Military judge rules Bradley Manning was illegally treated, awards 112 days credit

manningAt Bradley Manning’s hearing in Fort Meade today, Judge Lind awarded 112 days credit off of any future prison sentence awarded due to the abuse Manning suffered in Quantico—little to keep the military from torturing next American soldier awaiting controversial trial. Earlier, the parties argued government motions to preclude evidence of core precepts of Bradley Manning’s defense.

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. January 8, 2013.

After more than two weeks of intense litigation by Bradley Manning’s defense, and hearing how Quantico brig staff blatantly disregarded Navy Rules, military Judge Denise Lind has confirmed that Bradley was punished unlawfully before trial by awarding 112 days credit. Instead of awarding 10-for-1 credit (or dismissing the charges altogether), which would severely reprimand the military and significantly impact Bradley’s potential sentence, Judge Lind gave 1-to-1 credit for selected portions of his Quantico confinement.Judge Lind has granted credit for the 7 days Bradley was kept on suicide risk watch against Navy Rules, 75 days from November 1 to January 18 when he was kept needlessly on Prevention of Injury watch, and 20 days from April 1-20 when he was forced to remove his underwear at night. Lind said Bradley’s confinement was “more rigorous than necessary,” and that it “became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests.”

With this ruling, Lind affirms that both Brig Commanding Officers James Averhart and Denise Barnes abused their discretion in different ways. She said Averhart kept Manning on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch for too long against psychiatrists’ recommendations, and said that after November 1 it was excessive. She said that the fact that Barnes removed Bradley’s underwear for suicidal reasons but didn’t put him on Suicide Risk was legally authorized, but she said it was egregious to do so for so long.

Earlier in the day, the government litigated its motions to preclude discussion of Bradley Manning’s motive and of overclassification. The government says that Bradley’s motive, even if pure and noble, is irrelevant to intent, which it says is whether he knew or had reason to believe that the information could be used to harm the United States if made public. But the defense differed on the distinction: Bradley’s counsel David Coombs argued that motive does factor into intent at the time of the release. Coombs argued that the defense’s evidence could show not that Bradley wanted information to be generally free, but that he selected documents to release knowing that they wouldn’t cause harm to the United States. Coombs also argued that this motion was untimely: Judge Lind hasn’t yet seen the evidence that the government wants to preclude, and this motion now compels the defense to make some of its basic arguments in court before trial begins.

The government has also moved to preclude evidence of overclassification, arguing similarly that whether too much information is classified has no bearing on whether the documents Bradley is said to have released were classified at the time. But Coombs contended that as an Army intelligence analyst, well versed in the Army’s massive secrecy, Bradley knew that just because documents were classified didn’t mean their publicity would bring harm to national security. Furthermore, he said he could bring witnesses such as Col. Morris Davis who could comment on overclassification and whether it would’ve been reasonable to conclude that the classified documents at issue could bring harm to the United States.

Judge Lind will rule on those motions next week, at the January 16-17 hearing currently scheduled for the conclusion of the speedy trial motion. This hearing continues through Friday. Stay tuned throughout the week for continuing coverage.