UN Investigating Whether Or Not US Is Torturing Bradley Manning
from the good-for-them dept
The latter response should be sickening to anyone who is an American or believes in the concept of innocent until proven guilty. It's about the most anti-American thought I can think of to say that someone deserves punishment even when they have not been found guilty of a crime. As for the first comment, as many people suggested, you should read Atul Gawande's fascinating and disturbing article on solitary confinement, and then see how you feel about solitary confinement. The number of people who claimed that people were just coddled and weak if they couldn't handle solitary appear to be quite ill-informed about the nature of solitary confinement, and I would imagine they would not last long under such conditions themselves.
Since then, a lot more information has come out, including some explicit details about the serious negative effects the treatment has had on Manning's health and mental well-being. On top of that, while the Defense Department has tried to minimize the complaints by presenting their side of the story, the article above references Manning's specific comments to one of the only two people he is allowed to meet with, which indicates that the Defense Department was not being entirely truthful. The scary part is that it really appears that the treatment is having a significant impact on his health already. Even if you believe that what Manning did was the worst thing a person could do, can we at least let him be tried before issuing punitive measures?
Separately, the UN has now said that it will investigate how Manning is being treated, though, as with so much the UN does, I do wonder how much impact they would have even if they did find the treatment to reach the level of torture.
Glenn Greenwald has another detailed report, which highlights how the US State Department has condemned solitary confinement in other countries:
As is true for so much of what it does, the U.S. Government routinely condemns similar acts -- the use of prolonged solitary confinement in its most extreme forms and lengthy pretrial detention -- when used by other countries. See, for instance, the 2009 State Department Human Rights Report on Indonesia ("Officials held unruly detainees in solitary confinement for up to six days on a rice-and-water diet"); Iran ("Common methods of torture and abuse in prisons included prolonged solitary confinement with extreme sensory deprivation . . .Prison conditions were poor. Many prisoners were held in solitary confinement . . . Authorities routinely held political prisoners in solitary confinement for extended periods . . . All four [arrested bloggers] claimed authorities physically and psychologically abused them in detention, including subjecting them to prolonged periods of solitary confinement in a secret detention center without access to legal counsel or family"); Israel ("Israeli human rights organizations reported that Israeli interrogators . . . kept prisoners in harsh conditions, including solitary confinement for long periods"); Iraq ("Individuals claimed to have been subjected to psychological and physical abuse, including . . . solitary confinement in Ashraf to discourage defections"); Yemen ("Sleep deprivation and solitary confinement were other forms of abuse reported in PSO prisons"); Central African Republic ("As of December, there were 308 inmates in Ngaragba Prison, most of whom are pretrial detainees. Several detainees had been held for seven months without appearing before a judge"); Burundi ("Human rights problems also included . . . prolonged pretrial detention").Once again, it appears that the US State Department believes in different rules for itself than what it pushes on everyone else. Once again, I find that I am disappointed by my government not coming even close to the standards it purports to hold, and which it regularly argues other countries should follow as well.