Military keeps Bradley Manning’s location secret [Updated]
Update, March 29, 2012:
Coombs says Manning is in Ft. Leavenworth; military remains deceptive
Tuesday evening, we learned that Bradley Manning is back in Ft. Leavenworth, KS, until his next court appearance at Ft. Meade, MD, which is April 24. Notably, we learn this information from PFC Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, and not from the military, which continues to obfuscate Manning’s location for no apparent reason.
In a blog post, Coombs writes, “PFC Manning will be confined at Fort Leavenworth until the next Article 39 hearing. He is doing well and wishes to thank his supporters for their continued interest in his case.”
But that same day, the military wrote to me to say, “The facility is not disclosed for the personal security of Pfc. Manning.” If Manning is back at Ft. Leavenworth again, why won’t the military disclose that information this time? If the military is referring to the confinement facility Manning was held in during the courtroom proceedings, what potential risks to his security are present that weren’t present at other facilities? The military won’t answer these questions.
We are heartened to hear from David Coombs that Bradley Manning has not shared any issues related to the facilities, confinement conditions, or his exercise options, at either Fort Leavenworth or the facility near Fort Meade. But especially given the abusive treatment Manning endured at Quantico, we cannot allow details of his confinement to be concealed. Military officials need to stop deliberately misleading journalists who seek basic information about Bradley Manning’s case.
Fearing protests at Bradley Manning’s prison, the military keeps his current location concealed
By Nathan Fuller. March 24, 2012.
First detained in solitary confinement in Kuwait, then forced to stand nude at Quantico, then moved to Ft. Leavenworth due to protests, then moved again to Virginia during pretrial hearings – Bradley Manning has been shuffled around at least three times before his court martial has even begun. Now it appears the military has moved him yet again, but this time, they won’t tell us where he is.
David Coombs, PFC Manning’s chief counsel, reported that the accused whistle-blower had been moved from Ft. Leavenworth, KS, to a detention facility near Arlington, VA, for easier transportation to his Ft. Meade, MD, courtroom proceedings. But according to an AFP story last week, military sources said Manning “is now being detained at an undisclosed location close to Fort Meade but not on the base.” Why the sudden secrecy?
After several circular phone calls and two email addresses that bounced my inquiries back, I finally received a response. I’d noted in my email that we knew Manning had been moved to the Virginia cell earlier this month, but that military sources were now claiming he was in a new location.
The Military District of Washington (MDW) replied, “The mailing address you have for PFC Manning is correct.” They were referring to the Virginia facility, but they were only responding about where to send letters, not about Manning’s physical location.
When I followed up, the MDW sent another terse reply, this time more revealing: “For security reasons the confinement facility where Pfc. Manning is held during the proceedings will not be released to the public.”
The military has disclosed every other detention facility they’ve kept PFC Manning in. Why keep his location secret now? What “security reasons” have arisen at this new facility that were apparently not present at any of the others? I called again several times today, but now the MDW doesn’t pick up.
The military is likely highly afraid of protests at Manning’s new prison. International outrage at his abusive treatment at Quantico forced the military to move him to Kansas. Then at the end of last year, the Marines closed down the Quantico brig altogether, claiming the closing had nothing to do with PFC Manning’s treatment.
The decision to keep Manning’s location secret comes when the Nobel Peace Prize nominee’s profile is rising, and when calls for transparency in his case grow louder. On March 12, a broad-based media coalition of 46 major organizations demanded more access to PFC Manning’s trial records. The coalition complained that the “overwhelming majority of court records filed in [PFC Bradley] Manning’s court-martial have remained shielded from public view.” Furthermore, they denounced the military’s “unnecessary degree of secrecy” which prevents journalists from adequately covering issues of considerable public interest.
Yesterday, the Center for Constitutional Rights demanded more transparency in Manning’s case as well, specifically asking for records to be made public: “Without access to these materials, the Manning hearings and trial cannot credibly be called open and public.” The Support Network echoes these calls – the military must be open and honest regarding basic facts in Manning’s case.
Just when major media outlets and civil liberties groups request more openness, the military decides to keep Manning’s location secret. With rallies held around the world during each of Manning’s court dates, it appears the military is increasingly nervous about protests of his imprisonment.
This is an important reminder that as the court proceedings continue in secret, as the defense’s witnesses and essential evidence are barred – as Bradley Manning’s court martial emerges as a show trial of injustice – massive demonstrations of public support may be the only chance Manning has at freedom. The military keeps his location hidden because it knows how many see Bradley as a hero. We ended Manning’s abusive treatment at Quantico with extensive public protest. We can end his imprisonment too.