Michael Hamar

Bradley Manning: Tortured Until Proven Guilty

Filed By Michael Hamar | December 31, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, gays in the military, murder, Pentagon, torture, U.S. Military

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.

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.

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There Is a difference between treason and whistle blowing. Whistle blowers complain to their superiors or to others higher up or in a position to bring change. Traitors sell or give away state secrets to enemies of the United States.Bradley Manning brought this upon himself and if or more likely when he is found guilty he will be executed.Sorry but I'll shed no tears for him.

Whistle-blowers complain to the media to tell the public what crimes their government or military are committing.

Or was it a traitor who got Nixon in trouble?

Lynn Miller | January 1, 2011 6:31 PM

I disagree with what PFC Manning may have done, especially the theft and release of diplomatic documents. However, what he has been accused of falls short of treason as defined by the US Constitution.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
(Article III, section 3)

Manning did not wage war against the US. And although it could be argued that he gave aid and comfort to enemies of this country, he did not adhere to those enemies.

Waaaa, waaaa, waaaa. Poor stupid gay man. He's in jail, so that must mean he's being tortured. Waaaa, waaaa, waaaa.

You have no fucking proof that he's being tortured. I suppose if he doesn't get his foam latte than that's "torture." You have no idea what torture is. Like amym, I'll shed no tears for him, gay or not. It makes no difference, like it does for others.

You want to see torture, visit trans women in any jail in the South. How many give a shit about them? No! But let one gay man get put in a military prison for being stupid and gay men start writing fictional stories about how he's being treated. The crap about this dumb-fuck who wanted to become famous is making me sick. He's famous, alright, here on Bilerico, ONLY because he's a gay man. Otherwise, none of you would care.

Was your father's name by any chance "Jesse"?

I had heard that this person is Trans however.

I found this comment deeply offensive for its tone, and irrelevant considering the subject of the post. I think we are, as a group, concerned about the rights and treatment of trans people, but not every news item is about that.

For MonicaHelms, if you want to call attention to the plight of transwomen in Southern jails, write an article. Post something here at Bilerico to call attention to it. Give us something we can use. That's going to get a much more sympathetic response than an anti-gay screed in the comments section of a post about something else entirely.

Lynn Miller | January 1, 2011 6:44 PM

Monica, I have no doubt that trans women often suffer greatly in jail, particularly in the South. Their mistreatment is unjust and abhorrent to just about everyone reading this. However, isn't it possible to us support better treatment for trans women detainees as well as oppose the misuse of solitary confinement?

As a trans woman, I certainly do give a shit about how this person is being treated, both because I actually give a shit about my fellow humans, and also because what hits gay people tends to trickle down and hit trans people too.

Oh, and the person that alleged Bradley Manning as the leak also released chat logs that reveal he very well may actually be trans. And given that you both assumed his guilt without trial, and wrote him off as just being a fame-hungry gay man, I certainly hope the cis gay folk on this site won't follow your shining example.

The Bernard Baruch quote "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" seems relevant here. Monica is a great activist for the transgendered community. For anyone else - not so much.

I won't pick on Monica since, were we honest, a lot of us would admit we are like her. Instead I'll say this: IMO the take home message from Monica's commentary is many of us need to get more tools to work with. I.e. to stop focusing so much on our respective interests and consider that there are other people not like us needing help and respect. Some of them (I know "gasp!"), even straight.

Manning did NOT share info with an enemy he helped shared it with the world among whom are the citizens of the United States who I believe, have every right to know.
The article if you've read it is claiming solitary confinement to be torture. Perhaps you have read it, just failed to comprehend it.

um... inhuman treatment is still inhuman, no matter who it is, or what the situation is. Manning is being mistreated and from what I've read it is no in accordance with normal (leagal) procedrues.

As for what Manning did, it was not whistle blowing. If he had sent the information to his senators and members of the house, action would have been initiated by them and they would have taken steps to protect him. I know, I've been in a command where something similar happened where the Commanding Officer was releived of command and the enlisteds who initiated it were all removed from the command to prevent retailiation.

To give classified information to an entity outside of the United States, one that does seek to profit off of that information for mere entertainment... Have you seen any real action being taken by anyone citing the Manning papers from Wikileaks? I haven't. I've only heard how some media outlets were given accesss for $$$ and some denied access because of $$$.

But, the way they are treating him, no, that is not right at all.

Truth and Reason | January 1, 2011 9:13 AM

First off both of you, "Armym440" and Miss "Monica" are two of the most despicable people on the planet!! And I'll be you call yourselves AMERICANS too... How disgusting !!

Now that I've said that, Bradley Manning is only ACCUSED, NOT proven to have transfered (downloaded) these so called "Secret Documents" to Wikki-Leaks. Documents that are available to hundreds of people within the military.

And what did they tell>? Our government was having conversations with other governments that Innocent people were being killed in the name of an Illegal WAR, that one government official felt slighted because some other G/O called him out. Names of operatives were not released, just the behind the scenes B/S because someones breakfast cereal got pissed in.

Bradley Manning is being held with out a hearing, with out due-process, and why>? because he is in the military AND supposedly GAY. (OH MY GOD A GAY MAN WITH A CONSCIENCE) In case you need the definition: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conscience
I dare say he's a fall guy for someone who is REALLY being protected.

If the guy is guilty, the questions remain, guilty of what? Shedding light on one of the most corrupt organizations in the world, A NATION which should be above reproach? If this is the case, He is a HERO for doing what most people are too afraid to do.


IF the GOVERNMENT has proof, then put Bradley Manning on trial if they don't then discharge from the military if they are so concerned and set him free.

I am not only a proud American, but I spent time protecting your ass from being blown up by the Soviets so you can call people nasty names on a blog, and you don't even have the guts to show who you are.

Did any of you even think for one damn second that he maybe in solitary confinement for his own protection? Huh? I bet that didn't even cross any of your minds. Not once? There's probably people in the military prison system who would slit his throat in a heartbeat with a broken piece of glass if they could, and because he's gay wouldn't mean shit to them. They see him as unAmerican. And, how he is really being treated hasn't been leaked out and all of you are making things up because he's gay.

The question I have for all you gay bleeding hearts, would you have cared about him if he wasn't gay? I doubt it. And because you only care about him because he's gay, that shows reverse bigotry, and self-centeredness. If you all really cared about equality, then tell me the name of just one straight person in a military solitary confinement. And if you know one, then where are the articles about them? Maybe if you used the same effort to show your care about straight people in this world, then we might have an easier road to equality.

> protecting your ass from being blown up by the Soviets so you can call people nasty names on a blog

> reverse bigotry

Obvious troll is obvious.

SkepticalCidada | January 2, 2011 1:23 PM

You can take the trans woman out of the military but you can't take the military out of the trans woman.

"Amurka, luv it ur leave it!"

He gave out classified documents that undercut our diplomatic position, exposed China'a ambivalence about North Korea and a myriad of other things that on the surface don't look bed but in the world of power politis will have an impact. Because of the China disclosure, China is in the position of having to back North Korea now to the limit and perhaps beyond at a time that North Korea's policy seems to be akin to a two year old being told not to do something. On the world stage, there has already been an effect from the leaks, a negative one.

It was, at least under Spain's codes and I believe the US's, an act that did provide "aid and comfort" to nations dangerous to the US and was therefore treason.

Ok, so dont isolate him. let him mix with the Marines that he is imprisoned with and see how that works.(not sure just why they put him under the care of the USMC as he is Army)

Better yet, try him and be done with the whole issue. Military Court, defended by an attorney, prosecuted by the military, judged by the military. If you feel that there should be a large body judging him, get congress to approve a military commission.

Honestly, were he Spanish and were I working as a Naval Advocate still, I'd have no problem prosecuting him for treason, and I'd get the conviction.

Be careful what you wish for as far as his not being charged yet. A congress being seated this week that wants his blood on a post with his slumped body perforated by bullets, tied to that post and plans to investigate why this has not been done as of yet.

I noticed that the writers on Pam's House Blend haven't been whining about how this jerk is being treated on a regular basis like here. Maybe it's because they are focusing on issues that actually affect us as community, and not one fame-hungry gay man.

SkepticalCidada | January 2, 2011 1:20 PM

I thought he said he was trans?

Dawn Storrud | January 1, 2011 4:13 PM

Things change very slowly in the military, and all the patriotic rhetoric in the world, does not eliminate the violations of the Military Code of Justice that have been sanctioned because someone feels the lives of servicemen and women have been endangered by the accused.

Private Manning has not been tried and he has not been accused. His treatment under the Code requires incarceration in the general population of those accused at his place of confinement.

Way back in the days of Soviet threat you helped thwart, I was accused of stealing the B52 bomber dance and recognition codes and passing them to the Canadian Communist Party Secretary. I was also accused of drug dealing and going AWOL. I was placed in solitary confinement by the US Air Force and denied medical attention while there. For 40 of those days I was unable to eat and for 6 days unable to swallow any liquids. Only the intervention of my Senator Mike Mansfield saved my life. The excuse given to the Senator for my confinement and lack of medical attention was "this prisoner is a threat to military discipline and our national security."

Three months after my confinement began, I was acquitted of all charges except the AWOL, for which I was sentenced to spend a year in the Ft. Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks and received a Bad Conduct discharge.

Nothing but luck kept me from dying at the hands of the chain of command upset because I told the truth about command abuse in an antiwar paper.

Every time we as a people deny the legal rights of an accused because we don't like them or because their "crime" offends us, we become the enemy.

Lynn Miller | January 1, 2011 6:48 PM

I think the author of the Huffington Post article was simply using Bradley Manning case as a high profile example of how solitary confinement is used. Why deny permission to exercise in his cell? Why restrict television access (which, after all, is a limited form of human contact) to only one hour per day? Why deny him a pillow when he is not violent or suicidal?

Aside from the misuse of solitary confinement, perhaps the other issue is our willingness to detain individuals, under punitive conditions, for months or even years without trial. Manning has not been convicted of any wrongdoing. If he is to be punished, shouldn't he be convicted first?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 2, 2011 3:53 PM

Treason and war crimes against humanity consist of using lies to organize a blockade of medical, sanitary and food supplies that killed half a million Iraqi children and babies.


Treason and war crimes against humanity consist of using lies to launch invasions and occupations of Iraq (for oil and for no other reason) and Afghanistan (to make up for malfeasance in office on 9-11 and later for trillions in mineral resources and for no other reasons).


Bradley Manning is not a traitor, he's a hero. We should demand that he be freed and given the Medal of Honor. We should demand that all the troops be brought home now and demobilized.

The Bushes, the Clintons, Obama, their Cabinets, the JCS and CIA and their congressional toadies are traitors to world peace and mass murderers. We should demand the convening of an International War Crimes Tribunal.

Number Six of the Nuremburg Principles: The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression...
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b) War crimes.
(c) Crimes against humanity.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 2, 2011 5:06 PM

Monica Helms is not going to be convinced by our comments.

Here are some more Monicaisms the explain why:

Monica on the fight against Prop 8: ' So, you loss the right to get married in California. It's an important right to fight for, especially since California HAS ALL THE OTHER DAMN RIGHTS MANY OF US DON'T. Gee. There is a point when my sympathy is taxed to the limit. LGBT people are still getting FIRED from their jobs here in Georgia and many other states for just being who we are. Please. Forgive me if I don't shed a tear for your "loss."

Monica speaks out for (murdered) people of color : "The Flag flies over many places where we have African American, Native American and other minorities' memorials across the country. As Monica Roberts mentioned, if anyone should be angry with this country, it should be these groups. Yet, they are all proud of the Flag. People in our community can decided how they want to see the flag, because that is a right us veterans have secured for you."