The solitary confinement of Bradley Manning

I am deeply disturbed by the treatment meted out to Private Bradley Manning, as he awaits trial. If you haven’t heard about this, here’s some background:

Start with Glenn Greenwald’s article in Salon.com on 3rd March, related to the “additional charges against Bradley Manning, the Private accused of being the source for hundreds of
thousands of documents (as well as this still-striking video) published over the last year by
WikiLeaks” Read the article at http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/03/03/manning/index.html . Also check out the video of Greenwald on Democracy Now: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/3/bradley_manning_hit_with_new_charges .

Transparency is supposed to bring about better governance. But this does not
seem to hold now. To quote Greenwald, ” the documents Manning is alleged to
have leaked have revealed a wide range of corruption, deceit and illegality by government officials around the world. They have forced Americans to confront the realities of the wars they endlessly wage and support.
And it is virtually impossible to read news articles about any significant event in the Middle East without encountering references to important information revealed by WikiLeaks documents. In sum, if one believes the allegations and the chat logs,
Manning’s actions have already led to many of the “reforms” and increased
awareness he hoped to achieve. Thus do we have the strange spectacle of
Americans cheering on the democratic uprisings in the Middle East and
empathizing with the protesters, all [the] while … disdaining those (Manning)
who may have played a role in sparking the protests”.

So here is someone — Bradley Manning — whom should probably be treated like
Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers — as a hero.

But instead Manning has been held in solitary confinement for
several months
. Greenwald, in a Dec. 2010 article in Salon.com (see http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning )
says: “Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any
episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from
the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive
level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of
inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive
solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight
months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his
cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising
and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons
that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic
attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his
bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day
when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or
current events programs… And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped
treatment of this sort, the brig’s medical personnel now administer regular
doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the
effects of this isolation. …

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning
has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly
injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture. In his
widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article — entitled “Is
Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?” — the surgeon and journalist Atul
Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as
he put it, “all human beings experience isolation as torture.”
By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and
drives them into insanity. ”

Another quote with Greenwald’s article today:

“As a reminder: Manning — convicted of nothing — continues to be held in 23-hour/day, highly repressive solitary confinement; despite protests from Amnesty International, a formal investigation by the U.N.’s top torture official, and the replacement of the brig commander, Manning has been held that way for ten straight months, with no change in sight.”

Torture of any sort should not be tolerated by any civilized people. This
seems so un-American.

We cannot let go of our essential humanity. If we do, we become the them that
we despise, deplore and decry.

It is fair to try Manning, but it is only fair to treat him reasonably while he
awaits trial.

#Manning #WikiLeaks #torture #Greenwald #Gawande

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About Chandra

Interested in people, language, ideas, technology and their interactions.
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