I don’t know for certain that Bradley Manning is being held in “super-max” conditions, locked alone in his cell 23 hours a day, for most of that period forbidden to sleep, exercise, or write, and subject to random awakening in the middle of the night. But as far as I can tell no one has bothered to deny it. [DoD seems to have issued a non-denial denial, which challenges none of the factual claims but denies that the conditions amount to “mistreatment.” Whatever.]
There seems to be no good reason for such treatment : it’s not as if Manning had any secrets left to spill, and the claim that it’s being done as “prevention of injury” doesn’t pass the giggle test. So this handling of a man still innocent in law can only reflect one of two bad reasons: spite, or a desire to coerce testimony.
Either way, it’s completely inexcusable. I haven’t even seen an attempted defense of it other than “the SOB deserves it” from a few of the usual wingnut suspects. Torture is a crime, under domestic law as well as international law, and of course a violation of the Eighth Amendment. And no, the fact that no blood is drawn doesn’t make prolonged isolation any less hideous. It’s a reliable way to drive someone mad. No human being deserves it; even those who need to be isolated because otherwise they act out violently can be handled more humanely.
I had lots of strong reasons for voting for Barack Obama, and most of them are still valid. But the strongest was his forthright opposition to torture. I would have thought that on that one issue a liberal former Con Law teacher would have been completely reliable.
Right now – despite yesterday’s triumph on DADT – I’m disgusted with my President, and ashamed of my country.
Footnote No, this doesn’t mean I think Manning is innocent in fact: it would be harder to imagine a clearer violation of the Espionage Act, unless you count what Rove and Cheney did to Valerie Plame. Manning, once he’s been accused, tried, and convicted, belongs in prison. But no one belongs in that kind of prison.