Manning Supporters Detained by Quantico
February 6 update: David House was able to visit Bradley recently. Here is his account of the visit on MSNBC (YouTube)
Quantico VA (January 23, 2011) – David House, supporter and personal friend of Bradley Manning, traveled to Quantico with journalist Jane Hamsher to visit Manning earlier today. Though House is an approved visitor, he was prevented from seeing Manning. They were detained for over 40 minutes. House and Hamsher communicated their detainment via Twitter status updates.In addition to visiting Manning, House was planning to deliver a petition with 42,000 signatures calling for the humane treatment of Bradley Manning. Military officials demanded Hamsher’s Social Security number and prevented her from leaving the base. Their car was then searched and impounded. House was unable to visit Manning.
Manning’s prolonged solitary confinement and confined to his cell for 23 hours per day for 7 months, conditions which many have likened to torture and have resulted in enormous public outcry. Manning’s lawyer has formally protested the conditions. For two days earlier this week, Manning was placed on “suicide watch” against the advice of two psychiatrists, only days after 150+ protesters gathered at Quantico. During that time, he was stripped of all clothing except his boxer shorts, his prescription glasses were confiscated and he was held in his cell for 24 hours per day. The UN special rapporteur on torture is investigating allegations of mistreatment and Amnesty International has a written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates protesting Manning’s pre-trial confinement conditions.
Jeff Paterson, steering committee member for the Bradley Manning Support Network, responded:
“Having experienced solitary confinement in a military prison personally, I can tell you that denying Manning his one opportunity for a personal visitor is nothing short of cruel. I am concerned that Quantico’s actions today are retaliatory in nature as a result of the criticisms and recent public protests against Manning’s confinement conditions. Quantico is sending a message to supporters: if you speak out against these conditions, we will make things harder on Manning. “
Kevin Zeese, who also serves on the steering committee of the Support Network, added: “These tactics by the military will only result in a wider outcry and more action on the part of Bradley Manning’s supporters.”
Note: this is a developing story. Check back for updates.
UPDATE: 1:08 PM Pacific: Raw Story is providing coverage: Click here to read more.
UPDATE: 1:29 PM Pacific: House confirms: they were held for about 2 hours total and released at 2:50 PM – 10 minutes before the end of visiting hours. House was unable to deliver a petition. Formal statements to post soon.
UPDATE: 1:32 PM Pacific: Firedoglake posts statement of events. Timeline as provided by House and Hamsher, via Firedoglake.
Between 1:00 – 1:30 MPs took their IDs and made them sign a form that they could not deviate to the brig or else they would be considered trespassing. At this time, one of the MPs asked for Hamsher’s auto insurance card. MP Gunnery Sgt. Foster informed Hamsher that her car would be towed after declining to accept a digital copy of Hamsher’s insurance card. House and Hamsher offered to drive off the base but were denied, despite being detained only ten feet inside the base’s perimeter. The MPs then took the Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses of House and Hamsher.
Around 1:40 the tow truck arrived and MPs instructed House and Hamsher to leave their vehicle, informing them that their vehicle would be searched. At 2:00 pm House observed military officers arriving and entering the MP outpost which oversaw their detainment. House expressed concern that he would miss Manning’s visiting hours but was told that he could neither exit nor move forward to the base. No explanation for House and Hamsher’s detainment was provided until 2:50 when they were informed they could leave the base. They were detained for two hours up until Manning’s visitation time period expired at 3:00 pm.
In past visits, Hamsher and House have had no problem driving onto the base to visit Manning. This is the first time House has been denied access to Manning. House and Hamsher’s detainment comes on the heels of Amnesty International calling for an investigation into the conditions of Manning’s confinement. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has also announced that the UN will be starting an investigation and Manning’s attorney has filed an article 138 complaint citing inhumane and overly harsh conditions on part of the Brig. Now House, Manning’s primary visitor outside of his attorney, who has provided public testimony about Manning’s deteriorating conditions as a result to his solitary confinement, has effectively been denied access to Manning.