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.”