By Dave Lindorff
Looks can be deceiving.
When you see photos of Army Specialist Bradley Manning, the fresh, slightly pudgy-faced 23-year old private who has spent the last seven months in solitary confinement, first in Kuwait and later at the Marine base at Quantico, VA, enduring the tender mercies of military guards, you don't get the sense that this is someone who could withstand a lot of pressure and physical and mental abuse.
But it turns out he's one tough hombre. Manning, according to his attorney, to a friend who has been allowed to visit him, and to activists who have been demonstrating outside Quantico for his release from this private hell, he has been subjected to sleep deprivation, has been barred from exercising in the slightest, and recently was improperly placed by the Quantico base commander on suicide watch--meaning his clothing was removed, and also his reading glasses--as punishment for "disobeying" orders of the guards. (After news of this order, and publicity about it, the commander rescinded it, and was citicized by the Pentagon for allegedly overstepping his authority, an indication that public pressure in this case can help.)
The aim of all this abuse, which is now being investigated by a UN human rights investigator, has been blatantly to crush his spirit, in hopes of getting him to agree to implicate Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks organization, in inducing him to leak the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, and the visual tapes, of Iraq and Afghan war reports, helicopter murder, and US State Department cables, all of which have been undermining the US war effort and the US diplomatic agenda.
They are failing, because apparently Manning, who reportedly had been troubled by evidence of US war crimes in Iraq that he knew about and had been unable to interest superiors in, is not caving in to the pressure, and is not playing the US government's and military's sick game.
In a story aired yesterday ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41241414/ns/us_news-wikileaks_in_security/?ocid=twitter ), NBC news Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports that the Pentagon acknowledges that its investigators "have been unable to make any direct connection between" Manning's alleged leaking of the documents in question, and Assange.
That sure puts a big crimp in plans by the White House and the so-called US Justice Department to try and bring up Assange on charges of espionage under the antiquated and thoroughly discredited Espionage Act of 1917--a law famously misused to prosecute, convict and jail Socialist Party leader and presidential candidate Eugene Debs for giving a speech trying to dissuade American men from responding to the government's World War I recruitment campaign...