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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
More than five months after being transferred from Kuwait to the Quantico Marine Brig, Bradley Manning is still subject to torturous, highly unconstitutional conditions:
Manning’s cell consists of a bed bolted to the wall, a mattress with a built-in pillow, a quilted cover of jean-like fabric, water fountain/sink, mirror, and toilet. The entire front wall of Manning’s cell is bars, so he can see the guard when he/she passes. He can talk to any other detainee in the wing, but cannot see them. Villiard would not verify whether there are other detainees in Manning’s wing.
There is a different area in the brig for detainees held in “solitary confinement.” Those cells do not have open bars in the front, and the detainee cannot see out except for a small window, nor can he hear or speak to others.
The military distinguishes between being held in a solitary cell for 23 hours per day and being held in “solitary confinement” . . . a fine point, indeed. The Geneva Conventions ban solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment.
In order to visit Manning, he must put your name on his visitors’ list. Manning may have visitors on weekends and holidays. These visiting hours are in addition to the one hour per day when Manning is allowed out of his cell. Legal and medical visits are handled separately. Lt. Villiard was not free to tell me if Manning has had visits from family members.
Manning is permitted to receive mail, but only if he puts the name of the sender on his list of people whom he will “allow” to send him mail. If the sender’s name is not on Manning’s list, the mail is returned to sender.
HELD INCOMMUNICADO WITHOUT WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS:
Bradley Manning is effectively shut off from receiving all mail from well-wishers. So if you wrote to him, he did not get it. If you have advice for him, he cannot receive it. If you want to volunteer to help him, you cannot tell him. I have no idea if Manning has been told this policy.
I believe this fits the definition of being held “incommunicado”.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights states “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. . .”
The U.S. Bill of Rights states “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” In a nutshell, this right means a person has a right to be accused of a crime and brought before a court to defend himself. He cannot simply be locked away indefinitely.
Since the United States is neither invaded nor experiencing any violent rebellion, Bradley Manning, therefore, should be afforded the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
It is imperative that we do not forget about Manning’s plight. The corporate media has almost entirely ignored him, in the hopes that his treatment might remain unknown to the American public. More importantly, the corporatocracy wants us to forget about the actions he took, and the symbolic role that he has taken in the struggle for genuine democracy.
Whatever Manning’s motivations may have been in sharing the wealth of documents he provided to WikiLeaks, his actions struck a crucial blow against a social order which subjugates the masses to the will of an elite few. The inhumane treatment that he has experienced at the hands of U.S. authorities demonstrates precisely why the need for WikiLeaks exists in the first place.
In a truly open, democratic society, it would simply be impossible for the government to hold any human being – let alone a U.S. citizen – under such demeaning conditions. The rule of law – both in the United States and within the larger community of the United Nations – requires that Manning be granted a quick and public trial, in order that the public may ensure that he is not falsely accused or mistreated while in custody. Manning’s treatment thus far is evidence of the extent to which our society lacks genuine democratic ideals.
We cannot allow Manning and his inhumane treatment to be flushed down the memory hole. We must continue to pressure both the U.S. government and the mainstream media, to let them know that we are paying attention and will not allow the most basic foundations of our democracy to be so flagrantly and wantonly defiled.
Manning may be the first, but he certainly will not be the last. Let’s set the right precedent from the very start of this epic battle for genuine freedom and democracy.