Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights is an FDL contributor and also Julian Assange’s lawyer. He was in court for Bradley Manning’s testimony this week, and appears on The Real Network News with Paul Jay today to discuss it.
Ratner said that Manning’s treatment was reminiscent of the “Rumsfeld techniques” used on Guantanamo prisoners:
RATNER: There’s a bright light on him the entire 24 hours. He can’t really sleep, except facing the light, because if he doesn’t face the light where they can see his face across the booth, they come in and they wake him up and they turn him around. So his sleep is interrupted all the time. When he wakes up in this booth—and this went on for nine months—when he wakes up in this booth, he’s not allowed to lean against a wall or lay in bed. Once he’s up for “Reveille”, which is 5 a.m. (at least it’s during the day), he’s up. Once he’s up, they say he can only stand or he can sit on the bunk with his feet on the ground and cannot put his back against the wall. And he’s in this for nine months.
JAY: And so if he puts his back against the wall, they rush in and they force him to sit up?
RATNER: Exactly right.
Manning stated in court that he was never asked by the military to turn on Julian Assange, but Ratner says the techniques used on him were extremely unconventional in the Quantico brig, and he suspects that was the ultimate intent:
RATNER: [Y]ou had psychiatrist after psychiatrist testifying in the last two days that he was not a suicide risk, and that you also had testimony, interestingly, from some people saying that their opinions as psychiatrists had never been disavowed or disobeyed by the head of the brig. Even though the brig commander is in command and could say, I’m not going to listen to you, this was the only time in their memory, many years of being therapists and psychiatrists, that the brig commander said, we’re not going to agree with you, we have other reasons, and we’re going to keep him in these conditions. So that gives, really, a lot of substance to the fact that these orders were not coming from the brig commander but were coming from somewhere on high, and that it was done for a reason, as we have said on this show, to try and break Bradley Manning. So to the extent he knows anything—which I don’t think he does, but to the extent the government thinks he does—about his relationship to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, that he will be broken and testify or give information about Julian Assange and how these documents that Bradley Manning allegedly hacked—or not hacked; he wasn’t hacked—that he allegedly gave to WikiLeaks, what WikiLeaks’ involvement in that was.
The trial continues today and FDL reporter Kevin Gosztola is there once again. Follow his Day 5 coverage over at The Dissenter.