On Wednesday, March 2, the US Army hit Manning with 22 additional charges, including the very serious, and very spurious, "aiding the enemy".
The following day, March 3, Manning's lawyer reported that Manning was stripped of all his clothes and forced to remain naked in his cell.
On Sunday, Glenn Greenwald reported that these humiliations will now occur daily, and put this travesty in context.
To follow-up on yesterday's observations about the prolonged forced nudity to which Bradley Manning has been subjected the last two days: brig 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?
Let's review Manning's detention over the last nine straight months: 23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he's allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards' inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards' full view. 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. [See original for more, plus links.]
It's vitally important that we all help keep this story alive. Visit Bradley Manning Support Network to see what you can do to help.
This also seems like a good time to post an item that's been weighing on my mind for months now. Greenwald ran an excellent interview with Nir Rosen, author of Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America's Wars in the Muslim World. It's a very tough, very important read.
Every family that I've met in Iraq, or Iraqi refugees as well, has been touched by kidnapping and murder and rape and displacements. You have half a million Iraqis today living inside Iraq who are homeless, squatting in illegal settlements, living in shacks made out of tin cans and cardboard — I saw a house made out of used air conditioners piled up on top of each other — living in massive pits of sewage, stinking of shit, flies all over the place. And, of course, let's not forget you had hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, murdered, disappeared, tortured to death with power drills, with beheadings, their bodies found weeks later in garbage dumps. Hundreds and hundreds of villages in Iraq totally destroyed ... torture is routine and systematic now. If you get arrested, you get tortured. Corruption is rampant; it's one of the most corrupt countries on Earth. Services are terrible, almost no electricity, dirty water, terrible malnutrition, kids not going to school. It's just a destroyed, brutalized and beaten place where the worst kind of people have taken over.
This is what Bradley Manning is accused of revealing, and why he is being persecuted and tortured. This is what US Iraq War resisters in Canada refused to be part of, and why Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney want them deported. This is why our fight for war resisters matters.