The man responsible for some of the most inhumane punishment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning stands a good chance of becoming a Democratic Congressional candidate. On July 14, Democrats in Alabama’s First District will go back to the polls to choose from one of two candidates. In the March primary, James Averhart finished less than 2,000 votes behind leader Kiani Gardner, forcing a runoff. A 30-year military veteran, Averhart began as a Marine infantryman in 1987 before transferring to the Military Police and becoming a corrections officer. Between 2010 and 2011, he was in charge of the military brig at Quantico, VA, where Manning was held on 22 counts of leaking classified information to Wikileaks.
During her time at Quantico, Manning was held in solitary confinement, a practice roundly condemned by human rights groups, the United Nations, and almost universally described as a form of torture. In her testaments and complaints, Manning singled out Averhart as a particularly sadistic torturer, claiming that he entered her cell, yelled at her, and declared that he was her “God,” implying he had total control over her life. Averhart repeatedly rejected psychiatrists’ constant recommendations that Manning should not be held in solitary in an 8-by-6 foot (2.4-by 1.8-meter)