Jailer: GI in WikiLeaks case needed to speak up

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012
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Barnes characterized the dispute Friday as a difference of professional opinion.

She said Manning's history of suicidal thoughts before he arrived at Quantico in July 2010, and his generally uncommunicative behavior in the brig, weighed heavily on her decision to keep him tightly confined despite almost weekly psychiatric evaluations that found him at little risk of self-harm and in no need of segregation.

"They would say, from a psychiatric standpoint, there's really nothing. But we all know you don't have to have a mental health issue to want to kill yourself," Barnes said. She then cited the case of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who fatally shot his girlfriend and himself last week.

She said Manning never directly approached her to explain why he believed he was no longer a suicide risk and why he deserved relief from restrictions including confinement to his cell 23 hours a day.

"He never did it. I would hope every day," she said.

On cross examination, Barnes acknowledged that Manning had told a brig counselor he felt "lucid" at Quantico, unlike his state of mind when he made a noose out of a bedsheet in a cell in Kuwait shortly after his arrest.

And she indicated that even a spoken threat of suicide doesn't necessarily signal intent.

"If somebody really wants to commit suicide, they're not going to tell us that," she said.

The government must prove by a preponderance of evidence that brig officials justifiably believed the strict conditions were needed to keep Manning from hurting or killing himself.

The 24-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. He is charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.

He is also charged with leaking a 2007 video clip of a U.S. helicopter crew gunning down 11 men later found to have included a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The Pentagon concluded the troops acted appropriately, having mistaken the camera equipment for weapons.