Chelsea Manning Threatened With Solitary Over Expired Toothpaste

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Chelsea Manning.Photo: U.S. Army/AP

Private Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, is facing a maximum charge of “indefinite solitary confinement,” for disrespect, disorderly conduct, and having inappropriate materials in her cell at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. What kind of contraband could possibly warrant a punishment recently condemned by Justice Anthony Kennedy? According to the military’s list of charges, which was posted by Manning’s supporters, last month various prohibited books and magazines were found in her possession, including the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, the Cosmopolitan featuring an interview with Manning, Transgender Studies Quarterly, I Am Malala, and the Senate Torture Report. Also, she had a tube of anti-cavity toothpaste that expired in April, which counts as “medicine misuse.”

Of course, that’s not the only reason Manning is facing solitary. The report alleges that Manning nearly hit a correctional officer with some food she was brushing off the table, and then asked for her lawyer in an annoying manner while being reprimanded:

On 2 July 2015, during dinner chow, inmate Manning was approached by [a correctional specialist] to inform inmate Manning to be aware of her surroundings because [the correctional specialist] was almost hit with some food inmate Manning swept off the table. [The correctional specialist] informed inmate Manning to stand by at “Commons 1” once chow was completed  so [the correctional specialist] could talk to inmate Manning and explain what she had done wrong while at “Commons 1.” [The correctional specialist] attempted to talk to inmate Manning, but she continued to cut [the correctional specialist] off by stating words to the effect of “you are accusing me,” “this interview is over,” and “I want my lawyer.” [The correctional specialist] ended the conversation and inmate Manning left to go get medication.

Manning’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, told the AP that her punishment will be decided during a closed hearing on August 18 before a three-person panel. Hollander noted it is “not uncommon in prisons to have charges that to the rest of us seem to be absurd,” but said she thinks the prison is going too far. “There is certainly no security risk, and that could impinge on her free speech rights and attempt to silence her,” she said. The military has yet to comment on the allegations.