[News] IN MY TIME By Tom Manning, Political Prisoner

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 22 11:40:10 EDT 2004


By Tom Manning, Political Prisoner, USA, May 10, 2004
      I became aware through newspaper photographs that the prison cells 
built by KBR/Halliburton at Guantanamo Bay [Gitmo] do not have 
plumbing.  That surprised me, considering the price that KBY/Halliburton 
charged the U.S. tax payers for those cells.
      In the early sixties I was a Seabee in the U.S. Navy, stationed at 
Quonset Point/Davisville, Rhode Island, with Mobile Construction Battalion 
One [MCB #1]
      We were deployed for sea duty, to Gitmo, to build emergency housing 
for ten thousand Cuban refugees that America anticipated would flee Cuba 
for the confines of Gitmo, in 1958, when Fidel liberated this Island 
nation.  It took nine months to complete, and was named "Tin City."
      We dredged hundreds of tons of living coral from the ocean in 
proximity to the base, and deposited it in a lagoon that was enlarged to 
accommodate the project.  The coral was crushed and leveled to form a floor 
surrounded by cliff-like excavated walls on three sides, with one side 
remaining open toward the sea.
      Then the housing was built, of Quonset huts, which are corrugated tin 
barrel-like dwellings in groups, or pods, of nine huts; eight sleeping huts 
with no plumbing surrounding a ninth hut that was supplied with fresh water 
and sewage.  I worked on the plumbing, from digging the supply and waste 
ditches, then leveling them, to laying in the supply and waste pipes and 
septic tanks and leach fields.  I was on the crews that installed twelve 
toilets, twelve wash basins and twelve head shower rooms, in each central 
(9th) hut.
      During our time in Cuba, we had to adapt to the blistering heat by 
working tropical hours; working from 5 in the morning, until 2 in the 
afternoon, with a half hour lunch and two 15 minute breaks.  We further, 
voluntarily opted to forgo the lunch and 2 breaks so that we could get off 
the job site by 1 PM, due to the mid-day heat.
      Given this personal knowledge of the area, and recognizing the 
surrounding terrain in the current news photos as the old Seabee/Kittery 
Beach area, my initial thought was that it would be terrible to be confined 
in a metal cage there, without adequate water.
      Add to that, being at the mercy of young, poorly trained military 
personnel, for what water you do get, and what toilet access you get.
      I have been held in cells during my time in U.S. prisons [24 years, 6 
months, at this writing] without water or toilet a number of times.  I have 
been subjected to the whims of whatever guards happened to be working the 
block on any given shift.  I know that having a guard that consistently 
acts in a proper manner is the exception, not the rule.
      While thinking about how to write about these thoughts and 
observations, concerning water, the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in 
Iraq, have come out.  And the information and pictures continue to come.
      Automatically my mind goes into replay mode.
      During my time in U.S. prisons my right knee has been permanently 
damaged by being stomped on during a cell beating by five guards [Walpole 
State Prison, Ten Block DSU, 1969]  The leg was up on a bunk while I was on 
my back on the floor with several guards "monkey piling" me, another guard 
stomped the knee, hyper-extending it, causing me to pass out from the 
pain.  After that, I only had 15% flex of the knee, until I had it 
surgically corrected, when I got out of prison in 1971.
      Shortly after being captured in 1985, I was body slammed onto a 
concrete floor while cuffed to a waist-chain, with black-boxed handcuffs 
and leg irons.  That resulted in a fractured hip that wasn't repaired until 
1999 with a total artificial left hip replacement  The Motrin I took for 
pain in the intervening years, gave me ulcers and damaged my kidneys, which 
now function at less than 50% efficiency.  I've often had to take iron 
pills to overcome anemia, caused by internal bleeding, and am currently on 
calcium pills to make up for the calcium my kidneys are spilling.
      My shoulders have both been severely damaged during beatings, while I 
was cuffed behind my back, during forced blood takings.  This resulted in 
surgery on both shoulders.  These joint surgeries on the knee, hip and 
shoulders, is evidenced by twenty one collective inches of surgical scars, 
not counting three orthoscopic surgeries.
      I have been stun-gunned twelve times in one night, resulting in 
temporary paralysis of my left side, like a stroke.  And then, on two other 
occasions I was also stun-gunned, once each time.
      I have been photographed naked numerous times in Federal prison, and 
also by NJ State police and the FBI; gratuitously strip searched 
uncountable times.
      Dragged and slung around by leg irons, into walls and up and down 
      Strapped to a gurney with my head overhanging the front, and then run 
through the prison; rammed into every door-frame or door and corners.
      Tear gassed in my cell at least six times.
      Forced to exit my cell naked, with my fingers laced on top of my head 
and told by a squad of six ninja-turtle suited guards that if I lowered my 
arms it would be considered an act of aggression and treated accordingly, 
while a German Shepherd dog was barking so close to my genitals that I 
could feel his breath and spittle striking me.  Then forced to run down six 
flights of stairs, like that, with a dog and handler at every landing, 
shepherding us along.
      The group that I was in, was then herded into a large visiting room 
where all 24 of us stayed, naked, from 2 AM, until 8 AM, while our cells 
were wrecked; our personal property destroyed.
      I've lost count of the number of times I've been left in cells for 
hours while black-box handcuffed and leg ironed; spending as much as 17 and 
20 hours in such restraints during transport and waiting delays, with no 
water and no toilet access.  I have numb areas on my hands, wrists and 
ankles, from this treatment, and from being kept in control unit prisons 
for years, locked down for 23 hours or more a day; never less than this (6 
years in NJ; 3 years at Marion; 3 years at ADX, Florence; and 2 years in 
Walpole, MA in the 1960's) for a total of 14 years of lock down.
      So pardon my being unpleasantly bemused at the "shocked and amazed" 
reaction of the U.S. public to this most recent "scandal."  I'll be 
interested to see how long "the public's" attention can be focused on this 
one.  And I invite every prisoner, and ex-prisoner, who reads this to sit 
down and write out and send out her/his own experiences of imprisonment and 
abuse.  OR, tell of the most memorable abuse you witnessed.
      Example: when I was newly arrived at Trenton NJ's control unit, I 
heard laughter and whimpering.  I looked out of my cell to see a very fat, 
young white prisoner stretched out on the floor, his arms extended beyond 
his head, hands cuffed and legs shackled.  His shirt was pulled up, off his 
body, over his head and onto his arms, his pants were down around his 
ankles, leaving him naked from calves to forearms.  Guards were standing on 
his restraints on both ends, and a baton was protruding from his 
rectum.  Nobody else in the control unit cells was responding. I went nuts, 
screaming and kicking my cell door.  I believe that over my years in MCU, I 
helped break through the apathy of the prisoners, and have heightened the 
resistance to such treatment. Of course, the treatment was worsened, 
      But then, I would rather die on my feet than linger on my knees.
The Struggle Continues!
Tom Manning, Leavenworth Penitentiary, Kansas, USA

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