The blog firedoglake today posted a serious allegation against the Quantico brig’s CO, but failed to support its allegation with a link or source. 

This firedoglake post is headlined, “Military Officials Admit Bradley Manning Put on Suicide Watch to Punish Him.”  What’s missing from the post is any indication that military officials admitted PFC Manning was put on suicide watch to punish him. 

Here’s what the post claims:  “Military officials admitted today that Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart improperly classified Bradley Manning as a ‘suicide risk’ in order to impose harsh conditions on him as punishment for failure to follow orders.”

No link.  No quotation.  No source.  No hint as to who allegedly said PFC Manning was put on suicide risk for the purpose of punishing him for failure to follow orders or when or where it might have been said.

The article does offer this quote from PFC Manning’s frequent visitor David House:  “With today’s admission, the government acknowledges they have been abusing Bradley Manning’s medical classification to consciously subject him to relentless isolation and deprivation.”  Where is that acknowledgement from government officials?  The post doesn’t provide us with a clue.

This evening, CNN quoted Marine Corps spokesperson Lieutenant Brian Villiard saying:

“I can’t discuss the details of why the brig commander changed his status, but it boils down to: if the guards or anyone who advises the commander notices an anomaly — something that raises an eyebrow — appropriate actions have to be taken[.]”

The CNN article also offers this quotation from Lieutenant Villiard:

“The brig commander has the ultimate responsibility to determine what status a detainee is given. He based the decision on information from psychological professionals, the medical staff and the Marine guards who are interacting with him around the clock. The commander was absolutely within his right. Not just his right, his responsibility[.]”

So does firedoglake have support for its allegation that the government has admitted that the Quantico brig’s CO placed PFC Manning on suicide watch as punishment for failure to follow orders?  Or is firedoglake making stuff up?

7 Responses to “Firedoglake makes explosive but unsupported claim concerning PFC Manning’s pretrial confinement”

  1. John Baker says:

    I’m not sure that I would claim that a review board changing classification status following the appropriate regulation driven review as per se proof the CO did something just to punish a prisoner.

  2. soonergrunt says:

    @John Baker,

    That’s because you have integrity, and more than a passing acquaintance with the truth.

  3. soonergrunt says:

    Apparently, there’s an officer called the “Army Solicitor General.” 21 years in, and I’d never heard of this person. Sounds like it’s either a lawyer billet that reports to the Inspector General, or to Judge Advocate General of the Army so you guys can tell me all about it. Or it might be some made up BS.

    More of the same as with the birthers. They don’t understand the military, they don’t understand the law, and they have a preconceived notion of how things are and they attack anyone who tries to show them the truth. I look at the firebaggers and I think the exact same thing I thought when I looked at the birthers:

    “These people have the right to vote? The country is so screwed.”

  4. Phil Stackhouse says:

    Apparently a fizzle when the facts were reviewed.…

  5. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Could it be that the media would put forth untruths to establish a narrative? I just cannot possibly believe that could happen. Well, maybe your Durantys and Cookes at established newspapers would lie a little here and there, but a blogger? Never!

    On the other hand, I am not quite so trusting of military bureaucracy to think that a commander or other officer would never abuse his authority in these kinds of matters. I have been personally involved in several cases where military judges awarded significant confinement credits for pretrial punishment. (Though, to be fair to brig personnel, those cases all involved the restricted barracks, not the PTC facility).

    Will the defense litigate Article 13 issues? Why not? It’s before the military judge, not the members, so there’s nothing really to lose. Manning is being used a tool to beat up on the government, so why forfeit a beating opportunity? The outcome of the motion won’t matter; facts and testimony about the conditions of Manning’s confinement, even if completely legal, will be another bloody shirt for Jane Hamsher and others to wave around.

    Yrs, somewhat cynically,


  6. soonergrunt says:

    @Phil–your link GNDN, sadly.

    I believe this is it:
    CNN page titled RETRACTION

    CNN) — CNN has retracted a story dealing with questions surrounding the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning at the Marine Corp Base Quantico in Virginia. Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said Tuesday that there is no investigation into the decision last week to put Manning, who has been charged with leaking classified government documents to Wikileaks, on suicide watch.

  7. Dew_Process says:

    They all speak with forked tongue!

    There was (allegedly) an Art. 138 Complaint filed – presumably that would have triggered at least an “inquiry” if not an “investigation.” But then again, maybe not. As Dwight’s original post notes, this entire issue is woefully short of “facts.”