Bradley Manning Was Ordered to Sign ‘Voluntary Statements’ at Quantico

Sketch by Clark Stoeckley

Pfc. Bradley Manning, during proceedings in an “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing on November 30, was cross-examined by the government. During the cross-examination, the government had Manning address “voluntary statements” he signed, which were “equivalent to sworn statements.”

Maj. Ashden Fein said they were mostly used when there was an “exception” and recreation call was “cut short.” Manning replied, “That was whenever they said I had to fill one out. I was confused by that and uncomfortable with this particular document.”

On December 14, 2010, Quantico Marine Brig, where Manning was held in pretrial confinement for 238 days, did not have the ability to do recreation time so they told Manning to fill out a voluntary statement.

“They did not have enough time,” Manning said. “They ordered me to fill it out.”

On December 20, Fein stated recreation time was “voluntarily changed” and then this “voluntary statement” occurred.

On December 21, another “voluntary statement” was signed by Manning. He was not able to go outdoors. (Manning speculated it might have been snowy.)

On Christmas, recreation time was shortened but he refused to sign a statement. Manning said it was “getting unusual.”

“It had a section, which I started to cross out where it says I have been sworn to this statement. I wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “I wasn’t sure it was legal.”

When Manning did this, the duty brig supervisor was not happy. He had received a command to sign as an order. “Here is a voluntary statement. Sign this,” Manning recounted. And, later, CWO4 James Averhart came to talk to him about the form and was unhappy about how he had crossed parts out.

On December 28, again, Fein said he signed a “voluntary statement” that pertained to foregoing recreation time for a television show. Manning corrected Fein saying, it had been because he was on sleep medication and so a television had been secured.

Sergeant Garnett came to him and said, “Fill this out.” Manning crossed out “sworn.” He crossed out “free and voluntary.” He crossed out a “lot of wording of this language” on the form.

On January 16, 2011, there was a television show he wanted to see. He asked if he could have recreation call later. The same sergeant came by and told Manning to fill out a “voluntary statement.” This time it did not have “sworn language,” but it did say voluntary at the top and he crossed that out and changed it to something else.

On January 20, he was refused recreation call due to a schedule clash with a television call. He was asked to fill out a form again and was really “uncomfortable filling these out.” He didn’t want to “refuse a direct order” and “didn’t know what to do.”

On February 16, he was ordered to fill out a “voluntary statement” to cancel a recreation call that he did not want to attend, according to Fein. Manning said he would come back from the Sanity Board and the Brig would be settling down for the day. They would inform him he was not going to be able to do recreation call.

He could try to refuse filling out the form, but they would just throw it away. One time, Sgt. Garnett took a form and “ripped it up.” He said, “Fill this out in the way I told you to fill it out.”

“I brought this up with Mr. Coombs and I was just told to not deal with any of these voluntary statements,” Manning said. “It was very uncomfortable.” He was advised by his defense lawyer, David Coombs, to not fill out any more “voluntary statements.”

There clearly was not anything “voluntary” about these statements. How does one, especially in a military brig, refuse to sign a form when they are already in cruel confinement conditions? Obviously, he was going to find some way to resist the process while also signing the form. He put his protest against the form in writing by crossing parts out.

Fein pressed him on this suggesting he “opted” to sign these statements. But Manning maintained he did not want to sign these. He described one instance where they had not been able to execute recreation call before Taps. They gave him a form and told him to fill it out.

“I was uncomfortable,” Manning stated. “I didn’t know if they were trying to cover themselves.”

He explained a “sworn statement” is “very serious.” It is a “declaration under penalty of perjury,” seemingly trying to inform Fein he recognized he might have to answer questions about these forms at some point.

“There was one moment—it was probably toward the December time frame—where they went to statements routinely,” Manning said. He remembered being told it was against Navy regulations to cross out and remove voluntary language. He added he was told he had to fill this out and could not flatly refuse.

Why the government pressed Manning on this issue is unclear. Manning was pretty sharp when it came to pushing back against the line of questioning Fein was pursuing. Fein wanted to suggest Manning was not objecting to recreational calls being canceled, but it is clear he was ordered or coerced into signing forms.

This is yet another element of the “unlawful pretrial punishment” that Manning experienced. It reveals another element of the corruption inside the Quantico Marine Brig that fueled the keeping of a high-profile detainee on prevention of injury (POI) status, even when his psychiatrist was telling Brig officers to take him off because he posed no risk to himself.

The Brig did not want Manning there for more than ninety days. Col. Daniel Choike, former Quantico Brig commander said this much on the first day of this hearing. The forms were another way they took their frustration with having Manning in their Brig out on Manning himself.

Military Law Is to Law as Military Music Is to Music

Under what laws is drone warfare legal?

Jeh Charles Johnson, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense, on Friday admitted that murder by drone is not a form of law enforcement:

“Some legal scholars and commentators in our country brand the detention by the military of members of al Qaeda as ‘indefinite detention without charges.’ Some refer to targeted lethal force against known, identified individual members of al Qaeda as ‘extrajudicial killing.’

“Viewed within the context of law enforcement or criminal justice, where no person is sentenced to death or prison without an indictment, an arraignment, and a trial before an impartial judge or jury, these characterizations might be understandable.”

Indeed, pretty darn understandable.  So, what’s the way around it?

“Viewed within the context of conventional armed conflict — as they should be — capture, detention and lethal force are traditional practices as old as armies. Capture and detention by the military are part and parcel of armed conflict.[13] We employ weapons of war against al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with the law of war. We employ lethal force, but in a manner consistent with the law of war principles of proportionality, necessity and distinction. We detain those who are part of al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and all other applicable law.[14]

[13] Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 519 (2004) (“detention to prevent a combatant’s return to the battlefield is a fundamental incident of waging war”).

[14] Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, art. 3, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3316, 75 U.N.T.S. 135.

The notion that U.S. treatment of prisoners complies with the Geneva Conventions is ludicrous, but so is the basic premise here that murdering and imprisoning people is justified because it is part of conventional armed conflict.  There is nothing conventional about soldiers at desks on other continents flying drones, or soldiers jumping out of helicopters to kill and kidnap in residential neighborhoods.  There are no front lines, no trenches, no battlefield, no army, no opposing army, no opposing nation, no territory fought over, no separation between civilians and military action.  That armies have always killed and captured people doesn’t legalize killing and capturing people in any, much less in all, circumstances.  Armies have tortured, looted, and raped as well.

“If I had to summarize my job in one sentence: it is to ensure that everything our military and our Defense Department do is consistent with U.S. and international law.”

Hmmm.  Is it consistent with this law?

“The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

How about this law?


Amidst Arctic Drilling Lies, Shell VP Tells Truth – “There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills”

The crushed containment dome from Shell's Arctic Challenger

Two news articles came out on Thursday and Friday that should concern anyone worried about Shell Oil’s plans to drill for oil offshore in northern Alaska waters.

On Thursday, BBC published a feature article on the status of Shell’s Alaska drilling project, which just concluded what many consider to have been a disastrous 2012 season.  Here’s Shell’s Alaska Vice President, Pete Slaiby:

“There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK. But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen.”

On the other hand, he argues that oil extracted off the coast of Point Hope could make a big difference to America as a whole.

“It could mean a significant step in the journey to energy independence of the United States,” he says.

Sheesh!  Can one imagine back in 1989, BBC interviewing Exxon Valdez skipper, Joe Hazelwood, with him stating:

“There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK. But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen.”

On the other hand, he argues that oil transported in his tanker across Prince William Sound could make a big difference to America as a whole.

“It could mean a significant step in the journey to energy independence of the United States,” he says.

Or BBC interviewing BP CEO Tony Hayward in early 2010, with Haywood stating:

“There’s no sugar-coating this, I imagine there would be spills, and no spill is OK. But will there be a spill large enough to impact people’s subsistence? My view is no, I don’t believe that would happen.”

On the other hand, he argues that oil extracted off the coast of the American Gulf of Mexico states could make a big difference to America as a whole.

“It could mean a significant step in the journey to energy independence of the United States,” he says.

Actually, I CAN imagine those people saying that then.  Slaiby and company had hoped nobody would ask hard questions about this past summer’s abortive drilling attempts, particularly about the spectacular failure of a system they had touted as “state-of-the-art” on more than one occasion – the oil spill containment dome built to be deployed on the old icebreaking barge, Arctic Challenger.

Arctic Challenger 1982 color adj.

I’ve previously written seven articles about the Arctic Challenger for firedoglake, beginning on July 27th, the 30th anniversary of the day I had made the above drawing of the barge, as it slowly moved northward toward Alaska’s Arctic, being towed by the barge I was helping crew.  The last of those articles was about six weeks ago, after the conclusion of hearings in Anchorage, conducted by Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.  Between those dates, I visited the barge in Bellingham, hoping to look at the modifications being made, and at the containment dome apparatus, only to be denied access, and followed out of town by Shell-hired security police.  I wrote other followups on barge modification progress fiascos.

In that last article, I published the text of a Federal FOIA request that had been submitted to government agencies by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.  PEER hasn’t heard back yet, but today, Seattle’s KUOW Radio published a report on the Arctic Challenger fiasco that reveals that they had taken the same action as PEER, but have gotten information back.  Here is the central finding:


The Emperor’s (Or At Least the Villagers’) New Talking Points

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In a post that he admits is “probably not career-enhancing,” Michael Grunwald can’t stop himself from ranting about his journalistic colleagues at Time‘s Swampland blog:

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully … pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

… I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.

… But we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.

I wrote back in August that we were nearing a possible climax in the GOP’s genuinely Orwellian quest to make telling the truth an inherently partisan (and hence disreputable act).  This would have happened if the Republicans had added the White House and the Senate to their control of the House — leaving the press as the only significant “opponent” in defining reality.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  However, the results from November also let the media continue to sidestep any responsibility for holding the GOP accountable, since they can simply insist that the Democrats (and that guy with the so-called bully pulpit) are able to speak for themselves, and should do so if they don’t think Republicans are being honest.  So I fear Michael Grunwald’s plea for resistance will fall on many, many deaf ears in D.C.

Not only that, I suspect Grunwald is about to find out what actually happened to that little boy who called out the naked emperor in that old fairy tale.  (You didn’t think the courtiers who invested so much effort in fooling the public really just shrugged and let the kid get away with it, did you?)

Senator Vitter says that Carbon Tax Discussions Should be Done Openly

Vitter: Carbon Tax Discussions Should Be Done Openly

Metamars has recently expressed his conviction that Republicans will eventually support a carbon tax. Oh, not ALL Republicans, but rather ENOUGH Republicans. And, of course, I’m talking about Republicans in Congress, not rank-and-file Republicans, who (wisely) show no sign of supporting a tax that will help degrade their own freedoms – including the freedoms that come from being a citizen of a sovereign country, so that you are at least subject to beauraucrats who are your countrymen.

While writing a whole diary on that subject should wait until I write a whole diary on the Exxon Mobil Dog That Didn’t Bark (i.e., Exxon-Mobil not doing what it could easily afford to do, which is educate the public about non-catastrophic and anti-catastrophic climate science; e.g., can you picture the uproar of Exxon Mobil blasting this recent story about the

HADCRUT4 dataset showing no statistically significant global warming for the last 16 years

, all across America, during prime-time?? The uproar would attract more eyeballs via youtube than the boobtube!), metamars now offers this intriguing sign of things to come:

There’s a lot of talk in Washington about raising taxes, including by finding “revenues” in creative ways, to avoid driving off the fiscal cliff.
But there’s one tax that is purposefully not being discussed openly — a carbon tax. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the Obama administration and their allies aren’t actively working toward this goal. There is a lot of evidence that there’s a lot of discussion toward this ultimate end, including within the Treasury Department.
I believe Congress must assert its constitutional responsibility in this important matter. If President Barack Obama and his administration are considering a carbon tax, a revised cap and trade plan, or anything similar, then they must work through Congress to achieve it. We cannot allow them to legislate by administrative fiat, withhold information and circumvent the law.

Now, let’s just think about this, boys and girls. The last I heard, the President cannot declare a tax by fiat. I can’t think of any reason why a carbon tax would be an exception, can you?

So, what is Vitter really afraid of?

Well, I’d say that he’s afraid of a carbon tax, alright, but what this letter hides is a more realistic fear- viz., that Obama will negotiate something in secret (gee, where have I heard him doing things like that, recently?), and then ROLL ENOUGH REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO PASS CARBON TAX LEGISLATION THAT OBAMA WILL GLADLY SIGN Oh, and you KNOW what the headlines will say: “Obama praises the bipartisan Republican who made the carbon tax a reality, showing patriotic concern, and concern about future generations, above and beyond their ideology, blah, blah.”

Earth to Vitter: Obama doesn’t care about your op ed! If you want to mobilize the public against a carbon tax, you need to get the public educated as to the state of climate science, Australia’s wonderful carbon tax ($2,500/year for a family of four), etc. The Republican base also needs to issue credible electoral threats, which they have some capability of doing, thanks to Tea Party aggressiveness. (Compare to the sad state of progressive wimpiness and the Democratic Party. Not a pretty picture.)

Obama’s no dummy. Or, as Glenn Ford, of Black Agenda Report simply put it: “Fake debt crisis shows Obama is smarter than you are. Apparently, he’s not going to allow Congress into a public, blow by blow of a carbon tax bill, which risks enraging and engaging the part of the public (Republican base) that can sink it, if they successfully turn the screws on their Republican Representatives. If he’s as smart as I think he is, he will, instead, cut enough backroom deals with Republicans until he’s sure he can gets what he wants.

Oh, yeah, Senator Vitter: Don’t expect any help from Exxon-Mobil. If they were going to use their ample cash to educate Americans on the true state of climate science, they surely would have done so, already. Indeed, a carbon tax might help Exxon Mobil, as it would likely speed the retirement of coal fired plants. (So yes, a more realistic source of funding for a large education program is the coal industry. Can’t say that excites me, but it is what it is.)


Update: While the President can’t declare a carbon tax by fiat, according to Senator Inhofe, a carbon cap and trade scheme could be mandated via regulation, if there is an “endangerment finding”. See also the link by Cal222, which talks about “the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that carbon dioxide is a public danger and the decision to set limits for emissions from cars and light trucks were legal.”

So, maybe Obama will line up his EPA ducks, sit some House Republicans down, tell them what is going to happen, but give them an opportunity to share in some boodle for their districts if they sign up for legislation towards the same end. This way, the Dems and Repubs will share the blame glory.

Bradley Manning’s ‘Unlawful Pretrial Punishment’ Hearing, Day 4


7:15 PM EST Here’s my appearance on HuffPost Live giving an update on Bradley Manning’s testimony from today (Drag to 8:30 minute mark):

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7:13 PM EST I went on HuffPost Live. I just did an interview with KBOO. I have a couple reports to type up, but we’re done before 8:45 PM EST tonight. I am going to take advantage of that and leave the base. In a couple hours, when I get some dinner, there will be more for you to read and digest. There is much of Manning’s testimony to share. I especially want to detail what the Brig was doing with “voluntary requests.”

4:45 PM Have to say what most fascinates me right now is what I heard Manning describe about wanting to win case in military court and not “court of public opinion.” I’ll have more. For now, visitors list came up again. The government made an issue out of it. He acknowledged press had First Amendment right to publish stories on him.

2:20 PM Going back on record now. Fein will resume his attempt to show Manning was the problem when he stood at parade rest naked on March 3.

2:12 PM Fein is grasping for air trying to argue Manning did not have to put his blanket on his bed on March 3, 2011, when he stood at parade rest naked without his underwear after an incident on March 2 involving a comment he made. Fein is asking him in all ways possible to see if he can get him to say he did not have to put the blanket down or was not ordered to put the blanket down.

Manning amazingly said at one point:  ”The wording that had been given by the staff was that any order that you’re given unless it immediately causes you danger or harm is a proper one until you execute it. Tarantula jar was an example used a lot. If guard orders you to put your hand in a tarantula jar, don’t do that. Anything else that is not immediately harmful or dangerous you execute then complain about it later.”

2:05 PM Fifteen minute break. Fein opened up an incredible line of questions with Manning that do not obviously appear to benefit the government’s case that he wasn’t unlawfully punished. He asked about “voluntary statements” he signed except they weren’t really voluntary. Officers would come up to Manning and say, “Here is a voluntary statement. Sign this.” They did this when recreation calls had to be canceled because they could not arrange them.

“I was uncomfortable” with this, Manning said. “I didn’t know if they were trying to cover themselves” because they could not fit in recreation call. Sgt. Garnett was giving him these forms saying this was a direct order. He admitted he caved a couple times. He also went through and crossed out portions. He would cross out “sworn” because a “sworn statement” is very serious. It is a declaration “under penalty of perjury,” he said. He “wasn’t sure of the legal status of this document.” It made him uncomfortable. [cont’d.] (more…)

Friday Watercooler

Hi, y’all.

Here’s some classic 80s Leonard Cohen for your listening pleasure.

How has your week been? Mine has been enjoyable except for the fact that I can hardly breathe. I’m in that in-between state where you aren’t sure if there’s something in bloom and your allergies are kicking up or if you are getting sick, but you hope like hell it’s the former. Excuse me while I go get my neti pot again — there’s something I resisted doing for years until someone finally made me try. But it really works, at least for a little while.

Tell me what’s on your mind. This is tonight’s open thread.

Couples Can Check ‘Bride’, ‘Groom’ or ‘Spouse’ on Washington State’s New Certificate of Marriage

New version of Washington state's certificate of marriage. (click to embiggen)

In advance of same-sex weddings beginning in Washington state on December 9th, the state’s Department of Health has revised the marriage certificate to allow spouses to choose the terms that best apply to them. From the DOH:

Marriage certificate changes give options for traditional, same-sex couples

New approved form retains “bride” and “groom” and adds gender-neutral option

OLYMPIA – Revisions to Washington’s marriage certificate to conform with the new same-sex marriage law gives couples a full range of options — gender-neutral or gender-specific terms. The new form has been sent to local auditors around the state. The form is effective December 6 when the law takes effect. Marriage certificates are filed after the marriage.

Secretary of Health Mary Selecky approved the rules-change to add “spouse” to the existing language that includes “bride” and “groom.” Couples can check a box to choose the term they prefer. The original proposed change was to replace “bride” and “groom” with “spouse,” but many public comments suggested providing optional language, and Selecky agreed. More than 100 public comments were taken in writing and at a hearing in Tumwater November 28.

The state health department collects records of all people who marry or divorce in Washington, and provide copies of records to the public upon request. Current forms use gender-specific terms, including bride and groom. The new form also adds space for gender, and adds the term “parent” to the words “mother” and “father” of the applicants.

The updated version of the marriage certificate can be viewed here, courtesy of The News Tribune, and the top portion of the form is pictured at the bottom of this post.

The retention of the optional terms “bride” and “groom” on the marriage certificate should put to rest concerns raised by marriage equality opponents that making the state’s marriage law gender-blind would somehow prevent spouses from using gender-specific terms for one another.

How North Korea Fell Behind South Korea, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts examining how North Korea fell behind South Korea. The second part can be found here.

The story of the two Koreas is a common American tale amongst the educated classes. As the fairy tale goes, once upon a time there was one Korea. By chance, one day this Korea was divided amongst the communists and the capitalists. The communist Korea fell into chaos and poverty. The capitalist Korea became rich and a democracy. Beware communism!

The general thrust of this tale is true. But there are some interesting complexities behind how North Korea and South Korea became the way that they are. After the Korean War, it wasn’t as if South Korea immediately began pulling ahead. For a long time it wasn’t obvious which Korea was doing better.

This is what happened:

The 1940s

To write this analysis, I utilized the website Gapminder. Run by a Swedish professor, Gapminder shows graphics of different levels of every imaginable type of statistic amongst the world’s varying countries.

This is the most basic graph: it shows wealth and health in 1944. The y-axis is life expectancy. The left axis is income per person (in dollars adjusted for inflation and purchasing power parity) put on a logarithmic scale (so that the difference between $1,000 and $2,000 is just as important as the difference between $10,000 and $20,000; this makes comparing things much easier). As one would expect, wealthier countries generally have higher life expectancies. The main exceptions, such as Germany, are busy fighting World War II.

This graph shows the state of the two Koreas in 1944. The South is relatively more populous and relatively poorer. One ought to note that at this time there were no good statistics; the figures here are estimates.


Korea was divided in two in 1945. I started a year earlier, and this chart makes clear why. The destruction of World War II did quite a lot of damage to both countries. By 1950 they still hadn’t recovered, unlike much of Western Europe and Japan. Both countries were generally poorer than your typical country.

Then the Korean War started.