Ft. Meade, MD – Yesterday at Bradley Manning’s Article 13 hearing, professional military psychiatrist Captain Kevin Moore testified that Bradley Manning’s pretrial confinement conditions at Quantico military brig were worse than that of any other long-term pretrial prisoner he’d observed. He added that Bradley’s restrictive conditions, including being held in a 6×8 foot cell, having access to only 20 minutes of sunshine and exercise per day, and being deprived of basic items such as clothing and toilet paper for periods of time, were most comparable to yet still more severe than conditions of prisoners he’d observed on death row.
Bradley Manning’s case garnered considerable media buzz early in 2010 when it came to light that the UN and Amnesty International had initiated investigations into possibly illegal conditions of pretrial confinement at Quantico. Wednesday in court, two high-ranking military psychiatrists, Captain William Hoctor and Captain Moore, testified that the extent to which their recommendations were ignored by the Quantico Marine staff was unlike anything they had experienced elsewhere over a combined 30+ years of experience at various bases. Cpt. Hoctor went so far as to say that even at Guantanamo Bay his recommendations were implemented much faster than at Quantico. At Quantico, it would often take up to two weeks for the staff to implement his recommendations to change a prisoner’s status, in contrast with the few days it would take elsewhere. In PFC Manning’s case, the recommendations of both Cpt. Hoctor and Captain Moore to allow PFC Manning more exercise and downgrade him from Prevention-of-Injury (POI) status based on improved mental state was ignored over the course of many months.
Captain Hoctor said he became the angriest he’d been a long time when Quantico base commander Colonel Daniel Choike stated in a meeting that “Nothing’s going to change. He won’t be able to hurt himself. He’s not going to be able to get away, and our way of ensuring this is that he will remain on this status indefinitely.” During testimony on Tuesday, Col. Choike confirmed his position during that exchange. In reference to this statement, Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member Jeff Paterson responded, “I think a reasonable person can see why PFC Manning was frustrated with these conditions. No matter what he did or how exemplary his behavior, the Col. had no intention of respecting his overall well-being and legal rights as a pretrial prisoner.”
While base commanders Col. Choike and Col. Robert Oltman testified that they believed brig staff acted in interest of PFC Manning’s safety, they both stated that the longest they had seen any other prisoner held at Quantico was 2 months. Additionally, they had both informed commanding officers that the Quantico brig was unsuitable for holding a prisoner longer than 90 days.
During his testimony, Psychiatrist Captain Moore indicated that he’d been trained in military interrogation, and that adverse mental side effects were to be expected in any prisoner held in such constrictive conditions for a long period of time. POI, the psychiatrists clarified, was typically a short-term status. In closing questions, defense attorney David Coombs asked Cpt. Hoctor how, in his professional psychiatric opinion, he would characterize an authority who chose to ignore or discount possible adverse effects when choosing a highly restrictive status such as POI for a long period of time. After a thoughtful look, Cpt. Hoctor replied the word he would choose is “callous.”