By Kim Zetter | Wired
An order to submit WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning to harsh and allegedly illegal treatment in prison apparently came from the upper echelons of the Marine Corps.
According to military e-mails released to Manning’s defense, a three-star general was the force behind the marching orders to hold Manning as a maximum-custody detainee under prevention-of-injury watch, or POI — orders that resulted in severe conditions at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, that left Manning isolated and repeatedly mistreated by his guards.
Defense attorney David Coombs disclosed the contents of the e-mails in a post published on his blog on Friday. He did not publish the actual e-mails.
Coombs called the treatment a “flagrant violation” of his client’s right to not be punished prior to trial and has filed a motion asking for the charges against Manning to be dismissed based on the allegedly unlawful treatment.
“These e-mails reveal that the senior Brig officer who ordered PFC Manning to be held in MAX and in POI was receiving his marching orders from a three-star general,” Coombs wrote on his blog. “They also reveal that everyone at Quantico was complicit in the unlawful pretrial punishment, from senior officers to enlisted soldier.”
Manning was removed from Quantico in April 2011 and transferred to Leavenworth following heavy criticism and complaints from his defense attorney about how the Marine Corps brig was treating him. The Army tried to downplay the reason for the move at the time, saying there were a number of factors behind the decision, but also didn’t dispute that Manning’s treatment at the brig was one motivating factor.
“I won’t say that his conditions at Quantico had nothing to do with this,” Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, said at a press conference at the time. He was quick to add, however, that “the fact that we have made a decision to transfer him should not be interpreted as a criticism of the place he was before,” and he was satisfied that Manning’s treatment at Quantico was in compliance with “legal and regulatory standards in all respects, and we salute the military personnel there for the job they did in difficult circumstances.”