26 January 2011

PFC Bradley Manning Is Not Being Treated Like Every Other Detainee

Despite the assertion of Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, PFC Bradley Manning is not being treated like every other detainee at the Quantico brig.  Morrell stated during today’s Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning’s “confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.”  This statement is patently false. 

PFC Manning is being treated differently.  He is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.  Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions.  What is the difference? 

Maximum Custody Detainees vs. Medium Detention In Detainees

Maximum Custody - PFC Manning:
Under the Secretary of Navy Instruction 1649.9C, the regulation that details the proper procedures and safeguards for classification of inmates, evaluation of inmates and the limited use of special quarters, a maximum custody detainee has the following mandatory restrictions:

(1) Supervision must be immediate and continuous. A DD 509, Inspection Record of Prisoner in Segregation, shall be posted by the cell door and appropriate entries made at least every 15 minutes.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work details outside the cell.
(3) They shall be assigned to the most secure quarters.
(4) Two or more staff members shall be present when MAX prisoners are out of their cells.
(5) MAX prisoners shall wear restraints at all times when outside the maximum-security area and be escorted by at least two escorts (confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406).

Under the above restrictions, PFC Manning is held in his cell for 23 hours a day.  Whenever he is moved outside of his cell, the entire facility is locked down.  PFC Manning must wear hand and leg restraints when he is outside of his cell.  He is escorted by at least two guards whenever he is moved.

Medium Custody In - Every other detainee:
Every other detainee is being held in MDI status.  Under the regulation, these detainees have the following restrictions:

(1) Supervision shall be continuous within the security perimeter and immediate and continuous when outside the security perimeter.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work outside the security perimeter.
(3) They shall wear restraints outside the security perimeter unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs otherwise.
(4) They shall be escorted by at least two confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406, unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs only one escort is required.
(5) They may be assigned dormitory quarters.

Under the above restrictions, every other detainee is allowed outside of their cell for the majority of the day.  The facility is not locked down when they are walking in the brig.  They do not wear hand and leg restraints outside of their cell.  They are not escorted by guards when outside of their cell.  Every other detainee is assigned to work details during the day.  These work details allow them move freely within the facility and also outside of the facility whenever within the security perimeter.

Prevention of Injury Watch vs. No Prevention of Injury Watch

Prevention of Injury Watch - PFC Manning:
In addition to the difference in custody status, PFC Manning is also being held in special quarters under POI watch.  Due to the POI watch, he is held in solitary confinement.  For 23 hours per day, he sits in his cell.  The guards check on him every five minutes by asking him if he is okay.  He is required to respond in some affirmative manner.  At night, if the guards can not see him clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or he is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure that he is okay.  He receives each of his meals in his cell.  He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets.  He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.  He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read.  The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.  He is prevented from exercising in his cell.  If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.  He receives one hour of exercise outside of his cell daily.  The guards take him to a room and allow him to walk.  He usually walks in figure eights around the room.  When he goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his underwear and surrender his clothing to the guards.   

No Prevention of Injury Watch - Every other detainee:
Every other detainee is not subjected to constant monitoring or asked if they are okay every five minutes.  Every other detainee is allowed to have sheets and a pillow.  Every other detainee may have personal items in their cell.  Every other detainee may have paper and pens in their cell in order to write to family and friends.  Every other detainee may have any combination of 15 books or magazines in their cell at all times.  Any other detainee can exercise in their cell during the day.  No other detainee has to strip to their underwear at the end of the day and surrender their clothing to the guards.
Secretary of the Navy Instruction (SECNAVINST) 1649.9C indicates that “only a small percentage of prisoners shall be classified as maximum.”  The reason?  Maximum custody is very onerous for the detainee and requires a large commitment of resources from the confinement facility. 

Background Information:
PFC Manning arrived at the Quantico brig on July 29, 2010.  He was placed in MAX and under suicide watch.  On August 6, 2010, the forensic psychiatrist for the brig recommended that PFC Manning be moved from suicide watch to POI.  Over the course of the following weeks, the brig forensic psychiatrist met with PFC Manning on a frequent basis.  Due to PFC Manning’s good behavior and demeanor, on August 27, 2010, the brig psychiatrist recommended that PFC Manning be taken off of POI watch and that his confinement classification be changed from MAX to MDI.  

Over the course of the following three months, the brig forensic psychiatrist consistently recommended PFC Manning be taken off of POI watch.  The only exception to this was on December 10, 2010 when he recommended that PFC Manning remain under POI watch for one week.  This was due to a rumor that had spread on Twitter suggesting that PFC Manning had committed suicide.  Due to the rumor, the brig forensic psychiatrist believed it was prudent to place PFC Manning on POI watch.  The following week, that same forensic psychiatrist once again recommended that PFC Manning be removed from POI watch.  Despite these consistent recommendations, PFC Manning has remained on POI watch and in MAX custody.  

The brig forensic psychiatrist’s recommendation comes as no surprise given the fact PFC Manning has been a model inmate.  At no time has he been disrespectful, violent or noncompliant.  PFC Manning does not exhibit any of the criteria normally established for MAX custody under the Navy Instruction.  Given the consistent recommendation of the brig forensic psychiatrist and PFC Manning’s model behavior, it is unclear why he is still held in MAX custody and under POI watch. 

Under SECNAVINST 1649.9C, 1201 “discipline is to be administered on a corrective rather than a punitive basis.”  Additionally SECNAVINST 1649.9C, 7202.2.i states “no persons, while being held for trial may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon them be any more rigorous than the circumstances require.” PFC Manning’s confinement classification and his POI watch are in contravention of this mandate.

In order to ensure a servicemember is not arbitrarily maintained in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time, SECNAVINST 1649.9C, 4204 requires a Classification and Assignment (C&A) board to establish an individual inmate’s custody classification using “objective classification/reclassification procedures.”  It is unclear what the C&A Board recommended to the confinement facility commander or the basis for its recommendation.  However, it is clear that the former commander made the determination to keep PFC Manning in MAX custody and under POI watch (and under a 2-day suicide watch last week) over the recommendation of the brig’s forensic psychiatrist.    

In order to assess the reasonableness of the brig commander’s determination, the defense requested that the brig explain the basis for its determination and why this information was apparently not deemed significant by the brig’s forensic psychiatrist – the primary individual responsible for assessing a detainee’s risk for self harm or harm to others.  It is the defense’s position that the classification of PFC Manning in MAX and under an assignment of POI is based upon an inappropriate reason and is therefore an abuse of discretion.  The defense is hoping that the new commander will conduct a complete review of the confinement classification and assignment of PFC Manning.  It is our hope that she will order his removal from POI watch and reduce his classification level from MAX to MDI. 

Only if this is done will Mr. Morrell be correct in stating that PFC Manning is being treated like every other detainee at the brig.  


  1. If every other detainee is being treated this way, heaven help us, we have lost our humanity.

  2. US politicians need to take his place!

  3. You sir, just plain rock. Thank you for fighting this. :)

  4. This treatment and the officials telling lies about it is an utter disgrace.

    This brings shame on the US. Bradley's friend David House has begun calling on UK citizens to speak up for Bradley (who has dual US-UK citizenship). When people here realise Bradley is British I hope we'll see some change.

    Bradley can't stand this indefinitely. Such treatment is damaging for even short periods and has a cumulative effect.

    Changing the Brig commander is not enough, and in any case, claimed to be nothing to do with the previous commander's illegal and malicious use of suicide watch as punishment. Not very encouraging.

    Bradley Manning is an innocent human being, and has not even been charged, but has been locked up and mistreated now for many months.

    Mark (in London)

  5. This is sad. It is sad how low the US has fallen, and it certainly does severely damage our image abroad when people see with how much wanton we step on basic human rights.

  6. So distressing to read of this man so obviously just and courageous to be subjected to such inhumane treatment by a nation so full of hubris about justice!

  7. Thank you for giving Bradley Manning the support he desperately needs. I am amazed at how much courage it must of taken when Bradley Manning made the decision to release secret information while knowing the punishment he may encouter could be severve. I pray for his safety and good health.
    Pete Little

  8. A couple points which might have been added to this piece:
    1. Is he the only detainee under MAX/POI in this facility?
    2. If he isn't, is he being treated the same as the other MAX/POI detainee(s)?
    Without these bits of information this article almost sounds like a "apples to oranges" comparison.
    Additionally, what about his safety if he is included in the 'general population'? It would seem logical to think some people in the 'general population' might want to harm Manning (for various reasons).

  9. Morrell is an ass

  10. To get some response, the right way is to present the government with the narrow legal issue which justifies, in the legislative branch, a quorum or the legislative rule applicable to make a remedy to unconstitutional detention of Manning (still a US citizen and protected by that fact), according to the principle of checks and balances. The thing is, we need to ask members of Congress to please, please not be influenced by party politics, which here, is hindering the "hard questions" from being asked and answered: i.e. quorum or legislative intervention remedy is now justified. I have much more faith in Congress, but please urge them with this reasoning. The devil, it seems is, again, in the details. My argument: Bradley Manning's constitutional rights were violated according to the right to a fair and speedy trial (1), and his right to avoid cruel and unusual punishment (2). The military code does not, in this case render these principles null and void, rather the common sense indication that the circumstances of his detention occurred in this way due to political reasons, where he could have had a fair trial months ago, and is held instead in solitary confinement, suffering mentally because o inability to move physically. Therefore, Congress must take immediate note of the fact that the executive and legislative branches are in serious error. It goes without saying that Congress must not be blocked from asserting, on record, in proper form, this government error and constitutional violation; and furthermore, that the concept of "Party Politics" and "Power Politics", which, operating in their own ways and systems, are not guaranteed by the federal Constitution, and do not overcome the checks and balances theory, in any situation of human/citizen rights guaranteed. And, again, that those rights, in this case with cruel ad unusual punishment, in the form of solitary confinement, 23 hours in a cell, with physical restriction, indicates the egregious intent to harm Bradley Manning. Because of these violations of principles in the Constitution, that extend also to the far reaches of the Earth, (Afghanistan) where wars are being fought with different rules, these rules still apply. AND STILL, I BEG because I have been reading this situation, should members of the Congress continue, as they have done so far, to refrain from a remedial act to this violation of the Constitution, because I fear that it is an evil that elected officials blocking the just exercise of checks and balances (numbered individuals who would oppose this issue to be discussed openly on the record of Congress), are limiting the independence of the legislative branch to function openly at the request of constituents, and this, if continued, would be a far greater harm to the country.

  11. It really doesn't make sense. Arbitrary human rights abuse much?

  12. The differences are clear.

    "PFC Manning is being treated differently. He is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions."
    Maximum Custody - PFC Manning:
    Medium Custody In - Every other detainee:
    Prevention of Injury Watch - PFC Manning:
    No Prevention of Injury Watch - Every other detainee:

    Regarding the General Population and Segregation

    "In addition to the difference in custody status, PFC Manning is also being held in special quarters under POI watch."

    The quoted excerpt can be taken to mean
    (1)that PFC Manning is also being held in special quarters, and
    (2) that PFC Manning is being held under POI watch, regardless of his assigned quarters.

    The thoroughness and zestfulness of David Coombs is highly impressive.

    I felt tempted to send a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant to the new QMCB Brig commanding officer to congratulate her on her new command position, and sign the card FROM: Friends of Bradley Manning. But this might appear to be improper tampering or undue influence, so I decided against it.

  13. If Manning is indeed a U.K. as well as a U.S. citizen, isn't he entitled to visits by a U.K. consular officer who can enquire into his well-being, and bring any concerns to the attention of .... well, some appropriate U.S. official?

  14. Why do we care that it would be "different" from other detainees conditions? This is obviously TORTURE. That one or many are tortured makes no difference to me. That what they do to him is "legal" makes NO difference either!!!

    And could someone tell me what is the goal of preventing a prisoner from exercizing in his cell? what the heck does that have to do with prevention of suicide or anything?

    Anyone who doubts this is torture should lock himself at home in the same conditions just for 48 hours to "get the idea" what a few months would feel like.

    The USA have no more rights to see themselves as the leaders of the world. Through this and many other actions, they have made it pretty clear that they intend to join the ranks of the best banana republics out there. All this is disguting.

  15. I would like to know,
    1. What are the criteria for incurring a MAX recommendation?
    2. Can you post that check list too?
    3. And what are the criteria that are 'checked/true' status for Mr.Manning?

  16. @tom January 27, 2011: David E Coombs already stated Bradley is the ONLY ONE who is being held under combined MAX and POI conditions. Every other detainee is under MDI conditions without POI watch.

    Bradley Manning is NOT being treated like every other military detainee who's a member of the armed forces, he's being treated as if he were an "illegal enemy combatant!" (And the treatment they receive gets me steamed but that's a different subject.)

  17. Hopefully, the conditions of Bradley Manning's confinement will inprove now that CWO4 James E Averhart has been rotated out. If he was acting out of his own discretion, it may have been he was acting out of personal animus on the basis of three categories: race, sexual orientation, and religion. Bradley is white, gay and humanist; Averhart is black, straight and Christian, possibly evangelical.

    If conditions DON'T improve, then there's no hope for this country: our government has gone utterly insane and no amount of legal and constitutional protections and restrictions can protect the citizenry from power politics.

    "Congress... shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Of course, people can rise up against the government, peacefully per the First Amendment, but I sincerely doubt they will for a hundred years. And when they do, they will probably have lost all patience with the government and will want it to be utterly abolished.

  18. I note, in reading the Department of the Navy's Correction Manual (as referenced in Attorney Coombs's post; see URL below) that:

    1. There are three categories of inmates: "Detainees," "Transient Prisoners," and "Prisoners." Private Manning fits the definition of "Detainee" as described in Article 7103.1a:

    "A detainee is a person who has been legally ordered into confinement and is awaiting trial or rehearing, or is being held for questioning pursuant to an order by competent authority. This includes those persons who are pending vacation of a suspended sentence which includes confinement. There is a clear requirement for differentiation in programs, primarily in work areas, for sentenced and un-sentenced prisoners (United States v. Nelson, 18 U.S.C.M.A. 177, 39 C.M.R. 177 (1969); reference (a), article 13; and R.C.M. 304(f) of reference (c)). Detained personnel in a confinement facility shall be referred to as detainees." [Manual Page 7-3]

    2. There are five "custody classifications." Every inmate must be assigned one of them. They are, starting with the most restrictive: Maximum Custody (MAX), Medium Custody In (MDI), Medium Custody Out (MDO), Minimum Custody (MIN), and Installation Custody (IC) - as described starting on Manual Page 4-7.

    Maximum Custody, as described in Article 4201.2a:

    "Prisoners requiring special custodial supervision because of the high probability of escape, are potentially dangerous or violent, and whose escape would cause concern of a threat to life, property, or national security. Ordinarily, only a small percentage of prisoners shall be classified as MAX."

    Medium Custody In, as described in Article 4201.2b:

    "Prisoners who present security risks not warranting MAX. They are not regarded as dangerous or violent."

    The elaboration of "Classification Criteria" in Article 4202.2:

    "All new prisoners, except those specifically deemed to be serious management problems (MAX), shall be assigned a MDI custody classification during the reception phase. Detainees shall not be assigned a MDO, MIN or IC custody classification."

    Therefore, PFC Manning may only be assigned MAX or MDI status at Quantico, while awaiting court-martial.

    Under the Navy's own Corrections Manual regulations, "MAX" custody classification for Bradley Manning for one week, never mind both MAX custody and the additional "Prevention of Injury" to self and/or others (POI) treatment that Manning's endured for more than half a year without credible explanation, seems to clearly exceed any legitimate evaluation of Private Manning's threat level in the Marine brig in which he's restrained.

    Punitive politicized treatment can be the only explanation for the way that the Marines are treating this cooperative, non-violent Army detainee, and this detainee only.


  19. If Manning killed himself, the world would accuse the military.

    If they keep watch on him 24/7, they are accused on being inhumane.

    If everyone in the military followed every whim, our country would quickly be destroyed.

  20. @anonymous at 12:22PM: Why on Earth would Manning kill himself ? If he weren't being held under personality-damaging, depression-inducing conditions that is. And even under those conditions the brig psychiatrist doesn't think he's suicidal. So WTF ?

    This is torture plain and simple.

  21. @Anonymous January 29, 2011...

    One thing the Military SHOULD be accused of is using some COMMON SENSE... something that seems to be lacking in ALL quarters of our central government!

  22. It looks like it might be possible to get this in front of a Federal District Court, as administrative remedies may have been exhausted, and there might be a good case that there's been de facto final agency action, since DoD is an Executive Branch federal agency:

    5 U.S.C.

    § 704. Actions reviewable

    Agency action made reviewable by statute and final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court are subject to judicial review. A preliminary, procedural, or intermediate agency action or ruling not directly reviewable is subject to review on the review of the final agency action. Except as otherwise expressly required by statute, agency action otherwise final is final for the purposes of this section whether or not there has been presented or determined an application for a declaratory order, for any form of reconsiderations, or, unless the agency otherwise requires by rule and provides that the action meanwhile is inoperative, for an appeal to superior agency authority.

  23. Please keep signing this petition, all. It's asking President Obama directly to take a stand: http://act.ly/2w7

  24. This cruel treatment of a human being cannot be allowed to go on for even one more day! Let's see the British government step in & support him, too.
    And the same goes for Guantanamo Bay. Let's set those individual human beings free. It's time to give them all back their free lives, & to end all torture in the name of governments.

  25. Don't get me wrong David, but seriously, I'm missing the outrage in your country which gives the impression nobody actually cares in the US. Do people actually see him a traitor and as such he deserves this ... uh ... treatment? I mean I haven't even seen cogently evidences that Manning actually did what the gov assumes/claims. Tbh, I get the impression way too many people judge Manning way too soon in your country. Why is that? And just let us assume for a moment he actually stole those leaks, while this were still a crime - granted, everyone should be happy about it 'cos without it people would've been deprived from important information. But that's just hypothetical. He should be seen as innoccent until proven guilty!

    Someone from Germany who does not like it if governments want to hide stuff from its people. It makes me very suspicious And without transparency, no democracy.

    All the best to Bradley Manning. I do feel sorry for him! .. and it's just not right what's going on!

  26. As Americans, even Soldiers, have the right to be treated innocent until proven guilty. Having not seen the evidence against PFC Manning I can only conclude that the evidence against him must be sufficient to warrant pre-trial confinement. The act of treason is the most heinous act a member of the military can commit against not only the country but to fellow service members. To directly put lives in jeopardy is without question reprehensible. Unlike many of your sites visitors I do believe that the UCMJ is a fair system. If a service member feels otherwise then they are welcome to ETS and if the situation warrants ETS'ing early can be arranged. However, to directly threaten lives and the integrity of diplomatic exchange should be punished to the fullest extent of the UCMJ. Bradley Manning made an exceptionally poor decision and now is the time for him to grow up and face his punishment like an adult.

  27. @ anonymous February 5

    You are assuming that the evidence against PFC Manning is sufficient to warrant pre-trial confinement, and that is not being argued here. However, not all things that would warrant that would necessarily end in 'directly putting lives in jeopardy'. From what I've seen, Bradley Manning allegedly acted as he did in order to protest the practice of putting lives in jeopardy.

    Regardless of whether he did what they say, or whether his alleged actions put people in danger (there is no evidence of THAT, either), the write-up that we are both responding to clearly illustrates that the standards set in place have not been being observed. When their own forensic psychiatrist recommended that Manning not be put on POI watch, his recommendation was ignored, against policy.

    Also, to quote the article above,

    "Under SECNAVINST 1649.9C, 1201 “discipline is to be administered on a corrective rather than a punitive basis.” Additionally SECNAVINST 1649.9C, 7202.2.i states “no persons, while being held for trial may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon them be any more rigorous than the circumstances require.” PFC Manning’s confinement classification and his POI watch are in contravention of this mandate."

    They are not following their own rules that they have set in place to guard against using the detainment as a method of punishment. He hasn't even gone to trial yet, he has NOT been found guilty, and he has been subjected to what clearly amounts to prolonged extreme measures, for no reason. At least, 'no reason' under the rules of those who are holding him in detention. If they break their own policies in order to punish him, since they obviously have made the same assumption that you have, then they are worse than they think he is.

    He, at least, (allegedly) chose to stand up for his beliefs in not allowing the excesses that harmed civilians to continue to be covered up. There has not been one documented death resulting from the cables leak, or any other Wikileaks release.

    Others want to punish Manning, without trial, for his alleged actions by torturing him. Do you really think they have the high ground here?

  28. This is insane! Manning sits in solitary while Cheney and Bush swagger around, making money hand over fist from memoirs, stupid speeches and their taxpayer-funded welfare pensions.

  29. Does seem excessively harsh treatment, even if he was found guilty at a trial. One thing nobody else here has commented on - the Head Shrinker -um, I mean "psychiatrist". Psychiatry is at best, a psuedo-science. What specific training does the guy have, that would enable him to determine Manning's "mental state"? None. OH? Does the shrink claim to be able to read minds? Then how does he know what Manning is thinking? OH? He asked him? Since when does one need an advanced medical degree to ask a simple question? The power we (all) have given to "psychiatrists" is way beyond what they should have. Don't think so? Think: Ft Hood, TX, 13 dead, 33 wounded, and the shooter? A*PSYCHIATRIST*. I rest my case. Good luck, Bradley Manning...I like how this whole "Assange/Manning/wikileaks" story has just faded away, with *NOT*EVEN*ONE* serious story about any serious repercussions to *ANYBODY*, let alone anybody who actually died as the result of these "leaks"...Seems more like MKUltra, version 2011....

  30. The US has become what it is fighting.

  31. What recourse do we as citizens have to stop this abuse of a fellow citizen? The constitution clearly states that citizens have the right to a speedy and public trial, and the treatement Manning is receiving represents neither. The intent is obviously to break him emotionally and to try to coerce him into either providing some sort of confession or to implicate others who may not even be involved. I'm extremely ashamed of my country when I read things like this.

  32. Obviously this kind of treatment of any prisoner is humiliating and psychologically abusive. But I wonder why anyone is shocked. A country that would sanction the treatment received by the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is just as likely to find justifications and loopholes like POI watch to do this to anyone they considered an 'enemy'.

    The soviets did something similar in psychiatric camps during the Stalinist era.

    The vast majority of Americans simply don't care how Manning or any other person they consider to be an 'enemy' is treated. You have a morally bankrupt population on your hands. Why would you expect your government not to be representative of that. You're living in the emergence of totalitarianism. And you've allowed it to happen.


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