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Accused WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning Testifies He Thought He Would "Die in Custody"

Friday, November 30, 2012   on  Democracy Now!

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has testified for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Speaking Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning revealed the emotional tumult he experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait after his arrest in 2010, saying, "I remember thinking, ’I’m going to die.’ I thought I was going to die in a cage." As part of his testimony, Manning stepped inside a life-sized chalk outline representing the six-by-eight-foot cell he was later held in at the Quantico base in Virginia, and recounted how he would tilt his head to see the reflection of a skylight through a tiny space in his cell door. Manning could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious of 22 counts against him. His trial is expected to begin in February. He has offered to plead guilty to a subset of charges that could potentially carry a maximum prison term of 16 years. "What’s remarkable is that he still has this incredible dignity after going through this," says Michael Ratner, who was in the courtroom during Manning’s appearance. "But I think all these prison conditions were — sure, they were angry at Bradley Manning, but in the face of that psychiatric statement, that this guy shouldn’t be kept on suicide risk or POI, they’re still keeping him in inhuman conditions, you can only ask yourself — they’re trying to break him for some reason. The lawyer, David Coombs, has said it’s so that he can give evidence against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks." Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. [includes rush transcript]

Guest:

Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a lawyer to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He recently returned from attending part the pretrial hearing for Bradley Manning.

Transcript

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has testified in a courtroom for the first time since he was arrested in May 2010. Speaking Thursday at a pretrial proceeding, Manning revealed the emotional tumult that he experienced while imprisoned in Kuwait after his arrest in 2010, saying, quote, "I remember thinking, ’I’m going to die.’ I thought I was going to die in a cage."

As part of his testimony, Manning stepped inside a life-sized chalk outline representing the six-by-eight-foot cell he was later held in at the Quantico base in Virginia, and he recounted how he would tilt his head to see the reflection of a skylight through a tiny space in his cell door.

Vote YES on Prop 36: Amend the Three Strikes Law

America's prison problem (Great VIDEO)

Why does the US put so many people behind bars and what lies behind California's new push for leniency?

last Modified: 01 Nov 2012 14:40

By filmmakers Michael Montgomery and Monica Lam

The US locks up more people than any other country in the world, spending over $80billion each year to keep some two million prisoners behind bars. Over the past three decades, tough sentencing laws have contributed to a doubling of the country's prison population, with laws commonly known as 'three strikes and you're out' mandating life sentences for a wide range of crimes.

But a clear sign that Americans are rethinking crime and punishment is a voter's initiative on California's November ballot called Proposition 36 that seeks to reform the state's three-strikes law. Some 27 states have three-strikes laws patterned after California's version, which was one of the first to be enacted in the country.

Since it was passed in 1994, nearly 9,000 felons have been convicted in California under the law.

One of them is Norman Williams, a 49-year-old African-American man who was a crack addict living on the streets. He was convicted of burglarising an empty home and later stealing an armload of tools from an art studio. His third strike: filching a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. His fate sealed under California's three-strikes law, Williams was sent to a maximum security prison [for a life sentence] alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

"I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that," Williams says.

Williams was lucky. After 13 years behind bars, his case was reviewed by a judge and he was released. He is one of about two dozen 'three strikers' who have won sentence reductions through the work of a Stanford University law clinic founded by Michael Romano. In Williams' case, the prosecutor actually agreed that the original sentence was too harsh. An idea emerged from Romano's work: Why not draft a ballot initiative to ensure that sentences like Williams' will not be repeated?

"When people originally passed the three-strikes law in 1994 the campaigns were about keeping serious and violent murderers, child molesters in prison for the rest of their lives," Romano says. "I think that's what people want and are kind of shocked to hear that people have been sentenced to life for petty theft."

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons

We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why.

 

IT'S BEEN SEVEN MONTHS since I've been inside a prison cell. Now I'm back, sort of. The experience is eerily like my dreams, where I am a prisoner in another man's cell. Like the cell I go back to in my sleep, this one is built for solitary confinement. I'm taking intermittent, heaving breaths, like I can't get enough air. This still happens to me from time to time, especially in tight spaces. At a little over 11 by 7 feet, this cell is smaller than any I've ever inhabited. You can't pace in it.

Like in my dreams, I case the space for the means of staying sane. Is there a TV to watch, a book to read, a round object to toss? The pathetic artifacts of this inmate's life remind me of objects that were once everything to me: a stack of books, a handmade chessboard, a few scattered pieces of artwork taped to the concrete, a family photo, large manila envelopes full of letters. I know that these things are his world.

"So when you're in Iran and in solitary confinement," asks my guide, Lieutenant Chris Acosta, "was it different?" His tone makes clear that he believes an Iranian prison to be a bad place.

He's right about that. After being apprehended on the Iran-Iraq border, Sarah Shourd, Josh Fattal, and I were held in Evin Prison's isolation ward for political prisoners. Sarah remained there for 13 months, Josh and I for 26 months. We were held incommunicado. We never knew when, or if, we would get out. We didn't go to trial for two years. When we did we had no way to speak to a lawyer and no means of contesting the charges against us, which included espionage. The alleged evidence the court held was "confidential."

What I want to tell Acosta is that no part of my experience—not the uncertainty of when I would be free again, not the tortured screams of other prisoners—was worse than the four months I spent in solitary confinement. What would he say if I told him I needed human contact so badly that I woke every morning hoping to be interrogated? Would he believe that I once yearned to be sat down in a padded, soundproof room, blindfolded, and questioned, just so I could talk to somebody?

I want to answer his question—of course my experience was different from those of the men at California's Pelican Bay State Prison—but I'm not sure how to do it. How do you compare, when the difference between one person's stability and another's insanity is found in tiny details? Do I point out that I had a mattress, and they have thin pieces of foam; that the concrete open-air cell I exercised in was twice the size of the "dog run" at Pelican Bay, which is about 16 by 25 feet; that I got 15 minutes of phone calls in 26 months, and they get none; that I couldn't write letters, but they can; that we could only talk to nearby prisoners in secret, but they can shout to each other without being punished; that unlike where I was imprisoned, whoever lives here has to shit at the front of his cell, in view of the guards?

"There was a window," I say. I don't quite know how to tell him what I mean by that answer. "Just having that light come in, seeing the light move across the cell, seeing what time of day it was—" Without those windows, I wouldn't have had the sound of ravens, the rare breezes, or the drops of rain that I let wash over my face some nights. My world would have been utterly restricted to my concrete box, to watching the miniature ocean waves I made by sloshing water back and forth in a bottle; to marveling at ants; to calculating the mean, median, and mode of the tick marks on the wall; to talking to myself without realizing it. For hours, days, I fixated on the patch of sunlight cast against my wall through those barred and grated windows. When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back. Its slow creeping against the wall reminded me that the world did in fact turn and that time was something other than the stagnant pool my life was draining into.

When, after five weeks, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground utterly broken, sobbing and rocking to the beat of my heart, it was the patch of sunlight that brought me back.

Here, there are no windows.

 

SOLIDARITY With the Striking Platinum Miners in South Africa [graphic VIDEO of Police Massacre]

Platinum miners outside of Rustenburg, a few hours northwest of Johannesburg, have organized wildcat strikes to demand a living wage.

As a consequence, on August 16th, South African police massacred at least 34 miners and injured 78 more.

Actions and Events in SOLIDARITY WITH THE STRIKING MINERS are being held around the world.

Far from advocating for workers’ rights, the largest mining union in South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has openly denounced the strikers, urging them to return to work and even blaming them for last week’s violence.

Statements from President Zuma, COSATU, NUM, and the SACP blame murdered workers for their own deaths.

Why is the NUM leadership, the COSATU leadership, and the SACP refusing to denounce this ANC-ordered massacre? In some cases they are openly endorsing it.

Sections of the working class struggle are engaged in open class war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a graphic video of the incident, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf6Oi2bR56E

August 9th is Cotton Day

Please join together for COTTON DAY, Thursday August 9th
Street music (acoustic) CONCERT at 4:00 pm
Clarke Plaza 3rd and E Sts, Eureka
Bring your own chair. Bring a sign.
 
Peoples music.

Remember Martin Cotton.  Resist the Injustice... which continues....

Over $4.5 Million Awarded By Jury in Wrongful Death Case Against Eureka Police

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell

Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton's 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.

 

The Largest Street Gang in America [VIDEOS]

The Militarization Of The US Police Force

Video
Posted June 28, 2011


See ENTIRE MOVIE HERE

"When I was a "police officer" back in the early '70s the transformation was just starting to take place from a mentality of a public servant working for the citizens to "law enforcement". The first I noticed of it was when the police departments started preferential hiring of ex-military people returning from Viet Nam. They started introducing military tactics into the department, including the first S.W.A.T. team. They quit referring to people on the street as citizens and started calling them "civilians", or more commonly "assholes".

"They looked for opportunities to use their new toys provided from "federal assistance" monies in the war on drugs. They changed the uniforms from the blue-suited cop with an 8-sided hat with a shield on front to a set of black or navy fatigues and a ball cap. They started shaving their heads and pumping iron. They gave up on the idea that they put themselves in the line of fire to protect and serve the public and took on a combat marine attitude of protect their own above all else. I've known them to murder cop-killers in the street, but have a could-care-less attitude when a civilian is killed."

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