WikiLeaks hearing: Brig commander tells of break in pattern
The former head of the brig where self-styled whistle-blower Pfc. Bradley Manning was incarcerated testified Monday that she was surprised when the base commander asked for advance notice of orders she planned to give in the case, as a pretrial hearing went into its 10th day.
Manning, who is charged with giving classified information to the website WikiLeaks, is seeking to have charges against him dismissed on the grounds that he was subjected to unlawful punishment while incarcerated at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. The hearing is scheduled to end on Wednesday.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes said Monday that she was told to run her orders up the chain of command, a surprising break with the usual pattern.
“I was kind of shocked,” Barnes said, according to the Associated Press. “The base commander does not control the brig” officer in charge, said Barnes, who was in charge of the military guardhouse.
In March 2011, Barnes had ordered that Manning be stripped of his underwear each night as a suicide-prevention measure. The next day, Manning stood naked at attention, which led to embarrassing media stories and the request from garrison commander Col. Daniel Choike that Barnes send her orders up the chain of command.
Manning’s defense maintains that the former intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 was mistreated while being held on charges that he leaked classified information. He is charged with 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, and is accused of giving hundreds of thousands of logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, which made them public through various media.
While awaiting trial, Manning was held in maximum custody for nine months and confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, which the defense argues was an improper punishment that requires that the charges be dismissed.
The military says the close conditions of incarceration were needed as a measure to ensure Manning did not try to kill himself.
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