January 21, 2011

Washington Post Report on Bradley Manning

Lawyer for Bradley Manning, Army figure in WikiLeaks case, alleges prison mistreatment

By Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Staff Writer

The lawyer for alleged government secrets leaker Bradley Manning is accusing military authorities of using punitive measures against Manning at the Marine Corps jail in Quantico, Va.

Manning, a 23-year-old Army private suspected of passing thousands of classified documents to the online site WikiLeaks, was placed on suicide watch for two days this week - against the recommendation of the jail's forensic psychiatrist, attorney David E. Coombs said.

During this time, Manning was forced to stay in his cell around the clock, stripped to his underwear, the lawyer said. His prescription eyeglasses were taken from him, except for the hour of television he is allowed to watch or when he was reading, Coombs added.

The circumstances of Manning's confinement have drawn public attention. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said he submitted to the State Department a formal inquiry about Manning's treatment.

The liberal Web site Firedoglake.com says a petition urging that Manning be treated humanely will be delivered this weekend to Quantico; its site founder says that the petition has drawn more than 30,000 signatures.

On Wednesday, Coombs filed a complaint with Marine Corps Base Quantico, alleging that the commander of the brig, or detention facility, abused his discretion by placing Manning on suicide watch.


Act now! Please contact Manning's (and your) Senators: Barbara Mikulski Phone: (202) 224-4654 Fax: (410) 962-4760 and Benjamin Cardin Phone: 202-224-4524 Fax: 202-224-1651.  If you live in the 8th Congressional District, contact Manning's (and your) Congressman: Chris Van Hollen Phone: (202) 225-5341 Fax: (202) 225-0375. Ask them to contact the Secretary of Defense to demand speedy adjudication of motions filed on his behalf including "a revision in the conditions of PFC Manning’s incarceration while he awaits trial." This is not about what Manning may have done, it's about protecting the Constitutional Rights we all have and deserve.


Brig commander James Averhart had determined the 23-year-old was a suicide risk, Coombs said.

But after the Army Staff Judge Advocate's office urged him to reconsider the designation, Averhart removed the suicide watch Thursday and restored Manning to "prevention of injury" watch. Manning is also being held under maximum custody, which has its own set of rules.

A Quantico spokesman, First Lt. Scott Villiard, said that he did not know why Averhart recommended the suicide watch, but that the determination was "based on input from more than one person." That included medical professionals, mental health professionals and the Marine guards who watch detainees, he said.

Averhart "has a responsibility to make sure that these detainees are safe, secure and make it to trial," Villiard said.

Coombs responded that the forensic psychiatrist has consistently recommended - with the exception of one week in December - that there was "no medical reason" for Manning to be even on a prevention-of-injury watch, let alone a suicide watch. He said he pressed for a reason behind the status change this week, but was given none.

"The fact that they won't articulate any basis for it leaves you with no other conclusion than it must be punitive," he said.

Coombs said he will eventually file a motion alleging that the conditions of Manning's confinement amount to unlawful pretrial punishment, in violation of Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Under prevention-of-injury watch, Manning may have no sheets or pillows, though he does have two blankets and a built-in pillow in his foam mattress, Coombs said. He is not allowed personal items, and may have one book or magazine at any given time to read.

As a maximum-custody detainee, he is restricted to his cell for 23 hours, takes meals in his cell and is barred from exercising there. During the one hour of recreation time allowed in maximum custody, detainees have access to weight equipment, treadmills and elliptical machines, Villiard said.

"The most important thing is that we're not treating Private Manning any differently from anyone else that would be in the same classification" Villiard said. "Whether it's maximum custody or prevention of injury, he's being treated the same as anybody else."

David House, a Boston computer researcher who has regularly visited Manning, said in a blog posting last month that Manning told him that he had not been outside for recreation or exercise in four weeks.

Prior to last week, Manning was allowed only to walk in an empty room for his recreation time, Coombs said. He usually walked in figure-eights until his hour was over, he said.

Villiard said Manning was placed in maximum custody because authorities determined that his escape "could pose risk to life, property or national security."

Coombs said, "I find it just incredible to say now he'd be a flight risk. You'd have to go through no less than five locked doors, remote-access-controlled, to get outside. Even then you would be on Quantico base. He couldn't escape from there if he wanted to."

Saving Social Security--Monday, February 7 - 7:-9 pm

Saving Social Security--Monday, February 7, 2011 - 7-9 pm

NOW National President Terry O'Neill and other experts will discuss growing threats to Social Security, and what you can do to help.

Wheaton Regional Library Meeting Room downstairs
11701 Georgia Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902

RSVP to Mike Hersh reply to this email or mike@mikehersh.com
RSVP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=154199437965468

January 20, 2011

Legislative Forum in Silver Spring this Sunday January 23rd

Progressive Neighbors/Progressive Working Group Legislative Forum at IMPACT Silver Spring this Sunday January 23rd.

WHEN: Sunday afternoon Jan. 23rd, 2 p.m.
WHERE: IMPACT Silver Spring – 825 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring
WHY: Maryland faces a significant budget deficit. Will it be balanced on the backs of working Marylanders or will more progressive solutions be offered?
WHO: Sponsored by Progressive Neighbors and Progressive Working Group. Hosted by Impact Silver Spring.
For more information: Email malakoff@starpower.net or 301-587-5559

The forum will begin at 2:00 PM. If you are able to come at 1:45, we will be inviting people to come at that time to personally meet and speak with their legislators. To date, 10 senators and delegates have confirmed that they will be participating: Senators Raskin, Manno, and Madaleno; Delegates Hixson, Mizeur, Hucker, Luedtke, Gutierrez, Cullison, Robinson, and Carr.

Progressive Working Group's 6 Priority Issues: Transparency and Equal Access in Government, Combined Reporting, Offshore Wind Power, Public Financing of Campaigns, Health Security Act (Single-payer), Costs of War / "Fund our Communities--Bring the War Dollars Home"

Background On Priority Issues

Transparency and Equal Access in Government: This includes measures to make the Maryland General Assembly (GA) and other MD government deliberative bodies more transparent and promote equal access of petition for all individuals and organizations. After impressive successes last year (TEAG’s first year in existence), this year TEAG is pushing for (among other things): 1) all votes taken in all General Assembly subcommittees should be roll-call votes, recorded and posted on the GA website in a timely manner along with a brief description of the subject being considered; 2) a tracking of each bill that does not get reported out of committee, should be posted on the web along with a listing of the Committee where it stopped, and who was chairing that committee; 3) the Bill Hearing process should be overhauled so that the order in which bills are scheduled to be heard is posted on the website 24 hours in advance, and testifiers can sign up online the day of the hearing; and 4) all motions made in ALL committee proceedings should be recorded and summarized, and posted on the web along with the submitter's name. (For this designation of "committee" we include all Committees, Workgroups, Councils, Panels, Commissions, Boards, and Task Forces that are authorized and/or adjuncts to the General Assembly).

Combined Reporting: With the pressing budget crisis in Maryland, combined corporate reporting will generate needed income (potentially $100 million or more per year) from large multi-state corporations that are not paying their fair share in taxes – in many cases these corporations are actually not paying corporate income taxes to Maryland at all. They are able to manipulate the tax code to shift income reporting to states with low or no corporate income taxes.  Besides hurting Maryland's Treasury and important government programs, the current situation also gives these multinational corporations an unfair competitive advantage compared to in-state businesses that cannot take advantage of these loopholes.

Offshore Wind Power: The current proposal for a moderate-sized wind farm (about 600 MW) would create thousands of Maryland jobs in construction, operations, and maintenance. A recent study by the Abell Foundation stated that offshore wind power could produce the equivalent of two thirds of Maryland’s current electricity demand. >From 2002 to 2009, electricity prices rose 75 percent in Maryland. Wind energy prices are typically locked in for 25-year contracts, offering an alternative to current and future price hikes for fossil fuels. Currently, significant regulatory and market barriers exist at the state and national level that stand in the way of developing Maryland’s offshore wind potential. CCAN, the United Steelworkers, Environment Maryland, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter are working together leading an effort to bring offshore wind power to Maryland. Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to introduce legislation this year that would require utilities to enter into long-term contracts for offshore wind power. For more information, see: http://www.marylandoffshorewind.org

Public Financing of Campaigns: Introduced in the 2010 legislative session as “The Clean Money Bill (SB 681), this measure would reduce the undue influence of special interest campaign contributors in the Maryland General Assembly by creating a voluntary, publicly-funded way to run for legislative office. How it works: To participate in the public funding of campaigns system, a candidate must demonstrate board community support by collecting a large number of small contributions in the district she or he wishes to represent within a specified amount of time. If successful, the candidate receives enough public funds to wage a competitive primary and, if she or he wins, general election campaign. If a privately financed opponent outspends her or him, the candidate receives offsetting funds up to a certain point.

Health Security Act: Single-payer (Medicare-like) health care financing for Maryland. Federal health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, will not provide all Marylanders with health care, nor will it control costs to individuals or the state.  Based on previous studies an upcoming economic impact study by the Lewin Group is expected to demonstrate that a single-payer, tax-financed, privately delivered system will save money, help businesses and provide comprehensive health care for all Marylanders.  Maryland’s Medicaid bill accounts for over half of the budget shortfall, but the Health Security Act would cover everyone for less money.  In 2010 fifty legislators supported the legislation.

Costs of War / "Fund our Communities--Bring the War Dollars Home": Maryland’s contribution to the FY 2010 Pentagon budget was $13.65 billion. Meanwhile, the entire Maryland State budget was $13.9 billion. We need to redirect spending from the Pentagon to local communities. That way, we can fund veterans’ services, jobs, education, the environment, infrastructure, and housing. PWG will work with members of the Maryland General Assembly to draft and sign a letter to Maryland's representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress.  The letter will advocate national legislation to reduce the annual military budget by 25%, with savings to support state, local and community needs. For more information, see: http://ourfunds.org

January 17, 2011

WEDS 1/19 Congressional mtg + outreach in Rockville MD

MD-08 Rep. Chris Van Hollen--Brown Bag Lunch Vigil
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:50 AM - 1 PM
Office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen /
51 Monroe Street / Suite 507 / Rockville, MD  20850

Short walk from Rockville Metro Station, Red line
Register for this event

We'll gather just inside the office bldg. at 11:50 AM go up to the office together, and meet with Rep. Van Hollen's Staff at about 12:15. We'll also engage the general public with our 3 part message: Hands off Social Security, Cut Pentagon Spending to Fund our Communities, and Bring our troops home safely. We'll bring banners and flyers to hand out.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Maryland Resident

Progressive Democrats of                             America/Maryland PDAmerica.org

Whistle-blower or Leaker,
We All Have Constitutional Rights

Dear Progressive,

PFC Bradley ManningOur fellow Maryland resident, Private First Class Bradley Manning, is currently being held in maximum custody at Quantico. Daniel Ellsberg, famed Pentagon Papers whistle-blower praised Manning as a "brother" who--if he did release information to Wikileaks as alleged--did "a very admirable act." See: Huffington Post Article.

It's not clear what, if anything, Bradley Manning did. He's awaiting trial in solitary confinement, "a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law." No matter what he's accused of doing, he deserves basic Constitutional Rights. Please join us demanding he get them.

Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Gates explaining that: "As an organization of psychologists and other mental health professionals" they are "deeply concerned about the conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning is being held at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia. It has been reported and verified by his attorney that PFC Manning has been held in solitary confinement since July of 2010. He reportedly is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day, a cell approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length, with a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet. For no discernible reason other than punishment, he is forbidden from exercising in his cell and is provided minimal access to exercise outside his cell. Further, despite having virtually nothing to do, he is forbidden to sleep during the day and often has his sleep at night disrupted."

"PsySR is aware that solitary confinement can have severely deleterious effects on the psychological well-being of those subjected to it. We therefore call for a revision in the conditions of PFC Manning’s incarceration while he awaits trial, based on the exhaustive documentation and research that have determined that solitary confinement is, at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law."

Act now! Please contact Manning's (and your) Senators:

Barbara Mikulski Phone: (202) 224-4654 Fax: (410) 962-4760

Benjamin Cardin Phone: 202-224-4524 Fax: 202-224-1651

If you live in the 8th Congressional District, contact Manning's (and your) Congressman:

Chris Van Hollen Phone: (202) 225-5341 Fax: (202) 225-0375.

Ask them to contact the Secretary of Defense to demand speedy adjudication of motions filed on his behalf including "a revision in the conditions of PFC Manning’s incarceration while he awaits trial." Again, this is not about what Manning may have done, it's about protecting the Constitutional Rights we all have and deserve.

Motions: Confinement Conditions Update

The defense has raised its objection to the documented confinement conditions of PFC Bradley Manning on multiple occasions with the Quantico confinement facility and the Staff Judge Advocate’s (SJA) Office. On 5 January 2011, the defense filed a formal complaint with the commander of the Quantico Brig. On the same day, PFC Manning also filed a formal complaint through the confinement grievance process. Both complaints requested that the confinement facility remove PFC Manning from Prevention of Injury (POI) watch and that his classification level be reduced from "Maximum" to "Medium Detention In."

The confinement facility did not respond to either complaint. Due to the lack of response from the confinement facility, the defense, pursuant to the provisions of Rule for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 305(g), filed a request earlier today with the Garrison Commander to direct the release of PFC Bradley Manning from pretrial confinement. This request is based upon the fact that the confinement conditions currently being endured by PFC Manning are more rigorous than necessary to guarantee his presence at trial, and that the concerns raised by the government at the time of pretrial confinement are no longer applicable. Further steps to address PFC Manning's confinement conditions will be taken, if necessary.

Conditions: Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning

  • Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.
  • His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.
  • The guards ... do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.
  • He is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand....
  • He cannot see other inmates from his cell. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.
  • PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day. He receives each of his meals in his cell.
  • The guards are required to check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay.
  • At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly ... they will wake him.
  • He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.
  • He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.
  • He does receive one hour of “exercise” outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk.
  • When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards.
  • If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned ... or destroyed.

For more information, please see: BradleyManning.org

Thank you for standing up for our basic Constitutional Rights,

Mike Hersh,
PDA Maryland State Coordinator

Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. Our goal in 2010: Expand progressive influence in Congress as we build on our 2008 electoral successes. PDA's advisory board includes seven members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Thom Hartmann, Jim Hightower, and Lila Garrett.

Join a PDA Issue Organizing Team; learn more here.

More info | Find Chapters | Find Local Events

Spread the Progressive Word--Shop PDAstore

Combined MeetUp/Meeting for MCPA, DFMC, PDA, and more.

Combined MeetUp/Meeting for MCPA, DFMC, PDA, and more.
Progressive Coalition Meeting to plan future events and actions.

Please join the Progressive Victory Meetup to stay involved with the combined meetup events we've held since 2003. See: http://www.meetup.com/progressive-victory/  

7 PM Tuesday February 1st
Saigonese Restaurant,
11232 Grandview Ave
Silver Spring (Wheaton), MD 20902
Public Transportation: Short walk from Wheaton Metro (red line)
Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=11232+Grandview+Ave+Silver+Spring+MD+20902

Report on progress in our county and state on Healthcare, the Environment, Education, Labor, Transportation, Energy and other issues. We're building up our coalition and lobby efforts on the state and national level, planning special events, forming a steering committee, and working on meetings with legislators, and other organizations.

Please join the Montgomery County Progressive Alliance Google Group: http://groups.google.com/group/mcprogressivealliance
If you're on Facebook, please join the MCPA group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3401340272&ref=ts

1. MCPA: The Montgomery County Progressive Alliance is a result-oriented coalition working on local, state, national and international issues. MCPA includes more than 1,000 local activists, mainly in and around Montgomery County Maryland. The organization began in 2003 when Democracy for America Meetup members reached out to other Meetup groups and other groups. In 2004, 100s of Montgomery County for Kerry members and local Progressive Democrats of America members joined the MCPA. MCPA adopted a mission statement, organized special events, and has held meetings nearly each month since 2003.

2. DFA/DFMC: Democracy for America emerged from Gov. Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004, and has organized grass-roots activists to support socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates. DFMC is Democracy for Montgomery County, a local DFA-inspired organization which is not directly or legally affiliated with DFA. DFMC has organized events and meetings; and endorsed and organized volunteers for several candidates. DFMC is currently seeking additional steering committee members. Please contact me, mikehersh@mikehersh.com if you're interested. You can sign up for DFA here: http://democracyforamerica.com/session/new

3. PDA: Progressive Democrats of America began just after the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Bringing together people from the 2004 Kucinich and Dean Campaigns with other progressives, PDA adopted an "inside/outside strategy" uniting activists working inside the Democratic Party with those working in peace and justice movements. PDA's core issues include clean, accurate and transparent elections; environmental protection; single-payer healthcare; economic and social justice; and peace. See: http://www.PDAmerica.org You can sign up for PDA there.

Other organizations working in our area:

PWG: The Progressive Working Group is a coalition promoting progress and reform, economic fairness and equality, protecting the environment, and more. PWG is not part of the MCPA, but the MCPA is part of the PWG which currently includes: Audubon Naturalist Society, CASA of Maryland, Democracy for Montgomery County, Equality Maryland, Health Care Now, Montgomery County Progressive Alliance, Montgomery Health Care Action, PeaceAction Montgomery, Peace and Justice of Prince George's County, Progressive Cheverly, Progressive Democrats of America (Maryland), Progressive Neighbors, Save Our Votes, and Upcounty Action. PWG will focus on 2 or 3 issues during the 2011 session. Progressive organizations are welcome to join PWG. Please contact Wally Malakoff malakoff@starpower.net for more information.

NOW: The National Organization for Women has been advancing womens' issues including general progressive causes for decades. See: http://www.now.org/ for more information. Contact Montgomery County NOW membership chairperson Jeannette Feldner lj.feldner@verizon.net to join. Men as well as women are welcome to join NOW.

OfA: Organizing for America emerged from President Obama's campaign in 2008, and is organizing grass-roots activists to support the Democratic National Committee/Obama agenda. OfA is sponsoring local efforts in each congressional district which are not directly or legally affiliated with the DNC. OfA is currently sponsoring phone banks, organizing meetings, and building a "rapid response" media effort. Please contact Jon Randall jrandall39@comcast.net for more information. See http://www.barackobama.com/learn/about_ofa.php

MoveOn is a national political action organization and has a local council in Silver Spring and elsewhere around Maryland. Local MoveOn members have cooperated with MCPA on town halls, vigils, phone banking, and other actions. See http://www.moveon.org to join your local council.

To have your organization or events listed here, please contact me.

Thanks for reading down this far, and hope to see you at the meeting and future events,

Mike Hersh, Meetup Organizer
Chairperson, MCPA and DFMC
Maryland State Coordinator, PDA
Steering Committee, PWG

January 16, 2011

huge discounts on the coolest stuff in the area

Check out Groupon's daily deal - huge discounts on the coolest stuff in the area: http://www.groupon.com/r/uu5869424

I don't usually send out "commercials," but these coupons really work. I bought 3 coupons for Lebanese Taverna, and was concerned there might be some negotiating or questions, but the cashier accepted the coupons without a hitch. I've also used a coupon for services and had no problems. This is really a great deal.