[Ppnews] [Guantanamo] In My Time - Tom Manning

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 26 15:07:36 EDT 2006

In My Time

By Tom Manning, US Political Prisoner

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 
KBR/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 Pointl/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 stairs.

Strapped to a gurney with my head overhanging the front, and then run 
through the prison; rammed into every door-frame or door and comers.

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, accordingly.

But then, I would rather die on my feet than linger on my knees.

The Struggle Continues!

Tom Manning #10373-016

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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