Tag Archives: amnesty

Bradley Manning no longer in solitary confinement – but it doesn’t end here

As of Friday morning, Kansas time, Bradley Manning will no longer be in solitary confinement, no longer under a Prevention of Injury Order and no longer under the kind of conditions that have made the Obama Administration the subject of widespread condemnation from around the world. The formal announcement was made at the end of a press tour of the Fort Leavenworth pre-trial facility yesterday evening.

According to Associated Press, Bradley will now be housed with other military inmates awaiting trial – in his own cell, but with access to a communal area- and will have the opportunity to associate with others during three hours of daily recreation time. He will now be able to make telephone calls and freely receive letters (once they have been inspected) for the first time since his arrest, almost a year ago – subject to a restriction of having only twenty items of correspondence in his cell at any one time. Some footage of where Bradley is to be housed may be viewed here. All of this is, in the main, clearly good news.

Nevertheless, we should be aware that what we are celebrating here is the move of a prisoner awaiting trial – a prisoner who has now been awaiting trial for almost a year, itself problematic – into conditions that befit an ostensibly civilised country. In passing Bradley at his initial assessment, Fort Leavenworth have implicitly accepted that the Quantico authorities were wrong in keeping Bradley under a Prevention of Injury Order for ten months, against the repeated recommendation of military psychiatrists, that James Averhart was wrong in putting Bradley on suicide watch (well, we knew that one already) and that Denise Barnes was wrong in stripping Bradley of his clothes and his dignity.

Bradley is not a suicide risk. If he were, he would not now be being housed with other prisoners. What happened to Bradley at Quantico was and continues to be an outrage against universally accepted minimum standards and common human decency. Redress simply must be sought for this in due course and we will continue to press for this to happen. It continues to be absolutely key that independent authorities such as UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez be allowed confidential access to Bradley so that he may talk freely about what he was forced to endure for those ten months. We have had no indication that the restrictions imposed under Bradley’s Monitoring Order have been lifted.

Do not be under any illusions that the US military have now decided to treat Bradley in civilised fashion out of the kindness of their hearts: they will have done this because this campaign – and its sister campaigns internationally – have made it absolutely impossible for them to do otherwise. We have taken the treatment of Bradley Manning to the highest level in at least three countries and publicised his plight to the extent that he is now the subject of wide popular support internationally. All of this has, clearly, made an enormous difference and is testament to the ability of those with valid concerns to provide effective oversight to the illegitimate use of government authority.

We must now turn our attention to the wider legal process and what is likely to happen to Bradley at trial. Subpoenas citing the controversial US Espionage Act have been issued this week, an ominous move that should remind us all that this stage of the process is drawing ever nearer. We have concerns about how any trial is likely to be conducted. We have already seen Barack Obama pre-judging Bradley’s guilt and this “unlawful command influence” seems likely to become an issue when this case comes before a judge. It is also important that any trial takes place in the full light of public scrutiny. More now than ever, justice must not only be done in this case, it must also be seen to be done.

Now that it has been confirmed that Bradley Manning may receive correspondence – albeit that he’s only allowed to hold on to 20 letters at any one time – you may like to take the opportunity to write to him. His address at Fort Leavenworth is the following:

Bradley Manning 89289
JRCF
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2315
USA

Update

Further details on Bradley’s conditions at Fort Leavenworth from National Catholic Reporter. Note the careful phrasing that indicates that Bradley Manning’s Monitoring Order, which prevents him from speaking to anyone other than his lawyer in monitored conditions in which he may incriminate himself, may well still be in place:

The commandant of the Fort Leavenworth facility, Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, said the suspected Army private’s new classification — which “starts tomorrow morning” — allows Manning to receive Army inspected mail freely, make phone calls, and meet with preapproved visitors.

Prisoners at the facility are housed separately depending on whether they have or haven’t faced trial. There are currently ten “pre-trial” prisoners at the facility, said Hilton. Each are placed in individual 80 square foot cells and are connected by a shared common room to three other cells.

During the tour of the six-month-old facility, members of the press were able to see its indoor recreation center, work rooms, outside recreation area, medical facilities, and an empty cell block which Army officials said was similar to the one where Manning is housed.

Each of the cells contained a metallic toilet and sink, along with a bed and metal seat attached to the wall. There was a light switch on the wall inside the cell. Army officials said the space gives the prisoner 35 square feet of “unencumbered space” which can be used for exercise, including jogging in place.

Medium custody prisoners are afforded three hours of recreation each day, one hour of which is outdoors, Hilton said. They also have allotted time each day to use a recreational library. No internet use is allowed by inmates.

The indoor recreation facility was housed inside a large, gym-like structure with six basketball hoops and about a dozen stationary exercise machines. The outdoor area, located on the north side of the complex, was about a football field long, with an open grass field, two basketball courts, and more exercise equipment.

Hilton said prisoners’ visitors must be approved by the facility. While visits by journalists are forbidden, visits from nongovermental organizations such as Amnesty International are decided “on a case by case basis.” Prisoners are allowed to have up to five visitors at one time.

Update II

As was widely expected, Bradley Manning has been found fit to stand trial.

Update III

In the wake of David Coombs’ confirmation that Bradley’s conditions have indeed changed, the Bradley Manning Support Network have issued a press release making clear the contribution of the campaign in getting this done. The Guardian have picked up the story today and they make due note of the British dimension.

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A Letter to William Hague

Naomi Colvin
UK Friends of Bradley Manning

Rt. Hon. William Hague MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

28 April, 2011

Dear Mr. Hague,

I hope this letter finds you well.

It has now been over two weeks since Susan Manning wrote to you expressing her concerns about the welfare of her son, Bradley, and the conditions he is experiencing in pretrial detention in the United States.  It is my understanding that Mrs. Manning has not yet received a response from your office.

As you know, just over a week after Mrs. Manning wrote to you – and just over two weeks since your colleague Mr. Henry Bellingham confirmed in the House that diplomatic representations on the subject of Mr. Manning would be made to the US State Department for a second time – Mr. Manning was moved from the marine brig at Quantico, Virginia to the Joint Regional Correction Facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.  The news briefing given by the US Department of Defense on the eve of Mr. Manning’s move suggested that some relaxation in the onerous conditions of his detention might be expected at Fort Leavenworth.

However, as of today, eight days after Mr. Manning’s transfer, there has been no indication that this will in fact be the case.  I note that that the same Department of Defense briefing gave the time-frame for Mr. Manning’s ‘initial assessment’ – upon which any amelioration of his conditions will depend – as “anywhere from five to seven days.”  We are therefore now at the point where some news could be expected.  In the absence of this information, Mr. Manning’s conditions continue to be of considerable concern to his family, friends and many observers around the world.  I note, incidentally, that in my most recent correspondence with the FCO (dated 19 April, copy enclosed), Julie Hannan wrote that “We understand your concerns about Mr. Manning’s treatment.”

In her letter of 13 April, Mrs. Manning requested, on her son’s behalf, that a representative of the British Embassy in Washington visit Mr. Manning, to speak with him and check on his conditions.  Given the lack of information coming from Fort Leavenworth, a visit to ascertain whether Mr. Manning’s conditions have in fact improved would be very welcome at this time.

Yours sincerely,

Naomi Colvin

UK Friends of Bradley Manning

Enc. Julie Hannan 19 Apr 2011 – FCO

Bradley Manning is leaving Quantico – but does this really change anything?

News broke last night (Tuesday) of Bradley Manning’s “imminent” move from the Quantico marine brig to a new pre-trial facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The Department of Defense held a press conference at 5.30pm their time on Tuesday, putting forward their reasoning for moving Bradley and for doing so at this particular time. The transcript and video of the press conference are available to view in full, but here’s a short clip:

Jeh Johnson, General Counsel at the Department of Defense here argues that, due to Bradley having now given the personal interview required for his mental competency (706 Board) hearing, his “presence in the Washington DC area is no longer necessary for that purpose,” notwithstanding that the review is still ongoing and may not report for a while yet. He went on to say the following:

Many will be tempted to interpret today’s action as a criticism of the pre-trial facility at Quantico. That is not the case. We remain satisfied that Private Manning’s pre-trial confinement at Quantico was in compliance with legal and regulatory standards in all respects, and we salute the military personnel there for the job they did in difficult circumstances.

At this juncture of the case, given the likely continued period of pre-trial confinement, we have determined that the new pre-trial facility at Fort Leavenworth is the most appropriate one for Private Manning going forward.

That the conditions Bradley has been experiencing have been up until now have been “in compliance with legal and regulatory standards” is, obviously, highly questionable. Moreover, as P.J Crowley has remarked on twitter this afternoon, these remarks could very well be interpreted as an admission that mistakes had been made in keeping Bradley at Quantico for such an extended period. An unnamed military official has been even more candid (“The marines blew it.”)

Other revealing points from the full press conference included:

  • Army Secretary Joseph Westphalcommenting that the detention facility at Fort Leavenworth was a “medium security” one, which offered many resources – but there was no assurance that Bradley Manning would be transferred to a medium security regime from the maximum security plus prevention of injury order he suffers under currently, or that he would be granted access to any of those resources. Should Bradley’s regime continue as it is at present, he would likely be housed in the special confinement unit of the pre-trial facility, which has been described to me as follows:

    These cells are even worse than where Bradley is now, in that the room Bradley will be confined in for 23 hours will have a solid door with only a thin horizontal slot through which meals and mail can be slid through, and a panel at the bottom of the door that guards can open to chain his ankles together before he leaves the cell. Instead of guards constantly watching him through bars, he will have security cameras in his cell. He will have a glass pane for outside light, but not be able to see out or talk to anyone. The isolation is going to be even crueler, if that’s possible.

    While the DoD may say that Brad will be eating in a common area and get to go outside for up to 3 hours of exercise, this is in reality a privilege granted to inmates who are “good prisoners” after they get there, and Brad has been denied every single privilege available to him no matter how well he behaves.

    The likeliness of this eventuality may be indicated by the fact that Army Press updated the special housing unit web page on Monday, in advance of the press conference in which Bradley’s move was officially announced.

  • Jeh Johnson, drawing on his experience of federal trials remarking that, when Bradley does return to Washington to face trial (which he must to as he remains under the jurisdiction of the military authorities there) his trial may very well prove to me “a multi-month if not multi-year experience.”
  • Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, the Commander of the pre-trial facility at Fort Leavenworth, admitting that any changes to the conditions of Bradley’s confinement would be “based upon the initial assessment when he comes into the facility and environment and how he assimilates into the environment.”

Finally – and intriguingly for those who have been watching the UK campaign closely – when asked about the timing of the decision to move Bradley Manning, Jeh Johnson admitted that “We began to look at this a couple of weeks ago.” This dovetails almost exactly with the timing of Ann Clwyd’s adjournment debate of the evening of Monday 4th April, when it was promised that a senior official at the British Embassy in Washington would be making a second diplomatic protest to their counterpart at the US State Department, this time with the background of an official recognition that Bradley Manning is a British citizen by descent.

As reported here earlier today, Ann Clwyd has said that “I am pleased that the campaign to draw attention to the appalling detention treatment of Bradley Manning appears to be having some results, in that he is to be moved to another prison which the US Department of Defense claims will provide better conditions.” We agree with Ann that any indication of better conditions is, at the moment, purely based on the words of the Department of Defense – and, as discussed above, they were careful not to promise that Bradley Manning’s status as a maximum security prisoner under a prevention of injury order will change.

Given that Department of Defence statements on how Bradley Manning is being treated have not been conspicuously reliable in the past (how shall I count the ways? Let’s start with this, this, this and this – not to mention this), we believe that the onus is firmly on the DOD to demonstrate in due course that Bradley’s treatment has improved so that it meets internationally accepted minimum standards. Lifting the Monitoring Order that prevents respected authorities from visiting Bradley in conditions of confidentiality would probably be a good way of achieving this in the first instance and would do much to demonstrate that the DOD is serious about being seen to treat Bradley Manning in a civilised fashion.

(big thanks to Michelle Tackabery for all the background information on Fort Leavenworth)

Update I

Press releases have been issued by Dennis Kucinich and the Bradley Manning Support Network. The latter makes the important point that the move to Kansas places Bradley at some distance from his legal counsel and much of the US side of his family. However, if the Pentagon reckoned that the move would prevent high-profile protests like that seen at Quantico a month ago happening again, they will disappointed: local activists are getting organised and a demonstration is already being planned for 4th June.

Update II

The always-instructive Chirpinator has compiled a selection of Tuesday night’s reaction to the announcement of Bradley’s move on twitter.

Update III

Bradley Manning is now at Fort Leavenworth. His family have welcomed the move with Bradley’s aunt Sharon expressing the view that the ongoing campaign was responsible for these latest developments.

Update IV

Good to see that Amnesty feel similarly to us:

“We believe sustained public pressure for the US government to uphold human rights in Bradley Manning’s case has contributed to this move” said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s director for the Americas.

“We hope Bradley Manning’s conditions will significantly improve at Fort Leavenworth, but we will be watching how he is treated very closely. His conditions at Quantico have been a breach of international standards for humane treatment of an untried prisoner.”

The organisation will be monitoring the conditions under which Bradley Manning is confined at Fort Leavenworth following the risk assessment Manning will undergo upon arrival there, which could last up to a week.

“Until this assessment, it is still not possible to know how Bradley Manning is going to be treated, and what restrictions he will be under at the new detention centre,” said Susan Lee.

“Bradley Manning is entitled to be treated humanely and, as an unconvicted prisoner, to the presumption of innocence and to be held under the least restrictive detention conditions possible.”

As does Dennis Kucinich on the reliability of DOD statements:

“Frankly, I don’t believe anything they say when it comes to Bradley Manning.”

Complete footage of Kucunich’s Wednesday interview with MSNBC may be viewed at firedoglake.

Visiting Bradley Manning – Can Quantico Deny Consular Access? (Part I)

The list of elected representatives expressing their concerns over the conditions of Bradley Manning’s pre-trial detention is growing. On Wednesday, the human rights committee of the German Bundestag released details of a letter that had been sent to Barack Obama describing those conditions as “unnecessarily hard and [of] a penalizing character.” This follows questions asked in the European Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and of course at Westminster (which has now brought us to this wonderful point).

Notwithstanding these successes, the answer supplied to one of those questions deserves some attention; it comes from Catherine Ashton, Vice President of the European Commission and EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy:

EN
E-001527/2011
Answer given by High Representative / Vice President Ashton
on behalf of the Commission
(5.4.2011)
The EU institutions are aware of the allegations referred to in the question. We have received no independently verifiable information that would substantiate the allegation of torture to soldier Bradley Manning. But we treat the publicly available reports with all the seriousness due to any allegation of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and will continue to monitor how these are being dealt with by the US authorities.

At this point, it is clear that “independently verifiable information” about what is happening to Bradley is sorely needed. It is therefore unfortunate that Quantico seem to be determined to obstruct attempts to gather that information at every turn. As has been widely reported, on Friday Bradley’s legal representative David Coombs announced that the US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Amnesty and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez had all been denied the opportunity to speak to Bradley in a private, unmonitored situation. The marine brig’s own rule book (paragraph 3.17b) defines such an ‘official’ visit as follows:

These visits are for the purpose of conducting official government business, either on behalf of the prisoner or in the interest of justice. Visits from lawyers. military officials. civilian officials, or anyone listed as a privileged correspondence in paragraph 3.17f of this regulation, having official business to conduct are considered official visits and may be authorized by the Commanding Officer to visit at any time during normal working hours.

The denial of such a status to the UN Special Rapporteur is highly irregular and means that he cannot carry out his job: not only has Bradley been given good reason in the past not to comment about the conditions of his detention in front of military personnel, the Pentagon has made clear that anything Bradley says in such a monitored situation may potentially be presented in evidence against him at trial.

To have a prominent UN official announcing that he is “”deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication” of multiple branches of the US Government should be embarrassing enough – and let’s be quite clear here, it is profoundly embarrassing, not least when public concern has produced half a million signatures on an Avaaz petition and what looks to be a top-10 showing in Time’s 100 poll – but, if anything, the denial of ‘official’ status to Dennis Kucinich is even more difficult to justify. The brig rules cited above stated that anyone who met the criteria for ‘privileged’ (ie. non-intercepted) correspondence would automatically qualify to visit in an official capacity. The categories of privileged correspondence, according to the brig rules, are as follows:

a. The President or Vice President of the United Siaies.
b. Members of Congress of the United States.
c. The Attorney General of the United States and Regional Offices of the Attorney General.
d. The Judge Advocale General of each military service or his/her representatives.
e. Prisoners Defense Counsel or any military/civilian attorney of record.
f. Any attorney listed in professional or other directories or an attorney’s representative.
g. Prisoner’s clergyman, when approved by the chaplain.

That Dennis Kucinich, who is after all a member of the US Congress, was denied the status of an official visitor therefore appears to be a quite egregious breach of the rules. In an article published on Wednesday, Kucinich revealed a little more about the dimensions of the situation:

When Pfc. Manning indicated his desire to meet with me, I was belatedly informed that the meeting could only take place if it was recorded because of a Monitoring Order imposed by the military’s Special Courts-Martial Convening Authority on September 16, 2010, which was convened for the case. Confidentiality is required, however, to achieve the candor that is necessary to perform the oversight functions with which I am tasked as a Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was also told that I could be subpoenaed to testify about the contents of my conversation with Pfc. Manning.

This is a clear subversion of the constitutionally protected oversight process and it severely undermines the rights of any Member of Congress seeking to gather information on the conditions of a detainee in U.S. custody.

It therefore appears that it is the existence of this Monitoring Order that lies behind the Pentagon’s assertion that only lawyers are allowed to visit Bradley Manning without those visits being monitored and it seems that official visits will continue to be denied until the Order is lifted.

There may yet be another means of securing “independently verifiable information” on the conditions of Bradley’s confinement, however. On Wednesday morning, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office acknowledged the receipt of an official request for consular access from Bradley’s mother. In her letter, Susan Manning specifically asks that an official of the British embassy be sent to see Bradley (“if you can make that happen”) to “check on his conditions.” Susan also notes that “I do not believe that Bradley is in a position to be able to request this himself, so I am asking as his mother on his behalf.”

***

Juan Mendez’s condemnation of the United States’ refusal to allow him unmonitored access to Bradley Manning was a big enough story to make it on to Channel 4 news:



PART II – preview

Not only is the obligation of states to respect other countries’ requests for consular access enshrined in treaty law, our research indicates that specific rules governing the access of British consular officials to nationals held in pre-trial detention in the United States guarantee the right of those consular officials “to converse privately” with the subject of their visit – something which is also noted in the advice the US State Department provides their own consular staff. As agreements between sovereign states, ratified by Congress, these pieces of international legislation would presumably overrule the guidelines of the Quantico brig. Further information on this will appear here very shortly.

(Many thanks to Serena Zanzu for the European Parliament link)

Press Release from Ann Clwyd MP

Press Release
Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP

Member of Parliament for the Cynon Valley since 1984
Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group

18th March 2011

Bradley Manning

Ann Clwyd MP said:

“I have raised the case of Bradley Manning on a number of occasions in Parliament this week. On Wednesday, I raised his case with the Foreign Secretary in a session of the Foreign Affairs Committee. On Thursday, I raised the case with the Leader of the House during Business Questions. I have tabled an Early Day Motion on the treatment of Bradley Manning and I have applied to the Speaker for a debate.

“On 10th March, Bradley Manning’s lawyer released a memorandum from Bradley Manning to the Commanding Officer of Quantico Marine Base which described his detention conditions.

“Throughout his detention he has been classified a ‘Maximum Custody’ detainee and held in solitary confinement. His ‘Prevention of Injury’ (POI) status means he is kept in his cell for 23 hours a day. His is stripped of all clothing during the night and given a coarse and uncomfortable ‘smock’. He is not permitted to sleep during the day.

“During the period when he was classified a ‘Suicide Risk’, he was required to remain in his cell 24 hours a day, his glasses were taken away from him, rendering him blind.

“He has been made to stand naked and to attention ‘on parade’ for the Brig Superviser.

“This treatment serves no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade Bradley Manning.

“His conditions ignore the recommendations of the Marine Corps’ own appointed psychiatrists’ reports.

“Bradley Manning calls his conditions “improper treatment” and “unlawful pre-trial punishment”. Human Rights Watch has called upon the US government to “explain the precise reasons behind extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading treatment that Army Private First Class Bradley Manning alleges he has received”. Amnesty International UK has said “Manning is being subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This is particularly disturbing when one considers that he hasn’t even been brought to trial, let alone convicted of a crime”.

“Bradley Manning’s treatment is cruel and unnecessary.

“I regard myself as a great friend and admirer of the United States. But this treatment of one of their own soldiers ill-becomes that otherwise great nation.

“I do not say this lightly, but Bradley Manning’s treatment has uncomfortable echos of the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

“I implore the US Administration to treat Bradley Manning humanely whilst he is detained.

“There is increasing concern about Bradley Manning’s case in the United Kingdom, and in particular in Wales, where Bradley’s mother lives and where he went to school.

“So I will continue to raise the case of Bradley Manning with the UK Government. I do not think it is acceptable for the UK Government to refuse to engage with the case and I call upon the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to officially raise Bradley Manning’s case with his US counterpart.”

ENDS

Editors notes

Text of Early Day Motion 1624

That this House expresses great concern at the treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning, currently detained at the US Quantico Marine Base; notes the increasing level of interest and concern in the case in the UK and in particular in Wales; appeals to the US administration to ensure that his detention conditions are humane; and calls on the UK Government to raise the case with the US administration.

Bradley Manning’s memorandum statement of 10th March 2011 can be found here.

Upcoming Public Events – London / Pembrokeshire

We’re getting organised. Two events are planned in the coming couple of weeks – a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London on Sunday 20th March and a public meeting in Wales on Thursday 24th March. Full details follow – we would love to see you there.

LONDON DEMONSTRATES IN SUPPORT OF BRADLEY MANNING on 20th March

On the 8th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, demonstrators are gathering internationally to protest the plight of 23 year old Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower at the heart of the Wikileaks revelation of war-crimes that shocked the world. This young man has been held in solitary confinement in the US for almost eight months under conditions described as torture, without being convicted of a single crime.

Speakers tbc.

Meeting 2pm, 20th March at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London

Bradley is alone in a windowless room for 23 hours a day, and his only outing is to walk alone and in chains in another. He is permitted no other exercise. He is not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm, and must give verbal responses to his guards every 5 minutes. He has no sheets or pillow and must sleep with his face visible to the guards or they will enter the cell to wake him. Quantico authorities claim this is to prevent self- harm, but even their own prison psychologists deny this is necessary.

Amnesty International has denounced the inhumanity of his treatment. So have lawyers, politicians, psychologists, and civil rights groups throughout the world, and the UN is investigating it as suspected torture. Still nothing is done. Since March 2nd Bradley has also been stripped of his clothing at night and is forced to stand to attention naked for morning roll call.

Bradley Manning is an American soldier, but he is also a British citizen by descent from his Welsh mother. We in this country have a special duty to give him our support, yet even though he is now facing a charge that carries the death penalty he has not even received British consular support. Despite Amnesty’s pleas for their intervention, the UK government has not spoken a word in his defence.

So today we’re doing it for them. From all over the UK, concerned British citizens are joining under the banner of ‘UK Friends of Bradley Manning’ to show solidarity with the international protests, to stand up for humanity and the presumption of innocence – and to demand that the US authorities

STOP THE TORTURE OF BRADLEY MANNING

For additional information please write to 20march@ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org The facebook event page is here and you can find details of the the other events planned for 20th March here.

If there’s nothing happening in your area, there is still time to set something up: it doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. If you’d like further advice on this, there is an email list for prospective organisers. We can probably give you the advice you need.

Here’s Wales:

PUBLIC MEETING IN WALES 24 March

Wales has a special duty towards Manning as his family live here and he went to school in Pembrokeshire.

Truth Juice Pembrokeshire are hosting a public meeting with a speaker on Bradley Manning’s treatment and future at 7pm on 24th March in Newport Pembrokeshire.

The organiser said: “There has been a great response to this idea among our members.

“Our organisation exists to let the public know the truth that is being suppressed. We meet weekly, sometimes twice weekly and often need the main hall for our large audiences.

“The presentation on Bradley will not only cover his unique punitive treatment classified as torture, but also the widening debate on the ethics of wikileaks and the explosive growth worldwide of the movement in defense of Bradley Manning.”

For further info, please contact Vicky@ukfriendsofbradleymanning.org

Update

Feelings are running high in Wales, as evidenced by today’s report in the Western Telegraph. There will be more of this to come.

Breakthrough: the BBC almost gets it right

This BBC report on yesterday’s comments by US State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley is remarkable. Not only does it report a figure within the US Government calling the treatment of Bradley Manning “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” it also includes the following:

Amnesty International has described the treatment of Pte Manning, whose mother is Welsh, as “harsh and putative” and has called on the British government to intervene.

The BBC have, in other words, recognised for the very first time that there is a British dimension to this story. Admittedly, they are doing so in terms which only come close to the level of accuracy achieved by the Guardian on 2nd February – and if you’d like to see some really impressive coverage, I can recommend their print edition today – but this is a breakthrough nonetheless. It means that the British Government’s responsibilities towards Bradley Manning are now a mainstream political issue in this country.

Update

I really should have added: the BBC could do with a proofreader.

Update II

The Telegraph’s report on Crowley’s statement makes the following statement of fact in absolutely unambiguous terms:

President Barack Obama was forced to defend the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning, a 23-year-old dual British and American citizen

Update III

CNN reports that P.J Crowley is “abruptly stepping down as State Department spokesman under pressure from White House officials.” Such is the price exacted for speaking the truth.

Update IV

P.J Crowley’s breaking rank has brought forth criticism of Bradley Manning’s treatment from some rather surprising quarters. The usually compliant New York Times took the Obama administration to task in a strongly-worded editorial yesterday, that opened as follows:

Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been imprisoned for nine months on charges of handing government files to WikiLeaks, has not even been tried let alone convicted. Yet the military has been treating him abusively, in a way that conjures creepy memories of how the Bush administration used to treat terror suspects. Inexplicably, it appears to have President Obama’s support to do so.

The Economist’s Democracy in America blog has also weighed in, albeit in terms which suggest an imperfect reading of that publication’s own style guide:

Like Mr Crowley, I believe that the treatment of Corporal Bradley Manning, who has been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day since last summer and subjected to episodes of forced public nudity and other deliberate crass humiliations on suspicion of having leaked documents to WikiLeaks, is ridiculous and counterproductive. And I can say so in this blog. But house style rules would normally prevent me from calling it “stupid”, had not Mr Crowley had the courage or just plain good sense to tell a graduate seminar at MIT that Mr Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” So thanks, Mr Crowley.

Crowley himself puts this all rather more eloquently in his resignation statement.

My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.

This statement displays a clear understanding on Crowley’s part that the rules of the political game are shifting in quite fundamental ways. It is a shame this seems to elude so many of his former colleagues.