Why Sunday’s Visit Was Cancelled: Quantico Admit Improper Behaviour

The truth comes out – and, surprise surprise, it has nothing to do with vehicle licensing or tax discs.

According to MSNBC, military officials at Quantico have admitted that the suicide watch Bradley Manning was subjected to for two days last week was done without the appropriate authority and for an illegitimate reason. Here are the critical two paragraphs:

Military officials said Brig Commander James Averhart did not have the authority to place Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, and that only medical personnel are allowed to make that call.

The official said that after Manning had allegedly failed to follow orders from his Marine guards. Averhart declared Manning a “suicide risk.” Manning was then placed on suicide watch, which meant he was confined to his cell, stripped of most of his clothing and deprived of his reading glasses — anything that Manning could use to harm himself. At the urging of U.S. Army lawyers, Averhart lifted the suicide watch.

Firedoglake also carry the story here.

Just to reiterate, Bradley Manning was placed on suicide watch, as a punishment, by a military official (a senior one) without the requisite medical authority to do so. This fits in with the general pattern of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial detention at Quantico – medical provisions being used as a means of punishment. The Prevention of Injury Order Manning currently suffers under is another example of this.

The good news is that, on this occasion, David Coombs was able to take pretty swift action to have the thoroughly illegitimate suicide watch lifted. The bad news is, of course, that Marine determination to not have this confirmed by Bradley Manning directly before they were ready to admit it themselves led to him having to do without a much-needed visit after what must have been a very difficult week indeed.

Update

The Guardian have published what I think is a really good article on this today. It’s worth reading, not least because there is some information about the Washington press corps starting to ask questions about this situation, which is pretty incredible in some ways and shows that a proper debate on this may finally be beginning. I’ve also submitted a couple of long comments here and here. I’ll apologise for my verbosity in advance; it’s not always something I can help.

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