FORT MEADE, Md. — The former boss of a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., testified Monday that she was shocked when the base commander asked for advance notice of any orders she planned to give regarding the confinement of Private First Class Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with sending classified information to the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks.
The request was surprising because brig commanders have sole authority to determine the custody status of detainees, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes said.
She testified on the 10th day of a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, to determine whether the nine months Manning spent in tight confinement at Quantico amounted to illegal pretrial punishment, possibly warranting dismissal of his case.
Barnes testified that Colonel Daniel Choike, then garrison commander at Quantico, made the request after Barnes ordered in early March 2011 that Manning be stripped of his underwear each night as a suicide-prevention measure. Manning stood naked at attention the next morning, resulting in news coverage that embarrassed the military and heightened worldwide interest.
Barnes said Choike called her to say that Lieutenant General George Flynn, then the highest-ranking officer at Quantico, wanted her to run any orders involving Manning up the chain of command.
‘‘I was kind of shocked,’’ Barnes said. ‘‘The base commander does not control the brig’’ officer in charge. Barnes was the officer in charge.
Defense attorney David Coombs contends that Flynn controlled the conditions of Mannings detainment.
Barnes said she never received any orders regarding Manning’s confinement conditions. He continued to be stripped of his underwear at night until he was moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 2011.