Bradley Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, writes about the true reason Bradley Manning is being stripped each night and forced to report naked each morning in the same way prisoners were tortured at Abu Graib:
On Wednesday March 2, 2011, PFC Manning was told that his Article 138 complaint requesting that he be removed from Maximum custody and Prevention of Injury (POI) Watch had been denied by the Quantico commander, Colonel Daniel J. Choike. Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, PFC Manning inquired of the Brig operations officer what he needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum custody and POI. As even Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has stated, PFC Manning has been nothing short of “exemplary” as a detainee. Additionally, Brig forensic psychiatrists have consistently maintained that there is no mental health justification for the POI Watch imposed on PFC Manning. In response to PFC Manning’s question, he was told that there was nothing he could do to downgrade his detainee status and that the Brig simply considered him a risk of self-harm. PFC Manning then remarked that the POI restrictions were “absurd” and sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.
Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used PFC’s Manning’s sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that PFC Manning was a suicide risk. PFC Manning was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk Watch. This is because Suicide Risk Watch would have required a Brig mental health provider’s recommendation, which the Brig commander did not have. In response to this specific incident, the Brig psychiatrist assessed PFC Manning as “low risk and requiring only routine outpatient followup [with] no need for … closer clinical observation.” In particular, he indicated that PFC Manning’s statement about the waist band of his underwear was in no way prompted by “a psychiatric condition.”
While the commander needed the Brig psychiatrist’s recommendation to place PFC Manning on Suicide Risk Watch, no such recommendation was needed in order to increase his restrictions under POI Watch. The conditions of POI Watch require only psychiatric input, but ultimately remain the decision of the commander.
Given these circumstances, the decision to strip PFC Manning of his clothing every night for an indefinite period of time is clearly punitive in nature. There is no mental health justification for the decision. There is no basis in logic for this decision. PFC Manning is under 24 hour surveillance, with guards never being more than a few feet away from his cell. PFC Manning is permitted to have his underwear and clothing during the day, with no apparent concern that he will harm himself during this time period. Moreover, if Brig officials were genuinely concerned about PFC Manning using either his underwear or flip-flops to harm himself (despite the recommendation of the Brig’s psychiatrist) they could undoubtedly provide him with clothing that would not, in their view, present a risk of self-harm. Indeed, Brig officials have provided him other items such as tear-resistant blankets and a mattress with a built-in pillow due to their purported concerns.
This is just vile. The former bring commander, James Averhart, violated military rules by putting Manning on suicide watch as punishment, and was subsequently replaced by Denise Barnes. Now she’s stripping him naked to punish him for a sarcastic quip. Who is she, Nurse Ratched? Abusing someone’s mental health classification in order to subject them to torture “for their own good” is sick and sadistic, reminiscent of Soviet gulags.
Maybe she wants to become his “god.”
Let me wholeheartedly concur with Coombs’ smack-down of Brian Villard, who oozes sanctimony as he refuses to answer questions about sexually abusing and humiliating Manning “for his own good”:
The Brig’s treatment of PFC Manning is shameful. It is made even more so by the Brig hiding behind concerns for “[PFC] Manning’s privacy.” There is no justification, and there can be no justification, for treating a detainee in this degrading and humiliating manner.
These people are barbarians. If they gave a shit about Manning’s “good” they’d listen to the brig psychiatrists who have repeatedly said Manning is not at risk of harming himself. There is no question they are abusing his mental health status so they can torture him and not be held accountable for it.
Barack Obama is Commander in Chief. The actions of these sick bastards are his responsibility. Instead of fulfilling his campaign promises to close Guantanamo Bay, he has imported their sadistic tactics to American shores so Bank of America can have something to pin on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He has turned his Justice Department into corporate America’s consiglieri.
“For your own good” is now the new “national security.” A way for the government to paint a smiling face on its dripping fangs. And the silence of those who would be howling in outrage had George Bush done the same thing is repellent.