Bradley Manning: The Forgotten Person in the Wikileaks Affair

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Across the Pond: This week, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was released on bail from a London prison. Assange will remain under “mansion arrest” at the 600-acre estate of Vaughan Smith, a London restaurateur and former war correspondent. He plans to fight extradition to Sweden where he would face sex crimes allegations.

Back Here at Home: Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U. S. Army intelligence specialist who has been accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, has been held in solitary confinement at the marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, for five months. Before being transferred to Quantico, Manning was held in a military jail in Kuwait for two months. Manning will face a court martial on charges that he provided Wikileaks with classified information in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Bradley Manning is being kept under constant surveillance and is “under a regimen of authority-administered anti-depressant drugs.” He is reportedly not permitted to have a pillow or sheets—and not permitted to exercise. He is allowed out of his cell for just one hour a day.

According to MSNBC, Manning is being held under harsher conditions than “Bryan Minkyu Martin, the naval intelligence specialist who allegedly tried to sell military secrets to an undercover FBI agent.” Minkyu, who is awaiting trial, is not being held in solitary confinement.

From Glenn Greenwald: “Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.”

 All this harsh treatment—and Manning hasn’t even been convicted of the crime for which he has been charged.

 For further reading on a related topic: DOJ Says Pentagon Isn’t Properly Protecting Whistleblowers (Turley Blawg)


The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention by Glenn Greenwald (Salon)

Forgetting Bradley Manning by Laura Flanders (The Notion: The Nation’s Group Blog)

Bradley Manning’s Personal Hell (MSNBC)

 Boston Globe

Photo of Bradley Manning courtesy of the Bradley Manning Support Network

136 thoughts on “Bradley Manning: The Forgotten Person in the Wikileaks Affair”

  1. Curiously, scholarly articles on the American Psychological Association web site indicating possible complicity between the APA and certain government projects have disappeared. Here is Dr. Jeff Kaye (aka Valtin) with what he learned:

    Or consider this publication by Dr. Hernan Reyes. This is moderately long at 27 pages.

    Many articles that I would have liked to link to are behind subscription firewalls. They are easy enough to find if one knows where to look and have a credit card handy. I think I am done with this. The reason I have spent this much time on this thread is that I think this is an important subject.

  2. here is enough research literature on sensory deprivation to fill a library. We are not talking about sensory deprivation experiments as a kind of natural high or therapy, which Dr. John Lilly studied. I am talking about SD as a means of punishment and/or coercion. Here is a paper going back to Operation Artichoke in the early 1950′s. PDF document warning, may be slow loading.

    This next item is by Dr. Ewen Cameron on sensory deprivation as it might problems in space flight, among other things. The significance of this study is not sensory deprivation as a part of corrections, but the kind of sensory deprivation that might be experienced in space flight. As a side note, the Army Air Corps became concerned as far back as WW-II. Pilots ferrying single engine planes for long stretches began to hallucinate after several hours. the point is, sensory deprivation can occur as a side effect of simply working in an environment with little sensory stimulation and a lot of boredom.

  3. Elaine M:
    I did not know about the two link limit. I have a comment with four links waiting for the moderator. The links are to some articles that I hope will be of interest regarding sensory deprivation research going back to the early 1950’s.

  4. Elaine M.,

    “BTW, you can keep those cathode ray tubes of yours in your house…in your car…in your garage–I’ll still sleep at night.”

    It’s when I decide to put them in the trash can that you should be concerned. 🙂

    If you want to read something that should cause you to be concerned; read this:
    (It’s ok to accept the certificate. It’s just out of date.)

    The study claims that the Radium 228 is due to “natural erosion”. (Page 3)

    What they don’t tell you is that there was a big mess (a spill of radioacive material -Radium 228) at Keyport in the early 1980s. The Radium was used to create all those neat glow-in-the-dark dials used on Navy ships (clocks, guages, etc). It was all over the place and the cleanup took quite a long time.

    I guess the radium must be just naturally eroding from the places that it remained after cleanup. 🙂

  5. BBB,

    From the article:

    “The official, whose name was removed, presses the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa to urge his own government to secure the material.”

    Evidently, a Yemeni official was concerned. Maybe the official was a whistleblower.


    Also from the article:

    “Matthew Bunn, a Harvard University expert on nuclear theft and terrorism, said the material in Yemen included some “very nasty” substances and could be far more dangerous if “dispersed” in a terrorist attack.

    “But I believe it has since been removed to a secure location,” he said.”

    Let’s hope Matthew Bunn is correct–and that no one with evil intentions got hold of any of those “very nasty” substances.


    BTW, you can keep those cathode ray tubes of yours in your house…in your car…in your garage–I’ll still sleep at night.


  6. “For one, I’ve been saying all along (with many of the other regulars here) that not only “it can happen here” but that “it is happening here”.

    “It has happened here” is my only quibble, with a post that I otherwise totally agree with.

  7. This is interesting. It explains the tactical leaks of otherwise official and closely held documents regarding charges against Assange by the Swedes.

    “Rove’s hand seen in Julian Assange prosecution, sources allege”


    “For at least 10 years, Rove has been connected to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik. More recently, Fredrik, who is known as “the Ronald Reagan of Europe,” has contracted Rove to help with his 2010 re-election campaign.

    Rove was said to have fled to Sweden during the prosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who believes his prosecution to have been politically motivated.

    “Clearly, it appears that [Rove], who claims to be of Swedish descent, feels a kinship to Sweden . . . and he has taken advantage of it several times,” the source added.

    Shuler’s source speculated that Rove could be trying to protect the Bush legacy from documents that WikiLeaks may have. “The very guy who has released the documents that damage the Bushes the most is also the guy that the Bush’s number one operative can control by being the Swedish prime minister’s brain and intelligence and economic advisor.” ”


    “There is, at present, no suggestion that Bradley Manning has been subjected to a wide range of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but prolonged isolation is confirmed, and depriving him of a pillow, sheets, or any access to the outside world through the reporting of current affairs are all elements of discomfort and further isolation that were key to the program of belittling and punishing “enemy combatants,” and, crucially, “softening them up” or “breaking” them for interrogation. It is, sadly, all too easy to imagine that other techniques designed to disorientate Manning and to further erode his will — involving elements of sleep deprivation, threats and sensory deprivation — could also be applied, or are, perhaps, already being apllied, especially if, as has been suggested by the Independent, the authorities are hoping to cut a plea deal with him, reducing a 52-year sentence in exchange for a confession that Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, whom the US is seeking to extradite to the US, was not just a passive recipient of the information leaked by Manning, but was instead a conspirator.”

  9. “What we know of Manning’s detention does indeed fall within the boundaries of clinically significant sensory deprivation.”

    Then you should be able to point us to some peer reviewed article that shares your opinion.

    “And as far as where I get my information, this is not legal discovery and I do not reveal my sources of information.”

    Seeking refuge, are we?

  10. BBB: I get the impression you are either trying to play the devil’s advocate or are being deliberately obtuse.

    What we know of Manning’s detention does indeed fall within the boundaries of clinically significant sensory deprivation. I do not know where you got the impression that it does not. And as far as where I get my information, this is not legal discovery and I do not reveal my sources of information. BBB, you are not discussing this with an amateur. I first became professionally interested in sensory deprivation in the 1960s when, as a graduate student, I read of experiments on SD at McGill University.

  11. Elaine M.,

    I have radiocative material in my house. I don’t have surveillance cameras. Nor do I have a guard posted when I leave.

    Are you scared yet? 🙂 Would you feel safer if I loaded the material into my car when I leave?

    Much like the article presented, my ambiguity is likely to give you reason to feel unsafe. If I was to disclose that the radioactive material I was talking about was the cathode ray tubes in some old televisions and the radium dials on some old watches and clocks, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it.

    Did the article say what kind of radioactive material had been stored at the facility?

  12. OS,

    Why didn’t you just say that Manning’s treatment does not comply with any accepted definition of sensory deprivation? If you could associate Manning’s current conditions with any accepted standard in which those conditions would meet the criteria for sensory deprivation, you would have done so instead of redirecting the readers of this blog.

    Manning is permitted to read books. He gets to watch TV. He is permitted to have visitors. He is even doing yoga. Walking (even in a figure eight pattern) is exercise. He is not kept in the dark, nor is he held in a sound proof room.

    Natural light: We have currently have a large number of people in out military who don’t get to enjoy natural light. We call them “submariners”.

    “The CIA’s more recent thinking is to do a more subtle version of keeping the subject isolated, a minimum of external stimulation such as reading materials and no exercise.”

    Please tell us where you came up with that piece of information.

    “The chances of useful information coming from someone kept in the degree of isolation that Private Manning is kept is minimal at best and completely wrong at worst.”

    What useful information? I haven’t seen any reports that indicate Manning to be the subject of interrogation. He has been charged.

  13. BBB,

    Quoting from the article:

    On Jan. 7, Yemeni Foreign Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the ambassador that “no radioactive material was currently stored in Sanaa and that all ‘radioactive waste’ was shipped to Syria.”

    According to the cable, the radioactive material was used by local universities for agricultural research, Sanaa hospital and by international oil companies.

    The facility’s lone guard was removed on Dec. 30, 2009, reported the cable and its single closed circuit TV camera had been broken for the last six months.


    Yemeni officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the cable.

    The cable said the embassy would push senior Yemeni officials to provide an accounting of its radioactive materials and ensure storage facilities were secure.


    I guess it’s a slow news day depending upon how you read the article.


  14. To answer the question raised earlier about sensory deprivation. Sensory deprivation is on a spectrum that ranges from being left alone in a bare room to complete deprivation of any stimulus. The technique was used by West Germany as early as 1972 with the creation of the “dead wing” at Cologne-Ossendorf prison. The cells were painted white and soundproofed. There was no natural light and with the white background it was difficult for the prisoner’s eyes to focus properly. The techniques were adopted by the CIA as an alternative to more harsh techniques that are a clear violation of war crimes laws. The techniques were used on Jose Padilla who was not allowed to see natural light and was kept in isolation. The CIA’s more recent thinking is to do a more subtle version of keeping the subject isolated, a minimum of external stimulation such as reading materials and no exercise. The results of sensory deprivation over time are well known, including loss of memory, cognitive function, loss of problem solving ability and loss of critical thinking skills. The latter is especially important because the subject becomes more suggestible. The chances of useful information coming from someone kept in the degree of isolation that Private Manning is kept is minimal at best and completely wrong at worst.

    For your reading “enjoyment” take a look at the two articles linked below. The writer who uses the pen name “Valtin” is a clinical and forensic psychologist of my acquaintance. He is an expert on torture and the psychological effects thereof:

    And take a look at what Dr. Marvin Zuckerman’s experiments showed.


    “Metro’s announcement Thursday that the transit system will immediately start random inspections of passengers’ bags and packages to try to protect from attack doesn’t give commuters much time to prepare for the new reality, but it’s here. The plan is to pull aside every third person at locations where checks are going on, and they will occur at various spots among the system’s 86 rail stations and 12,000 bus stops.

    Riders, this could potentially impact a lot of commutes. That’s where you come in. We want to know what you’re seeing and experiencing out there. Is this causing big delays for travelers, or are you not even noticing any hiccups? What are the searches like? How are people reacting? Tell us below, and we’ll help get the information out to your fellow commuters. And tweet what you see with the hashtag #wmatasearch.”

  16. Elaine M.,

    Thanks for the link.

    After reading the entire story, I am left with the understanding that a site where no nuclear material was left to be guarded, was subsequently left unguarded. And the reason this became a story is that someone inquired as to why it was left unguarded.

    It must be a slow news day. 🙂

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