Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bradley Manning Incommunicado

On Jan 7, 2011, I spoke by phone (703-432-0289) to Lt. Brian Villiard, PR officer for Quantico Marine Base. He was courteous and responsive. It is his role to explain policies and procedures, not to enforce them. The information in italics is what Villiard told me:


Quantico Marine Brig is the pretrial confinement facility for the Washington, DC, region for persons awaiting trial or on trial in all branches of the military. PFC Bradley Manning will be prosecuted by the Army. On July 29, 2010, Manning was transferred from Kuwait where he had been held since May. He was sent to Quantico presumably because of the seriousness of his alleged crime. The Quantico Brig has 27 individual cells, divided into several wings. There are no detainees on either side of Manning’s cell. Manning's cell consists of a bed bolted to the wall, a mattress with a built-in pillow, a quilted cover of jean-like fabric, water fountain/sink, mirror, and toilet. The entire front wall of Manning's cell is bars, so he can see the guard when he/she passes. He can talk to any other detainee in the wing, but cannot see them. Villiard would not verify whether there are other detainees in Manning's wing.

There is a different area in the brig for detainees held in "solitary confinement." Those cells do not have open bars in the front, and the detainee cannot see out except for a small window, nor can he hear or speak to others.

The military distinguishes between being held in a solitary cell for 23 hours per day and being held in "solitary confinement" . . . a fine point, indeed. The Geneva Conventions ban solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment.


In order to visit Manning, he must put your name on his visitors' list. Manning may have visitors on weekends and holidays. These visiting hours are in addition to the one hour per day when Manning is allowed out of his cell. Legal and medical visits are handled separately. Lt. Villiard was not free to tell me if Manning has had visits from family members.


Manning is permitted to receive mail, but only if he puts the name of the sender on his list of people whom he will "allow" to send him mail. If the sender's name is not on Manning's list, the mail is returned to sender.


Bradley Manning is effectively shut off from receiving all mail from well-wishers. So if you wrote to him, he did not get it. If you have advice for him, he cannot receive it. If you want to volunteer to help him, you cannot tell him. I have no idea if Manning has been told this policy.

I believe this fits the definition of being held "incommunicado".

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights states "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. . ."

The U.S. Bill of Rights states "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." In a nutshell, this right means a person has a right to be accused of a crime and brought before a court to defend himself. He cannot simply be locked away indefinitely.

Since the United States is neither invaded nor experiencing any violent rebellion, Bradley Manning, therefore, should be afforded the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

The prisoner, or another person acting on his behalf, may petition the court, or a judge, for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. One reason for the writ to be sought by a person other than the prisoner is that the detainee might be held incommunicado.

If I interpret this correctly, any interested party can petition the court on Manning's behalf for a Writ of Habeaus Corpus. Will the government dare to argue that persons serving their country in the military give up their Constitutional rights?


Manning is not permitted to receive reading material mailed to him by individuals. Even if Manning were to put my name on his list to "allow" my mail to be delivered to him, I would not be able to send him any books, magazines, or newspapers. If he wants to receive a book or magazine, he would have to request a form from the guard and write down his request. His request would be reviewed by a committee to determine if the book or magazine contained anything "improper for individuals in a confinement facility to be reading, such as pornography or anything like that."

One could argue that pornography, not being illegal, might be quite appropriate for an incarcerated person. Does the military code now prohibit persons from reading porno? When I asked Lt. Villiard to define "or anything like that," he promised to research this point and get back to me with a more detailed answer.

If the request is approved, supposedly Manning could receive the book or magazine in the mail, but only if it came from an established source such as Amazon or Border's Books. There are no newspaper subscriptions available in the brig, but on several occasions the brig commander has brought his own newspaper to the brig and asked if anyone wanted to see a section, such as the sports section. Villiard stated he did not know if Manning had ever expressed interest to read the commander's newspaper.

Villiard promised to find out if and how Manning can receive newspapers. I am also awaiting detailed answers for whether Manning is allowed writing materials, money, and "PX calls" which means requesting "comfort items" like gum and paper from the base store.

For questions pertaining to Manning's trial, persons may contact Lt. Col Rob Manning (no relation), Public Affairs Officer for the US Army, Military District of Washington; phone 202-685-4899.

Manning’s attorney is David E. Coombs at .

There are several Bradley Manning support web sites at


Collateral Damage video: http://youtu।be/5rXPrfnU3G0

See also The Army Field Manual: Sanctioning Cruelty?