David House spoke with Dylan Ratigan this afternoon about his visits this weekend with Bradley Manning at Quantico Marine Base.
As Jane wrote this morning, it was clear to David that Bradley’s spirits were down as a result of his solitary confinement, but Bradley was excited to discuss the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. David also revealed on MSNBC that while he meets with Bradley, there are three Marines standing behind Bradley who make their presence known. That’s in addition to electronic surveillance of the room, and presumably of every word spoken between Bradley and David.
House faced even stricter scrutiny from the guards, and Manning is still being detained under MAX/POI. Once in, Manning had some interesting observations about the situation in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as about American punditry’s reaction. Meanwhile, the new brig commander is going over Manning’s file, and a decision about possible changes in the conditions of Manning’s detention may be coming this week.
We drove down to Quantico on both Saturday and Sunday. Because David was concerned for his friend’s health and his first priority was being able to see him, we made the decision not to pursue delivery of the petition (now with 51,382 signatures) to the brig commander at this time. A new brig commander was appointed last week after the previous one abused Manning’s medical classification in order to punish him for “disobeying orders.” We also wanted to give her time to review Manning’s case and hopefully make the decision to remove him from punitive POI watch/MAX custody.
Bradley was brought in to meet with David, per usual, in chains. His MAX custody classification means that the entire facility is on lockdown whenever he leaves his cell, and he must be accompanied by two guards at all time. During his conversations with David, Manning’s guards listen closely to everything they say, and make it a point to make noise and shift around frequently to call attention to their presence in the room.
David was initially quite concerned about Manning’s state of mind, and felt he was beginning to exhibit some of the damaging symptoms of prolonged isolation including emotional withdrawal and impaired cognitive function. Bradley seemed slow to respond when they spoke, and could not process information as quickly as he normally did.
Bradley became excited and engaged, however, when David mentioned the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
“Bradley is in a shocked state due to solitary confinement, but his mood and mind soared when I mentioned the democratic uprisings in Egypt” said House on his Twitter feed last night.
Bradley was specifically interested in the role that online social networks had played in facilitating the uprising of young, technologically sophisticated youth in both Tunisia and Egypt. He noted that at a certain point, crowds seem to collectively intuit that they have reached a size sufficient to overpower the police. He felt that the broad instant communication capabilities of social networks in Tunisia and Egypt had enabled the quick assembly of enough people to reach this “tipping point” in a way that had not been previously possible.
David and Bradley did not discuss the role that leaked WikiLeaks documents played in sparking civic action in Tunisia and Egypt. Bill Keller of the New York Times, however, recently wrote that the “WikiLeaks cables in which American diplomats recount the extravagant corruption of Tunisia’s rulers helped fuel a popular uprising that has overthrown the government.” And Michael Hirsh, writing in the National Journal, says that “the Wikileaks cables may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”
Free Bradley Manning!