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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/27/10

Bradley Manning's Pre-Trial Punishment

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Private First Class Bradley Manning spent his Christmas this year in a 6-foot by 12-foot prison cell at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, where he has been held since May. He is in solitary confinement. He is under continuous surveillance, and must respond to cell checks every five minutes. He cannot keep any personal items in his cell. And he is not even allowed to exercise in his small quarters.

These conditions, as described by Manning's attorney, David E. Coombs, seem like harsh and cruel punishment even for the most violent, most dangerous convicted criminals. But Manning has not been convicted of any crime at this point. He is accused of being the source of the classified U.S. government documents that Wikileaks has been sharing with the world, but he still awaits his day in military court.

Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate of the Law and Security Program at Human Rights First, questioned the legality of Manning's treatment, saying: "At the very least, the conditions would seem to amount to a violation of Article 13 of the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], which states, 'No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.'"

Eviatar continued: "No one has claimed that Bradley Manning has been anything less than completely cooperative with prison guards. And given that he's not accused of a violent crime, it's difficult to see why such extreme security measures are necessary."

According to Glenn Greenwald at, Manning's detention conditions "constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture," and are "likely to create long-term psychological injuries."

The case has caught the attention of the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, who is investigating Manning's treatment. According to the Washington Post, "The U.N. could ask the United States to stop any violations it finds." But would it even matter?

I get the impression that the military is trying to get some extrajudicial revenge on Manning. And this is another glaring example of how prisoner rights, the law, and true justice have all taken a back seat since George W. Bush declared his "war on terror".

This is what America has become. And we don't have Bush to blame for it now.


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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