FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - The lead attorney for alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning turned up pressure on a former Quantico officer to show how high the orders against his client go.
PFC Manning, 24, spent about nine months alone in a windowless, 8-by-6 cell at Quantico, from July 29, 2010, to April 20, 2011, under conditions a United Nations investigator described as "cruel, degrading and inhuman."
While the government insists that they took these measures to protect Manning, the young soldier's lawyers say brig staff defied his clinical diagnosis to place him on pointless and punitive treatment.
If Col. Denise Lind finds "unlawful pretrial punishment," the military judge can reduce or throw out the charges accusing Manning of sending hundreds of thousands of government files to WikiLeaks.
Manning faces 22 charges accusing him of "aiding the enemy," violating the Espionage Act, exceeding access to his computer, stealing documents, and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces.
His supporters, who have attended every hearing, hail him for shedding light on military and diplomatic malfeasance. They say his actions inspired global reforms.
Readers of The Guardian voted him "Person of the Year" Monday.
As brig officer in charge, Chief Warrant Officer-4 James Averhart put Manning on suicide risk three times.
Suicide watch forced Manning to strip naked, put on a rough smock, and sleep on a special mattress and a blanket. The tear-proof materials allegedly induced rashes.
Averhart's successor, Denise Barnes, explained to the court over the last day and half that she was lower in the chain of command than most brig leadership. Both she and Averhart said they knew the higher-ups were keeping an eye on them.
Younger than Averhart, she said she took her 2011 appointment as a sign of confidence. She now holds the title of inspector general at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Lead defense attorney David Coombs asked Barnes whether she recalled telling his co-counsel that she would "probably get out with no retirement" if Manning killed himself.
Barnes allegedly said: "So all the things I worked really hard for, for the past 16 years goes down the tubes."
She admitted from the stand that the statement sounded "vaguely" familiar.
Barnes also said that was "shocked" to learn that now-Lt. Gen. George Flynn wanted advance notice of Manning-related decisions.
She testified that Col. Robert Oltman, the security battalion commander at Quantico, and Capt. William Hocter, the brig psychologist, argued in a January 2011 meeting that she observed.
As reproduced in a defense motion, Oltman told Hocter: "Nothing is going to happen to Pfc. Manning on my watch. Nothing's going to change. He won't be able to hurt himself, and he won't be able to get away, and our way of making sure of this is that he will remain on this status indefinitely."
Hocter said he replied: "Sir, I am concerned because if you're going to do that, maybe you want to call it something else, because it's not based on anything from behavioral health."
The "status" referred to in the conversation is prevention of injury watch, or POI, and maximum confinement.
The doctors who handled the majority of Manning's care at Quantico called POI watch unnecessary because he was not suicidal. Manning scored a 5 on a prison intake exam that requires a score of 12 to invoke max status.