Bradley Manning has been forced to sleep naked for three consecutive nights, his lawyer wrote yesterday on his website, and the practice is expected to continue “indefinitely.” The official reason? Manning is on “prevention of injury” watch and must strip nightly for his own safety. The real reason, David E. Coombs writes, is a “sarcastic quip” Manning made after his request to be downgraded from maximum custody was denied last week. Manning, “understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions,” said that his restrictions were “absurd” and “that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.”
“Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used PFC's Manning's sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that PFC Manning was a suicide risk,” Coombs continues. But Manning was not placed on Suicide Risk Watch, because that requires a mental health provider’s recommendation—whereas simply increasing his restrictions under the prevention of injury watch that is already in place requires no such recommendation. A psychiatrist assessed Manning, after the comment in question, as “low risk.” All of this adds up, for Coombs, to the conclusion that Manning’s strip-downs are “clearly punitive in nature.” Click for more on Manning.