other than "mistreat" people.

If Manning were the leader of the hundreds of thousands of pages of daily military reports from Iraq, he did it to show the total mistreatment of millions of Iraqis by the US military.

If there ever was a case of a legitimate whistle blower, this is one. The criminal abuses of human beings in Iraq under Patraeus' surge needed to be exposed. All American citizens have a right to know about the criminal activities of their government. They are paying for the criminal actions so they ought to know so they can demand a stop.

Manning is a national hero but it is easy to understand why the military hates him and is determined to destroy his life. Destroying life is all they know how to do. That is what they exist for. Mannning should be freed and the entire military should be put on trial. He is one of the few who mistakenly signed up for the military but was (apparently) disgusted by what he discovered.
 
 
+1 # pianosaurus rex 2012-12-01 06:35
Quoting RMDC:

Mannning should be freed and the entire military should be put on trial.


I believe the US military will soon discover with the Manning file they have inadvertently put themselves on trial in full view of the entire world.

Or

The US military is fully aware of this and simply do not care, because they act in a fashion that is identical to all militaries;

“We have our mandate and will not be denied. Anyone who stands in our way will be annihilated.”

The treatment of Manning during incarceration is under orders from the top make no mistake about that.
 
 
+2 # David Starr 2012-12-01 11:17
Bradley Manning has shown that sometimes it can take more courage to expose a secret agenda than blindly rush into war.
 

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