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Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 7

Sketch by Clark Stoeckley

An “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing in the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is being prosecuted for allegedly providing classified information to WikiLeaks, resumes. The proceedings pick up where the prosecution left off on December 2, when they were calling government witnesses to testify on Manning’s confinement conditions.

The first witness to be called will be Master Sergeant Brian Papatke. Following Papatke, CW5 Abel Galaviz, most senior corrections officers in the facility, will take the stand.

The prosecution has been arguing Manning had multiple avenues available to him if he wanted to complain about his confinement, which he never used. Military prosecutors have also been pushing this argument Manning was more focused on publicity than he was his confinement conditions, as he was not complaining about his confinement every time he came in contact with a guard, commanding officer or form that he could write down words expressing his disgust with his conditions.

Essentially, this argument turns reality upside down because, as evidence presented in court has shown, the commanding officers in the Marine Corps were concerned with media attention. They were concerned with ensuring Pentagon talking points were appropriately developed to address growing outrage. They kept Manning in confinement conditions and apparently developed excuses along the way to justify keeping Manning in the conditions they wanted to impose on Manning.

This is what Coombs said during his public presentation at All Souls Church on December 3:

…It’s fitting that we’re today at the end of the motion phase with a motion that really brought the world’s attention to this case. And that was how Bradley Manning was being treated. Brad’s treatment at Quantico will be etched in our nation’s history as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counterproductive, it was criminal. An entire group of individuals, who I no doubt are honorable men and women, chose to turn a blind eye to how Bradley was being treated. Those who could effect change did not. They were more concerned about how the attention might be put on them if something happened to Brad, as opposed to what was their conduct doing to Brad…

The defense made this argument with witnesses between November 27-30. One of the witnesses who testified was Manning himself. Coombs demonstrated he had tried administrative remedies or official legal channels but those were not working. He was left with no choice but to turn to develop some media or public relations strategy so that Manning could be moved out of the crude conditions he was enduring in Quantico.

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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."