Category Archives: transcript

Current Bradley Manning Resources

As may be obvious, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. That may or may not change as Bradley Manning’s court martial proceeds at Fort Meade but, in any case, the following list of resources are essential reading on the current situation:

Court Martial Transcripts

Freedom of the Press Foundation are crowdsourcing a team of stenographers to cover the court martial. Files of morning and afternoon sessions are being uploaded here daily.

In addition, useful livetweeting and/or daily roundups of proceedings at Fort Meade are being produced by Nathan Fuller for the Bradley Manning Support Network, Chase Madar for The Nation, Rainey Reitman for Huffington Post, Kevin Gosztola for FireDogLake and Alexa O’Brien. For visuals, your one-stop shop is Clark Stoeckley.

Pre-Trial Documents

Full transcripts of the pretrial phase can be found at Alexa O’Brien’s website, which includes a wealth of useful analysis and background information (the witness profiles and reconstructed appelate list are especially useful if you plan on delving into the full detail).

Bradley himself made two statements during the pretrial phase, which are both indispensible reading. The first dealt with the pre-trial treatment Bradley Manning experienced at the marine brig at Quantico (contemporary coverage of which is extensively covered in this blog’s archives) and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait (which had not previously been entered onto the public record).

The second statement, which has been justly celebrated, is Manning’s “naked plea” – presented as such in order to introduce discussion of morality into a legal process that admits of none.  Miraculously, audio of this important historical document is also available, courtesy of an unknown observer of the proceedings.

A partially complete collection of court orders and submissions from the pre-trial phase has today been released by the US military.  That this has happened is largely thanks to those who have fought in the courts for access to documents that should have been publicly available for many months.

If you’re pushed for time, the two Manning statements are where you start.

Michael Moore on Bradley Manning

Thanks to Code Pink for this video from Michael Moore’s book launch in New York last night (Tuesday), where he was asked about Bradley Manning.

What can we do to make sure Bradley Manning receives a fair trial?

That’s a very good question. I hope all of you know about Bradley Manning – if you don’t you should get on it tonight and read about it.  This is very sad that he’s taken the fall for doing something that, allegedly, he felt was right and good for the country.

In another era, Daniel Ellsberg was lauded for it.  In this era, Bradley Manning doesn’t have the support of the media that supported Daniel Ellsberg.  I think you need to write letters, if you’re not on the internet, I think you need to organise people to inform them of this… We have a problem because we have a media that does not want to respond to this.

Ann Clwyd: “Mrs Manning should have had the courtesy of a reply”

Almost exactly a month ago, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham admitted in the House of Commons that Bradley Manning is a UK citizen by descent (as we have always argued here), that diplomatic representations would be made to the United States Government on his behalf and that any request from Bradley’s family for consular access “would be looked at.” Bradley’s mother Susan wrote a letter to the Foreign Secretary William Hague on 13th April asking for precisely this: that someone from the British Embassy in Washington be sent over to see Bradley (something they would do for any other prisoner in his position, certainly one facing the death penalty) and that the Embassy would provide assistance to the family in making their visits to Bradley easier.

It has now been three weeks since Bradley’s mother wrote that letter and the Foreign Office, although they “understand [the] concerns” about what has been happening to Bradley, have not yet deigned to send Susan a response. Today, our suspicions that they might be stonewalling were confirmed. At just after 3pm this afternoon (Tuesday), Ann Clwyd MP raised the case of Bradley Manning at Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions. She had submitted a written question to Foreign Office Minister Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and then made a follow-up question in person.

Those in the UK may view this encounter on BBC iPlayer for the next seven days. Ann’s question appears at 34.20.

Clwyd (written question): Have discussions been held with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture about Bradley Manning?

Burt: Mr Speaker, we are aware of discussions which the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has had with the United States Government, but the Foreign and Commonwealth [Office] has not had any discussions with him on the case of Bradley Manning.

Clwyd: I have raised the question of Bradley Manning on several occasions, in this Chamber and outside. Mrs Susan Manning, who is Bradley Manning’s mother, wrote to the Foreign Secretary three weeks ago. She has not yet had a reply.

She asked for consular assistance; she asked for someone to visit her son in the very bad conditions he has been held in and she also asked for any help they can give, in Washington and elsewhere, to the family if they so request it. At the very least Mrs. Manning, who is very concerned about the situation of her son, should have had the courtesy of a reply.

Burt: The honourable lady knows, through the adjournment debate she had on precisely this subject, that Bradley Manning does not consider himself a UK citizen and his lawyer has made it very clear that he doesn’t consider that he has any contact with this country. We therefore cannot discuss his nationality and we are limited both of what we can say and what we can do in relation to this case. But his lawyer is well aware of the circumstances and is well aware of the position of the United Kingdom Government.

Ann Clwyd – needless to say – was not satisfied with this answer and went on to make a point of order later in the afternoon (you can find the transcript below). She was then informed that the British Government would not be willing to send someone to see Bradley, unless Bradley himself should request that they do so.

Not only are the Foreign and Commonwealth Office snubbing Bradley’s mother, they are now also flying in the face of established consular practice – as it should be remembered that not only is there is an allegation of torture in Bradley’s case, he is also facing the death penalty. Given that the British Government has now made two separate diplomatic representations to their American counterparts about Bradley’s treatment, their reluctance to follow this up with a consular visit – as any prisoner in Bradley’s position could expect as a matter of course – does seem rather odd.

The law on consular access between the US and UK is very clear that the only thing that would prevent a visit to Bradley being made, should the Foreign Office decide to send someone, is Bradley specifically stating that he didn’t want it to happen. As it stands, there is no legal or procedural barrier to the FCO sending someone from the Embassy over to Fort Leavenworth: there is only a lack of will to do so. Emails to MPs and additional signatures to Early Day Motion 1624 would certainly help us let the FCO know that this is not acceptable.

Update I

Ann Clwyd’s point of order may now be read in Hansard – the transcript makes the extent of the FCO’s backtracking extremely obvious:

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that half the Cabinet are not supposed to be talking to the other half, but I hope that Foreign Office Ministers are talking to one another. I say that because the answer given to me by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) on the case of Bradley Manning is misleading.

I have raised this issue on several occasions. I raised it with the Foreign Secretary on 16 March and again during business questions on 17 March. I raised it once more during an Adjournment debate on 4 April, when I was told that

“a senior official in our embassy in Washington called on the US State Department on 29 March”

to discuss Private Manning’s terrible situation in prison. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) went on to say:

“the right hon. Lady’s understanding of the British Nationality Act 1981 is accurate. Any person born outside the UK after 1 January 1983 whose mother is a UK citizen by birth is British by descent.”

He continued by saying that Mr Manning’s family had not made a “direct request” for help,

“but obviously, if it comes to consular assistance of any kind, we will look at that request as and when one is made.”—[Official Report, 4 April 2011; Vol. 526, c. 873-74.]

Such a request was made to the Foreign Secretary on 11 April by Bradley Manning’s mother, who said that she now understands that

“according to British law, Bradley qualifies as a British national.”

She continued:

“I visited Bradley at the end of February…I was very distressed by seeing Bradley”

in the condition he is in—

Mr Speaker: Order. I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Lady, who is a very experienced Member of the House. I know that she would not accuse any Minister of wilfully misleading the House; I am sure that she meant to say that she thought that the Minister was inadvertently misleading the House. She will understand, and the House will appreciate, that we cannot continue Foreign Office questions now. However, as the Minister, who is among the most courteous of Ministers in the House, is on the Bench ready and waiting with bated breath to respond, he should do so.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Alistair Burt): I am very grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me some extra time. Nothing that the right hon. Lady has said is wrong in any way. Her concerns were conveyed to the State Department by an official of the Government, but the crucial point is that although I can well understand her concern and what Bradley Manning’s mother may have done, we are not able to respond to that, as any request for assistance has to come from the individual. I can only stress what I have said to the right hon. Lady, which is that Bradley Manning’s lawyers are aware of the UK Government’s position and they are also aware of how to change it. That is the situation. I can help the right hon. Lady further only in private, rather than on the Floor of the House. I hope that is all right.

Update II

The Guardian are now covering the FCO’s disgraceful stonewalling in an excellent piece, which includes the following strong statement from Ann Clwyd:

“Their refusal to respond to Susan Manning or support Bradley Manning can’t be [because of] a genuine confusion over his nationality, the responsibility the British government have for him or the conditions in which he is being held,” she said.

“There is no room for genuine confusion over these issues,” she added, pointing to comments by Méndez, who has been investigating whether Manning’s treatment to date amounted to “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment” or torture. “This avoidance game they are playing can only be completely deliberate,” she said.

As a British citizen facing the death penalty abroad, Bradley Manning should have received a visit from a representative of this country long ago. The FCO are as aware of this as we are and their prevarication does them no credit at all.

Update III

Good to see that blogs are now picking up on the story in the wake of the Guardian’s coverage.

Barack Obama on Bradley Manning – “We’re a nation of laws!”

On Thursday morning Pacific Time, a group of Bradley Manning supporters staged a flashmob at a Barack Obama fundraising event in San Francisco. Even more amazingly, one of those supporters, Logan Price, was able to question the US President directly afterwards:

Here’s a close-to-verbatim account of what was said:

So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works.

And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.

We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

[Q: Didn’t he release evidence of war crimes?]

What he did was he dumped

[Q: Isn’t that just the same thing as what Daniel Ellsberg did?]

No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way.

I suppose it’s reassuring to hear the US President reaffirming the importance of the rule of law (if not, unfortunately, the principle of innocent until proven guilty). Nevertheless, if “we don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate” maybe he should point this out to James Averhart, who decided off his own back that suicide watch could be used as a means of punishment rather than protection.

Barack Obama might also want to have a quiet word with Denise Barnes about the use of forced nudity as a punitive measure. The President may moreover find it worthwhile to talk to that “senior official” at Quantico who reportedly ruled back in January that Bradley Manning should never have his Prevention of Injury Order lifted, against the repeated recommendations of Quantico psychiatrists. This same official is quoted as saying: “We’ll do whatever we want.”

It seems increasingly evident that at least one civilian and at least one military official at the Pentagon has come to the conclusion that these three individuals and their – how should I put this? Interesting use of initiative? – now have the potential to cause them very serious problems indeed once David Coombs’ writ of habeas corpus receives due consideration. There is ample precedent in case law that members of the US military are entitled to due process in that they are presumed innocent until proven otherwise and that procedures for the relief of their conditions need to work in a fair way and not be subject to the predetermination of military authorities.

Not only do the acts of certain individuals at Quantico risk putting the entire legal process against Bradley Manning in jeopardy, should those inividuals be found to be at fault, there is a mechanism by which they may be found personally responsible. Article 93 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides that “Any person … who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.” If the US is indeed a “nation of laws”, then they should have reason to be concerned.

(Many thanks to Marcy Wheeler whose close analysis of who has been saying what to whom provided the impetus for this post.)

Update I

A great piece has just been posted at WLCentral that takes a different – somewhat more pessimistic – slant on Obama’s words, noting that the US President is an individual who very much can “make decisions about how the law operates”:

Ideally, the US is a nation of laws but in reality it is not. The Executive Branch led by the President of the United States can choose what legal restrictions to abide by and what not to and it can choose what violations of the law to prosecute and what not to prosecute.

This being so, the author argues that when a figure with this kind of discretion openly dispenses with any sensitivity to the case being sub judice, the ramifications are very serious indeed:

Displaying this attitude that he is guilty before he actually is put on trial and convicted may prejudice Manning’s case. In the same way that criminal and civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz suggested former President George W. Bush was prejudicing the legal process against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he declared [he had] “willfully and repeatedly done great harm” and refused to participate in an event with Assange.

Update II

Michael Whitney at firedoglake clarifies that the writ of habeas corpus David Coombs was considering filing is now “moot” as a result of the move. Shame.

Update III

Barack Obama’s predetermination of the case against Bradley Manning is now being picked up by mainstream media outlets. CBS are now covering the story, the New York Daily News (whose record on reporting this case is not great) concede it “may have run afoul of Presidential protocol” and Politico actually cite a couple of commentators unafraid to take the President to task:

“The comment was not appropriate because it assumes that Manning is guilty,” Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told POLITICO. “The president got carried away and misspoke. No one should mistake a charge for a conviction – especially the nation’s highest official.”

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice and military law expert, predicted that before the end of the day the White House will have issued a corrective statement.

That “corrective statement” has yet to appear.

Update IV

An updated version of the Politico article includes a not-terribly-convincing response from the White House:

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama was in fact making a general statement that did not go specifically to the charges against Manning. “The president was emphasizing that, in general, the unauthorized release of classified information is not a lawful act,” he said Friday night. “He was not expressing a view as to the guilt or innocence of Pfc. Manning specifically.”

This is, to say the least, an interesting interpretation of the sentence “He broke the law.”

Politico then cite Steven Aftergood and Eugene Fidell on the likelihood of Obama’s comments having an influence on Manning’s court martial:

Aftergood and Fidell agreed that Obama’s remarks — while unfortunate — probably will not affect whether Manning will receive a fair trial. “It’s not that hard to ensure that unlawful command influence hasn’t in fact prejudiced the right to a fair trial,” Fidell explained. “If the case goes to a court marshal, the military court will have to make sure that none of the members of the military jury have been influenced by the president’s stated belief that Manning broke the law.”

It is not surprising that the White House is keen to play down this incident. Military case law indicates that “pretrial publicity itself may constitute unlawful command influence” (United States v. Simpson, 58 MJ 368) and, if this is raised at court martial, the US Government will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the case has not been prejudiced. (United States v. Reed, 65 M.J. 487) Should unlawful command influence be proven, incidentally, then dismissal of the case is possible “as a last resort.” (United States v. Douglas, 68 M.J. 349)

Update V

Glenn Greenwald has now written a typically excellent piece on all this, pointing out the hypocrisy of Obama calling the US a “nation of laws”:

…it’s long been clear that this is Obama’s understanding of “a nation of laws”: the most powerful political and financial elites who commit the most egregious crimes are to be shielded from the consequences of their lawbreaking — see his vote in favor of retroactive telecom immunity, his protection of Bush war criminals, and the way in which Wall Street executives were permitted to plunder with impunity — while the most powerless figures (such as a 23-year-old Army Private and a slew of other low-level whistleblowers) who expose the corruption and criminality of those elites are to be mercilessly punished. And, of course, our nation’s lowest persona non grata group — accused Muslim Terrorists — are simply to be encaged for life without any charges. Merciless, due-process-free punishment is for the powerless; full-scale immunity is for the powerful. “Nation of laws” indeed.

Greenwald also draws attention to this interesting precedent of a US President pre-judging a criminal case. This example involves Richard Nixon and, as Greenwald points out, what Obama has done is arguably far worse:

Amazingly, this incident … is highly redolent of the time Richard Nixon publicly declared Charles Manson’s guilt before the accused mass murderer had been convicted. Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, was at Nixon’s side when he did it and immediately recognized the impropriety of Nixon’s remarks, and the White House quickly issued a statement claiming that Nixon misspoke and meant merely to suggest Manson had been “charged” with these crimes, not that he was guilty of them. Obama’s decree was worse, of course, since (a) Obama has direct command authority over those who will judge Manning (unlike Nixon vis-a-vis Manson’s jurors); (b) Manson’s jurors were sequestered at the time and thus not exposed to Nixon’s proclamation; and (c) Obama is directly responsible for the severe punishment to which Manning has already been subjected (h/t lysias).

Today in Parliament – Bradley Manning’s Citizenship Status Confirmed

At just after 10pm this evening (Monday) Ann Clwyd MP addressed the House of Commons on the subject of ‘The Treatment of Bradley Manning’.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ann for her continued support and tenacity, which has brought frankly amazing results this evening.  We will post the full transcript of the debate as soon as it appears in Hansard (the official verbatim record of Parliamentary proceedings) but here, in the meantime, is a summary of the response of Henry Bellingham MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  It covers some incredibly important ground.

Henry Bellingham noted that the case was of concern not only to a number of MPs, but “obviously” in Wales as well as in the country as a whole.

He then asserted the place of human rights as “an irreducible core” of UK foreign policy. Furthermore, an essential part of that core is a commitment to the eradication of “cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.”

“The conditions an individual is detained in must meet international standards… this is particularly important in pretrial detention.”

When determining what level of security is appropriate pre-trial, factors such as the seriousness of the offence and the safety of the defendant may be taken into account, but ultimately conditions must be justified by the relevant authority in each instance.

In general, the UK feels that pre-trial conditions in the United States meet internationally recognised standards; they are also open to be challenged by defendants.

Furthermore, Barack Obama has been questioned about the conditions Bradley Manning is experiencing in pretrial detention and has said that he has been assured that these are “appropriate and meet basic US standards.”

Bellingham went on to note that the US has an “effective and robust judicial system,” that Bradley Manning was receiving active legal representation and that “we must not interfere” in this process.

Notwithstanding all the above, if concerns are raised then, as a government, “we have an obligation to listen.” On 16th March Ann Clwyd raised concerns to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee. A day later, Ann raised the issue again in the House during Business Questions. An Early Day Motion was presented.

It appears that these concerns are widely shared. Henry Bellingham noted that over 30 MPs had reported their constituents’ concerns to the Foreign Office.

On 29th March a senior official in the British Embassy in Washington called his counterpart in the US State Department. He handed over a copy of the “uncorrected evidence” of Ann Clwyd’s exchange with William Hague at the Foreign Affairs Committee, together with a copy of Early Day Motion 1624. This official drew attention to the fact that this debate in the UK now existed at the level of Parliamentary interest.

Bellingham notes that the representative of the US State Department took note of the above and agreed to take these concerns forward. This shows, said Bellingham, how “the strength of our relationship empowers us to raise difficult issues.”

Bellingham acknowledged that “many feel we should do more.” He stressed that he could not comment directly on Mr Manning’s citizenship status – partly out of respect for his privacy and partly because it would be inappropriate to do so without Mr Manning’s express consent. Bellingham also noted that Mr Manning’s military lawyer David Coombs had noted in a blog post that Bradley does not hold a current UK passport and “does not consider himself British.” Bellingham asserted that “it is clear he is not asking for our help” and therefore the standing of the UK Government in this matter is limited.

However, Henry Bellingham then acknowledged that Ann Clwyd’s “understanding of the British Nationality Act is accurate.” A child born abroad after 1983 to a British citizen “not by descent” automatically acquires citizenship at birth.

[& Bradley Manning is therefore a British citizen… just in case anyone reading this was still in any doubt]

Julian Lewis, the Conservative MP for New Forest East was then allowed to interject. He noted that Bradley Manning has been accused of extremely serious offences and that the viability of any resulting prosecution might well be brought into question by abuses occurring pre-trial. The US Government was in danger of snatching “defeat out of the jaws of a sort of victory.”

Henry Bellingham was then given leave to continue. He counselled all in the Chamber to “recognise the limitations on UK involvement.” To date, he noted that the UK Government had not received a request for consular access from the family, but that “we will look at such a request” if one were made. In the meantime, Mr Manning does have access to legal counsel and “we are confident that US judicial processes are sound.” He concluded by assuring the House that in light of this debate he “would instruct our embassy to again report our concerns to the State Department.”

To summarise – the British Government has tonight recognised that Bradley Manning is a citizen of the United Kingdom. His plight is of wide concern in the UK, as evidenced by over thirty MPs conveying their constituents’ concerns onwards to the Foreign Office – and, by the way, all those reading this who did write to their MP should feel very proud of themselves right now.

The Government has also revealed that representations about Bradley’s treatment have been made on a diplomatic level and that they will be again as a result of tonight’s debate. Not only this, but Parliament has been assured that a request for consular access from the family will be “looked at” should one be made. Tonight’s events have been extraordinarily positive and we trust that developments on this latter point will emerge in short order.

Update

The full proceedings may now be viewed in Hansard. Ann Clwyd’s address is well worth reading in full, but here’s an extract:

I am not raising Bradley Manning’s case because he is a British national but because I believe his treatment is cruel and unnecessary and that we should say so. I am also chair of the all-party group on human rights and so I often raise human rights cases from around the world. They might be in Burma, Chechnya, East Timor, China, or, sadly, too many other places besides. I do not raise them because they involve British citizens, but because they involve human rights abuses or wrongdoing and because I am in politics because I want to do something to try to stop those things happening.

I want the British Government to raise Bradley Manning’s treatment with the US Administration because his treatment is cruel and unnecessary and we should be saying so. We cannot deny, however, that Bradley’s connection to the UK adds an additional dimension.

Bradley’s mother, Susan, is Welsh and lives in Pembrokeshire. Bradley lived and went to school in Wales between the ages of 13 and 17. There is a great deal of interest in the UK, and in particular in Wales, in Bradley’s case and much of that is grounded in his close connection to the UK. Both London and Wrexham have seen protests against Bradley Manning’s treatment, and I pay tribute to those people in the UK who have raised his case.

Perhaps the Minister will take this opportunity to clarify, on the record, just what the position is with regard to British nationality. My understanding is that under the British Nationality Act 1981 anyone born outside the UK after 1 January 1983 who has a mother who is a UK citizen by birth is British by descent. Perhaps the Minister will assist us by confirming that that is the case. I am aware that Bradley Manning’s lawyer has issued a statement that Bradley is not asserting any kind of UK nationality. I know that, but from the point of view of British law, is it the case that Bradley Manning qualifies for British nationality?

Part of Bradley’s family live in Pembrokeshire and their son is in a military prison in Virginia in the US. They are being contacted by journalists, campaigners and politicians who are trying to raise the case. This is a difficult situation for any family to deal with. What kind of consular, official or other support could be made available to Bradley’s mother and family? When they visit Bradley in the US, for example, can they expect assistance from British embassy staff in the US? Can they receive advice and assistance in understanding the charges faced by their son, and perhaps advice, too, about the issue of British nationality?

I hope that the Minister can give two undertakings tonight-first, that the British Government will officially raise the case with the US Administration, and secondly, that the Government will consider what support they could provide to the British family of Bradley Manning as they try to do whatever they can to help Bradley.

Update II

The Bradley Manning Support Network have just issued a press release praising the latest British developments:

“We welcome the support of the MPs, who join Amnesty International and activists worldwide in urging the U.S. to end this inhumane pretrial punishment,” said Jeff Paterson, steering committee member of the Bradley Manning Support Network and project director of Courage to Resist. “Thirty-seven British parliamentarians have shown their commitment to justice and a fair trial,” said steering committee member Mike Gogulski. “We hope to see twice as many American legislators respond with a similar motion.”

Update III

Ann Clwyd’s speech may now be viewed online, together with Henry Bellingham’s reponse – which provides the official Government confirmation of Bradley’s citizenship status:





Confirmation that the UK Government is now applying diplomatic pressure on behalf of its citizen, Bradley Manning, has been covered widely in the international press with only the BBC’s own parliamentary coverage failing to be fully candid about the salient facts. I am aware of reports on WL Central and firedoglake, in the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, CBC, The Register and from AP. New York Magazine and The Guardian have been kind enough to quote me in their coverage and I note that Alan Rusbridger specifically emphasised the importance of Bradley’s case when accepting an award for Newspaper of the Year at the Press Awards last night.

I also note that three additional signatures have now been added to Early Day Motion 1624, which brings the total up to 40.

(with thanks to leaksource.wordpress.com and to Alex Weir)

William Hague questioned by Ann Clwyd – footage and transcript

The Foreign Secretary William Hague was today directly questioned for the first time on the UK Government’s position on the case of Bradley Manning. Footage of today’s meeting of the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee may be viewed here. Ann Clwyd’s question appears right at the end of the meeting, at 16:46:43 and a transcript of her exchange with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, follows below.

Clwyd: I want to raise with you the question of Bradley Manning, the US marine, who at present is in a military prison – untried and unconvicted – and the treatment that has been given him. He has been kept in solitary confinement over the past ten months, he is denied access to the normal things that one has every day. He is made to stand naked outside his cell every morning and so on and so forth. And as you know, Hilary Clinton’s press spokesman has been forced to resign over the comments that he made over the treatment of Bradley Manning, calling it “counterproductive and stupid.”

Bradley Manning’s mother in Welsh, from Pembrokeshire. She has visited him recently and everyone is very concerned about his treatment. I wonder if you can raise it, or have raised it, because there is a lot of public interest in the treatment of Bradley Manning.

Hague: Well, on this particular case, Mr Manning’s lawyer apparently wrote on the 2nd February on his blog that “Mr. Manning does not hold a UK passport, nor does he consider himself a UK citizen.” Beyond that we can’t comment on an individual’s nationality without their consent. And in that situation, of course, our standing on this matter is limited. He is not asking for our help, nor considering himself British.

In general, conditions in US prisons do meet international standards. Solitary confinement is a procedure used in many countries. It is deemed to offer protection both to the inmate and those around them. It is for his legal representative to challenge his treatment, if they judge that his treatment fails to meet international standards.

The fact that it has been raised in this committee, of course, can be brought to the attention of the United States. So it can be, and will be. But our position, from a legal and a consular point of view is as I’ve just been describing.

Clwyd: Can I just say that his legal representative published an 11-page document a few days ago, which was a statement from Manning but also a complaint from his lawyer about his treatment. So as we are receiving letters from constituents on this particular subject, I will be coming back to you on this subject.

Hague: Well, do come back to me and of course I will write you a letter so you can correspond with your constituents.

Update

The exchange is now viewable on youtube (big thanks to Alex Weir)

Update II

Ann Clwyd MP again raised the issue of Bradley Manning at Business Questions in the House of Commons this morning (17th March), formally requesting that a debate be held on the treatment Bradley is receiving in pre-trial detention. Ann noted that the case bore some similarities to the treatment “meted out” to Guantanamo Bay inmates and indicated that there was considerable public concern about the issue.

Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, responded that he understood the concerns expressed by Ann Clwyd – concerns that are “widely shared.” He then indicated that although he “could not promise a debate in Government time”, the case was a “suitable subject for debate” in the Chamber.

Update III

Footage of Business Questions is now available on BBC iplayer (viewable from within the UK only) and Ann Clwyd’s question appears at 15:50. Here’s the transcript:

Clwyd: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Can we have a debate on the treatment of Bradley Manning, the young US soldier who is held in solitary confinement in the United States, accused of passing on information to Wikileaks? His mother is Welsh. He attended school in Wales for a time. There is considerable interest in his case, which I would say is similar to that meted out to people at Guantanamo Bay.

Young: I understand the concern which the Honourable Lady expresses, which I think is widely shared. I can’t promise a debate in Government time, but it does sound an appropriate subject for debate in Westminster Hall in the next few weeks.

Westminster Hall is a secondary space for Parliamentary debate in the UK and discussions that take place there are not subject to a vote. However, it does seem as if the case of Bradley Manning will be now be formally allocated time for debate in the Parliamentary schedule, which is positive indeed.

Update IV

Ann Clwyd’s question to Sir George Young may now be viewed in Hansard, the official edited verbatim report of proceedings in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

“I think this may be punitive treatment…” David House interviewed on Canadian radio

This is a transcript of As It Happens, a CBC Radio show broadcast on 21 Jan 2011. David House is due to visit Bradley Manning today (Saturday) and deliver a 40,000 signature petition to the Quantico brig Commander. On the audio clip, his interview begins at the 9.50 mark.

Mr. House, what does this petition call for?

It calls for a stop to the inhumane conditions that Bradley Manning is currently confined under. Specifically it calls for a lifting of his solitary confinement and it calls for him to be able to exercise and go outside.

When you last saw Bradley Manning, your friend, what condition was he in?

Bradley Manning, when I first saw him in September, was very bright-eyed, a very engaging young man. He was able to talk quickly through conversational topics and relate things in the abstract and concrete, almost in professorial fashion – a very intelligent person.

Over time, I have noticed that his condition, psychologically, has been degrading. When I visited him last December, physically he had big bags under his eyes, very ashen in his face, he’d lost a lot of weight. He looked like someone who had not had exercise in several months, which in his case is true.

Psychologically that was the hardest for me to witness. Bradley has lost the ability to keep up with conversational topics, something he never had a problem with before. It’s very clear that there’s a sort of emotional suffering going on with him.

The Pentagon has come out and said, ‘oh Bradley is treated no differently from any other maximum custody detainee.’ What they are not telling you is two things. Firstly, not only is he a maximum custody detainee, he’s under an additional set of restrictions from a Prevention of Injury Order.

This Prevention of Injury Order is the order that requires him to be under solitary confinement. This is the order that requires him not to exercise, except for walking in an empty room once a day, in chains. That is the order that denies him access to newspapers, under such restrictions.

This order the army says is implemented due to concerns for his health, but in the time he’s been at Quantico three separate military psychiatrists at the Quantico brig have said there is no reason why Bradley should be under a POI order and that in fact the order is not necessary because he is not a risk for suicide.

In addition to that, what the Pentagon is also not telling you is that Bradley is the only maximum custody detainee currently at the Quantico brig, so when they say he is treated the same as any other maximum custody detainee, they are saying he is treated the same as himself.

In addition to the Prevention of Injury Order, he was placed under suicide watch this week. What do you know about that?

I actually just found out about the suicide watch when it broke in the Washington Post story and I find it very alarming. It seems he was put on this suicide watch for two days and that he was taken of the watch thereafter. From talking to people with knowledge of the case I have learned that as a provision of the suicide watch his glasses were removed, so he was effectively blind in his cell. He was kept in his cell for 24 hours a day rather than 23 hours a day and was kept in his boxer shorts in his cell at all times. There is also a guard watching him at all times.

I don’t know what to make of this, to be honest. Although Bradley’s mental state has been deteriorating as a result of the solitary confinement he is under, he has never seemed like an individual who would be at a risk of suicide, and the military psychiatrists agree with that. This seems punitive to me and the fact they would have him under this order immediately after the protests and immediately after all the media attention, and then take him off the order shortly thereafter… I think this may be punitive treatment from the brig Commander.

This is also something that his lawyer, David Coombs, is arguing strenuously, that it seems that anyone who has looked at Bradley Manning, all these psychology experts have said that he is not a risk to himself. When you say punitive, when the lawyer says that, what do you mean by that?

I think he is being held under such harsh conditions because the US Government is attempting to get him to crack under the pressure, possibly in an attempt to get him to roll over on Assange or something like that. So in that regard, Bradley has been singled out from the entire prison population for this very harsh treatment and as a result of that he is suffering psychological and social deterioration.

Do you think he is strong enough mentally to not break?

When I look in Bradley’s eyes, I see a man who is a very ethical individual, who is very humble and – above all else – very resolved. Despite the fact that Bradley has gone through all this utterly barbaric treatment from the US Government, he tells me he is able to meditate, at some points, and this centres him and gives him some sort of internal strength. He told me that he is able to maintain his resolve in the midst of this.

So I do believe that despite the psychological trauma he is undergoing, he is holding up much better than anyone I think could handle it in those circumstances.

He is a military man. He has been told by the people around him in the military that he has jeopardised the lives and security of his comrades in arms, who are in other countries. How does he respond to those criticisms?

I don’t know how Bradley Manning would respond to those criticisms, but I would bear in mind that the Pentagon has come out and said it cannot find evidence of a single individual that has been harmed as a result of the leaks from the Wikileaks organisation. And I can say that NATO in Kabul has come out and said it cannot find a single family in Afghanistan that has needed protecting.

So I think the narrative that there are sources being put at risk, that there are military men being put at risk by this alleged leak, this narrative is nothing more than damage control and spin by politicians in Washington trying to cover their own backs and trying to make a case for why whistleblowers that embarrass them should be locked up.

When do you think Bradley Manning will get his day in court?

It’s hard to say. It seems that the US Government is continually throwing stumbling blocks in the way of this investigation, maybe in an attempt to keep him locked up for longer and suffer more trauma as a result of his conditions. I really couldn’t say when his trial will be but I hope he has access to a speedy trial.

You are delivering this petition tomorrow. It has, what, 30,000 signatures on it?

The petition I am delivering tomorrow has 40,000 signatures on and it will be going directly to the brig Commander. This petition, again, calls for a stop to the inhumane conditions Bradley is being kept under. As a US citizen, I feel really ashamed that we are keeping an alleged whistleblower locked up under solitary confinement and I feel that these conditions especially must be changed.

Do you think you’ll get a chance to see Bradley Manning tomorrow, when you’re in Virginia?

I think I will. I have had some trouble in the past actually making it into the brig due to security precautions on the base. I do not think the brig would deny access to what has become one of his only visitors. To do so would be an egregious breach on the part of the brig. I cannot imagine them doing that.

Update:

As you may have heard, David House was not able to visit Bradley or deliver that petition. Another attempt will be made this weekend, which means there is still time to sign, if you haven’t already done so. 42,000 signatures so far and counting!