Bradley Manning’s brig staff violated Navy rules

 After a two-day break, PFC Bradley Manning’s Article 13 motion continued, with a Marines corrections expert testifying about the various ways in which the Quantico Marine brig violated Navy regulations in the way it maintained Bradley’s confinement. See notes from day 1day 2day 3day 4, day 5, and day 6 here.

By Nathan Fuller, Bradley Manning Support Network. December 5, 2012.

CWO Abel Galaviz. Courtroom sketch by Clark Stoeckley.

The head of Marine corrections testified today at Ft. Meade, MD, that the way Quantico conducted review boards that continually approved keeping PFC Bradley Manning on Prevention of Injury watch was improper and constituted “unnecessary command influence.” He also said that Quantico violated Navy rules by keeping Bradley on Suicide Risk on January 18, 2011, because the brig psychiatrist recommended removal.

Questioned by defense lawyer David Coombs for most of the afternoon, for the defense’s motion to dismiss charges based on unlawful pretrial punishment, Chief Warrant Officer Abel Galaviz testified that for a brig counselor to head the classification board for which he submitted custody recommendations is inherently problematic. The way Classfiation and Assignment (C&A) boards are supposed to run, he said, is that a brig counselor should make a recommendation to the C&A board, and that board then analyzes the custody and classification independently.

At Quantico, for Bradley’s C&A board, brig counselor then-GYSGT Craig Blenis (who testified on Sunday) recommended every single week that Bradley remain on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch, and then he lead the discussion for the very same board each time. Those conversations lasted ten to fifteen minutes, with GYSGT Blenis having already voted and the other two members following suit.

That’s not the only way the C&A boards were improperly influenced before they began.

CWO Galaviz was assigned to investigate whether Quantico’s Commanding Officer CWO James Averhart followed regulations, was within his authority, and made the right decision in keeping Bradley on maximum custody (MAX) and POI. But CWO Galaviz didn’t have all the documentation at hand: he didn’t know about the way the C&A boards were conducted, he didn’t see any of the reports from brig psychiatrists recommending Bradley be removed from POI, and he didn’t know that in early 2011 CWO Averhart had included in weekly reports a directive that Bradley remain on POI until his 706 board – which determines if he’s fit to stand trial, and which wasn’t expected to be completed for months – was done.

CWO Galaviz testified today that this directive from CWO Averhart, which he interpreted as an order, would also influence the board before it started. He called it “prejudging,” and asked, “If you’ve made up your mind, why are we going through the motions?”

He also confirmed that the brig had violated Secretary of the Navy instructions (SECNAV) in keeping Bradley on Suicide Risk on January 18, 2011, when brig psychiatrist Captain William Hocter had recommended reducing his status to POI. SECNAV instructions state that the psychiatrist has the authority to determine if Suicide Risk is appropriate, and since it doesn’t regulate POI, that falls under the brig commander’s jurisdiction. The then-brig commander who made the unlawful decision to keep Bradley on Suicide Risk, CWO Averhart, will testify tomorrow.

Coombs had CWO Galaviz compare Bradley’s conditions to those outlined for ‘disciplinary segregation,’ a definitively punitive isolation. The corrections expert said there were merely a “couple of small differences” between the two – he believed Bradley received more privileges such as library and television opportunities. However, when questioned about Bradley getting only 20 minutes of time outside of cell during his first six months at Quantico instead of the required one hour, CWO Galaviz said that that too wasn’t proper. He didn’t know why a brig might restrict Bradley’s sunshine time, speculating that the brig may have been understaffed, but said, “I don’t know what the CO was thinking.”

CWO Galaviz testified in the second half of today’s hearing – before lunch, Master Sergeant Brian Papakie, Quantico’s brig supervisor during Bradley’s time there, took the stand. MSG Papakie was responsible for ensuring the brig ran smoothly on a daily basis, and was in charge of Quantico’s programs group, overseeing counseling and coordinated visits from chaplains, mental health professionals, medical doctors, and the like.

MSG Papakie’s testimony differed from another Quantico guard’s remarks about the incident on January 18, 2011, in which Bradley said unusually rough guards intimidated him in the recreation center until he had an anxiety attack, which led to CWO Averhart placing him on Suicide Risk. MSG Papakie said that as soon as he heard about the incident, he ordered the guards who had escorted Bradley to the rec. center to be relieved to fill out incident reports.

However, the officials involved say otherwise. Sergeants Cline and Tankersly testified that GYSGT William Fuller relieved them, while GYSGT Fuller said they had been relieved by the time he arrived. SGT Cline said he was “puzzled” as to why he was relieved.

CWO Averhart, who should testify all day tomorrow, will reveal more about what happened later that day, and why the Commanding Officer kept Bradley on Suicide Risk against the doctor’s orders.

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