The Pentagon, which has been criticized for months over its alleged mistreatment of suspected WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning, has decided to move the army private “to another prison under conditions that may be less restrictive,” the New York Times reported yesterday.
Manning will be moved to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, which houses the only maximum-security disciplinary barracks in the country. While the Pentagon has said that Manning’s current detention center, Quantico, was equipped to handle the maximum-security prisoner, there were allegations that the army private was treated in an unusually strict manner.
There are several reasons why this may be happening right now. Activists have increased their criticism of Manning’s detention recently (despite the fact that there’s little evidence of mistreatment). A UN torture investigator attempted to visit Manning last week, and was allegedly denied access to him. Charges that the Obama administration is allowing the torture of prisoners is obviously a major concern for the White House, especially after Obama’s criticism of the Bush interrogation techniques.
According to the Village Voice, Manning’s attorney was in the process of filing a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the army private’s due process was violated by Quantico.
Manning’s mental health also contributed to the decision, according to Defense Department’s General Council Jeh Johnson. The prisoner was kept in confinement for long stretches at Quantico, but at the maximum-security Fort Leavenworth he’ll be allowed to interact with other prisoners and be able to spend more time outside his cell.
Unsurprisingly, the development doesn’t seem to have appeased anti-war activists, who don’t want Manning in prison in the first place.
“Any move of Pfc. Manning does not change the underlying fact, which has not been disputed by the Department of Defense, that he has been held under conditions which may in fact constitute ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ in violation of the 8th amendment,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich in a statement yesterday. Kucinich also demanded a one-on-one meeting with the suspected traitor.