CNN: Military Investigating Why Brig Commander Put Bradley Manning on Suicide Watch [Update: Or Maybe Not]

CNN elaborates on something MSNBC reported last night. Not only did Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart improperly put Bradley Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, but the military is now investigating why he did so.

The U.S. military is investigating why the commander of the military jail put Pfc. Bradley Manning, suspected of leaking documents to WikiLeaks, on suicide watch for a few days last week, according to Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan.


An investigation has been launched into whether Brig Commander James Averhart had the authority to place Manning on suicide watch, which is usually ordered by the medical staff.

Now, as MSNBC explained last night, the suicide watch came because Manning allegedly disobeyed the order of two guards, so it’s not entirely clear what CNN means by “why.”

But this is a really welcome development. I hope the investigation is as transparent as the reports to MSNBC and CNN have been in the last day.

Update: Now CNN has retracted this story, with the following notice.

The CNN Wire has killed the story slugged US-WikiLeaks-Manning-1 that moved at 2:47 p.m. due to new information. The military spokesman identified in the story says there is no investigation into the decision to put Bradley Manning on suicide watch.

I’ve put a screen cap of the original story up top.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      A cynic might think the only reason that two burly, TRAINED, marine guards could not get a prisoner to comply with a simple order is because they were told not to.

      The idea that the commander might say something like “If it gets to the point where you have to get physical, back off and we’ll use it as an excuse to solitary him” does not shock me.

      Boxturtle (It should, but it doesn’t)

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    They will find he did it without any orders or authorization from above. They will find there is no policy authorizing Bradley to be treated more harshly than anybody else awaiting trial and in fact they will find that he is treated very well. And the suicide watch was needed, but patient privacy prevents them from saying why.

    Boxturtle (Look at all the money I just saved us taxpayers!)

    • hotdog says:

      I don’t know, they might just find that despite the obviously necessary POI, the very innovative and determined Bradley Manning was able to commit suicide at night even under the watchful and protective attention of his guards, and the bruises on his neck and face were produced from their concerned efforts to revive him./s


  2. mgloraine says:

    This “investigation” will be like the Israeli “investigation” into the murder of innocents aboard the Gaza aid flotilla: “it’s all perfectly legal and no one did anything wrong.”

    There is no reason to trust the military any more than the DoJ. They are all puppets of the National Security State Inc.

  3. Margaret says:

    “Investigation” in this case will surely mean “whitewash”. How long does it take to ask the guy, “WTF do you think you’re doing here?”

  4. lsls says:

    Harsh interrogation/torture is what it is, and they aren’t getting anywhere. It is good that this is getting media attention. Again, I ask, where is the Commanderi-in-Chief on this….oh yeah…

  5. Margaret says:

    I have to wonder why we haven’t heard from the Repugs on this. Seems to me like this is a gift wrapped opportunity for them to make points.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Problem is, the GOPers support the way Manning is being treated. Plenty of other things to slam ObamaLLP with.

      When the GOP takes power next time, they’ll point back to things Obama did as an excuse to allow mistreatment of people under arrest. What’s the difference between torturing someone for a bomb location and torturing someone for the location of the drive by?

      Boxturtle (Answer: No difference. Both perps are scary and non-white)

      • Margaret says:

        Problem is, the GOPers support the way Manning is being treated.

        I’m hip but when have they ever been either consistent or intellectually honest?

        • spanishinquisition says:

          They’ve been consistent and intellectually honest in regards to Gitmo-type stuff – they’ve been pointing to how Obama is doing things as proof that what Bush did was right and agreeing with Obama’s actions, rather than changing their position and saying it is now wrong. This actually one of the few – probably only – areas where Greenwald and the Republicans have said the same thing in regards to Obama owing Bush an apology if Obama believes what he’s doing now that he’s President versus what he said as Candidate.

  6. pdaly says:

    reply to 1:

    Was the guards’ order “breathe!” and Manning either couldn’t hear them or respond right away?

  7. tjbs says:

    Since our government can’t find THREE missing thoraxes from the camp no suicides, will the same clown do (in) this investigation.

  8. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel:

    The fact that corporate media are travelin’ with this story indicates to me that the crack in our ruling structure is gettin’ wider. It seems to me that the military have been turnin’ the screws on Private Manning at the behest of the civilian security apparatchiks and the politicals and if I’m right then this exposure of Manning’s treatment by the media is another example of what I see as a growing split in the ruling oligarchy between the old oil and industrial faction and the bankin’ boys. The military has functioned at the calling of both except for a couple of times since 1946 and one of those times, 1974-75, resulted in the collapse of a Presidency and the ending of a war that threatened to bankrupt the country. I don’t know how this is all gunna wash out but this is the pivot point of our politics…and where the military comes down will determine whether or not we continue the endless wars in the Middle East and have a General “Ike” Petreaus as President.


  9. onitgoes says:

    Glad to hear that there is *some* corporate-owned rightwing media coverage of this travesty. Not that I expect much, if anything, to change. But citizens better wake up to the fact that something like this could happen to them. Complacency is a real enemy to freedom, imo.

  10. bittersweet says:

    Nothing to see here… CNN has retracted the story. Military spokesman says there is no investigation.
    Follow the link in the story.

    • phred says:

      Well, that sure is interesting. Did Lapan just make up that “investigation” or did it get quashed before it could go anywhere? One would hope that CNN would be a bit more forthcoming in its retraction. Did they misquote/misunderstand Lapan or did Lapan call them back with a different story. I’m as curious about the circumstances around the retraction as the initial report of the investigation.

      Who screwed up or who put a stop to the investigation, and why?

  11. manys says:

    My question is that if they are not investigating it, why aren’t they? Is it OK for Brig Commanders to exceed their authority?

  12. 1der says:

    Because Chief Warrant Officer Averhart (who as a former Marine NCO I have no doubt didn’t go all rougue on the base commander) is a homophobe DADT Marine. And he can.

    Who you want on that wall, Jack Nicholson….or Erik the Red?

  13. KrisAinCA says:

    Update: Now CNN has retracted this story, with the following notice.

    The CNN Wire has killed the story slugged US-WikiLeaks-Manning-1 that moved at 2:47 p.m. due to new information. The military spokesman identified in the story says there is no investigation into the decision to put Bradley Manning on suicide watch.


    • tejanarusa says:

      Then, that should be the CNN story – WHY isn’t there an investigation? Why isn’t something being done to assure that Avehart doesn’t exceed his authority again?

      There sure as hell is a story t here.

      • spanishinquisition says:

        Probably because he didn’t exceed his authority, just it’s highly classified who authorized it.

  14. hotdog says:

    The Article 138 complaint will now be forwarded from Colonel Choike to the officer exercising general court-martial jurisdiction over CWO4 Averhart. This officer is required to inquire into the complaint and take proper measures for redressing the wrong complained of by PFC Manning. Afterwards, the matter must be sent to the Secretary of the Navy for review.

    From Coombs’ webpage.
    What’s the difference between an investigation and an “inquiry”? And how long before his page gets shut down?

  15. charliegirl993 says:

    I just watched the video which shows the shooting of the Reuters personnel and the van which stopped to help. It was heartbreaking! The troops involved had no compassion, no respect, no remorse. To laugh at running over a dead human being is unacceptable. To make coarse comments about children being injured is inhumane. Even had this been a valid war engagement, the taking of a life is not something to hoot ‘n holler about. The eagerness of these young men to kill is appalling. I, with my untrained eyes, only saw one obvious possible weapon and never once was it held or aimed in a threatening way. To say these boys were over zealous with their duties would be a gross understatement. They gave misleading information to their commanders, they saw what they wanted to see, and they enjoyed the unprovoked slaughter. If Bradley Manning was the one to “leak” the video, then he should be given a medal! The truth needs to be told and our government, not just the soldiers involved, needs to be held accountable for the entire situation: From the training these soldiers were given, to the incident itself, and to the bald lies trying to cover it up.

  16. Jim says:

    What is ‘Critical Mass?’ How much corruption/ how many lies does it take to reach Critical Mass? What is money, and what is power? What is real power? We have the majority, they don’t. Bullets aren’t power. Ghandi did it without bullets. Enough, yes? We’re not idiots.

  17. Humanist says:

    Reportedly, the QMCB Brig Commander was acting within his authority when he placed Army PFC Bradley Manning on suicide risk status and watch for two days last week.

    Washington (CNN) — A Quantico official says a U.S. Marine commander did not violate procedure when he placed Private Bradley Manning on “suicide watch” last week.

    “The brig commander has the ultimate responsibility to determine what status a detainee is given. He based the decision on information from psychological professionals, the medical staff and the Marine guards who are interacting with him around the clock. The commander was absolutely within his right. Not just his right, his responsibility,” said Lieutenant Brian Villiard.

  18. Bobster33 says:

    I know that with the Navy, brig commanders are often not trained military police but commanders looking for another assignment. I suspect that the commander is not a trained military policeman, but just a commander. As just a commander, he would probably defer a lot to others who had “experience” or “knowledge” of such situations. Basically, the CO/XO is taking order from above.

  19. danw5 says:

    How do they explain the detaining of House and Hamsher which was essentially an arrest as they were not free to leave? They are civilians.

    • Gitsum says:

      The reports in the MSM say that House and Hamsher showed up in a vehicle with expired registration and insurance. Marines do have the authority to enforce the law on a Marine Corps base, whether the violator is a Marine or civilian.