UPDATE – 9:00 PM ET Government wrapped up its case. Tomorrow the defense and government will deliver closing arguments beginning at 10 am EST

UPDATE – 7:05 PM EST Report on Captain Joseph Casamatta’s testimony. He was a commander in Manning’s Army chain of command, who visited Manning multiple times in the Brig. From testimony, it is clear the Brig kept some key details on Manning’s confinement from him.

UPDATE – 6:00 PM EST The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell has a roundup on criticism of the New York Times for not covering Manning’s hearing more intensively

UPDATE – 5:55 PM EST Working on getting spelling but Cpt. Casamatta – a company commander at Ft. Myer – in Manning’s Army chain of command would visit Manning while he was at Quantico. He is a person Manning would inform if he did not understand his confinement conditions.

Cpt. Casamatta did not understand why Manning was placed on increased suicide watch status on March 2, 2011. He found out about the comment and drew his own conclusion about what was said – if I really wanted to kill myself, I could use the elastic of my underwear.

Having “the luxury” to assess it as an “outsider,” he said he “would take it as a tongue-in-cheek comment.” Manning is an “intelligent and articulate person, he said, and,”I believe he just wouldn’t have such thoughts of killing himself with his underwear.” He spoke to Col. Carl Coffman and said he did not think his comment warranted him having his underwear removed.

UPDATE – 4:57 PM EST Maj. Zelek said he remembered House was someone visiting Manning in pretrial confinement. He described there was an incident where he was allegedly denied entry. It was a Saturday (January 15, 2011). He was with “either a reporter or blogger.” He said, “I remember when trying to get access to the base she actually put out a blog on it.”

There was some issue with them being allowed access. He remembered it was something to do with an “expired license.” There was something with the Base standard operating procedure that made it so they would not be allowed access.

UPDATE – 4:55 PM EST Military prosecutors again brought up David House. This time they specifically asked Zelek about the time when House and Jane Hamsher were at the gate and were not allowed on to the base. Coombs did not follow up.

UPDATE – 4:50 PM EST Marine Major. Timothy Zelek, an inspector general at Quantico Base, was monitoring media coverage. He was tracking mail to the base. He was concerned and went to Quantico Base commander Col. Daniel Choike and said he felt “some things in the media” were “unfair or inaccurate” and he wanted to look into them. He asked the IG at the Marine Corps Headquarters to look into it but they were not interested.

On December 23, 2011, he went to Col. Choike and said he wanted to initiate a “quality of life” investigation.

As he described in his testimony, there were a “lot of accusations.” There was a “lot in the media that said Manning was being mistreated at  the Brig.” He believed Choike really cared for people at Marine Base Quantico and would not mistreat people. So he recommend an investigation that could prove all was well.

UPDATE – 2:55 PM EST In the final moments of testimony from CWO2 Barnes (who has wrapped up testimony now after being on the stand for at least 10 hours), she went off on a rant explaining to Coombs her deepest thoughts and emotions about Manning’s case. She said that unlike the media, the Brig had a responsibility to protect Manning. She said that if he was allowed into general population they had to worry about what could happen. She knew inmate’s families were talking about his case. She had “never seen a MAX transferred in a Kevlar and a flak jacket.”

She then said, “I don’t have a problem with people reporting things up the chain or whatever, whether they call it whistleblowing or whatever…My job is to protect him. Some people may say, why did you say something? I don’t want him to be put at risk. He’s not even found guilty yet…Some people are really patriotic…Some people don’t look at things objectively. Is reporting a crime the right thing regardless? Some people have different views. Knew inmates were here. People knew why he was here. Don’t want to put him at risk…Would he be safe from the other inmates?…”

UPDATE – 2:10 PM EST Judge Army Col. Denise Lind questions CWO2 Barnes. She asks about her experience in other facilities. Did other facilities take the clothes of detainees on prevention of injury status? CWO2 Barnes said she could not recall.

She asked about the instructions for the facility that were followed and noted the portion she cited for authority was the portion on suicide risk (but Manning was not placed on suicide risk when his underwear was removed). She added, “I’m a little confused on that. What’s your testimony regarding your authority or any Brig commander’s authority?”

CWO2 Barnes answered, “There’s nothing else that says if there in POI status.” POI is not mentioned very muc in the SECNAV. She added,”That day after talking to staff and being briefed did not feel he was suicidal or made comment threatening suicide.”  Then she said there’s nothing in the instructions (SECNAV) “that says outside suicide risk in POI you may remove underwear.”

UPDATE – 1:05 PM EST Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) appeared on Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)’s radio show, CounterSpin. Ratner discusses media coverage of Bradley Manning’s hearing. Listen here.

UPDATE – 12:45 PM EST A thank you to Matthew Filipowicz, who had me on his show. He just recorded the segment and it will be up tomorrow for me to share.

UPDATE – 11:50 AM EST There was not too much more to come out of Coombs’ final block of questions to CWO2 Barnes (other than the fact that she seemed offended by every question Coombs asked of her). So, I’d like to make note of the fact that Professor Craig Haney’s Senate committee testimony was brought up when Coombs wanted CWO2 Barnes to address whether Manning had been held in solitary confinement.

Coombs read this portion:

I should acknowledge that the term “solitary confinement” is a term of art in corrections. Solitary or isolated confinement goes by a variety of names in U.S. prisons—Security Housing, Administrative Segregation, Close Management, High Security, Closed Cell Restriction, and so on. But the units all have in common the fact that the prisoners who are housed inside them are confined on average 23 hours a day in typically windowless or nearly windowless cells that commonly range in dimension from 60 to 80 square feet. The ones on the smaller side of this range are roughly the size of a king-sized bed, one that contains a bunk, a toilet and sink, and all of the prisoner’s worldly possessions. Thus, prisoners in solitary confinement sleep, eat, and defecate in their cells, in spaces that are no more than a few feet apart from one another…

When Coombs asked about this, the judge interrupted him. She told CWO2 Barnes not to answer his questions because there was more in Haney’s testimony describing conditions. She did this after telling him not to read all of Haney’s testimony in the courtroom and just the paragraph. It was strange.

Coombs then asked generally if she would agree Manning was held in his cell 23 hours a day. She said no.” He wondered then how many hours? She then was expressed frustration that she was being forced to say whether it was really 22.5 hours or not because she did not know.

Did the cell have windows? No, she said, “That’s just how the Brig is designed.” The correctional facility instructions does not require windows in “special quarters” where Manning was held. Was the cell less than 60 by 80 square feet? CWO2 Barnes answered, “If you want to do the math that way, okay.”

Just prior, CWO2 Barnes said “solitary confinement does not exist in Department of Defense corrections. She maintained ”the definition of solitary means no communication in a cell and that does not exist.” Coombs asked if this was her definition, no interaction with anyone, prisoners or staff, from within a cell. She confirmed this. Essentially, they could impose the strictest conditions on Manning. S

Under CWO2 Barnes’ definition, a detainee is put in their cell and dies from starvation because no officers ever to return to see if the soldier is okay and no meals are given to the detainee. o long as commanding officers or other staff members were having contact with Manning every day they were not imposing conditions of solitary confinement.

UPDATE – 11:33 AM EST After tech issues in the courtroom, court reporter fixed the issue. Recording equipment was malfunctioning. Parties met and decided to go on early lunch. We’re on recess until 1 pm EST.

UPDATE – 11:27 AM EST The issue of whether a Marine would call his underwear “panties” continues to come up in the proceedings. Coombs asked CWO2 Barnes and she said she would not refer to Manning’s underwear as “panties” as MSGT. Brian Papakie did. She would consider that unprofessional. She’s heard Marines that are “drill instructors” use the term jokingly. She would always call Manning’s boxers or skivvies underwear. She would not think it was funny to call Manning’s underwear “panties.”

On a more serious note, this is what Papakie was saying to officers making decisions about Manning’s confinement status. The point is the lack of respect or attitude the officers in positions of power had for what Manning was experiencing in the Brig. His counselor, GYSGT. Blenis, referred to the weekly progress report as the “Manning Times” saying it could keep you warm (because there were problems with heating in the facility).

UPDATE – 11:20 AM EST The defense had CWO2 Barnes address the email where Master Sgt. Craig Blenis, Manning’s counselor and advocate in the Brig, said a birthday package for Manning was not delivered because “we felt like being a couple of dicks.” CWO2 Barnes reacted, “I don’t take this crap lightly.” She was not referring to the comment but the idea that a package would be delivered improperly and could pose a risk to the Brig.

She lectured Coombs from the stand saying she was not going to sit here and take one little comment and all of a sudden say she did not think MSGT. Blenis was professional. She welcomed the opportunity work with him again. What he said was “one small comment.” The most important thing was that the package did not explode. “I don’t want something to friggin explode and hurt Manning and someone in the staff,” she added.

It’s worth noting that when MSGT. Blenis testified he could not confirm that no one had been called in to do bomb inspection. So, it must not have been that threatening of a package after all.

UPDATE – 11:00 AM EST Daily News article came up during the defense’s cross-examination. It was sent by Lt. Gen. George Flynn, the commanding general. Coombs suggested Flynn told officers below him Coombs was “masterminding a scheme to portray my client as a victim.” He asked CWO2 Barnes to comment on it, as he had been commenting on a Daily News editorial.

The story focused on how claims of “torture” were “exaggerated.” One paragraph read, “Hardly waterboarding. Hardly electrodes on the genitals. Hardly beatings. Hardly burns.”
CWO2 Barnes said when you go through “the type of stress every day,” it was “good to see.” It was good to see a reporter getting it right. She mentioned she had been involved in some aspect of detainee “collection” (arrests/seizures of persons) in Iraq and was “very big on how they were treated.” This story, from a paper with a reputation as a reactionary tabloid, vindicated the Brig.

UPDATE – 10:55 AM EST Defense finishes cross-examining CWO2 Barnes. Coombs showed her an email after she took Manning’s underwear and opened up a line of questioning about her briefing Col. Oltman, a superior officer, before making ultimate decision to take his underwear on March 2.

Original Post

One of the former Quantico Brig commanding officers in charge when Pfc. Bradley Manning was confined at the facility will return to the witness stand. It will begin the tenth day of an “unlawful pretrial punishment” hearing that has been unfolding over the past weeks.

Manning’s defense will finish its cross-examination of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes and then the inspector general in charge of Quantico will take the stand. An officer from Manning’s chain of command who visited Manning in the Brig while he was detained at Quantico will testify. Col. Carl Coffman, who was special court-martial convening authority, will testify. And then another officer in Manning’s chain of command will testify at some point.

On Friday last week, CWO2 Barnes provided testimony all day. She was cross-examined by David Coombs for over six hours. She provided some incredible testimony on why she decided to take Manning’s underwear from him every night after March 2, 2011.

Coombs asked her about solitary confinement and whether she thought Manning had been held in such conditions. She did not think Manning had been held in such conditions. She also said Manning should’ve been “honest” with himself about why he was in conditions where his underwear was being taken each night. When he was “honest,” he might be able to help himself and get out of some of the restrictive conditions.

More soon.