By Kevin Zeese
Bradley Manning Support Network
Military officials at Marine Corps Base Quantico yesterday increased the isolation of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning by detaining Manning’s friend and regular visitor David House at the base entrance until visiting hours were over. House was accompanied by Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com, a website that has collected 42,000 signatures on a petition calling for improvements to the conditions of Manning’s detention, which constitute extreme and illegal pre-trial punishment.
“The Bradley Manning Support Network is dismayed that Brad was denied contact with his only regular visitor besides his attorney,” founder Mike Gogulski stated. “Immediately following a rally by more than 150 supporters at Quantico last week, Brad was put on suicide watch for two days for reasons his counsel could only conclude were punitive. He was stripped of all of his clothing except his boxer shorts and his glasses were taken away. It seems to me that the Marine command is now reacting in the worst possible way to rising pressure on them.”
David House has been making regular trips from his home in the Boston area to visit Manning at the Marine Corps brig since he was transferred there from Kuwait last summer. While detained at the base gate, House posted to Twitter that “one of the many MPs around the car says his orders to stop us come from on high.” House and Hamsher were held on entry to the base for nearly the entire period of visiting hours, repeatedly demanded to provide information and documents the MPs already had, and threatened with arrest. Hamsher’s car was towed away under the pretext that she lacked proof of insurance, despite having presented a digital copy.
At Firedoglake.com, founder Jane Hamsher wrote: “There is no doubt in my mind that the primary objective of everything that happened today was to keep Bradley Manning from having the company of his only remaining visitor.”
“This is a bizarre action by the Marines. I think they see the growing support for Bradley Manning, they see more and more people realizing that he is being treated unfairly, and that as the facts of the case come out more and more people see that he is a patriot and not a traitor,” said Kevin Zeese, Director of Voters for Peace and member of the Bradley Manning Support Network’s steering committee.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week, Amnesty International stated that “the restrictions imposed in PFC Manning’s case appear to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive.” The letter also suggests that Manning’s confinement is in contravention of international law, and calls upon the military to conduct a review.
House intends to return to Quantico next weekend to once again attempt to visit Manning and to deliver the petition.
In addition to petitions and public protests across the nation, the Bradley Manning Support Network has asked supporters to speak out against Manning’s inhumane treatment by contacting officials at Quantico. The Support Network encourages concerned individuals to:
* Phone Quantico public affairs at +1-703-432-0289
* Write to base commander Colonel Choike at 3250 Catlin Avenue, Quantico, VA 22134
* Write to brig commander CWO4 Averhart at 3247 Elrod Avenue, Quantico, VA 22134
We are asking that Bradley Manning’s human rights be respected while he remains in custody; specifically, that he be allowed social interaction with other inmates, that he be allowed meaningful physical exercise, that approved visitors be allowed to see him without interrogation and harassment, and that the “Prevention of Injury” order (the military’s basis for the extreme pre-trial punishment regime) be lifted.
Firedoglake.com, “Sign Our Letter: Stop the Inhumane Treatment of Bradley Manning”, http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/bradleymanning?source=fdl
Mike Gogulski, Bradley Manning Support Network, “Manning removed from two-day suicide watch; attorney files complaint, calls action punitive”, http://www.bradleymanning.org/16023/manning-removed-from-two-day-suicide-watch-attorney-files-complaint-calls-action-punitive/
David House, Twitter: http://twitter.com/davidmhouse
Jane Hamsher, Twitter: http://twitter.com/janehamsher
Jane Hamsher, “Goal of Quantico Incident Was To Abuse Bradley Manning and Intimidating David House”, http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2011/01/23/goal-of-quantico-incident-was-to-abuse-bradley-manning-and-intimidating-david-house/
Amnesty International, “USA: Open letter to Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense”, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/006/2011/en
Manning Supporters Detained by Quantico
David House, supporter and personal friend of Bradley Manning, traveled to Quantico with journalist Jane Hamsher to visit Manning earlier today. Though House is an approved visitor, he was prevented from seeing Manning. They were detained for over 40 minutes. House and Hamsher communicated their detainment via Twitter status updates.In addition to visiting Manning, House was planning to deliver a petition with 42,000 signatures calling for the humane treatment of Bradley Manning. Military officials demanded Hamsher’s Social Security number and prevented her from leaving the base. Their car was then searched and impounded. House was unable to visit Manning.
Manning’s prolonged solitary confinement and confined to his cell for 23 hours per day for 7 months, conditions which many have likened to torture and have resulted in enormous public outcry. Manning’s lawyer has formally protested the conditions. For two days earlier this week, Manning was placed on “suicide watch” against the advice of two psychiatrists, only days after 150+ protesters gathered at Quantico. During that time, he was stripped of all clothing except his boxer shorts, his prescription glasses were confiscated and he was held in his cell for 24 hours per day. The UN special rapporteur on torture is investigating allegations of mistreatment and Amnesty International has a written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates protesting Manning’s pre-trial confinement conditions.
Jeff Paterson, steering committee member for the Bradley Manning Support Network, responded:
“Having experienced solitary confinement in a military prison personally, I can tell you that denying Manning his one opportunity for a personal visitor is nothing short of cruel. I am concerned that Quantico’s actions today are retaliatory in nature as a result of the criticisms and recent public protests against Manning’s confinement conditions. Quantico is sending a message to supporters: if you speak out against these conditions, we will make things harder on Manning. “
Kevin Zeese, who also serves on the steering committee of the Support Network, added: “These tactics by the military will only result in a wider outcry and more action on the part of Bradley Manning’s supporters.”
Note: this is a developing story. Check back for updates.
UPDATE: 1:08 PM Pacific: Raw Story is providing coverage: Click here to read more.
UPDATE: 1:29 PM Pacific: House confirms: they were held for about 2 hours total and released at 2:50 PM – 10 minutes before the end of visiting hours. House was unable to deliver a petition. Formal statements to post soon.
UPDATE: 1:32 PM Pacific: Firedoglake posts statement of events. Timeline as provided by House and Hamsher, via Firedoglake.
Between 1:00 – 1:30 MPs took their IDs and made them sign a form that they could not deviate to the brig or else they would be considered trespassing. At this time, one of the MPs asked for Hamsher’s auto insurance card. MP Gunnery Sgt. Foster informed Hamsher that her car would be towed after declining to accept a digital copy of Hamsher’s insurance card. House and Hamsher offered to drive off the base but were denied, despite being detained only ten feet inside the base’s perimeter. The MPs then took the Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses of House and Hamsher.
Around 1:40 the tow truck arrived and MPs instructed House and Hamsher to leave their vehicle, informing them that their vehicle would be searched. At 2:00 pm House observed military officers arriving and entering the MP outpost which oversaw their detainment. House expressed concern that he would miss Manning’s visiting hours but was told that he could neither exit nor move forward to the base. No explanation for House and Hamsher’s detainment was provided until 2:50 when they were informed they could leave the base. They were detained for two hours up until Manning’s visitation time period expired at 3:00 pm.
In past visits, Hamsher and House have had no problem driving onto the base to visit Manning. This is the first time House has been denied access to Manning. House and Hamsher’s detainment comes on the heels of Amnesty International calling for an investigation into the conditions of Manning’s confinement. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has also announced that the UN will be starting an investigation and Manning’s attorney has filed an article 138 complaint citing inhumane and overly harsh conditions on part of the Brig. Now House, Manning’s primary visitor outside of his attorney, who has provided public testimony about Manning’s deteriorating conditions as a result to his solitary confinement, has effectively been denied access to Manning.