Pfc. Bradley Manning is believed to be the man responsible for leaking most of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. Thanks to an entrapping series of online chats with ex-hacker and likely government agent Adrian Lamo, Manning was arrested last spring. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement for seven months. Mind you, Manning has never been charged with a crime and likely will not be in the near future.
Glenn Greenwald was the first person I saw really address this topic. He hit all of the most horrifying points: that Manning is kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, that he is denied even sheets and a pillow, that he may not exercise in his cell, that he is forbidden from any access to the news, etc. Most importantly, Greenwald pointed out that solitary confinement, especially for this length of time, has a demonstrable effect on mental health and could likely be considered torture.
More details were added by Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs (H/T: Lew Rockwell). Coombs revealed that Manning is kept awake from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. by guards walking past his cell and asking him to verify his status every five minutes. Can you imagine how horrible this must be? To be kept awake in a cell with nothing to do for 15 hours straight? It is amazing that Manning is not already insane, though if Manning visitor David House’s report that Manning wants to some day use the GI Bill to get a B.A. in PoliSci and a grad degree in Physics is true, maybe insanity has already arrived. There are draconian restrictions on his access to reading materials. His clothes are taken away from him each night.
And yet somehow the U.S. government that treats a man, let alone a man convicted of no charges, in this manner has the gall to criticize other countries for torture. There was a time when those criticisms might have rung true. That time is long since past with this country’s shameful collapse into a police state.
The good news, if there is any, is that the efforts of people like Greenwald and Coombs have led the UN to investigate Manning’s treatment. There is little reason to expect any sort of fast action from such a bureaucratic organization, and even less reason to suspect any sort of satisfactory action from an organization run by imperialists, but at least maybe it will shame the U.S. government into doing something to ameliorate Manning’s condition.
We must not forget Bradley Manning, as I am afraid some of us, myself included, did in the excitement of the diplomatic cables being released. That this man remains imprisoned without charge in such shameful conditions is a moral outrage. Together maybe we can do something to rescue him.
In the meantime, I love what Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society wrote: “If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.”