Fort Leavenworth, KS – In an unusual action, The US Army opened parts of its newest prison to show reporters conditions under which the soldier accused in the WikiLeaks scandal is now being held. KCUR's Dan Verbeck was there, at Fort Leavenworth.
Private Bradley Manning has been fully being processed into the Joint Correctional Facility at the Fort. His first day as a regular inmate begins Friday, April 29th.
The complex is used to house pre trial inmates, such as Manning and others who've been convicted and are serving fewer than five years.
The Army wanted reporters to see the physical layout of the prison to which he was moved earlier this month from the U.S. Marine Corps Brig at Quantico, Virginia.
Colonel Thomas Collins, a Pentagon staffer, said the Army has never before opened a prison to journalists interested in one particular prisoner. He doubts it will ever happen again.
Reporters were shown cells, although not the type in which Manning is held. Photos of those were provided.
Manning's is an 8 by 10 foot room, by himself, medium security. This from jail commander, Lt.Colonel Dawn Hilton. Speaking on a wind swept lawn in front of the complex she was asked about Manning's suicide watch in his last jail--"all of my prisoners that come here, in the reception status receive in depth mental health evaluation and they do look at their historical mental health issues as well as their potential future ones."
Hilton won't talk about Manning's specifics. She said she wasn't allowed to. The jail commandant did say Manning's arrival was no more remarkable than that of other inmates.
It takes about a week to process an inmate into the system.
Private Manning awaits a military tribunal, similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding. The Pentagon's Colonel Collins says Manning is likely to be taken back to Washington for that hearing.
There is worldwide interest in WikiLeaks and Manning. Among reporters taking the three hour tour, one from the French news agency, "Agence France-Presse".