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Fri Dec 7, 2012, 06:56 PM

Manning: daily reporting from Nathan Fuller.

Day 1: Defense questions Quantico base commander Col. Daniel Choike.


When the former Security Battalion Commander in charge of Quantico, Col. Robert G. Oltman, and Col. Choike discussed an independent mental health professional’s impending visit to the Marine brig, the two expressed reservations about what the review would conclude. Col. Choike asked if the visit could be blocked or pushed back, and Col. Oltman assured him that this could be “easily done with an email.”

In emails, Col. Choike attempted to justify this position, saying, “armchair quarterbacks are not welcome,” and that whoever reviewed the confinement would need “expertise” to understand the command structure and why the military needed to keep Bradley on Prevention of Injury watch. When Bradley’s defense brought an Article 138 Complaint (a complaint any member of the Armed Forces can make against his or her commanding officer), the military assigned the Marines’ own Chief Warrant Officer 5 Abel Galaviz to investigate the conditions, despite the fact that Galaviz and his superior officers had already been involved with and approved of Bradley’s confinement status.

Col. Choike testified at length about his specific role in reviewing and maintaining Bradley’s maximum security, the collective refusal to listen to brig psychiatrists’ recommendations for medium security, and just how involved three-star General George Flynn was in directing Bradley’s confinement.

The article also reports that mocked taking away Manning's underwear with a Dr. Seuss-like poem.

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Reply Manning: daily reporting from Nathan Fuller. (Original post)
Luminous Animal Dec 2012 OP
Luminous Animal Dec 2012 #1
Luminous Animal Dec 2012 #2
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Luminous Animal Dec 2012 #4
Luminous Animal Dec 2012 #5
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Luminous Animal Dec 2012 #7

Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:01 PM

1. Nathan Fuller, Day 2:

Testimony of psychiatrists Captain Kevin Moore & Captain William Hoctor

Mental health professional Captain Kevin Moore took the stand in the second day of this week’s pretrial hearing for PFC Bradley Manning, explaining that Bradley’s isolated conditions that wore on his mental health were even worse than death row treatment he observed earlier in his career.

Cpt. Moore and another psychiatrist, Captain William Hoctor, testified that Quantico Brig officials ignored their recommendations to remove Bradley from Suicide Risk watch and then from Prevention of Injury (POI) watch for several months. They both said that this was completely different than previous brig officials they’ve worked for, who usually complied with their recommendations within days.

The military didn’t listen to Cpt. Hoctor’s concerns that holding Bradley on Suicide Risk watch when he was in no danger of harming himself was detrimental to Bradley’s mental health. A detainee earlier that year had killed himself at Quantico, and Cpt. Hoctor explained that officials were keenly aware of the high-level of media scrutiny in Bradley’s case and was exerting extreme caution. However, they had no psychiatric reason, he said, to keep him on POI watch or to remove his clothes, and that the restrictive treatment left Bradley isolated, stressed, and depressed.


Later, while Bradley was still on Suicide Risk, Cpt. Hoctor asked if Bradley could get more time to exercise, as his already-slim frame was dropping weight quickly. He recommended that Bradley be integrated into the prison population, as he was becoming withdrawn and hadn’t had contact with his peers in months. He also told officials that Bradley needed more time outside, since he was only getting 20 minutes each day. In addition to these specific requests, in his weekly reports on Bradley’s mental health, Cpt. Hoctor continually recommended that Bradley be removed from POI watch.

Unfortunately, “They had made up their mind” to keep Bradley on POI watch, Cpt. Hoctor said. Quantico officials refused each specific offer and continued to ignore his weekly calls for reduced confinement treatment, again giving no explanation.

Defense lawyer David Coombs asked Col. Hoctor if he thought Quantico was running the risk of of endangering Bradley Manning, and Col. Hoctor said yes, it was, as these conditions might have “unintended consequences.” Coombs asked how Col. Hoctor would describe officials who didn’t consider these effects, and he said, “callous.”


When Cpt. Hoctor expressed his concerns, and the fact that Bradley’s restrictive conditions should not be justified with mental health language, to Col. Robert Oltman, Security Battalion Commander in charge of Quantico, Col. Oltman told him that Cpt. Hoctor should continue to report weekly but that “we’ll do what we want to do,” and that Bradley would be on POI watch for the foreseeable future.

This made Cpt. Hoctor the “angriest [he’d] been in a long time,” as the treatment was “senseless,” had no psychiatric justification, and a Battalion Commander had never before said outright that such a confinement statues would continue indefinitely regardless of his recommendations. He also said that this treatment could harm Bradley, as “everyone has limits,” though “he’d been strong.”

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:07 PM

2. Nathan Fuller, Day 3

Manning testifies.

What strikes me in this article, Nathan reports that Manning was being manipulated by his brig counselor Gunnery Sergeant Blenis... (see bolded excerpt)

Bradley answered questions from defense lawyer David Coombs for several hours in Ft. Meade, MD, for the defense’s motion to dismiss charges based on unlawful pretrial punishment. First he explained his traumatic experience in Kuwait, where he was brought to a military tent, forced to stay in a metal cell that he said felt like an “animal cage,” and was so disoriented and isolated that he felt suicidal. He thought he was going to die in Kuwait, felt “trapped” because no one told him what was happening to him, and when he was transferred he figured he would be sent to Guantanamo Bay.

When transferred to Quantico on July 29, 2010, Bradley was immediately put on Suicide Risk watch, which is effectively solitary confinement with guards checking on him every five minutes. Brig psychiatrists recommended that Bradley’s detention status be reduced to Prevention of Injury (POI) watch in seven days, but Quantico officials didn’t change the status for nearly two weeks. On Suicide Risk, Bradley saw only 20 minutes of natural light each day, interacted with almost no one else, and became increasingly anxious.

For the remainder of his nine-month stay, Bradley was then held on restrictive POI watch, which he described as nearly the same as Suicide Risk, though he was a model detainee and psychiatrists confirmed that he posed no threat to himself or others. Suicide Risk and POI watch aren’t technically referred to as ‘solitary confinement,’ but Bradley was segregated from the rest of the Quantico population. Seeing only the reflection of sunlight down the hall, Bradley was largely cut off from the world. The rooms adjacent to his were empty, and he wasn’t allowed to speak loud enough to communicate with the detainees much further down the hall.

On Suicide Risk, Bradley had to wear a coarse smock and sleep on a tiny uncomfortable mattress. He was never given a pillow during his entire time at Quantico, regardless of his custody status. Throughout his time there, a fluorescent light blasted into Bradley’s six-by-eight-foot cell, 24 hours a day. When he turned his face from the light when trying to sleep, brig officials woke him up to “make sure he was okay.” On Suicide Risk, this happened two or three times every single night, and it still happened a few times a week on POI.


More and more stressed out, Bradley desperately wanted to be removed from POI watch. Each time he met with brig psychiatrists and during most of his interactions with the brig counselor, he asked what he could do to get his status reduced. GYSGT Blenis, who met with Bradley at least once a week, and who frequently gave him an ‘A’ grade as a detainee, told Bradley that he was perplexed as to why the psychiatrists kept recommending he stay on POI status. However, brig psychiatrist Cpt. Hoctor testified yesterday that the exact opposite was true: Cpt. Hoctor recommended almost every single week that Bradley be removed from POI watch, and was exasperated that Quantico officials fully ignored his advice. He believed “they had made up their mind” to keep Bradley in isolated confinement.

Cpt. Hoctor told Bradley that he recommended normal treatment, and upon hearing the conflicting messages Bradley didn’t know whom to trust. Since GYSGT Blenis and other Quantico officials continued to praise him as a model detainee, with one of them saying he wished he had “100 PFC Mannings,” he thought Cpt. Hoctor might be deceiving him.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:12 PM

3. Nathan Fuller, Day 4

More Manning testimony during which he discusses his attempts to have his POI status removed.

As early as August 2010, Bradley told his psychiatrist Cpt. William Hoctor that he wanted to end POI watch, and Cpt. Hoctor soon after recommended relaxing Bradley’s treatment. As early as September 2010, Bradley asked his brig counselor, Gunnery Sergeant Blenis, how his incarceration status could be improved. Blenis told him that Cpt. Hoctor had recommended POI, so Bradley assumed he needed to demonstrate improved mental health. Around this time, Coombs also emailed the prosecution to announce Bradley’s desire to be removed from POI, and ask if there was anything the government could do. Bradley Manning made it very clear that he sought to be removed from segregation.

On December 10, Bradley asked Cpt. Hoctor why he had recommended POI status, and Cpt. Hoctor clarified that he had long been advising Quantico officials that there was no mental health reason to keep Bradley in isolation. The discrepancy confused Bradley, and he didn’t know whom to trust.

Since his stay at Quantico, Bradley had been answering semi-weekly questionnaires given by Army command, and before this time he said that he understood why he was on POI, even though he wanted to be off it. Thanks to GYSGT Blenis’ deception, Bradley still thought POI was Cpt. Hoctor’s doing. When he learned otherwise, Bradley documented in 22 questionnaires that he didn’t understand his custody status.

Bradley’s attorney David Coombs then asked brig commander CWO Averhart to re-evaluate Bradley’s status. Bradley testified that “obviously nothing happened.”

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:17 PM

4. Nathan Fuller, Day 5

Government presents. Gunnery Sergeant William Fuller testifies. GS Fuller sat on the Classification and Assignment (C&A) boards that reviewed Bradley’s custody and status.

GYSGT Fuller’s testimony later revealed, however, that GYSGT Blenis entered the C&A boards – in which all three board members are supposed to discuss and reconsider Bradley’s classification status – having already written down his recommendation that Bradley remained on POI. The other two board members were then simply asked to concur with GYSGT Blenis’s recommendation (which they did every single time).

GYSGT Fuller also explained that Bradley’s limited communication with Quantico staff and apparently withdrawn demeanor was cause for concern, as it may have indicated depression. GYSGT Fuller said that guards told him that Bradley was constantly polite and followed orders, but that he frequently gave curt responses when they asked how he was doing. GYSGT Blenis, for his part, reported to the other members of the C&A board that Bradley didn’t interact with him in the same manner as did other detainees.

However, two former Quantico guards, Lance Corporals Tankersly and Cline, testified today that the guards did not typically have extensive conversations with detainees. They said it would be unprofessional to have long, informal discussions with the prisoners – anything more than asking how they were doing — though they did say that Bradley was on the quiet side, sometimes giving just one-word responses. All three guards questioned also said that Bradley was almost always polite and respectful to them as a detainee.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:25 PM

5. Nathan Fuller, Day 6

Brig counselor Master Sergeant Craig Blenis (the man who deceived Manning about his psychiatrist's recommendations) testifies.

Note that he once withheld a package from Manning because, as he said in his email, “we just felt like being dicks.”

He stressed that Bradley’s minimal communication with him didfactor heavily in his decision. Although he testified that Bradley was a generally quiet guy, that they didn’t share many interests, and that Bradley did open up about his interest in computers and his struggle with his family relationships, Bradley frequently gave very short answers to MSGT Blenis’s questions, and seemed to just want their discussions to end. Staff Sergeant Ryan Jordan, who also testified for this motion, sometimes filled in for MSGT Blenis as Bradley’s counselor. He testified that Bradley was quiet and didn’t want to talk at length — even though he also testified that he and Bradley liked to talk about college basketball. Bradley was a Syracuse fan, and he filled out a March Madness bracket and followed the tournament. SSgt. Jordan still said Bradley’s otherwise quiet demeanor was a consistent cause for concern.

MSGT Blenis called this poor communication, and said he could never build a relationship with Bradley to be able to trust him not to harm himself. But other testimony suggests Bradley had good reason not to build a rapport with MSGT Blenis. Bradley said this week that MSGT Blenis indicated to him multiple times that Cpt. Hoctor’s recommendations kept him on POI – even though Cpt. Hoctor, who did build an amiable rapport with the young Army private, repeatedly advised the brig to remove Bradley’s restrictions, and became frustrated when he realized he was being ignored.

MSGT Blenis denied this claim, but evidence shows he wasn’t always acting Bradley’s best interest. On December 13, 2010, a package arrived at Quantico for Bradley. MSGT Blenis asked Bradley about the package, and he said it was probably for his birthday, which was four days later. MSGT Blenis then rejected the package behind Bradley’s back – in an email to his CO explaining the rejection, he said the relative wasn’t an approved sender, but also that “we just felt like being dicks.” In a later conversation, Bradley was withdrawn and didn’t feel like communicating with the counselor because he was upset that his family had ignored his birthday.

In another email, on March 4, 2011, two days after Quantico officials removed Bradley’s underwear and one day after he was forced to stand naked for the morning count, MSGT Blenis emailed fellow officials telling them take Bradley’s “panties” from him “right before he lays down.”

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 07:30 PM

6. Nathan Fuller, Day 7

A Chief Warrant Officer and Quantico’s Commanding Officer James Averhart testifies.

CWO Averhart made the final decision on Bradley’s custody and classification each week after receiving the Custody and Assignment (C&A) board recommendations, reviewing psychiatrists’ advice, and speaking with the brig counselor about his impressions. But his testimony reveals that Bradley’s confinement status might as well have been preordained before his arrival at Quantico: CWO Averhart said Bradley’s charges, which at the time included the Article 134 charge risking harm to United States’ national security, carried such long sentences that Bradley was at risk to harm himself or be harmed by others.

He said that because the other detainees in the brig – of which there were only about 6-10 at any given time – were “very patriotic” and “knew why PFC Manning was there,” so he was concerned that something might happen to the WikiLeaks whistleblower if allowed to comingle with the general population. He said this informed his decision to keep Bradley on POI, as did Bradley’s suicidal thoughts in Kuwait. To test this claim, defense lawyer David Coombs asked – all other factors being equal – if Bradley had faced charges that would bring a court-martial and only a brief sentence, if he would receive the same treatment, and CWO Averhart said he wouldn’t put him on POI.

This is a shift from the testimony for most of the last week, in which Quantico guards, staff, and especially Bradley’s counselor, then-GYSGT Blenis, emphasized Bradley’s allegedly poor communication with his jailers as their main cause for concern. CWO Averhart did say that he heard from others that Bradley was incommunicative, but when Bradley launched an Article 138 complaint (a generic complaint alleging abuse by a superior officer), protesting his unjustified POI status, CWO Averhart’s response, which was drafted by GYSGT Blenis, didn’t even mention Bradley’s communication issues.

CWO Averhart’s testimony conflicted with CWO Abel Galaviz’s testimony as well. Navy corrections regulations state, “When prisoners are no longer considered to be suicide risks by a medical officer, they shall be returned to appropriate quarters.” Yesterday, and in his investigative findings last year, CWO Galaviz said that CWO Averhart violated this regulation twice, by keeping Bradley in Suicide Risk conditions August 6-11 and January 18-20 against psychiatrist Cpt. William Hocter’s recommendation that Bradley’s status be reduced to POI. Today, CWO Averhart defended his authority, saying the word “shall” in that regulation didn’t mean, “immediately shall,” and therefore as brig commander he was justified in removing Bradley on his own accord.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Original post)

Sat Dec 8, 2012, 02:45 AM

7. Kick.

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