Chelsea ManningCommunityThe Dissenter

Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 5

Maj. Ashden Fein cross-examines Bradley Manning on Nov. 30 (Sketch by Clark Stoeckley)

6:20 PM EST Staff Sgt. Ryan Jordan took the stand. He observed Manning and looks like Andre the Giant. Sitting in the witness stand, he must be at the level of the judge when he turns to look at her. And keep in mind the judge’s bench is higher than the witness stand.

Okay, we’re done for the day. I’m behind in my reports on testimony, but I’ll catch up in the coming week.

6:16 PM EST Free Speech Radio News interviewed me yesterday. Listen here.

5:28 PM EST Sgt. Fuller acknowledged during cross-examination by the defense that removal of visitors from the visitors list by Manning was a factor in keeping him on POI status the week after. He had removed 18 people, 15 who had never visited him. Sgt. Fuller never bothered to figure out why the 3 people who had visited were removed. Fuller acknowledge he knew next to nothing about Manning’s decision to remove visitors.

5:25 PM EST Sgt. Fuller continues to give testimony. Key is Fuller’s admission based on paperwork from Classification & Assignment Board meetings and documentation (which determined Manning’s confinement status each week) that the board members were considering poor home conditions/family relationships and severity of charges as factors. These are two of three factors he could not do anything about.

4:00 PM EST Sgt. Fuller’s testimony became increasingly critical as Coombs cross-examined him. What Fuller is arguing is Manning was distant and withdrawn in his cell. This behavior was part of decisions to keep him on POI status. But, apparently, it never occurred to Fuller that being in his cell 23 hours a day made him engage in this behavior.

He wanted Manning to talk to him more but never told him to talk to him more. He also never told him not talking indicated he might pose a risk of harm to himself.

3:50 PM EST Gunnery Sgt. William Fuller has taken the stand. He testified, “A lot of times” what he heard from officers was that Manning “didn’t communicate as much later on in his confinement as he did in the beginning.”

1:30 PM EST When Lance Corporal Joshua Tankersly was asked if Manning was an “average detainee” by David Coombs, he said, “It’s hard to put average on such a high profile case. And added, “When you have all the higher ups ,” come in who don’t even live on the base to “check if everything is okay.”

1:00 PM EST On lunch break — Lance Corporal Jonathan Cline and Lance Corporal Joshua Tankersley each gave testimony about a January 18, 2011 incident they were involved in that has played a prominent role in the proceedings. Both were removed from duty after the incident where Manning says he fainted in a room with fitness equipment and then quickly got up and ran behind a machine because he thought officers were lunging at him to hurt him.

Sgt. William Fuller will be testifying this afternoon right after lunch. He removed them and, according to Cline, Fuller told both them they had “intimidated” Manning.

Original Post

In an “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing, the government will continue to present its argument that it was justified in holding Pfc. Bradley Manning in the confinement conditions, which he was held in at Quantico Marine Brig.

The government intends to call Lance Corporal Joshua Tankersley, Lance Corporal Jonathan Cline, Gunnery Sergeant William Fuller, Staff Sergeant Ryan Jordan and now Master Sergeant Craig Blenis. They are all guards at Quantico that handled Manning during his confinement.

As a military legal matter expert explained, the government has to prove there was a “legitimate government objective” to justify having him designated a maximum custody detainee, classified on prevention of injury status or placed on suicide risk. The defense has a “very low threshold” for proving “unlawful pretrial punishment.” They can prove he was intentionally mistreated or they can simply show the conditions he was held in were so egregious that it was “tantamount to punishment.” (*This is what the defense spent the last four days essentially doing.)

If the defense meets a low threshold and the government has no justification for the conditions detailed by defense witnesses, the judge will have to find for the defense. She would have to determine when specifically “unlawful pretrial punishment” occurred and go through the timeline of events at Quantico and decide how to factor that into any relief awarded—like crediting time served.


Here are a few additional tidbits from Manning’s testimony to share:

—After Manning was first detained in Iraq, a female soldier he knew came to him in the quarters where he was being held and he handed her his Gmail password and also asked if she had any books he could read. She checked his account to see if there were any important messages and then gave him a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to read.

—In Kuwait, when he first contacted his aunt, he asked her to update his Facebook page. She posted a message that said, “Some of you might have heard I have been arrested for unauthorized disclosure…”  The defense objected to this question saying they didn’t understand the relevance. Maj. Ashden Fein said it was relevant because when Manning left Iraq he was out of it. Judge Army Col. Denise Lind allowed the question and Manning wound up explaining, “I told her to put a posting up to let everyone know I was alive and well. My concern was if I am gone 72 hours someone might think I might’ve gotten killed or injured.”

—Manning shared how he did not really want photos from his Facebook spreading all over the Internet. He contemplated deleting his Facebook account but did not after he realized everything had already been copied “exactly verbatim.”

—Manning said from the stand: “From a case management point, I wanted a proper court martial. Court of public opinion was not where I wanted this to all take place.” That may be what Manning thinks now or what his lawyer, David Coombs, has led him to believe. It should be made clear that Coombs wanted to do publicity and chose to stop and limit the information coming out about the case to postings on his blog.

I have a report up here on a part of the testimony Manning gave in court yesterday. It specifically focuses on “voluntary statements” he was ordered to sign. (So, clearly, they were not all that voluntary.)


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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."