Stripping before men still clothed is the first step toward weakening the prisoner's psychological defense. " But stripping is also sexually laden. It transposes sexual gestures, acts and innuendo from a strip club to the torture chamber. Thus sex is always present in the torture chamber whether the victim is a man or a woman. The sexing of torture is deeply grounded in the recesses of the torturer's psyche.
-Marnia Lazreg, Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algeria to Baghdad
The process -- employed in the name of "security" -- which involves the mutual destruction of human dignity, seems to be an integral part of most police and specialized agency methods.
-Breyten Breytenbach, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist
Ever since I first read about the program to routinely strip PFC Bradley Manning conceived by his jailers at Quantico Brig in Virginia I have been trying to figure out in this time of moral fatigue how to express how morally outrageous this behavior by US military personnel is.
For anyone who has been away on vacation to Planet Apathy, Manning is imprisoned for allegedly releasing classified materials to WikiLeaks. He has recently been charged with 22 crimes, including "aiding the enemy," which can carry the death penalty. His jailers apparently hope young Manning will incriminate the big fish Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Assange was just extradited from Britain to Sweden for investigation of a questionable sexual allegation.
Bradley Manning, Quantico and a naked detainee at Abu Graib under Saddam by unknown
Whether or not The New York Times and other newspapers that printed the WikiLeaks material -- and the American people who read and benefited from the information -- are considered "the enemy" was not made clear by the military. The Times now regularly cites information from the releases to shed light on how our elected government works around the world.
Relevant to all this are the many signs that our military is becoming quite desperate not to lose face in its two problematic military occupations. This fits nicely into Marnia Lazreg's thesis that torture (in her case, in the Algeria War) is a tool of the "twilight of empire." At this historical juncture, the fear within our government of something like WikiLeaks must be incredible.
Given the circumstance of the lifting of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the fact Manning is openly gay, it's fair to ask what possible reason there is to make the young man stand outside his cell naked for "inspection" or to force him to sit naked in his cell for seven hours.
A Quantico Brig lieutenant named Brian Villiard told The Times this kind of treatment is "not punitive." This drone officer then said he could not explain the brig's behavior "without violating the detainee's privacy."
Moving up the chain of command, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoffrey Morrell told The Times the reasons they needed to strip Manning buck naked was due to "the seriousness of the charges he's facing (and) the national security implications."
All right! Enough of the PR-flak Orwellian crap. Everyone with a modicum of sense knows why the Quantico jailers are stripping Bradley Manning. They are stripping him because they have the power to strip him and they want to strip him. And they know that the majority of Americans and the mainstream press don't give a damn what happens to this young man.
A friend asked me, "Why don't they just water-board him?" It's simple: They would if they could, but they can't. They can't get away with the sorts of torture the French employed during their war in Algeria, which is all broken down and analyzed by Marna Lazreg in her book cited above based on research into torture and interviews with torturers.
But do not fear: Our very resourceful and secret CIA learned from the French and, over the years with your tax dollars, added their own research on the topic. Here's Alfred McCoy from his great book A Question Of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War To the War On Terror:
"From 1950 to 1962, the CIA became involved in torture through a massive mind-control effort, with psychological warfare and secret research into human consciousness that reached a cost of a billion dollars annually -- a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind." This research produced "a new approach to torture that was psychological, not physical, perhaps best described as "no-touch torture.'" It has also been referred to as "slow torture."