Quantico Brig officials are struggling tonight to justify what has become an ever growing littany of charges of mistreatment against Pfc. Bradley Manning, a detainee facing a number of charges, but as yet not convicted of anything.
The latest, and easily most bizarre, move came last week, when Marines seized Bradley Manning’s clothing. He has since been forced to sleep totally nude, though he is allowed to wear underpants for parts of the day.
The moves have been called “punitive” by his lawyer, David Coombs, who notes that Manning is not under any sort of official suicide watch, and indeed that the brig’s psychiatric team has repeatedly declined to put such a watch on him, but has still had a growing number of restrictions placed on him since his detention began.
The latest measures came after Manning reported joked about the restrictions (which at that point had him down to wearing flip flops and underwear), and speculated that he might conceivably beat himself to death with his own flip flops if he really wanted to, or hang himself with his underpants, which prompted officials to seize both.
The brig has denied that the measures are intended to humiliate Manning or that they amount to detainee abuse, but have also declined to provide any alternative justification, particularly since the psychiatrists don’t consider him a risk to harm himself.
And while it was difficult to find anyone praising the latest naked abuse of power, Sen. Kerry (D – MA) was quick to defend officials, insisting that “they’re trying to preserve his safety.” A more likely alternative, however, is that they’re too lazy to do a load of laundry and are trying to conserve underpants.