Chelsea Manning Threatened With Indefinite Solitary Confinement For Expired Toothpaste & Having A Copy Of Vanity Fair

from the really-now? dept

The way the US treats prisoners is often barbaric. The UN has repeatedly highlighted how solitary confinement is a form of torture that should be stopped, but the US regularly uses it on its massive prison population (largest prison population in the world! Go USA!). And even if you don't think it's torture, you should at least recognize that people are thrown in solitary confinement for ridiculous reasons -- such as looking at Facebook. Or, apparently, having expired toothpaste in your cell.

It appears that Chelsea Manning is now facing indefinite solitary confinment for a short list of "infractions" which include having expired toothpaste ("medicine misuse") and having a copy of the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, along with some other magazines ("prohibited property"). The other two charges may seem slightly less crazy, but not when you look at the details. They are for "disrespect" and "disorderly conduct," but the "disorderly conduct" was for apparently sweeping some food on the floor during a dinner, and the "disorderly conduct" was for asking for a lawyer when Manning was being yelled at over the food incident.
There's a hearing about this on August 18th, and Fight for the Future has set up a petition about this to call more attention to the way Manning has been treated. As the petition says, it's clear that Manning is being "singled out and punished for speaking out." Even if you don't think Manning's actions in leaking State Department cables was just, hopefully you can recognize that indefinite solitary confinement over such minor charges is ridiculous.

Filed Under: chelsea manning, prisons, solitary confinement, toothpaste, torture, vanity fair


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2015 @ 6:09am

    Re: N wrongs make a right

    Flip your question around. Was the ONLY outcome of Manning's numerous violations of the UCMJ to embarrass the government? It certainly seems that way. If that was the ONLY outcome, then the ends apparently did not justify the means.

    As for the violations of the UCMJ, I will note (1) military punishment for violations of either the law or the UCMJ tends to be more harsh than for comparable civilian violations. That makes sense from the perspective that the military has control of weapons that can, with the push of a button, kill tens of thousands of people. Even when service people have uncovered crimes through their own violations of the UCMJ, the military tends to not have a very forgiving attitude toward those individuals. In other words, the military has already decided, through decades of actions, that the means do not justify the ends.

    (2) Manning already pleaded guilty to a BUNCH of the charges. Oh, gosh, sure I violated multiple UCMJ rules. Sure, I compromised military and government computers. But, it's okay, because I embarrassed some people.

    Here's the thing, if someone, anyone, would have been charged with a crime as a result of what Manning did, if our government had apologized as a result of what Manning did, if there had been any outcome other than "embarrassment," I would say that maybe the ends justified the means. The problem is that nothing that Manning did had any perceivable effect.

    I remember reading early on about some of the alleged revelations from Manning's leaks. Except, they were not revelations to anyone. The only difference is that stuff that had been going on, that lots of people knew about, even in foreign governments, was formally revealed. That's it.

    Do I think Manning deserved 35 years in prison? I was not part of the trial. I did not hear all the evidence. That is not for me to say. I neither agree or disagree with the SENTENCE.

    However, I do not agree with all the actions that Manning took, because Manning violated his oath, he compromised systems that he had pledged to keep secure. Essentially, he is a liar who has pled guilty to a bunch of violations of the UCMJ that have nothing to do with the Espionage Act. As much as I dislike the "where's there's smoke, there's fire analogy," when someone is convicted, or pleads guilty to, more than a dozen violations of the UCMJ, I say that clearly some kind of harsh punishment is required. Something more than a pat on the bottom and send her on the way kind of thing.

    If you are going to join the military, you need to take your oath seriously. Manning did not do so, in a MASSIVE way, and is paying the price.

    I will lastly observed that Americans are not split on Manning. About half of all Americans think Manning deserved life in prison. The vast majority of Americans thought Manning should serve time in prison. Only a relatively small percentage of Americans think Manning was some sort of hero, or even qualified as a whistle blower.

    My guess is that several factors weigh against Manning in the public's mind. First, he was in the military. Second, he pled guilty to multiple violations of the UCMJ. Third, as he acknowledged, he disobeyed orders and violated his oath. Fourth, as he acknowledged, he compromised military and government computers. When you acknowledge, as a member of the military, that you did not live up to your oath and deliberately did things to compromise military systems, I think most people do not care what your intent was.

    Very few good deeds are achieved by violating what a member of the military knows to be the rules.

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