Bradley Manning is suspected by the government of having handed over a Lady Gaga CD that actually contained secret government documents to an unknown party that eventually forwarded it to Wikileaks. I repeat that he is only “suspected” of having done these things, since no charge has yet been brought against him.
Let us recall that whistleblowing, or the exposing of corrupt or unethical practices to the public by an insider, has in general been encouraged by the government in many cases dealing with corporate corruption (such as tax evasion, for example). Also, that government documents are leaked every day by the press, so the leaking of secret information, far from being a top offense, is actually a quotidian reality.
Daniel Ellsberg is unarguably the biggest whistleblower in US history, since he outed the massive campaign of lies about the Vietnam war that the US administration was foisting on the public. At the time, the government did everything it could to stop him, including placing soldiers around the NYTimes building in a last-ditch attempt to keep the “secrets” from being published. It also arrested Ellsberg, and attempted to charge him. It was only because of massive public demonstrations that the government realized it was in its own interests to let him out. Today Ellsberg is celebrated as a hero; he helped expose the corruption and lies of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations and end an unjust war.
Several human rights organisations have expressed concerns over Bradley Manning’s treatment. It is alleged that the extreme conditions of his containment fit the definition of psychological and physical torture. In any case, it is clear that he is not being treated with the dignity and respect we have come to expect of our government when it incarcerates its own citizens.
PFC Manning Forced to Strip Naked
Last night, PFC Manning was inexplicably stripped of all clothing by the Quantico Brig. He remained in his cell, naked, for the next seven hours. At 5:00 a.m., the Brig sounded the wake-up call for the detainees. At this point, PFC Manning was forced to stand naked at the front of his cell. The Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived shortly after 5:00 a.m. When he arrived, PFC Manning was called to attention. The DBS walked through the facility to conduct his detainee count. Afterwards, PFC Manning was told to sit on his bed. About ten minutes later, a guard came to his cell to return his clothing. This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. 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.
Glenn Greenwald summarizes Manning’s situation:
From Democracy Now today:
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, it’s now been 10 months where, despite being convicted of absolutely nothing, he’s been held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement under the most repressive conditions, not being allowed to exercise in his cell. The one hour a day when he’s allowed out, he walks around shackled in a room by himself and is immediately returned to his cell when it stops. Although the commander of the brig was recently fired and replaced, those conditions have not changed. So they’ve gone on for 10 months. They’re likely to go on for many more months, because the court-martial proceeding is not likely to take place for at least another six months or so, while these proceedings work themselves out. And certainly, someone held under those conditions for that long is going to be seriously psychologically and physically deteriorated, perhaps irreparably so.