In the NewsMarch 10, 2011 14:35

FRONTLINE Exclusive: Father of Accused Wikileaker Speaks Out

by Martin Smith

COMING March 29th, on-air and online: FRONTLINE's profile of Pfc. Bradley Manning: Watch now or read additional excerpts from Brian Manning's interview.

We first interviewed Mr. Brian Manning after he had come from a visit to the Quantico Brig where he says he had met twice with Bradley -- for 90 minutes on Saturday, the 26th and three hours on Sunday, the 27th. The next day, he sat down with us for an on-camera interview.

At most, we expected to talk for a couple of hours. Instead, the interview spanned five hours, not including a short break for lunch. Throughout, Brian patiently answered any and all questions. There were no conditions or subject areas that were deemed off limits.

A week later, we received an email from Brian in which he expressed concern over a report posted by Bradley's attorney about a change in the conditions of Bradley's detention. Brian said he hadn't spoken to the attorney, but wanted to go back on the record to lodge a public protest over the government's actions. We told him we would help get his message out. We flew to Oklahoma City to do a second interview on March 7th.

We filmed for another two hours. Excerpts from that interview are posted below. Brian also drove us around the town of Crescent, where Bradley grew up, about an hour north of Oklahoma City. After his parents' divorce, Bradley, then 13, moved back to his mother's native home in Wales in the U.K. He returned to Oklahoma to live for a short time with Brian and his second wife before joining the Army.

We will be reporting extensively on Bradley Manning's upbringing and young adulthood, as well as his alleged crimes, in two upcoming FRONTLINE reports....

This is Brian Manning's first media appearance, a FRONTLINE exclusive. [Note: This interview reflects the views of Brian Manning. His views are not necessarily consistent with other accounts.]

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In response to this interview, the Pentagon issued a statement disputing Brian Manning's claims. In it they explain that they are keeping Bradley under what's called a prevention of injury watch for his own good. Brian Manning told FRONTLINE that the last time he saw his son, he showed no signs of having suicidal intentions.

At another point in the interview Brian Manning discussed how he was himself once an intelligence analyst for the Navy. And, he said, like his son, he signed a contract promising never divulge classified information. While many have talked about Bradley as whistleblower, Brian Manning says violating the government's trust is simply wrong.

Throughout our discussion Brian Manning says he doesn't know who could have ever leaked classified documents to Wikileaks. He says he certainly doesn't believe it was Bradley.

In total, we interviewed Mr. Manning for over seven hours. He was open to answering our questions and very much wanted to set the record straight on all that's been said elsewhere about his parenting and about Bradley's upbringing. In all that time, he remained remarkably stoic.

Manning's Lawyer's Statement

On March 1, 2011, the Quantico Base Commander denied Pfc. Manning's request to be removed from "prevention of injury watch" and to have his custody classification reduced from Maximum to Medium Detention-In. The defense filed a rebuttal. It included Bradley Manning's own account of his conditions and treatment. Some excerpts follow. Or, read the full rebuttal.

"...On 18 January 2011 ... the defense forensic psychiatrist, Capt. Moore, placed me under Suicide Risk. The Suicide Risk assignment resulted in me being required to remain in my cell for 24 hours a day. I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness.
(2) The basis for the above treatment was due to my alleged erratic behavior on 18 January. On that date, I was pulled out of my cell for my one hour of recreation call. When the guards came to my cell, I noticed a change in their usual demeanor. Instead of being calm and respectful, they seemed agitated and confrontational. Also, instead of the usual two to three guards, there were four. Almost immediately, the guards started harassing me. The first guard told me to "turn left." When I complied, the second guard yelled "don't turn left." When I attempted to comply with the demands of the second guard, I was told by the first, "I said turn left." I responded "yes, Corporal" to the first guard. At this point, the third guard chimed in by telling me that "in the Marines we reply with aye 'and not yes.'" He then asked me if I understood. I made the mistake of replying "yes, Sergeant." At this point the forth guard yelled, "you mean aye, Sergeant."
On March 2, I was informed of your decision regarding my Article 138 complaint. Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, I asked the Brig Operations Officer what I needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum Custody and POI Status. MSG Papakie responded by telling me that there was nothing I could do to downgrade my detainee status and that the Brig simply considered me a risk of self-harm. Out of frustration, I responded that the POI restrictions were absurd and sarcastically told him if I really wanted to harm myself, that I could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of my underwear or with my flip-flops.
(2) Later that same day, I was approached by GYSGT Blenis. He asked me what I had done wrong. I told him that I did not know what he was talking about. He said that I would be stripped naked at night due to something that I had said to MSG Papakie. Shocked, I told him that I hadn't said anything. I told GYSGT Blenis that I just pointed out the absurdity of my current confinement conditions. ..."

The Pentagon's Statement

PFC Bradley Manning is being held in pre-trial confinement at the Marine Corps base Quantico. He is accused of, and charged with, very serious crimes. He is innocent until proven guilty, but is in pre-trial confinement for a host of reasons typical in the military justice system, including the very serious nature of the offenses he is alleged to have committed.

The circumstances of PFC Manning's pretrial confinement are regularly reviewed, and complies in all respects with U.S. law and Department of Defense regulations. The commander of the tri-service confinement facility at Quantico is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of everyone in the facility, including the pre-trial detainees themselves.

PFC Manning is housed in one-man cell at Quantico, like all others in maximum or medium security at the facility. He has rights and privileges to food, mental health counseling, medical care, recreation, television, visitors, outside mail, and regular communications with his attorney.

In recent days, as the result of concerns for PFC Manning's personal safety, his undergarments were taken from him during sleeping hours. PFC Manning at all times had a bed and a blanket to cover himself. He was not made to stand naked for morning count but, but on one day, he chose to do so. There were no female personnel present at the time. PFC Manning has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night. He is clothed in a standard jumpsuit during the day.

The staff at the Quantico brig are professionals who take their responsibilities very seriously. None of the conditions under which PFC Manning is held are punitive in nature. All are based on his particular circumstances as a maximum security pre-trial detainee.

courtesy of the PBS Newshour

Martin Smith

Marcela Gaviria

Ryan Knutson

Director of Photography
Ben McCoy

Jason Schmidt

Associate Producer
Carola Mamberto


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posted march 10, 2011

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