Bradley Manning's Inhumane Detention

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent expose on the cruel and inhumane conditions of Pvt. Bradley Manning's pretrial detention. Manning is accused of leaking the State Department cables to Wikileaks. He's being held in solitary confinement at the military brig at Quantico.

For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).

Here's the website for the Marine Corps Base Quantico which includes the Brig. Manning is thought to be in Special Quarters 2. [More...]

Article 13, UCMJ, prohibits: (1) intentional imposition of punishment on an accused before his or her guilt is established at trial; and (2) arrest or pretrial confinement conditions that are more rigorous than necessary to ensure the accused’s presence at trial).


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.

Rule 305(k) of the Rules for Courts-Martial provide for motions for appropriate relief for illegal pretrial confinement (2008 ed.)

Pretrial confinement is only warranted when the evidence shows probable cause (i.e. reasonable grounds) to believe: 1) an offense triable by court-martial was committed; 2) the prisoner committed the offense; 3) confinement is necessary because it is foreseeable the accused will not appear at future hearings or that he will engage in serious criminal misconduct; and, 4) less severe forms of restraint are inadequate. R.C.M. 305(h)(2)(B).

In a 2010 military appeals court ruling finding a prisoner's continued pre-trial confinement illegal, the Judge wrote:

The standard for continued pretrial confinement is that there is probable cause to believe, by the preponderance of the evidence, that: 1) an offense triable by court-martial was committed; 2) the prisoner committed the offense; 3) confinement is necessary because it is foreseeable that the prisoner will not appear at future hearings or will engage in serious criminal misconduct; and 4) less severe forms of restraint are inadequate.

In United States v. Crawford (2006), the court noted:

...[a]rbitrary policies imposing maximum custody upon pretrial prisoners are not condoned; an appellate court will scrutinize closely any claim that maximum custody was imposed solely because of the charges rather than as a result of a reasonable evaluation of all the facts and circumstances of a case; where an appellate court finds that maximum custody was arbitrary and unnecessary to ensure an accused’s presence for trial, or unrelated to the security needs of the institution, it will consider appropriate credit or other relief to remedy this type of violation of Article 13, UCMJ).

A servicemember is entitled, both by statute and the Eighth Amendment, to protection against cruel and unusual punishment. See United States v. Matthews, 16 M.J. 354, 368 (CMA 1983); Art. 55, UCMJ, 10 USC § 855.

The Supreme Court has held that "the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, but neither does it permit inhumane ones." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832.

In United States v. Avila, 53 M.J. 99, 101-102 (C.A.A.F. 2000), the court held that solitary confinement alone doesn't violate the 8th Amendment:

Solitary confinement, per se, has not been held to violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. 2 Sostre v. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178, 192 (2d Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 1049, (1972). Federal civilian courts have reviewed the specific conditions of solitary confinement to determine whether the confinement involved deprivation of basic needs or unnecessary infliction of pain. See Hutto, supra 437 U.S. at 686-87. They have held that routine conditions associated with punitive or administrative segregation do not rise to the level of a deprivation of life's necessities and violation of the Eighth Amendment. These conditions include restrictions or prohibitions on the opportunity to talk to other prisoners, exercise outside a cell, visitation privileges, telephone privileges, meal choices, and reading material.

...Furthermore, the length of a prisoner's stay in segregation does not, by itself, constitute cruel and unusual punishment, but is simply a factor to be considered along with the other aspects of confinement. Hutto, 437 U.S. at 686.

Later cases, including one in April, 2010, reaffirm that holding. United States v. Adkins, 2010 CCA LEXIS 43 (A.C.C.A. Apr. 13, 2010)

Here are the Navy's regulations on confinement. Manning is in Special Quarters 2.

4205. Special Quarters 4-13

4. Special Quarters. Special Quarters is a group of cells/secure rooms used to house those prisoners who have serious adjustment problems, create anxiety or disruption among other prisoners in the general population, or who need protection from other prisoners. Special quarters is a preventive management tool which shall not be used as punishment, except as allowed under article 5105.3. Programs, movements, and privileges shall be limited only to the minimum degree necessary for maintenance of good order. See article 4205 for further amplification. Habitability and space requirements are identical with other cells.

Here's the further amplification:

a. Some prisoners require additional supervision and attention due to personality disorders, behavior abnormalities, risk of suicide or violence, or other character traits. If required to preserve order, the BRIG Os or, in their absence, the brig duty officers/duty brig supervisors may authorize special quarters for such prisoners for purposes of control, prevention of injury to themselves or others, and the orderly and safe administration of the confinement facility. A hearing to determine the need for continued administrative segregation of the prisoner shall be conducted. This hearing may be by board action or by a member of the confinement facility appointed in writing by the BRIG O, and a written recommendation to the BRIG O will be provided within 72 hours of the prisoner's entry into segregation.

b. Special quarters is a group of cells used to house prisoners who have serious adjustment problems or certain medical issues, are highly temperamental or emotional, anti-social, some medical cases, or who cannot get along with other prisoners, or are persistent custodial problems. Special quarters are not a punitive measure and shall not be used as such. Prisoners must be made aware of the reason they are berthed in special quarters. Prisoners are assigned to special quarters by the BRIG O and shall not have normal privileges restricted unless privileges must be withheld for reasons of security or prisoner safety (e.g., suicide risks or aggressive, assaultive or predatory prisoners). For each period of 30 days a prisoner is retained in special quarters, the C&A board shall review and provide a recommendation to the BRIG O, who shall determine and certify the requirement for continuation in special quarters.

What about no mattress or pillow? The rules state:

1. Cells/Secure Rooms
a. Space Requirements
(1) Disciplinary segregation cells shall not be counted against total capacity and shall not normally exceed 5 percent of the confinement facility’s capacity. Cell size shall measure at least 6 feet wide, by 8 feet long, by 8 feet high. For new construction or renovation comply with paragraph 2103.5 of this manual. Cells/secure rooms shall be constructed for single occupancy.

...c. Equipment Requirements
(1) Furniture. All cells/secure rooms in shore confinement facilities will normally be equipped with a chair, locker, a 30" X 78" (minimum dimensions) security type bunk(permanently mounted in segregation cells), mattress, pillow, sheets, blankets, and pillow case for each prisoner. Furniture may be removed from cells only if the prisoner’s conduct warrants it and then only upon specific order of the CO or designee.

Who gets designated to maximum custody:

Maximum Custody (MAX). 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 nationalsecurity. Ordinarily, only a small percentage of prisoners shall be classified as MAX.

Max is not the norm:

3. Ultra-conservative custody classification results in a waste of prisoner and staff manpower. A large number of MAX and MDI prisoners reduce the number of staff available for supervision of the kinds of productive work available to lesser custody classifications (IC, MIN, MDO). Classification system must follow established, but flexible, procedures.

What are the factors:

5. Following are factors, though not all inclusive, to be considered in assessing higher custody classifications (MAX or MDI):

a. Assaultive behavior.
b. Disruptive behavior.
c. Serious drug abuse.
d. Serious civil/military criminal record (convicted or alleged).
e. Low tolerance of frustration.
f. Intensive acting out or dislike of the military.
g. History of previous escape(s).
h. Pending civil charges/detainer filed.
i. Serving a sentence which the individual considers to be unjust or severe.
j. Poor home conditions or family relationships.
k. A mental evaluation indicating serious neurosis or psychosis.
l. Indication of unwillingness to accept responsibility for personal actions past and present.
m. Demonstrated pattern of poor judgment.
n. Length, or potential length, of sentence.

I'm no expert on military criminal justice, but it seems obvious to me Bradley Manning should not be in maximum security or solitary confinement.

To add insult to injury, unlike in the federal criminal system, Manning might not even get credit against his ultimate sentence for the time he spends in maximum security pretrial confinement. United States v. Smith, 56 M.J. 290 (C.A.A.F. 2002). Apparently, 18 USC § 3568, the predecessor to 18 USC § 3585(b), specifically exempted court-martial sentences. 17 M.J. at 127.

the decision whether to extend DODI 1325.7 or RCM 305 to give pretrial confinement credit to persons not sentenced to confinement is a matter of Executive prerogative. To date, neither the President nor the Secretary of Defense has exercised that prerogative. Accordingly, we hold that there is no legal requirement that appellant be given credit for his pretrial confinement.

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  • Display: Sort:
    With so much focus... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 08:26:35 AM EST
    on Assange and his legal troubles, it is important not to forget the many people who make Wikileaks possible, the people who will suffer the most for bringing corporate and government secrets into the light...people like Pvt. Manning.

    His pre-trial treatment sure seems like punishment to me, very harsh punishment.  Torture even.

    Manning was a soldier though (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 08:52:55 AM EST
    It is going to be hell trying to help him in any of this.  He is on a completely different playing field.  He will be lucky if he doesn't get the death penalty.  I don't see how he could be behind giving Wikileaks these State Department cables though.  I would think that would have to be someone else.

    If he getst he death penalty (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 09:56:31 AM EST
    Or even is continued to be treated this way, I will find it very hard to respect anyone or anything having to do with the military.

    Why can't Petraeus get hit by a bus instead?  That would be much more fitting.


    Soldiers who have failed (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:07:41 AM EST
    and end up in military prisons stay in the worst prison facilities and live in the worst conditions that we have to offer in this country.  You can't imagine how badly they are treated, and they have no rights....zero.  They are still within the military system and that's how the military does it.

    true enough, no doubt. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 03:21:52 PM EST
    Unlike actual spying, this kid had to know that once the documents were posted they would figure out who did it in about 5 minutes.

    of course, that assumes he was actually thinking rationally at the time, which i've come to question.

    I suspect he his being kept in isolation because his life is in danger.

    this crossed my mind as well, for the reasons you mentioned. that said, keeping him safe until trial shouldn't require the harsh conditions described, that's simply his superior's way of being pr*cks.

    Ashamed (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdm251 on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 12:18:20 AM EST
    For time in my life I am ashamed to be an American

    where is pvt. manning's (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 01:51:06 AM EST
    appointed defense counsel? he/she should have raised these issues with the court on his behalf.

    A military prison (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 05:00:03 AM EST
    is the worst prison to be in I am told.  They aren't bound by the same laws that other prison facilities are.  Prvt Mannings entire life from here on out will probably only be differing degrees of hell.

    time for the ladies of the military... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:00:38 AM EST
    ...to read up on the old greek play "Lysistrata."  Maybe that's our last hope.

    oops, bad link (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:01:21 AM EST
    Yep, Assange played him (none / 0) (#11)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:10:26 AM EST
    like a fiddle.  I bet Assange has forgotten his name by now.  Or more than likely, when Manning's name comes up in his presence, he is disappointed to have to hear that name associated with the leaks.  

    Actually quite the opposite.... (none / 0) (#19)
    by trillian on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 05:31:51 PM EST
    I have heard him mention Manning many times in interviews and if you get WikiLeak Tweets you will see displayed prominently  "Free Bradley"




    Sorry, (none / 0) (#20)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 06:14:58 PM EST
    don't tweet, twitter or any such twaddle.  

    Really? (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 10:11:39 AM EST
    You seem to put some of your twaddle here...

    Keep in mind (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:19:21 AM EST
    That while not done in court, and while his attorney will fight like heck to keep it out, he's already confessed online to leaking the classifed documents, which will be sure to be used against him.

    No doubt it will (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 11:09:26 AM EST
    But what does that have to do with inhumane conditions?

    Replying to the comment (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 11:11:11 AM EST
    About innocent people sitting in prisons.

    Thank you for the clarification (none / 0) (#16)
    by sj on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 11:36:10 AM EST
    That was not at all obvious.  

    Maybe because that aspect seems ancillary to the overall gist of the original comment.  As I read it.


    Here's What Baffles Me (none / 0) (#15)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 11:13:02 AM EST
    Unlike actual spying, this kid had to know that once the documents were posted they would figure out who did it in about 5 minutes.

    It's one thing to download secrets and sell them because tracing it back to the source would be extremely difficult, considering we might not know what, if anything, was sold.  But in this case, they knew exactly what was taken, a general time frame, it could not have take much effort to make a small list of suspects.

    The military don't play when it comes to their secrets, and in today's political climate, I just cannot understand what he was thinking.

    I am not condoning his treatment at all, but it's not exactly surprising.   We were torturing non-existent and underage detainees in secret locations based on rumor and hearsay.  What did this kid think was going to happen to him ?

    I suspect he his being kept in isolation because his life is in danger.  He wouldn't last a minute in general population or whatever the military calls it.  Not sure I would classify him a traitor, but many are, including his fellow inmates.

    The description of conditions is awful (none / 0) (#17)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 01:18:50 PM EST
    but not too much worse than what an increasing number of federal civilian pretrial detainees (including clients of mine) endure in Bureau of Prisons "Special Housing Units," which inmates call "the Shoe" (for "SHU").  What bugged me about Greenwald's article, though, was the repeated suggestion -- emphasized in the lede and in the concluding paragraph -- that Manning has "not been convicted of any crime," as if conditions like this would be any more appropriate post-conviction.  Since I believe they would not be, I find the harping on that point to undermine the humanitarian perspective otherwise expressed in the article.

    Why solitary confinement? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Andy08 on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 06:22:26 PM EST
    What is this decision usually based on?

    The usual justification (or excuse) for (none / 0) (#23)
    by Peter G on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 09:52:44 PM EST
    solitary confinement is to "protect" the inmate from other prisoners.  The principal other reason is because the inmate has (supposedly) proven himself by repeated acts of defiance, violence or other misconduct to be unmanageable in the prison by any other means.

    other prisoners (none / 0) (#25)
    by diogenes on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:33:37 PM EST
    As Don Corleone said in fearing Michael's arrest, there are any number of military prisoners who would love to kill this guy for the presumed gratitude of higher-ups in the government/military.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#26)
    by Andy08 on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 11:18:46 PM EST
    for the replies.

    My husband has said that in Mannings case (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 07:12:18 AM EST
    There may be some truth to him being in danger from other military prisoners because to some he committed a horrendous treason.

    What does Mr MT... (none / 0) (#29)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 01:02:48 PM EST
    ...think of the birther flight surgeon?  The Doc who was called up to take his place testified that he didn't have time to properly prepare for the kind of injuries he saw over there and that cost lives.  

    To me, that qualifies as horrendous treason.  


    He shudders when he hears of him (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 03:37:05 PM EST
    or sees him get any press time. What is so sad is that ONE flako in the military gets so much press coverage he/she can seemingly become some sort of poster child for the military.  He hates that.  But I can't equate what that loon has done with what Manning did and was willing to do.  Many soldiers will see him as willing to put other troops at risk and/or getting them killed.

    I see him as a poster child... (none / 0) (#31)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Dec 18, 2010 at 06:27:20 PM EST
    ...of the wackos that make up the birther movement and the danger that they pose to our society than anything.

    Manning may have been willing to other troops at risk and/or getting them killed, but this nut case actually did.  Potential v. actualization in my mind.  

    A lot of vets I know aren't too thrilled that he got off with 6 months.  Not only because of the consequences of his actions, but also because of the danger this type of thing posses to the command structure and plain old neglect of duty.  


    Certainly, I have known people (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 19, 2010 at 07:37:20 AM EST
    (one who lives in this house) who may have had a rational reason to ask to stay stateside rather than deploy.  And they could probably get that done too.  But nobody that I know has done it because they say that someone else would have to take their place and that isn't acceptable for them.  This guy didn't do anything though to endanger command structure.  President Obama is a very popular President in the military.  More popular than Bush now.  Obama's base may not like his Afghanistan stance or decisions but the military isn't among them.  The majority of the military that votes voted for Obama too and we saw a recommitting to mission and the military itself once Obama took over and shifted the focus onto Afghanistan.  We tried to watch Restrepo on Netflix a few nights back.  It was filmed in 2007 in Afghanistan when the troops had no support and were often facing being overrun.  Unfortunately though in the middle of it my computer started a serious update and we will have to finish watching it some other time.

    Manning though was giving out information that could have endangered soldiers on the ground dodging bullets....not dodging deployment.  That is far more dangerous in the minds of soldiers and a much deeper betrayal of them all.  When you are in combat you are supposed to be able to trust the uniform next to you, that person is not supposed to be doing anything that places you in even more harm's way or encourages your life to be lost.


    And this guy's military career is over too (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 19, 2010 at 07:41:42 AM EST
    And whatever he hoped to gain in notoriety if that was a goal will be a flash.  The bulb is already burnt.  Now as a soldier, he is ruined.  And will always be looked down upon by other soldiers because he disobeyed his commander in the face of the nation facing real threat.  His support system or groupies or whatever drives him will be reduced to that of a handful.

    Already only by post 3... (none / 0) (#24)
    by diogenes on Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 10:31:26 PM EST
    Already we've invoked the Nazis.