Skip to content or view screen version

Bradley Manning's Testimony [Part 1]

Alexa O'Brien (reposted) | 04.12.2012 22:34 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Terror War | World

Alexa O'Brien has been tweeting a summary of the notes she took while Bradley Manning was giving evidence in court at Fort Meade last Thursday and Friday.

For other court reports see: 1-2 Dec, 30 Nov and 27-29 Nov.

'Brad on the witness stand' by Clark Stoeckley
'Brad on the witness stand' by Clark Stoeckley

This is a compilation of Alexa's tweets from Bradley Manning's testimony starting from his detention in Iraq, transfer to Kuwait and part of his time in Quantico. More to follow. There are no official court notes or minutes available and it's thanks to people like Alexa O'Brien, along with Nathan Fuller, Kevin Gosztola and others that we know what has been happening in the court room. Alexa tweets as @carwinb


Manning was first detained in Iraq on May 27, 2010. (Bradley Manning testimony from Nov. 29, 2012).
He was directed by the Supply Room NCOIC to interview room w 2 CID agents & 1 civilian agent, from an agency he could not identify.
The agents gave Manning a rights waiver and he did not waive his rights. They returned with all the electronic possessions from his CHU.
Manning 1st realized in pretrial confinement when transferred ('w prosec') to Camp Liberty for pretrial confinement hearing 5/29 or 5/30.
After pretrial confinement hearing, Manning was escorted to Camp Arifjan overnight, placed into cage-like cell inside a tent first 72 hrs.
Manning was not allowed to speak to anyone or make any phone calls while in the cage.
Manning collapsed on the second day in the cage because no AC (in desert). The lights were not on. Cage was dark. He was dehydrated.
He was then transferred to a another tent area confinement. Woken up at 22:00 & end at 13/14:00 proceeding day.
Manning was then again moved back to cage tent he was in before, around middle of June 2010. Defense counsel has no records regarding why.
Manning was admin segregated and held separately. Spending time alone he did not know what was going on, no formal charges at time.
Manning was not allowed to make phone calls while in admin seg cage tent after first three phone calls; he was never told why.
After a period of time in admin seg Manning was not allowed to leave his cage tent including for meals.
This is the time period when the guards started doing shakedowns 2 to 3 times a day.
Manning: ...They would tear apart all the limited stuff I had in cell...throw it everywhere. I dont know if they were looking for anything.
This is the period that Manning says he started falling apart emotionally.
~ Jun 30, mental health professionals intervened.
Manning was told later he was yelling uncontrollable, screaming, shaking, babbling, and banging head against cell.
Manning: world just shrunk to Camp Arifjan, and to that cage.
Mental health professionals told him he had experienced an emotional breakdown during that period.
Manning: After they started doing the shake downs I stopped making my bed...
Manning: I thought I was gonna die in that cage...and that is how I saw it. It's an animal cage.
They took him and put him in adjacent cell, took away glasses, put him in suicide smock for the next 30 days.
Manning: ...I pretty much gave up. I did not know what was going on, and no body was telling me anything. (con't)
Manning: I still had attorney phone calls, but I had 3 Navy personnel sitting around me while I made these phone calls.
Mental health gave Manning medication. Manning said he started to 'flatten out'. He said he felt better.
Manning was then moved (this time to Quantico), but he did not know where he was going at the time.
He was moved at almost sundown. They inventoried his belongings. They took away smock, gave him clothing.
The[y] did a full med exam, he filled out paperwork, & he says he left in a convoy to Kuwait City. He did not know where he [w]as going.
At the time Manning did not think he was going CONUS. (Continental US)
Manning did not know where he was going. He hoped he was going to Mannheim Germany, as opposed to his speculated alternatives.
Manning didn't know at time where he was going. He speculated might be going to Guantanamo or Djibouti b/c of serious nature of charges.
Manning did not have a lot of guidance with Captain Bouchard b/c of difficulties w unmonitored telephonic communications w legal counsel
Manning: I was very scared. Again, I had no idea.
Manning says he was comforted when he saw it was a chartered plane. Then Captain went over intercom, said plane going to Mannheim, Germany.
Manning was in full restraints while flying.
After Mannheim, reboarded found out similarly Captain said over intercom. 'Baltimore, Maryland'.
Manning: It was great to be in familiar surroundings. American soil. BWI.
Manning was put into a rental car and they drove him south to Quantico. By the time he arrived at Quantico, he had been up 24 hours.
Manning was taken to Quantico in processing area (had been up 24 hours). Strip searched. Signs with Marine Corp rank.
Guards ordered him to fill out paper work in a dark room, Corp Hanks (sp) asked him a bunch of questions, inc re his mental health.
Manning describes in processing in Marine Corp Brig is a 'shark attack environment' (like basic training). 'Everything you do is wrong'.
Manning testified that he was told, therefore, that some of his answers on the admin forms inc. re mental health were 'wrong'.
Manning told them he was not suicidal. At Quantico Brig in process they asked him, 'Then, why were you on suicide watch?'
Manning testified that at in process they told him that he had to put down that he was suicidal and then fill in further information.
Manning said didn't think much about form. He just wanted to go to sleep...had been up for 24 hrs.
Manning says sarcastically put 'always planning, never acting' since told he had to fill out he was suicidal.
Manning was told he would be on Suicide Risk & MAX same as Kuwait, and would have classification status reviewed in a couple of days.
Manning was checked every 5 minutes if he was ok on Suicide Risk MAX. They would open the open observation door and verbally ask if ok.
Manning stayed in one of three cells near the observation booth during his time at Quantico.
At this point Manning is asked by counsel to stand in a tape representation of his cell on the floor of the Court room. 8' long x 6' wide.
Manning had a sink, toilet, and 'rack' or bed in Quantico cell. Observation booth had straight line of site [sight], when he went to bathroom.
Manning described for the Court the suicide banket, which gave him carpet burn like rash.
Manning described for the Court the suicide smock. He then dawn it for the Court on direction of counsel. It was enormous.
Manning described for the Court having his arms trapped in the suicide smock one night sleeping, so that guards had to help him.
Manning described for the Court his suicide mattress.
Manning resumed his position on the stand.
Manning said he spent depending on schedule (eg legal or counsel visit) 23 or even 23.5 hours in the 6 x 8 cell at Quantico.
Manning said he sat on rack, sometimes he sat in Indian style position, but sometimes that was not authorized (dep on guard).
Manning said you could see window down hall but had to put head on cell door, look thru crack. Guards wouldn't allow him to do that.
No natural light came into Manning['s] cell.
Manning: Not inside the cell. Again you could see the reflection of the reflection of the light on the floor if you angled your face (cont)
...up on the door of the cell, which I wasn't allowed to do.
Manning had fluor light over his 'rack' (bed) dur day time. In cell 191 & 192 hallway fluorescent blasted light into cell 24 hr/day.
Manning as MAX custody wore full restraints 'hand irons' and 'leg irons' when outside cell, facility was in lock down.
When Manning was visiting with atty or command, he was given one hand free to sign paper work.
Manning had to be held up by guards while in full restraints because otherwise would fall down.
The guards would announce, 'Lock down. Lock down. Lock down' anytime Manning was moved in full restraints outside his cell.
Manning described the full process of how he was put in full restraints for the Court.
Manning said he was on Suicide Risk on two time periods.
Manning was subject to constant observation directly outside door on Suicide Risk.
A Marine E2 would sit outside cell with clipboard or green book and make notes and updates about Manning.
On SR Manning would be woken up at night if guards felt view was obstructed.
They'd knock on grating of cell & order him to sit up or move.
On SR Manning ate every meal in cell. On 1st period of SR was permitted to have during day T-shirt underwear and socks... con't
On 1st period of SR Manning also had modified PT shorts & for first couple of days not allowed to have glasses. (Just arrived at Quantico).
The guards got annoyed Manning could not see their rank w/o his glasses, which is part of the code and custom of Marine Corp.
So, after a few days the guards auth Manning his glasses (daytime) after few days
1st period of Suicide Risk when 1st arrived Quantico.
When Manning first at Quantico he was on reception and SR status (so he was not allowed pen and paper, only rules and regs book for Brig).
On SR Manning said if didn't appear to be actively reading (eg rest eyes) guards asked him if he was done reading, come retrieve book.
Manning: It's the Marine Corp. Every time you spoke to someone you use their rank, or Sir or M'am, or CW Officer or Commissioned Officer.
Manning: The customs & courtesies never ended, & they expected those at all times. (in re why they gave glasses back, couldn't see rank)
Guards also auth Manning glasses after couple days 1st SR (n/o not seeing rank) b/a had regulation book up to his face guards were worried.
Manning he couldn't read w/o his glasses w/o the book up to his face.
29 July - 11 August 2010 first period of Suicide Risk at Quantico.
Day in the life of Manning on 1st Suicide Risk 5am 'Reveille. Reveille. Reveille'; lights on; place access to safety razor; return razor...
...announce count; then thru out day, counts, deliver chow; once a week walked out in full restraints to 20 minutes sunshine...
On Suicide Risk he got five and ten minutes to take a show[er?] with line of sight.
On reception status all hours were considered 'duty hours' no laying down, no leaning back on wall.
After reception status duty hours were 05 - 17 to 19 hundred duty hours, no laying down, no lean back.
If caught leaning back or lying down, Manning says, you would be warned of disciplinary action if you did not correct yourself.
Manning was downgraded to Prevention of Injury (POI) in 'mid to late August' (still on MAX. Being on SR or POI automatic MAX).
POI was not line of sight, but through the observation booth. Open door and check on him, or pop out. Ask ok. Manning responded.
At least 2 or 3 nights a wk, he was woken up because guards in observation booth cannot see entire face. On POI ate meals in cell.
Manning told by guards b/c of distance of other detainees (he could not see but could hear in distance) he could not talk to them.
Manning never had sheets or blankets (only POI blanket) while at Quantico.
Summer time was very cold, because AC was on high.
On POI Manning had to ask for toilet paper when he needed it.
Manning: (At parade rest at front of cell) Lance Corporal, detainee Manning requests toilet paper.
Manning not allowed any personal or hygiene items in cell while on POI (which is what he was on his entire time, except for Suicide Risk).
Once he received toilet paper there was nothing blocking the guards view of Manning going to the bathroom in the cell.
Then as soon as he was done with the toilet paper he would leave it on the food tray for the guards to retrieve.
On POI Manning was allowed in cell: a mattress, POI blanket(s), at one time flip flops, socks, underwear, shorts.
Manning: 'Those are all the physical items not attached to cell'.
Manning said he was eventually given privilege to read. He ordered books that he had an interest in reading. Special ordered by his family.
Manning said he reads a lot of philosophy. He said he was more of a non-fiction reader...or if he ever reads fiction..'realistic fiction'.
Manning named John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins.
Manning said books kept in adjacent cell. Had to be actively reading, if he took eyes off, retrieved by guard.
Manning not allowed exercise in cell. Tried to get around regulations by practicing dance moves.
Manning said dancing not technically exercise on handling instructions or in Brig regulations.
Manning: ...pacing around, walking around, shuffling...even minor movements to keep blood flowing, stay awake...
Manning: 'It was pretty draining. Can't think of another word. Tiring.'
Manning: I spend a lot of time looking for things to stay active and to keep my mind from going back to a state similar to Kuwait.
Manning: I tried to feel as much like I wasn't trapped in it, like a cage or a cell. I tried to feel like I wasn't trapped in there.
Manning: Like I still know where I am. I know my environment. I would just try to stay active and try to keep from not falling asleep.
Manning: That was a rule. You were not allowed to sleep, or look like even appearance of sleep was considered sleeping.
Manning was authorized 20 minutes of sunshine call on POI. 29 July to December 2010. (Either inside rec or outside rec.)
On POI Manning said outside sunshine call was in full restraints. Walk in shapes w guards. Indoor rec walked around w guard in restraints.
For recreation call (in December 2010 Brig Commander Averhart said if Manning was compliant would get 1 hr recreation) restraints removed.
Manning said both indoor and outdoor recreation only time his restraints were removed not through the feed tray of his cell.
Manning had to ask permission to use certain machines. Manning was not allowed to touch the broken electronic equipment at Quantico.
Manning had to stay 15 feet away from the guards when he was not in restraints on recreation call.
Manning: ...If it plug into something or had any sort of computer they didn't allow me to touch it. (exercise machines).
Manning was not allowed to lay down in the sun, he had to be moving.
Manning had a choice either a period for TV or correspondence.
Manning was allowed during a certain period access to legal material and one pen.
Manning said that phone system was only collect call out, complicated, needed a pin, never worked for him, didn't work with cell phones.
Manning said that GYSGT Blenis (his so called advocate) said to him most people in Brig were unable to use the Quantico phone system.
So many ppl had issues with phones the Brig, took Manning to area on holiday to have a 10 min courtesy phone call with family.
GYSGT Blenis was Manning 'conduit' to Brig and overall NCOIC for the Brig Counselors at Quantico.
Manning could have visitors, they needed back ground checks, etc. In non contact booth, all visits monitored. Manning in full restraints.
Only difference b/w SR & POI in terms of getting out of cell was 5 min more of shower time until Dec 2010 when he got more rec time.
Manning said difference b/w SR & POI was in actuality minimal but it was a big deal for him.
Manning said he was always being watched (via observation booth), but not seeing someone physically outside cell something to him.
Defense: Did u know that Chief Averhart, and later Chief Barnes, was submitting weekly reports up throughout the chain of command?
Manning: I had no idea until...three weeks ago...when you told me that.
Defense: Did you know that your counselor, GYSGT Blenis, was filling out information for these weekly reports?
Manning: I found out some of that information - what he put into the system - for the Article 138 complaint (Jan or Feb 2010 time frame).
Def: What was the role of the Brig counselor from your perspective?
Manning: I saw him as my conduit, my communication person to the facility, apart from the guard where I am always standing at parade rest.
Manning: ...doing everything I am told. (Manning goes on to explain as opposed to guards he could relax and talk 'at level' with Blenis).
Manning says GYSGT Blenis came to his cell 2x a week, & Blenis would pull Manning out 1x a week in full restraints to talk in his office.
Manning: MSG Blenis is a very nice person...extraordinary Marine.
Defense: Did you trust him?
Manning: I did, for a period of time, trust MSG Blenis.
Manning says Blenis was only person in the Brig that Manning said he could talk to 'at level' meaning 'not a guard/detainee relationship'.
Def: During July to Dec 2010 time frame, did MSG Blenis ever tell you, you did anything wrong?
Manning: No & I was always asking, "How am I doing?" As you know I like to be rated to get a good idea of where I am on things A B C or D.
Manning: ...He would usually give me an 'A' rating for whatever I was doing. Sometimes I would get a percentage or points or stars...
Manning: ..Dur that time period I'd ask him & he would say whenever the psych..felt comfortable & woud recommend me to come off of POI...
Manning: ...then I could possibly get off that. (FYI the docs were recommending Manning be removed, and Blenis was recommending he remain).
Manning said the guards were talking about why Manning was on POI for so long. They called it 'Manning Watch'.
The guards kept asking Manning when he was gonna get off of POI.
In mid September, Blenis asked Manning again about how things were going with the psychiatrists.
Manning says Blenis told Manning psychiatrists were recommending POI & he (Blenis) was recommending he be removed. (This is not the case.)
The psychiatrists were recommending removal from POI (Blenis also reviewed their reports), and Blenis was recommending Manning stay on POI.
As months go by, October, November, Manning is still having the same conversations with Blenis, his so called 'counselor'.
In October, Manning talked to CPT Hocter (psych) and asked what his recommendation was...Hocter told Manning removal from POI.
But, Manning said, Blenis told him the opposite, so the discrepancy instilled him with doubt as to who to trust.
Manning said legal counsel was providing Manning with options, but he was concerned about what the consequences would be if he complained.
GYSGT Blenis kept asking Manning 'What are you saying to the docs?' in re POI status. "You are not a disciplinary issue, flight risk.."
B/w Jul to Dec 2010, Manning describes life as an improvement to 'arrive stateside' at Quantico...(h2o, AC) then it started to drain on him.
Manning said while he never went back to the mental space of Kuwait in his head, it was a challenge...
There was a report on Twitter that Manning was dead (the Duty Brig Supervisor told Manning about it).
Defense asked Manning why he was observed imaginary sword fighting in his cell.
Manning: I mean I certainly do something that looks like that on occasion.
Defense: And why were you doing that?
Manning: Again, I was just bored. There was not a lot going on.
Manning: I knew the guard was watching what I was doing, and if he didn't have a prob with it?
Manning said he explained this to GYSGT Blenis, b/c Blenis asked him about it. (Manning responds to various behaviors noted in the logs).

Alexa O'Brien (reposted)
- Homepage: