Video: Manning’s pal on conditions of detention

  1. Closed captioning of: Manning’s pal on conditions of detention

    >>> the man dubbed a high-tech terrorist by the white house . assange fired back at his political critics and media outlets who once helped him and are now trying to distance themselves from his group.

    >> they believe that if they say, well, he's not really a journalist, they can have the washington authorities target us and destroy us and somehow steer clear of the cross fire , which they're worried will scatter out to all journalists. i have to message to them. they're going to be next.

    >> mr. assange also raised concerns about the treatment of bradley manning, concern also shared by the united nations . he is the army private believed to be the source of the leaked information.

    >> he is a young man that has been caught up in this, kept in solitary confinement for some six months. some 5,000 hours now. in conditions that were even worse than the ones that i was in. he's now held in a military bridge . his visits are very limited. only once a week. and his lawyer had said they've been getting worse and his psychological health the getting worse.

    >> we're joined by one of the few people who have been able to see bradley manning, his friend, david house, who joins us exclusively from boston. thank you for join us. when was the last time you saw him?

    >> i traveled to see him last weekend.

    >> describe if you will, his physical and mental state . you're very concerned about both.

    >> i definitely am. i've been traveling to visit bradley since september. i've noticed a remarkable decline in his psychological state. he's developed very big bags under his eyes. appears to be very weak from a lack of exercise and has difficulty keeping up with some conversational topics, which never used to be the case. i think the conditions he's being kept in are inhumane and they're starting to weigh on his personality and his physical appearance .

    >> talk more about his confinement. he's in solitary confinement , correct?

    >> correct. glenn greenwald released details. a spokesperson and brig official released statements refuting the claims. they said that bradley manning was allowed access to newspapers, allowed exercise in the form of running or basketball, so he wasn't restricted. from talking to bradley this past weekend, i discovered these pentagon claims are completely false. in fact, bradley 's only exercise is walking for one hour a day in chains in a empty room. he's in his cell for three hours a day. which is solitary confinement and he's not allowed newspapers or has he been allowed newspapers. this damage control by the pentag pentagon wreaks either a misunderstanding or outright deception.

    >> i was reading your piece about your visit with bradley manning. early on, you say when you were first starting to visit him, he was reticent to talk about his confinement. the conditions he found himself in, but on this last visit, you were able to, or he was able to talk i guess more freely, if you will, about his condition. what's changed? why is he talking about his conditions now as opposed to before?

    >> bradley 's a very humble fellow, so in our early conversations, he wouldn't talk about himself much. this recent visit, i kind of revolved myself that i really had to break through this and get to his conditions of confinement. it was the time to do so. by pushing, i was able to get him to open up more. i should have pushed much earlier.

    >> i have to ask you this since you're one of two people, besides his lawyer, who have seen him. has he ever talked to you about julian assange? have you asked him if he knows julian assange? if he's connected in any way?

    >> we have never mentioned any details relating to his case. our conversations are very abstract and i'm mostly there to give him mental engagement. in terms of that, no, he's never mentioned anything, but it has been stated in a recent "new york times" article that the pentagon may be treating him in such harsh conditions to get him to kol over on assange.

    >> this might be unfair, but since you've spent time with him and know him, do you think there's a connection between the two?

    >> i could only speculate and i think that all information about bradley 's alleged connection to wikileaks or assange flows from one very unreliable source, who was admitted to a psychiatric clinic three weeks before he came out with the story. i think we should be asking ourselves if this connection exists at all.

    >> there are laws to protect whistleblowers in the united states . do you think bradley manning did anything wrong?

    >> if the accusations are true, i think he is an ethical giant of our generation. i think that perhaps in this case, america has judged him in the press too quickly and we should consider why we keep alleged whistleblowers locked up in solitary confinement .

    >> item going to bring it back to julian assange. since there seems to be a connection, talk if you will about your thoughts on the other man at the center of this, julian assange. do you hold him responsible for the situation bradley manning finds himself in?

    >> i think that in order to comment on that, i would have to have some information about whether julian and bradley had any relationship and again, all information to that fact is coming from one very unreliable source.

    >> so then how about step back to the 30,000 foot level then and talk about your thoughts on what julian assange has done with the information that he has released via wikileaks .

    >> so, i think that the underlying principles of the wikileaks organizations are principles in line with most american ideals, principles of open government . at least from an abstract 30,000 foot perspective, i think the actions at wikileaks are very much in line with the principles of the american people .

    >> david house, thank you very much for being with us today. i appreciate it.

    >> thank you, john.

NBC News and news services
updated 12/23/2010 8:23:11 PM ET 2010-12-24T01:23:11

A U.S. soldier accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks is suffering psychologically and physically due to inhumane treatment at a Marine Corps brig, one of the few people who visits him regularly charged Thursday.

David House, an MIT software researcher, told "The Dylan Ratigan Show" guest host Jonathan Capehart on msnbc cable television that Pfc. Bradley Manning has big bags under his eyes, is weak from lack of exercise and has difficulty keeping up with some conversational topics.

House rebutted claims by the Pentagon that Manning under "maximum custody" is in a standard single-person cell and gets exercise, recreation, and access to newspapers and visitors. The Pentagon issued the statement Dec. 17 in response to reports by salon.com's Glenn Greenwood and others that Manning is virtually in solitary confinement while awaiting possible court martial.

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House, 23, appeared on the cable TV show Thursday after posting a lengthy blog on firedoglake.com calling the Pentagon's "public spin from last week sharply contradicts the reality" of Manning's confinement.

House said Manning told him during his Dec. 18 visit that he has never been allowed newspapers during his five months at Quantico.

Manning, 23, is kept in his 64-square-foot cell 23 hours a day, gets a wakeup call daily at 5 a.m., is barred from exercising in his cell, gets to walk in chains an hour a day in and indoor room and is not allowed to sleep between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.

"I've been traveling to see Bradley in the brig since last September, and over the several months I've been visiting him I've noticed a remarkable decline in his psychological state and his physical well-being," House said. "I definitely think the conditions he's being kept in are inhumane and they're starting to weigh on his personality and physical appearance to a great degree."

Image: Army Pfc. Bradley Manning
BRADLEYMANNING.ORG/HANDOUT  /  EPA
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, suspected of leaking thousands of Iraq War documents to Wikileaks.

Manning was charged in July with leaking classified material, including video posted by WikiLeaks of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning bragged about his exploits with former hacker Adrian Lamo, who then turned him in, according to Lamo. The Army detained Manning in Kuwait for two months before transferring back to the United States.

So far WikiLeaks has released about 1,900 of the more than 250,000 State Department documents it claims to possess, many of them containing critical or embarrassing U.S. assessments of foreign nations and their leaders. The documents are also being published by The New York Times, France's Le Monde, Britain's Guardian newspaper and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

House said he knows of no ties between Manning and WikiLeaks or its leader, Julian Assange, who has called Manning a "political prisoner."

Manning has not commented publicly on whether he is the source of the leaks. Assange said the organization's "technology is set up so we don't know" the sources of the material it gets.

Story: Assange warns of 'digital McCarthyism'

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Manfred Nowak, the U.N.'s top anti-torture envoy, said Nowak was looking into a complaint that Manning has been mistreated in custody and that his conditions amount to torture.

The U.N. could ask the United States to stop any violations it finds.

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Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan has told reporters that claims of mistreatment are "blatantly false."

Manning turned 23 in prison on Friday, Dec. 17, and his lawyer, David Coombs, said he had to spend it alone as visitation is allowed only on weekends.

In other WikiLeaks developments Thursday:

  • Assange said Thursday that his fate will lie in the hands of British Prime Minister David Cameron if the U.S. seeks his extradition. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, the WikiLeaks founder also said he knows he can survive solitary confinement mentally but believes there is a "high chance" he would be killed "Jack Ruby-style" — a reference to the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald — if placed in a U.S. jail. Assange reiterated claims that the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wants to indict him, saying statutes on computer hacking and support for terrorism are being reviewed. Assange said the Obama administration is trying to strike a plea deal with Manning to name Assange as a co-conspirator. WikiLeaks lacks the funds to pay for Assange's mounting legal bills — which are approaching 500,000 pounds ($771,350). Assange has not been charged in connection with leaked documents but was jailed in England this month after two women in Sweden accused him of sex crimes, including rape. He was freed on bail last week and is confined to a supporter's country estate in Britain while he fights extradition to Sweden.
  • The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said it has obtained the entire trove of 250,000 uncensored U.S. diplomatic documents that WikiLeaks has been distributing. The announcement Thursday appears to make Aftenposten the first media organization outside WikiLeaks' five partners to obtain the material — a development sure to heighten U.S. government fears that the public release of some uncensored diplomatic cables could endanger informants' lives. Managing editor Ole Erik Almlid said Aftenposten has no restrictions on how to use the material and will be publishing articles about the U.S. documents that it finds relevant in its online and paper editions. Aftenposten will also post parts of some of the original documents on its website, redacting sensitive information such as names if needed, Almlid told The Associated Press.
  • The Paraguayan government worked closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration earlier this year to expand its capacity to spy on cell phone calls to confront the threat posed by a band of leftist rebels, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. The cable, dated Feb. 18, 2010, and published Wednesday night on the Internet site, said the DEA had been intercepting the phone calls of suspected traffickers since September 2009 but was leery of helping Paraguay's interior ministry use the technology to go after the so-called Paraguayan People's Army.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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