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jueves, diciembre 16, 2010

Brad Manning's Crisis

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald gave us the shameful details of Brad Manning's 7-month long, pre-trial detention. He's been held in Quantico in solitary confinement for five months, and he was held in solitary in Kuwait for two months before that. Manning you'll recall is the army private who has been accused of leaking documents to Wikileaks. Greenwald writes:

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs...

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything.

But that's not all. You have to read about the drugs. You have to think about the drugs. As Greenwald explains,

And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

This to my mind is obviously torture. The man is in stringent solitary confinement which is enough to drive prisoners crazy and frequently does, and he's being drugged so that his mental entropy and collapse will be briefly delayed.

What I don't understand after searching the Internet, is why this horrendous confinement is apparently not being challenged in the courts. I don't understand why a writ of habeas corpus challenging this clearly unconstitutional, pretrial detention is not reported anywhere. The closest I can come to the legal test is this handwringing:

"We were aware of those situations and we were hoping that they would improve without applying public pressure through the media," Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning's legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post. "His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels."

Paterson says that Manning is "very annoyed" at the conditions of his confinement, adding that he is primarily upset at his inability to exercise. "He sits in this small box, for the most part only to take a shower - he just sits and eats and four months have gone by."

I'm not writing this to criticize Manning's defense team which appears to be well funded. I don't know them. I'm writing this because all of the horror stories are being discussed and argued on the Internet and MSNBC and, unfortunately, not in the District Court. Maybe that doesn't strike readers as odd. But it bothers me. This kind of confinement needs to be fought, and it needs to be fought hard.

Brad Manning deserves a petition for writ of habeas corpus.

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