Chelsea Manning Facing Indefinite Solitary Confinement For Attempting Suicide, Possessing A Book On Hackers

from the wtf dept

As you may have heard, Chelsea Manning, who leaked a ton of State Department cables to Wikileaks and is now in jail for decades, attempted suicide earlier this year. And the Army's response is to threaten her with indefinite solitary confinement to punish her for the attempt. Really. Of course, Manning has been held in solitary confinement in the past -- under conditions that the UN itself declared to be torture. And just last year, Manning was also threatened with indefinite solitary confinement for "disrespecting" corrections officers and for having a toothbrush and certain books and magazines that she wasn't supposed to have.

What about this time? Well, Fight for the Future has posted the details including the charge sheet and it's ridiculous. She's charged with "resisting" when the "force cell team" went to her cell to respond to her suicide attempt. "Resisting" in this case being that she was unconcious. Really.
This charge stems from the “force cell team” being activated. They were called to respond to her suicide attempt, though there were no obstructions to the door and Chelsea was unconscious and unable to resist when they arrived. The charge sheet itself specifies on page 5 that “Inmate Manning did not resist the force cell move team.”
And yet, she's still charged with resisting. Next up "conduct which threatens." That's a pretty broad term -- especially for someone who is unconscious from a suicide attempt. And yet... conduct which threatens. It seems the only thing being "threatened" here is basic human dignity. And then we've got another "prohibited property" claim, just like last year:
On July 6th, Gabriella Coleman’s book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy” was found in Chelsea’s cell, allegedly not properly marked with Chelsea’s name and inmate number on the inside cover. (A new regulation, that appears to have been crafted in response to Chelsea’s confiscated books/expired toothpaste incident from last summer.) In fact, this book was one of the books confiscated from Chelsea’s cell last summer.
Huh? First of all, this is a great book -- one that we've recommended and whose author, Gabriella Coleman, we've had on our podcast. But the fact that this was one of the books that was confiscated last year and then was still in her cell suggests the kind of messed up rules that are used to always have to charge someone with if they don't like you. What a fucked up system.

And people wonder why Ed Snowden doesn't think he'd get a fair trial.

It appears that Manning is resigned to the fact that she's being railroaded and there's little she can do to stop it.
Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence at the US Army's Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas, will have to defend herself at the hearing, and told VICE News she's not feeling optimistic. "It doesn't matter what I say or do," she said, through an intermediary, as she's not allowed to speak directly to the press. "The outcome is going to be the same."

Feelings of "hopelessness and helplessness" are hard to shake, she says.
Yup, great way to "punish" a suicide attempt: to take away people's hope even more. I'm sure that'll work. Manning's hearing will be held later today and, hopefully someone with some level of common sense is involved in the decision making process.



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  • icon
    Angel (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 4:01am

    Treatment of prisoners like this is all this is because we as a country have decided that Jail should be punishment and not rehabilitation. We would rather the convicted be made to suffer rather then learn from what they have done and learn how to actually be a productive member of our society.

    This is beyond the question of whether Manning should/shouldn't be serving the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 4:15am

      Re:

      Treatment of prisoners like this is all this is because we as a country have decided that Jail should be punishment and not rehabilitation.

      Because we have become a country that enjoys bullying, whether at home or abroad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 4:29am

        Re: Re:

        It's the new golden rule: beat the shit out of people so they give you their gold and treat you how you want to be treated.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 10:28am

      Re:

      Supposedly, any group of people subjecting someone to cruel and unusual punishment -- such as psychological torture -- under color of law has committed a felony. If that torture drives the victim to suicide then that felony becomes a capital crime (18 USC, 241).

      Committing a felony is grounds for a court martial and dishonorable discharge, possibly incarceration in a military prison under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It certainly violates the oath to defend the constitution, since anyone who would commit acts of torture upon a prisoner meets the definition of a domestic enemy of the constitution.

      Isn't it ironic that the people who are supposed to be protecting us from evils like that are the people committing them, and only getting away with it because they and their entire chain of command are hopelessly corrupt?

      Do you feel safer, being 'protected' by that military?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 8:11pm

      Re: Prisons and Military

      Military forces have mostly reflected socially the conservative policies of the nation/culture they are embedded in.

      Being a member of the American Military means the worst aspects of the American penal system.

      Unfortunately for Manning If they stop punishing her they will need to say why, or at the very least someone will then ask why she is in prison, perhaps some higher rank will need to answer questions raised by the leaked documents

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 4:24am

    Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

    First we remove all positive stimuli: reading materials, solitary confinement driving the subject to a suicide attempt. On failure of our goal, actual suicide, we punish the subject for failure and hopefully re-inforce our ultimate objective.

    TL/DR Pretty much sounds to me like they want her to kill herself and are trying their best to achieve that goal without being shown to be complicit in the fact they are doing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Prashanth (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:13am

      Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

      I was wondering about this too. Leaving aside everything else that is wrong about her imprisonment, if the goal is to prevent her from trying to kill herself, wouldn't moving her to solitary confinement be counterproductive?
      Oh wait, I forgot: this is about punishment, not prevention/rehabilitation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dan (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 6:55am

        Re: Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

        Oh wait, I forgot: this is about punishment, not prevention/rehabilitation.

        Is it not appropriate to punish wrongdoers? I believe it is, and that's one of the stated goals (whatever you believe the actual goals to be) of the system.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

          Is it not appropriate to punish wrongdoers? I believe it is, and that's one of the stated goals (whatever you believe the actual goals to be) of the system.


          When my child sneaks a cookie when they shouldn't, or blabs at school about private information of others at home, my response is punishment on one hand and future prevention/rehabilitation on the other hand. The result is not that I lock them in their room indefinitely and randomly bring them out to grill them and humiliate them in front of the family. I talk to them privately, assess if they understand why what they did was wrong, work on some steps they can take to fix the situation as much as they are able, and give them a token punishment that will act as a future reminder not to behave in the way they did.

          Believe it or not, children are people too.

          Torturing wrongdoers just brings you down to (or sometimes below) their level. It serves no useful purpose to them, you, or society as a whole.

          This is not, and has never been, about punishment... it has ALWAYS been about prevention. Unfortunately, the idea is to hold Manning up as an example of what can happen, to prevent anyone else from remotely considering taking similar actions in the future. Meanwhile, there appear to be no viable alternatives that will both effect change and not end in indefinite imprisonment/punishment/torture.

          And this isn't just in the US Military; you'll see it in other government and corporate environments too.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 6:20am

      Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

      I think its worse than that, they want her suicidal, while they prevent her doing so, so as to make her suffer as much as possible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 7:18am

        Re: Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

        That. This is the apex of cruelty.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 3:22pm

        Re: Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

        Exactly. They want her to suffer for making them look bad, both as vengeance and as an example to others as to what they can expect if they dare to do the same.

        The blatantly fraudulent charges make it clear that they're not even pretending otherwise, they want people to see what happens to those that air the dirty laundry of those in charge, along with demonstrating that they are both willing and able to completely ignore the laws or rules whenever they want to in order to inflict as much suffering as possible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 10:15pm

        Re: Re: Sounds like a B.F. Skinner experiment...

        If they wanted him suicidal, and die, wouldn't they just have left him to die?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:11am

    war on whistleblowers

    This is not about prison, even though prisons should not be private and need much better regulation to stop the rampant abuses.

    This is about Obama's war on whistleblowers. No transparency, no accountability for the Executive Branch. They want to teach anyone who would blow the whistle on corruption that this is what happens to you if you do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:43am

      Re: war on whistleblowers

      "This is not about prison"

      Why can't it be both? I highly doubt Manning's treatment is out of the ordinary.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:41am

    I'm not sure a private prison would be any better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:43am

    "Private misfortunes are public benefits, so that the more private misfortunes there are, the greater is the general good."

    -- Voltaire (Candide)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 6:15am

    I realize this is far more about sticking it to a "traitor" than punishing any sort of wrongdoing, but I really don't understand how they can charge her with illegal possession of anything. She's in military solitary confinement. Everything she has, EVERYTHING, has been searched (multiple times, I'm sure) and given to her by her jailers. If she has something she's not supposed to have, it's THEIR fault for giving it to her in the first place! NEVER underestimate the human capacity for self-delusion/cognitive dissonance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      Oh no, it's not about delusions or dissonances. It's about making she suffer greatly for exposing wrongdoing. Making her an example. "Look of what you'll suffer, the cruelty and the inhumanity if you expose our wrongdoing. Are you still thinking of blowing the whistle?".

      It's no accident, no ignorance. It's pure evil. That's what's in your government.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      Well, they are apparently charging her for resisting while simultaneously claiming she was not resisting. Why would charging for possession of an object she shouldn't have been able to possess be surprising on top of that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 6:38am

    Paperwork and the known truth rarely match.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 7:14am

    So you torture a person psychologically and physically to the point she decides to commit suicide because she can't bear it. Then, after the attempt fails you ramp up the torture and the aggression. Let it sink for a moment. You are being tortured and violated multiple times daily with inhuman cruelty and you can't even kill yourself to make it stop.

    These people are monsters. Are the Americans ok with having monsters as their servants and representatives? Actually, I think I'm being unfair towards the monsters but I can't think of a worse way of describing the actions of the US Government in this case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Yeah Sure, 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:29am

      a failure of so much and so many... the shame of it all

      Agreed! The person to whom you address your comments is clearly of impaired intelligence and is lacking the essentials of comprehension, compassion, a sense of what is right and wrong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 12:27pm

      Sadly, the step-up-the-torture candidate is still strong in the polls.

      I am ashamed of my nation and species to say that yes, there are too many people too shortsighted to understand why condoning torture is a bad thing. They even endorse it on the notion that bad guys are easily delineable.

      When will they ever learn / The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      unless it happens to them they are safe in their knowledge "it can't happen here" while blind to the reality it happened decades ago and is slowly creeping up on them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 8:56am

    The lack of any legal assistance or right to a lawyer while preparing or presenting a defence is the icing on top of the cake. Stacking the charges while denying legal counsel is just ... well, Medieval or worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MarcAnthony (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:13am

    cruel and inhumane

    Is there some exemption in the eighth amendment for cruel and unusual punishment by the military? I don't know if this situation is that unusual for army prisoners, but these conditions are indisputably torturous and surely constitute human rights violations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:57am

      Re: cruel and inhumane

      I believe when you join the US Military, you give up most of your rights under the constitution; they are replaced by a charter under the US military for the entire length of enlistment. However, this is separate from UN human rights violations; the executive branch is still "answerable" to those.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:42am

    It's time to ramp up our FREE CHELSEA MANNING activism. Move it up your to-do list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 12:24pm

      Bastille Day, USA?

      Frankly, we could use to free all the prisoners. At this point there is likely more innocent (or users on mandatory minimums) than there are actually dangerous inmates.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 9:56am

    The Peter Thiel of the Justice system

    One of more of the people embarrassed by some of what was released have enough power to be causing all of this. This has nothing to do with the law at this point is is 100% about punishment. It is cruel and it is unusual, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore. If she were a war criminal, we would have to take better care of her, yet because she was convicted, they are literally killing her through their actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 12:22pm

    This reminds me of a bit in Bill, The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

    Bill is at one point in isolated lockup and he notices his room has a hook on the ceiling, that and his flimsy disposable (paper) prison jumper came with a robust belt, giving him the clear option to hang himself.

    And Bill smiled to himself because that meant he still had options, because someone would rather he just snuffed it. If he did, it would be tidier mess than some other he could still make while alive. Bill just needed to figure out what that mess was, and he'd have some collateral with which to negotiate his way out.

    Hold on, dear Chelsea. Hold on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    USA, 22 Sep 2016 @ 12:32pm

    Dear Edward Snowden,

    Please come back to the United States. I promise that you will have a fair trial.

    Sincerely,

    Barack Obama.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 1:17pm

    Whenever I read the comments on a Guardian article on Chelsea Manning, I am always suspicious that the U.S. government has "Cyber"-agents assigned to lurk there, get the first post if possible, and keep up the drumbeat of calling her a traitor. And a botnet to give them a hundred synthetic upvotes. It's been specifically leaked that they do things like that to try to manipulate public opinion. Who else both knows the term "Five Eyes" and would use it with a positive connotation?

    There was a guy on Democratic Underground arguing for the government's policies with unusual persistence who randomly and apparently unthinkingly used pieces of Fed-speak like "Secure Reality" in a way that made it clear that where he comes from, this is part of the culture accepted without question, viewed with warm fuzzies and considered a Good Thing. He appeared to be unaware that other people do not think that way, and it might be giving him away. Are they just brainwashed military personnel who hang out there on their own free time, or is it their salaried position? And why is the number of upvotes so disproportionate to the number of people actually posting on each side? I wonder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 1:30pm

    We all know this is about spite towards manning for exposing just how corrupt the government is.

    If they could charge them with being a nazi or a communist they would just to throw anything at them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 2:05pm

    Cruel and unusual to say the least. Next January we can begin to legally torture folks, again. God Bless America, land that I love...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 2:55pm

    so wheres the blowing?

    so what exactly makes this a whistleblower case?

    releasing a gunship video and thousands of others documents seemingly randomly and recklessly does not strike me whistleblowing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 3:22pm

      Ah the old "that's not really whistleblowing" trick.

      By discounting what was revealed we can decide who is or isn't a whistleblower thereby denying protections to someone who tried to reveal corruption and sedition to the public.

      That way doubt is instilled in other potential whistleblowers as to whether or not their revelations will be regarded as whistleblowey enough to be worthy of protection from those entities who were embarrassed and will seek to retaliate.

      That should chill them off and keep them in their proper place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 3:30pm

      Re: so wheres the blowing?

      Ah, but here's the thing: It doesn't matter. This conduct and treatment of a prisoner would be inhumane and monstrous whether Manning was a whistleblower or literally the reincarnation of Hitler.

      Torturing someone to the point of suicide, and then ramping it up even more afterwards is unacceptable no matter who the person is or what they have been charged with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2016 @ 8:01pm

        Re: Re: so wheres the blowing?

        Ah, but here's the thing: It doesn't matter. This conduct and treatment of a prisoner would be inhumane and monstrous whether Manning was a whistleblower or literally the reincarnation of Hitler

        that depends on who you ask.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2016 @ 8:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: so wheres the blowing?

          Some people are sadists, sociopaths, and/or completely lacking in empathy, respect for the idea of justice or basic human dignity, this is true.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whatever, 22 Sep 2016 @ 5:58pm

    Finally, some good news for a change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GEMont, 23 Sep 2016 @ 1:15pm

    punishment fits the crime

    "Yup, great way to "punish" a suicide attempt: to take away people's hope even more."

    Perhaps she is being additionally punished for failing to commit suicide. Perhaps the punishment is designed to add a little incentive, such that, the next time she is allowed to commit suicide, she will succeed, and erase another messenger from the ranks of the Adversary Army.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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