Wikileaks: Manning's attorney on the laws he'll use to fight inhumane treatment

David E. Coombs, the attorney representing Bradley Manning, discusses the laws that apply for attempting to secure more humane treatment for the young man in the Marine brig in Quantico:

The defense has raised the conditions of PFC Bradley Manning's confinement conditions on multiple occasions with the Quantico confinement facility and the Army Staff Judge Advocate's (SJA) Office assigned to handle this case. Our efforts, unfortunately, have not resulted any in positive results. To its credit, the SJA office is attempting to correct this situation. However, given the fact that Quantico is a Marine Corps facility, it has similarly had no success.

PFC Bradley Manning, unlike his civilian counterpart, is afforded no civil remedy for illegal restraint under either the Federal Civil Rights Act or the Federal Tort Claims Act. Similarly, the protection from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and Article 55 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not generally apply prior to a court-martial. Thus, the only judicial recourse that is available is under Article 13 of the UCMJ. Article 13 safeguards against unlawful pretrial punishment and embodies the precept that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Article 13 provides that:

No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.

Earlier, Coombs detailed what a typical day is like for the incarcerated suspect here.

David House, a personal friend of Manning, visited him in the brig over the weekend, and plans to blog about the conditions on Firedoglake.

And, related: A Boing Boing reader points to instructions on how one might send postal mail to Manning, if one is so inclined.



    1. Bluntly, cruel and unusual conditions come with being a soldier.

      It is clear his conditions exceed what is reasonable for his situation to the point of being psychically punitive. Arguably torturous. I’m not saying give him wifi access, but I am thinking he ought to be able to exercise and read, maybe even have sheets.

      1. There’s a difference between the conditions that apply to everyone and going out of the way to do it (e.g. no sheets because no one else in the unit has any is not an infliction of punishment).

        A straight reading of the amendment says the government isn’t allowed to, period, no matter who the target is, be it civilian, military or non-citizen.

  1. I haven’t heard an answer to my question about “speedy trial” yet, although I’ve posted it elsewhere too.

    According to the UCMJ, if there is pretrial confinement, “immediate steps shall be taken” to inform the accused of the charges and to either bring the accused to trial or dismiss the charges. Article 10, UCMJ. “We have consistently noted that Article 10 creates a more exacting speedy trial demand than does the Sixth Amendment [and Rules for Courts-Martial 707].” United States v. Thompson, 68 M.J. 308, 312 (C.A.A.F. 2010).

    RCM 707 says they have 120 days to charge him or dismiss him from pretrial confinement. That time has passed. How are they holding him without charge?

      1. The comments on the website are nauseating. I’m sure it’s a troll party (I hope), but still.

        That being said, Wikileaks has engaged in warfare against the United States. We as a nation should return the favor and 1) destroy Wikileaks and 2) kill everyone connected with it. This follows the policy of Theodore Roosevelt (the good Roo) and “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
        Can these charges lead to execution? I certainly hope so. This guy nad Assange need to face a firing squad.

  2. Sadly for the marines’ he is probably well aware of the conditions at Abu Ghraib, so he’s not complaining too loud.

    Sadly for him, he’s still there instead of just being tossed out of the military and into the civilian populace.

  3. Unfortunately, considering what’s been going on at Guantanamo for the better part of a decade, I don’t see this causing any kind of an uproar.

  4. I don’t understand why the only exercise he’s allowed is walking, other than just plain psychological warfare. It certainly seems that they are putting his psychological and physical health at risk, for a man who has yet to be tried.

  5. Amendment 8: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

    Nothing can supersede or override an amendment except another amendment.

    Amendment 5: “No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger…”.

    We are not in a time or War or public danger.

    1. “We are not in a time or War or public danger.”

      … Uh, except for that war America is involved in. And all of the public danger your government would have you believe you’re in.

  6. And here’s yet another example off how ever since 9/11 “changed everything,” everyone who makes headlines “changes everything.” Bradley Manning apparently “changed everything” and changed it hard enough that the UCMJ no longer applies.

    I was hoping the Obama administration would be mature enough not to do government by headline. They still are, in principle, but this has yet to percolate.

  7. Damn me if you want to, but I don’t feel sorry for him. I have a clearance and I know what will happen to me if I give classified information to someone not cleared for it, or who doesn’t have a need-to-know. I also know the steps necessary to ask someone to downgrade the classification of something.

    1. It’s nice how we can take a situation that’s clearly centered on an ethics dispute, where someone is being held under horrible & inhumane conditions, and continually talk about it like it’s an episode of Law & Order.

      What he did was more than likely wrong in the legal, military sense. I’m pretty sure he knew that.

      Are you okay with life in prison, or the death penalty for him?

  8. One thing that IMHO should be reintroduced into the concept of Justice, all around the world and firstly, in the so called “advanced democracies” : Common sense… !

  9. If I was just nearly a wealthy man I’d myself pay for the colossal monument that should be built for this chap.

    1. I understand that he’s never been on suicide watch, which means we both need to go check our sources. As for no exercise, it could be to stop him from becoming a threat(a man with military training, locked in a room, the possibility that he could exercise for the majority of his time to hulk up could be framed as an issue), or to make it easy to toss him out of the army if the case doesn’t go their way by saying he’s gotten too flabby and doesn’t meet BMI requirements. Both of these are bullshit reasons and I don’t really see any others that make sense, besides just fucking with him for shits and giggles. If you want to stop him hulking up, limit him to one hour a day of exercise, maximum.

  10. I called the DoD (1-703-699-5638) and Army (1-703-545-1845) offices of the inspector generals and the Army Judge Advocate General (1-703-588-6746) and got case numbers for my concerns about the mistreatment of PFC Manning. I recommend others do the same, please.

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