The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning
Friday, January 14th, 2011
It really angers me the way the US government is handling the WikiLeaks.org ordeal. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has been imprisoned while fighting extradition to Sweden. He was initially denied bail because they considered him a flight risk. I have two problems with that: First, he isn't a flight risk because he turned himself in to the authorities. Second, he is only wanted for questioning. I know he isn't in America so our laws don't apply, but it seems like they are treating him as guilty before they have even heard any evidence in his case.
What is even more disturbing to me is that the US has imprisoned Army Private Bradley Manning in a military brig under the strictest conditions possible. He has been accused of leaking the video of innocent civilians being shot with a helicopter in Iraq. Keep in mind that officers tried to cover up the incident so it is doubtful that his chain of command would have taken any action. The video is evidence of war crimes, so if he really did it then it probably was the right thing to do. The government also wants us to believe that Manning is responsible for the thousands of documents obtained by WikiLeaks.org which is ridiculous. When something is classified, there are two criteria that dictate access. The first protection is the security level such as confidential, secret, top secret. When someone obtains a secret security clearance it isn't like they are issued keys to a vault and have access to everything that is secret. The second level of protection is the "need to know" which limits the access to only those who need to know the contents of the document. Private Manning had a security clearance, but not the "need to know" for all of these documents. They are using him as a scape goat and trying to make an example out of him. If a single Army Private has access to all of those documents then our system has much more serious problems than just leaked documents.
So far, Manning has been denied his rights to a speedy trial and he is being treated as guilty before a trial. An attorney recently posted an account of what life is like for Manning:
A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning - 18 December 2010
PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.
His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.
The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.
The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.
At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.
He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.
He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.
From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.
Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.
On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.
He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.
He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to PFC Manning.
Due to being held on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch:
PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day.
The guards are required to check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay. PFC Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay.
He receives each of his meals in his cell.
He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.
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 in his cell. 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 does receive one hour of "exercise" outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.
When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.
I'm really upset that this man is being punished like this for telling the truth and for exposing war crimes (if we assume that he is guilty). Manning is paying with his life for doing the right thing for our country and the world. Why is it that our leaders say they want "transparency" until it gets embarrassing? There are lots of things we THINK the government is doing, but it becomes a different matter once our suspicions are confirmed by the government's own documents. Keep in mind that Assange and Manning did not create these documents - they just brought them to light and exposed them for world to see. Their actions have destroyed the ability for our government from using their widespread practice of "plausible deniability" and since all of these documents have reached the Internet, there is really no way to control access to them. I hope that our leaders and citizens will "man up" and admit our mistakes. We need to quit focusing on Assange and Manning and focus our efforts in changing the acts we do that are so embarrassing to our country.
-- Gary Wright II
I've written several blog entries on this topic. To read more, visit our page devoted to PFC Bradley Manning .