Despite eastern Virginia's steamy summers, the temperature can drop close to or below freezing at night in late fall, winter and spring. Concrete is not a good insulator against the chill in the ground, or in the air. And in a concrete cell in the brig at the Marine base in Quantico, VA, US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is being forced to go without clothing for hours at a time, including sleeping at night and for inspections.
...[B]rig officials now confirm to The New York Times that Manning will be forced to be nude every night from now on for the indefinite future -- not only when he sleeps, but also when he stands outside his cell for morning inspection along with the other brig detainees. They claim that it is being done "as a 'precautionary measure' to prevent him from injuring himself."
Has anyone before successfully committed suicide using a pair of briefs -- especially when under constant video and in-person monitoring? There's no underwear that can be issued that is useless for killing oneself? And if this is truly such a threat, why isn't he on "suicide watch" (the NYT article confirms he's not)? And why is this restriction confined to the night; can't he also off himself using his briefs during the day?
...Is there anyone who doubts that these measures -- and especially this prolonged forced nudity -- are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will? As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees -- let alone citizens convicted of nothing -- are entitled.
The treatment of Manning is now so repulsive that it even lies beyond what at least some of the most devoted Obama admirers are willing to defend. For instance, UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman -- who last year hailed Barack Obama as, and I quote, "the greatest moral leader of our lifetime" -- wrote last night:
The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning’s health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane. . . . This is a total disgrace. It shouldn't be happening in this country. You can't be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent.
The entire Manning controversy has received substantial media attention. It's being carried out by the military of which Barack Obama is the Commander-in-Chief. Yes, the Greatest Moral Leader of Our Lifetime and Nobel Peace Prize winner is well aware of what's being done and obviously has been for quite some time. It is his administration which is obsessed with destroying and deterring any remnants of whistle-blowing and breaches of the secrecy regime behind which the National Security and Surveillance States function. This is all perfectly consistent with his actions in office, as painful as that might be for some to accept (The American Prospect, which has fairly consistently criticized Obama's civil liberties abuses, yesterday called the treatment of Manning "torture" and denounced it as a "disgrace"). As former Army officer James Joyner (and emphatic critic of WikiLeaks and Manning) writes:
Obama promised to close Gitmo because he was embarrassed that we were doing this kind of thing to accused terrorists. But he's allowing it to happen to an American soldier under his command?
Manning has been held since last May, first in Iraq and then in Quantico, where he arrived at the end of July and was put into solitary confinement. Just before his transfer to Quantico the Army charged him with two counts of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice: violating Article 92 by loading certain military information onto his own unsecure computer and adding unauthorized software to a military network computer, and violating Article 134 by accessing and passing information onto someone not entitled to have it. These are relatively minor, as UCMJ violations go. And despite considerable investigative work, investigators have found no evidence to directly connect Manning to Julian Assange, who runs Wikileaks.
Last week Manning was charged with 22 other counts of violations of the UCMJ, including “aiding the enemy”; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it was accessible to the enemy; multiple counts of theft of public records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud. The penalties for these could be life in prison -- or the death penalty, depending on how prosecutors want to proceed concerning "aiding the enemy". It has yet to be determined who, exactly, is considered to be the enemy, whether it be Assange, or Wikileaks or a player yet to be named; the military source speaking to the NY Times said "the enemy" referred to "any hostile forces that could benefit from learning about classified military tactics and procedures."
Firedoglake questions this:
Eight months after Bradley Manning was originally charged, the government suddenly claims that he “knowingly gave intelligence information” to “the enemy alleged to have received the intelligence information.”
The government is alleging Manning “knowingly gave intelligence information” and that WikiLeaks “received” it. Does that make ”WikiLeaks” the “enemy” in question?...
So let me get this straight. The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, says that the “leaked cables created no substantive damage — only embarrassment.” So they’re going to charge Manning with “aiding the enemy” because they claim he knew WikiLeaks would publish them on the internet, the “enemy” can see the internet, and the cables “bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
They want to lock a 23 year-old up for the rest of his life, using a charge designed for terrorists and spies, because he embarrassed them in front of the bad guys?
Manning's attorney, David Coombs, who is a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Army, has found irregularities in the way the charges are framed:
"Over the past few weeks, the defense has been preparing for the possiblity of additional charges in this case," Manning's civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, said in a blog post Wednesday. "The decision to prefer charges is an individual one by PFC Manning's commander....Ultimately, the Article 32 Investigating Officer will determine which, if any, of these additional charges and specifications should be referred to a court-martial."
Coombs also appeared to question the new aid to the enemy charge. He posted details from a military judge's manual that says such a charge should include "the name or description of the enemy alleged to have received the intelligence information." Those details don't appear in the new charge sheet released Wednesday....
AIDING THE ENEMY—GIVING INTELLIGENCE TO THE ENEMY (ARTICLE 104)
(1) That (state the time and place alleged), the accused, without proper authority, knowingly gave intelligence information to (a) certain person(s), namely: (state the name or description of the enemy alleged to have received the intelligence information);
(2) That the accused did so by (state the manner alleged);
(3) That (state the name or description of the enemy alleged to have received the intelligence information) was an enemy; and
(4) That this intelligence information was true, at least in part.
d. DEFINITIONS AND OTHER INSTRUCTIONS:
“Intelligence” means any helpful information, given to and received by the enemy, which is true, at least in part.
“Enemy” includes (not only) organized opposing forces in time of war, (but also any other hostile body that our forces may be opposing) (such as a rebellious mob or a band of renegades) (and includes civilians as well as members of military organizations). (“Enemy” is not restricted to the enemy government or its armed forces. All the citizens of one belligerent are enemies of the government and the citizens of the other.)
The official charge sheet for this latest list of charges is here. Nowhere in it is a specific enemy named or described. It is possible that any or all of the charges may be dropped if the investigating officer determines they should not come to trial. Considering the way things have been going for Manning, possible does not mean likely.
Manning has not faced a court martial yet. He is still being held pre-trial. He is still supposed to be entitled to the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
From the NY Times article mentioned above:
“This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification,” Mr. Coombs wrote. “It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. Pfc. Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight. No other detainee at the brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.”
First Lt. Brian Villiard, a Marine spokesman, said a brig duty supervisor had ordered Private Manning’s clothing taken from him. He said that the step was “not punitive” and that it was in accordance with brig rules, but he said that he was not allowed to say more.
“It would be inappropriate for me to explain it,” Lieutenant Villiard said. “I can confirm that it did happen, but I can’t explain it to you without violating the detainee’s privacy.”
Private Manning is being held as a maximum security detainee under a special set of restrictions intended to prevent self-injury, even though supporters say there is no evidence that he is suicidal.
During an appearance on MSNBC earlier on Thursday, Geoffrey Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, attributed the general conditions of Private Manning’s confinement to “the seriousness of the charges he’s facing, the potential length of sentence, the national security implications” and to protect him from potential harm.
Also, earlier on Thursday, one of Private Manning’s friends, David House, said in a conference call with reporters that he had visited the soldier the previous weekend and that his mental condition was severely deteriorating as a result of being confined to his cell 23 hours a day, with one hour to exercise in an empty room, and largely isolated from human contact.
But Mr. House said that Private Manning did not seem suicidal and contended that he was being pressured to cooperate.
This is what the UCMJ says about the confinement of prisoners before trial:
ART. 10. RESTRAINT OF PERSONS CHARGED WITH OFFENSES
Any person subject to this chapter charged with an offense under this chapter shall be ordered into arrest or confinement, as circumstances may require; but when charged only with an offense normally tried by a summary court-martial, he shall not ordinarily be placed in confinement. When any person subject to this chapter is placed in arrest or confinement prior to trial, immediate steps shall be taken to inform him of the specific wrong of which he is accused and to try him or to dismiss the charges and release him.
ART. 13 PUNISHMENT PROHIBITED BEFORE TRIAL
No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.
What possible infraction of discipline could Manning have committed? He's not allowed to wear his glasses. Did he squint wrongly, in a way that someone interpreted as disrespectful? He's not allowed to exercise except for one hour a day outside his cell; he can't do tai chi or yoga on the floor. Did he stretch his stiff muscles when getting up from that enforced inactivity in a manner unbecoming a prisoner? Did he ask for toilet paper -- or is he not allowed that, either, in case he might make a noose of it?
In the military, what you wear tells those around you who you are and how to treat you. Uniform and insignia indicate who salutes first, who gives orders, who carries out orders. By depriving Manning of clothing during inspection, the military is indicating to all those around Manning that he is considered an unperson, someone not worth proper treatment. Someone who doesn't matter, who has no insignia and no clothing to which they could be attached, and thereby no status.
This is inconsistent with the way the military is supposed to treat people who are being held before trial, according to the UCMJ. It is, however, consistent with the policies of George W. Bush.:
...In 2004, the CIA told President George W. Bush’s lawyers how useful forced nudity was for instilling “learned helplessness” in prisoners, though the repeated emphasis on nudity took on a lewd and sadistic quality, as Robert Parry reported in this article from the archives:
The CIA shared with George W. Bush’s Justice Department the details of how an interrogation strategy – with an emphasis on forced nudity and physical abuse – could train prisoners in “learned helplessness” and demonstrate “the complete control of Americans.”
The 19-page document, entitled “Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques” and dated Dec. 30, 2004, contains repeated references to keeping suspected al-Qaeda captives – called “high-value detainees” or HVDs – naked as part of the strategy for breaking down their resistance.
The first of several “specific conditioning interrogation techniques” lists “Nudity. The HVD’s clothes are taken and he remains nude until the interrogators provide clothes to him.”[Underline in original.]
The CIA said the prisoner is kept nude (or occasionally dressed in a diaper) while being subjected to other “conditioning techniques,” sleep deprivation and a bland diet of Ensure. Nudity continues while interrogators apply other more aggressive techniques designed to emphasize a prisoner’s helplessness....
Forced nudity was also part of the humiliation and mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo.
On January 19, Manning filed an Article 138 complaint, reviewing the history of his confinement at Quantico, the repeated requests by military psychiatrists that he be removed from suicide watch and that he be held in medium security instead of maximum, all of which had been ignored by CWO4 James Averhart, the brig commander. None of what he requested has happened. Since his complaint had to be routed through Averhart in order to reach the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort McNair, it's possible that the complaint never actually made its way to its intended recipient.
... The government has yet to respond to the Article 138 complaint or give a justification for the ongoing nature of PFC Manning's conditions of confinement. Under Navy regulations, the command has 90 days to issue its response to the complaint. Once the government responds, the defense is given 7 days to file a rebuttal, if necessary, before the matter is ultimately forwarded to the Secretary of the Navy for final action.
Navy, because Manning is being held by Marines, who are associated with the Navy instead of the Army. I can't help thinking that Manning was given to the Marines because of concerns that he would receive too much sympathy for his whistleblowing from soldiers if he were to be confined in an Army brig. Putting him with the Marines isolates him from all lines of contact with the Army people he knows.
Here are some of the details of Manning's life at Quantico, as he described in his written complaint:
...On 18 January 2010, over the recommendation of Capt. Hooter and the defense forensic psychiatrist, Capt. Brian Moore, CWO4 Averhart placed me under suicide risk. The suicide risk assignment means that I sit in my cell for 24 hours a day. I am stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses are taken away from me. I am forced to sit in essential blindness with the exception of the times that I am reading or given limited television privileges. During those times, my glasses are returned to me. Additionally, there is a guard sitting outside of my cell watching me at all times.
5. Life was not much better for me under the previous confinement assignment of POI watch. Like suicide risk, I was held in solitary confinement. For 23 hours per day, I sat in my cell. The guards checked on me every five minutes by asking me if I was okay. I was required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards could not see me clearly, because I had a blanket over my head or I was curled up toward the wall, they would wake me in order to ensure that I was okay. I received each of my meals in my cell. I was not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. I was not allowed to have any personal items in my cell. I was only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read. The book or magazine was taken away from me at the end of the day before I went to sleep. I was prevented from exercising in me cell. If I attempted to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise I was forced to stop. I received one hour of exercise outside of my cell daily. The guards would take me to an empty room and allow me to walk. I usually walked in figure eights around the room. When I went to sleep, I was required to strip down to my underwear and surrender my clothing to the guards. My clothing was then returned to me the next morning...
And now he's not even getting the clothes back all the time. I doubt that the air temperature within the Quantico brig is balmy and comfortable. It's been a cold, wet winter in the East, not that he's been allowed to see any of it. How long has it been since he's seen the sky, even through a window?
Since Manning filed his complaint, CWO4 James Averhart was relieved as brig commander by CWO2 Denise Barnes, but no change occurred in Manning's treatment.
On March 2, Manning's Article 138 complaint was denied:
The defense communicated with both PFC Manning and the Brig forensic psychiatrist and learned more about the decision to strip PFC Manning of his clothing every night. On Wednesday March 2, 2011, PFC Manning was told that his Article 138 complaint requesting that he be removed from Maximum custody and Prevention of Injury (POI) Watch had been denied by the Quantico commander, Colonel Daniel J. Choike. Understandably frustrated by this decision after enduring over seven months of unduly harsh confinement conditions, PFC Manning inquired of the Brig operations officer what he needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum custody and POI. As even Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has stated, PFC Manning has been nothing short of “exemplary” as a detainee. Additionally, Brig forensic psychiatrists have consistently maintained that there is no mental health justification for the POI Watch imposed on PFC Manning. In response to PFC Manning’s question, he was told that there was nothing he could do to downgrade his detainee status and that the Brig simply considered him a risk of self-harm. PFC Manning then remarked that the POI restrictions were “absurd” and sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.
Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used PFC’s Manning’s sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that PFC Manning was a suicide risk. PFC Manning was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk Watch. This is because Suicide Risk Watch would have required a Brig mental health provider’s recommendation, which the Brig commander did not have. In response to this specific incident, the Brig psychiatrist assessed PFC Manning as “low risk and requiring only routine outpatient followup [with] no need for … closer clinical observation.” In particular, he indicated that PFC Manning’s statement about the waist band of his underwear was in no way prompted by “a psychiatric condition.”
While the commander needed the Brig psychiatrist’s recommendation to place PFC Manning on Suicide Risk Watch, no such recommendation was needed in order to increase his restrictions under POI Watch. The conditions of POI Watch require only psychiatric input, but ultimately remain the decision of the commander.
Given these circumstances, the decision to strip PFC Manning of his clothing every night for an indefinite period of time is clearly punitive in nature. There is no mental health justification for the decision. There is no basis in logic for this decision. PFC Manning is under 24 hour surveillance, with guards never being more than a few feet away from his cell. PFC Manning is permitted to have his underwear and clothing during the day, with no apparent concern that he will harm himself during this time period. Moreover, if Brig officials were genuinely concerned about PFC Manning using either his underwear or flip-flops to harm himself (despite the recommendation of the Brig’s psychiatrist) they could undoubtedly provide him with clothing that would not, in their view, present a risk of self-harm. Indeed, Brig officials have provided him other items such as tear-resistant blankets and a mattress with a built-in pillow due to their purported concerns....
Ah. One frustrated, sarcastic, ordinary human comment about his underwear, and now he's not allowed to wear it. I'd expect this level of playground pettyness and vindictiveness from kids in elementary school, not from officers in the Marine Corps; it does not reflect well upon the Corps.
In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. 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. A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that "solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture."
For that reason, many Western nations -- and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses -- refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence. "It’s an awful thing, solitary," John McCain wrote of his experience in isolated confinement in Vietnam. “It crushes your spirit." As Gawande documented: "A U.S. military study of almost a hundred and fifty naval aviators returned from imprisonment in Vietnam . . . reported that they found social isolation to be as torturous and agonizing as any physical abuse they suffered." Gawande explained that America’s application of this form of torture to its own citizens is what spawned the torture regime which President Obama vowed to end:
This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture. . . .
This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. . . . Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world. In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement . . . .
It's one thing to impose such punitive, barbaric measures on convicts who have proven to be violent when around other prisoners; at the Supermax in Florence, inmates convicted of the most heinous crimes and who pose a threat to prison order and the safety of others are subjected to worse treatment than what Manning experiences. But it's another thing entirely to impose such conditions on individuals, like Manning, who have been convicted of nothing and have never demonstrated an iota of physical threat or disorder....
Manning is getting far worse treatment than Timothy McVeigh, Jared Loughner, or your run-of-the-mill serial killer...So why is that? Here’s my guess: McVeigh, Loughner, and Ames merely killed people, or caused people to be killed. Their transgressions were despicable, but they didn’t splash any embarrassment back on the government itself (although you could argue that Ames embarrassed the government to some degree, at least in that it took so long for him to be discovered). Manning, on the other hand, embarrassed the government. In the community of people who believe government to be the noblest, most honorable, most vaunted possible calling, that’s a far worse offense. It’s probably the worst offense.
Manning embarrassed the Pentagon by revealing how easily a relatively low-ranking soldier could steal and pass off reams and reams of classified information. He embarrassed the State Department because the documents he leaked showed just how petty, vindictive, and underhanded U.S. diplomacy can be—for example, they showed that our Secretary of State ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on and collect DNA samples from leaders of other countries, including our allies. Manning also showed just how manipulative, back-stabbing, and ugly diplomacy can be in general. He exposed the personal peccadilloes and private lives of foreign leaders, and revealed that our own diplomats frequently gossiped about all of that. In short, Manning pierced the veil of high-minded sanctity in which high-ranking diplomats and heads of state tend to cloak themselves....
David Price, a retired Naval officer formerly on the Judge Advocate General's staff, wrote in Huffingtonpost:
...It is true that military service is unique. The reality, however, is that military personnel do retain the essential rights and privileges of any citizen or lawful resident of the United States, although those rights are exercised within the context of the special demands inherent in military service, where the rights of an individual will often be of secondary concern to the needs of good order and discipline in the protection of our national defense.
Throughout history are instances where individuals have abused their authority. No law or regulation will ever prevent misconduct from occurring. What laws can do, however, is provide a mechanism for holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions, whether it be PFC Manning as concerns the allegations against him; or Brig Commander James Averhart and the accusations being made against him. What is essential is responsible leadership, at all levels in the military chain of command, up to the President, as Commander-in-Chief, if necessary; and through oversight responsibilities of the Congress to ensure that military personnel suspected of offenses are not being abused and that their rights are being protected. .... A proper investigation should be conducted to inquire into these allegations. IF the allegations concerning mistreatment at the Brig are proved to be correct -- then it is incumbent upon those in command to hold accountable those who have abused their positions of authority. That will be the best demonstration of the existence and protection of the rights of a service member. The abuse of authority by a Commander over a subordinate, however, does not necessarily mean that a military member has no rights or that there is "no due process" within the military.
Some people will undoubtedly shrug off Manning's treatment with the sentiment what can you expect of a post-9/11 government, but those who do so are ignoring larger issues. Manning's treatment sets a precedent for the treatment of every other person serving in the military -- for how they are to be treated by their own country and how they may be treated as prisoners of war, as this Harper's article notes:
Manning’s special regime raises concerns that abusive techniques adopted by the Bush Administration for use on alleged terrorists are being applied to a U.S. citizen and soldier. Classified Defense Department documents furnish an alternative explanation for the use of enforced nudity: “In addition to degradation of the detainee, stripping can be used to demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor or to debilitate the detainee.” Other documents detail how enforced nudity and the isolation techniques being applied to Manning can be used to prepare the prisoner to be more submissive to interrogators in connection with questioning.
Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson, speaking to the New York City Bar Association last week, acknowledged the concerns raised about Manning’s detention and stated that he had personally traveled to Quantico to conduct an investigation. However, Johnson was remarkably unforthcoming about what he discovered and what conclusions he drew from his visit. Hopefully Johnson is giving careful thought to the gravity of the deviation from accepted U.S. practices that the Manning case presents. Under established rules of international humanitarian law, the detention practices that a state adopts for its own soldiers are acceptable standards for use by a foreign power detaining that state’s soldiers in wartime. So by creating a “special regime” for Bradley Manning, the Department of Defense is also authorizing all the bizarre practices to which he is being subject to be applied to American soldiers, sailors, and airmen taken prisoner in future conflicts. This casual disregard for the rights of American service personnel could have terrible ramifications in the future. The recent dismissal and replacement of the Quantico brig commander may well reflect a critical attitude within the Pentagon towards the special regime for Manning, but more recent developments, including the regime of enforced nudity, offset that.
This weekend tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Egypt stormed the headquarters of the Mubarak regime’s secret police in Alexandria and Cairo—flooding the Internet with pictures of the cells and torture devices used there. Leaders of the effort said their raid was undertaken to preserve evidence of the mistreatment of prisoners so that appropriate measures could be taken for accountability in the future. Around the world, the outcry against this regime of torture and terror is rising and fueling massive public uprisings–as we see today in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. This movement was spurred in part by WikiLeaks disclosures that helped lay bare the corruption and venality of these regimes. The brig commander at Quantico should consider carefully whether it is really wise to deal with a young whistleblower by using watered-down versions of the tools of tyrannical oppression with which regimes like Mubarak, Ben Ali, and Qaddafi are so closely associated.
And if the Commander in Chief in the White House thinks nobody elsewhere is noticing the plight of one soldier in a concrete cell, he's wrong. From the Guardian UK:
We must bear in mind, of course, that Manning allegedly leaked military files because he, according to unverified internet chat logs, saw wrongdoing and had no other course of action because his superiors told him they "didn't want to hear any of it". He did not want to be complicit in war crimes, and felt that by leaking the files he could prompt "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms".
In recent days and weeks the US government has condemned human rights abuses and repression in almost every country across the Middle East – yet at a prison within its own borders it sanctions the persecution, alleged psychological torture and debasement of a young soldier who appears to have made a principled choice in the name of progress.
"Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal," said Barack Obama in 2008. But the stench of his hypocrisy is no longer bearable. It is time, now more than ever, that Bradley Manning received the justice he so clearly deserves.
An Army statement said legal proceedings against Manning have been on hold since July of last year because of a request from Manning's defense that a medical board review his "mental capacity and responsibility."
However, in a statement posted on his blog Tuesday night Coombs said the psychiatric review was expected to take another two to six weeks. Coombs predicted the next stage in the process, an Article 32 hearing, would take place in May or June of this year.
"This donation from WikiLeaks is vital to our efforts to ensure Bradley receives a fair, open trial," Mike Gogulski, a founder of the Bradley Manning Defense Network, said in a statement.
The WikiLeaks contribution brings total donations for Manning's defense to over $100,000, the group said.
Paypal has stopped blocking payments to the account to support Manning at Courage to Resist because of an immense outcry from his supporters. Further support for Manning has come from the city of Berkeley, CA, which passed a resolution calling for the immediate end of the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" that Manning has endured, and from Amnesty International, which has a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama available for signing at this link.
Title adapted from "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", by Ursula K. LeGuin, in The Wind's Twelve Quarters, Harper & Row, 1975.