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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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