Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lawyer Describes Solitary Confinement of Suspected WikiLeaks Source - NYTimes.com

Lawyer Describes Solitary Confinement of Suspected WikiLeaks Source

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, outside Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England, where is under house arrest.Carl Court/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, outside Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England, where he is under house arrest.

As Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, continues to grant interviews to the world’s media each day — including a revealing discussion with John Humphreys of the BBC on Tuesday — his supporters and critics alike have been offered glimpses of the estate in the English countryside where he is enduring what his lawyer jokingly referred to as “not so much a house arrest as a manor arrest.”

On Monday, Mr. Assange spoke with a Times of London reporter while perched on a fence on the 600-acre property. On Tuesday, he sat down with a BBC crew inside the 10-bedroom home.

By stark contrast, new details have emerged in recent days about the different conditions in which an Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, has been confined since his arrest in May on suspicion of leaking the confidential American military and diplomatic records published on Mr. Assange’s Web site.

Last week, the legal blogger Glenn Greenwald reported details of Private Manning’s solitary confinement and argued that it amounts to torture. Mr. Greenwald wrote:

An undated file photograph of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May on suspicion of leaking secret U.S. records.Associated Press An undated file photograph of Pfc. Bradley Manning.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig’s medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

On Friday, Private Manning’s 23rd birthday, The Daily Beast published an interview with his lawyer, David Coombs, who shed some light on his client’s solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.

On Saturday, Mr. Coombs, who is also an Army reservist, published a long post on his blog describing, “A Typical Day for Pfc. Bradley Manning.” Mr. Coombs wrote:

Private Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length. The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass Private Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with Private Manning.

At 5 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys. Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12 to 3 p.m.

He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to Pfc. Manning.

Due to being held on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch:

Pfc. Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day. The guards are required to check on Pfc. Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is O.K. Pfc. Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see Pfc. Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is O.K.

He receives each of his meals in his cell.

He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell. The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.

He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

He does receive one hour of “exercise” outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. Pfc. Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

When Pfc. Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.

Last week, a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Dave Lapan, told The Associated Press that Private Manning is being held in the same conditions as all other prisoners in what the military calls “maximum custody.”

In his interview with The Daily Beast, Mr. Coombs shared a list of books Private Manning had asked his family to buy him, which included: “ Decision Points,” by George W. Bush; “The Critique of Practical Reason” and “The Critique of Pure Reason,” by Immanuel Kant; “Propaganda,” by Edward Bernays; “The Selfish Gene,” by Richard Dawkins; “A People’s History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn; “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu; “The Good Soldiers,” by David Finkel and “On War,” by Carl von Clausewitz.

In “The Good Soldiers,” Mr. Finkel, a Washington Post reporter who was embedded with an Army unit in Iraq in 2007, described in detail the killing of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters employees by fire from American helicopters. The same episode was shown in  graphic video shot from the helicopters posted on YouTube in April by WikiLeaks.

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