In Day One of Hearings, Dr. Seuss Rhyme Illustrates Bradley Manning Mistreatment

Sarah Cobarrubias

Bradley Manning supporters in Washington, D.C. erected a “Free Bradley Manning” billboard on the route leading to the Fort Meade Army base, where the WikiLeaks whistleblower’s pre-trial hearings are taking place this week. (Bradley Manning Support Network / Flickr / Creative Commons)
This week, U.S. Army sol­dier Bradley Man­ning will speak pub­licly for the first time since being arrest­ed in May 2010 and charged with aid­ing the ene­my,” among oth­er things, by alleged­ly hand­ing over hun­dreds of thou­sands of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks.The Guardian reports that Man­ning is expect­ed to take the stand today or Thurs­day in a pre-tri­al hear­ing that began yes­ter­day at Fort Meade Army base in Mary­land. Man­ning’s lawyer David Coombs has filed a motion to dis­miss all charges on the grounds that Man­ning has suf­fered enough in prison. The motion charges that Man­ning was sub­ject to ille­gal abus­es while held at the mil­i­tary prison at the Quan­ti­co, Va. Marine base from July 2010 to April 2011.The sol­dier was held in a win­dow­less 6 x 8‑foot cell, which his lawyer claims is the “the func­tion­al equiv­a­lent of soli­tary con­fine­ment.” Man­ning was required to wake at 5 a.m. each day and stay awake until 10 p.m., and he was not per­mit­ted to lean against the wall, lie down or exer­cise. Guards checked in on him every five min­utes, and the lights were kept on overnight. The sol­dier was forced to strip naked at night and dur­ing cell inspections.
Retired Marine Col. Daniel Choike, who com­mand­ed the Quan­ti­co base dur­ing Man­ning’s impris­on­ment, took the stand yes­ter­day to argue that the treat­ment was nec­es­sary due to Man­ning’s errat­ic behav­ior, poor judg­ment in the past and poor fam­i­ly rela­tion­ships.”When Coombs asked what “errat­ic behav­ior” Man­ning had dis­played, Choike replied, His act­ing out, play­ing peek-a-boo, lick­ing the bars of his cell, danc­ing, errat­ic dancing—those are the ones I recall.” Coombs asked if it was like­ly that some­one under such extreme con­di­tions might engage in this type of strange behav­ior out of bore­dom, to which the colonel replied, “I sup­pose so.”Yesterday’s hear­ing also revealed that one of the staff com­posed a Green Eggs and Ham-inspired dit­ty about the removal of Manning’s under­wear at night:I can wear them in a box,I can wear them with a fox,I can wear them in the day,I can wear them so I say,But I can’t wear them at night,My com­ments gave the staff a fright.Mean­while, protests are being held in dozens of cities across the coun­try in an effort to bring atten­tion to the mis­treat­ment of Man­ning. Dur­ing yesterday’s hear­ing, pro­test­ers held up signs out­side the court in sup­port of Man­ning and lat­er packed into the court­room, many wear­ing shirts bear­ing the word “Truth.”
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