Top Pentagon officials announced Tuesday evening that suspected Wikileaker Pfc. Bradley Manning would be moved from the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va. to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson and Army Under Secretary Joseph Westphal opened a Pentagon press conference by arguing that Manning’s apparent harsh treatment at Quantico had nothing to do with the decision to transfer him to what will be kinder digs at Leavenworth.
The quotes got muddled, of course, but they eventually admitted that, well, yes, harsh treatment had everything to do with the decision to transfer Manning and bad press about that treatment contributed. “I won’t say the conditions at Quantico had nothing to do with this,” Johnson said candidly at one point — after previously saying essentially the opposite. Then he added that, “It is fair to say that because this case has been in the media, Dr. Westphal and people at my level became involved in the process.”
Both officials tried to temper their criticism of Quantico by arguing that conditions there might be fine — but not for a guy with Manning’s apparent mental problems, and not for a long period of time, and not for pre-trial confinement.
Manning had been held in what was essentially solitary confinement and was kept in his cell 23 hours a day. His confinement has included periods of forced nudity. Army officials said that at Leavenworth he will get three hours of exercise a day, interact relatively freely with other inmates, and have improved access to mental health care.