While having finally delivered on DADT repeal, Barack Obama still has many campaign promises that have yet to be delivered upon. One is the end of special prisons at Gitmo and the use of torture techniques on selected prisoners. A case in point is reportedly gay 22-year-old U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, accused leaker of classified documents to Wikileaks -documents which among other things revealed U.S. military members recklessly killing (murdering is a more accurate term) civilians. Manning has not been convicted of anything to date, yet he is being held under severe solitary confinement. Not only is such treatment of an unconvicted individual improper (it's reminiscent of something out of the Soviet gulags), but it also makes one wonder what the Hell the government/military is so worried Manning might say or do if he had the opportunity for interaction with others.
Bradley Manning: Tortured Until Proven Guilty
To this writer, it's yet another example of "if you don't have something to hide, then why are acting like you do?" Or could it be that the goal is to break Manning down to a point where a conviction might be easily secured? Whatever the motivation, it speaks volumes about our government/military, and none of it good. The Huffington Post has a piece that looks at this shameful situation and what it says about the moral depravity of those directing Manning's treatment. Here are highlights:
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. - Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Charles Dickens had a keen interest in prison conditions, having witnessed his father's detention in a Victorian debtor's prison. When he heard about the latest American innovation in housing convicts, he came to see for himself. At Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, the wretches he found in solitary confinement were barely human specters who picked their flesh raw and stared blankly at walls. His on-the-spot conclusion: Solitary confinement is torture.
A man who had seen his share of inhumanities, Dickens pronounced solitary confinement to be "rigid, strict, and hopeless...cruel and wrong." That was 1842. Since then, piles of scientific studies, along with the vivid accounts of victims, have confirmed what was obvious to Dickens. Solitary confinement is worse than smashed bones and torn flesh. When human beings are deprived of social contact for even a few weeks, concentration breaks down, memory fades and disorientation sets in.
It [solitary confinement] is banned by the Geneva Convention, condemned by the United Nations, and either prohibited or restricted in most civilized countries. . . . it is being used as a method of terror and coercion by the United States government upon a citizen who has not even been convicted of a crime. As Glenn Greenwald and several other courageous journalists and bloggers have documented, Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been detained in solitary confinement for the last seven months, despite not having been convicted of any crime, having been a model detainee, and having evidenced no signs of violence or even disciplinary misdemeanors. Manning has been kept alone in a cell for 23 hours a day, barred from exercising in that cell, deprived of sleep, and denied even a pillow or sheets for his bed.
The message of the U.S. government to its citizens in this activity is clear: blow the whistle and your brain will be mutilated before you even have a trial. But it may be that much to the shame of the U.S. government, our slumbering humanity is awakening. The solitary confinement -- the torture, for we must call it that -- of Bradley Manning is ironically shining a light on this brutality and tipping us off to the danger of authoritarianism. A United Nations probe is now investigating the Bradley case, and the drumbeat of outrage in the blogosphere grows louder every day.
[L]et us send our own message back to our government: We are Americans. We will not accept the intimidation and coercion of our fellow citizens, even from the Pentagon. Most assuredly, we will not accept torture in our name. Not of the accused. Not of the mentally ill. Not even of convicted criminals. When our civilized society is attacked, no matter what the justification, we will rise up to defend it.