Chelsea ManningCommunityThe Dissenter

Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 9

UPDATE – 11:00 PM EST Report on CWO2 Denise Barnes’ decision to take Manning’s underwear from him every night after March 2, 2011 until he left Quantico and was transferred to Leavenworth on April 20 –  here.

UPDATE – 7:05 PM EST Adjourned for day. Proceedings resume Monday. The defense did not finish questioning CWO2 Barnes so she will be back on the stand on Monday morning.

UPDATE – 6:05 PM EST Testimony is growing increasingly illogical as defense enters sixth hour of cross-examination of CWO2 Barnes.

Coombs pointed out provision under 5B, “May direct removal of prisoner’s clothing when deemed necessary.” She cited this as authority for removing Manning’s underwear. There’s Section A, C and D. All are under “Suicide Risk.” These are “Suicide Risk” provisions. “B” deals with Suicide Risk.

She said there was language in other provision that gave her authority to take the underwear. But, then why was she citing this in her statements to officers on taking his underwear? She knew this was problematic.

UPDATE – 4:25 PM EST There was email to Col. Oltman on February 23, 2011, where she expressed concern about Manning being taken off Zoloft. She wrote:

I am looking at someone who is not an out-patient who is in the friggin Brig, so that alone will add to his stress/depression especially once the pace of the legal proceedings pick up. It will only get worse once the true weight of his legal situation/future hits him. Id.

UPDATE – 1:10 PM EST To answer a few basic questions from the comments: (1) “Media center” has feed from courtroom. Press watch from here so they can use laptops to transcribe and type up stories to file. Laptops are not allowed in the courtroom; only pen and paper.

(2) The basic issues at stake is whether Manning was “unlawfully” punished at Quantico. The defense wants all charges dismissed or a 10-to-1 credit for all time that Manning was subjected to “unlawful pretrial punishment” while imprisoned from July 29, 2010 to April 20, 2011 (when he was moved to Leavenworth).

Government has a higher burden on them than defense. They have to prove they had a reasonable government objective when holding him in conditions considered crude or inhumane by his defense and supporters. The defense just has to present some evidence of punishment. They have a low threshold of proof.

UPDATE – 12:56 PM EST Going on WORT FM based in Madison, WI for an hour. Listen here.

UPDATE – 12:35 PM EST Lunch recess. The defense has been cross-examining CWO2 Denise Barnes. A key line she said was, “If somebody really wants to commit suicide, they’re not going to tell us that.” This was just after going into detail about how Manning needed to communicate more and come right out and tell here he was not going to commit suicide.

For example, when Coombs was talking about Manning appearing before the C&A Board late February to complain about his status (and was told by Board members he had “nothing new” to share since appearing February 4), he described how he was a good detainee. Manning tried to explain he still did not know why he should be on POI.

To this CWO2 Barnes reacted, “The main issue is again just coming out directly and saying I do not want to harm himself.” Except, when confronted with fact that MSGT. Blenis was being told by Manning he was not suicidal, she contended it is just one piece. She said there are behaviors and gender-identity issues. (“Issue of how he’s coping with the gender issues? That’s not addressed.”)

It raises a question Manning himself said to MSGT. Blenis while he was at Quantico: “It seems that I’m causing more concern or everybody’s looking for something to cause concern.”

UPDATE – 11:04 AM EST CWO2 Barnes – like previous testimony – stated it is not “standard practice for the counselor to be on the [C&A] Board.” She also said the counselor does not serve as voting member “but to answer questions the Board members might have.” The government, understandably, did not follow up on this statement. Coombs will likely have questions about it.

UPDATE – 11:00 AM EST Government cross-examined CWO2 Barnes and finished. One highlight: when talking about psychiatric evaluations and how she considered them when deciding Manning’s custody/classification, she said, “They would say from psychiatric standpoint there’s really nothing there, but we all know you don’t have to have a mental health issue to want to kill yourself.” She then cited Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who just killed himself.

UPDATE – 9:30 AM EST Proceedings about to start. CWO2 Denise Barnes will take the stand.

Original Post

Prosecutors cross-examine CWO4 James Averhart (Sketch by Clark Stoeckley)

Pfc. Bradley Manning is back in military court at Fort Meade for another day of his “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing. The government is still calling witnesses to the stand.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes will take the stand today. She is the officer who took over CWO4 James Averhart’s position as Brig Officer in Charge (OIC) after he relinquished his position mid-January. She took Manning’s underwear from him on March 2, 2011, after a comment and, in Manning’s view, placed him on a suicide restriction without calling it a suicide restriction. Manning testified last week that he “lost hope in the fact that the new commander was going to to change” his confinement conditions after she took his underwear.

CWO2 Barnes told Army Lt. Col. Robert Russell, a psychiatrist who reviewed Manning a few times, that he had been “not talkative” and there had been “very little interaction with the Brig staff.” She said he was “not enjoying outdoor recreation” call or “thing that were afforded, according to Lt. Col. Russell who testified during this hearing a few days ago.

She wrote a note, which GSGT. William Fuller was made aware, that Manning’s mood had “been very somber.” There were “no detailed conversations as in the past. “No eye contact.” And, “lately” he “has not requested any accommodations” and “sees appearing before the Classification & Assignment (C&A) Review Board” as something that will “make a difference.”

CWO2 Barnes also forwarded weekly progress reports on Manning up the chain of command in the Marine Corps.


Yesterday, CWO4 James Averhart took the stand. He was the Brig OIC while Manning was confined until mid-January 2011. His performance from the witness stand was less than impressive. He bumbled and fumbled through his testimony obfuscating whenever the defense asked direct questions. There were points in the proceedings where he was asked what should be considered basic questions on corrections policy and procedures and he would not know the answer. He would read over papers containing the policy or procedure and try to decipher its meaning in the middle of his cross-examination. Sometimes he would give an answer that make sense but would immediately back track when he figured out what he said. Other times he would go off on a tangent getting defensive as if he realized Coombs was trying to argue there was some conspiracy.

For some highlights from his testimony, here’s yesterday’s blog post.


I am in the media center covering the proceedings, as I have been for the past seven days of this epic pretrial hearing. Check the top of this post for updates throughout the morning, afternoon and evening.

Follow @kgosztola for updates during short breaks and lunch recess. (And, I’ll do my best to get Twitter updates into this blog but sometimes they won’t make it here. I sometimes will forget messages sent out during short comfort breaks. If that happens and you catch this, don’t hesitate to call it to my attention.)

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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."