Torturing Bradley Manning

Prolonged isolation is torture. Barack Obama should be ashamed of himself.

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.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

40 thoughts on “Torturing Bradley Manning”

  1. The following is from Glenn Greenwald at salon.com, who has written extensively about the treatment of Manning:

    Manning's lawyer, David Coombs — an Army Major who served in Iraq — has just written about the conditions of Manning's detention, confirming all of the facts I reported, and some worse ones that I did not. The whole thing should be read, but here are some relevant excerpts:

    PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

    His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

    The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet. . . .

    At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards . . . .

    He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell. . . .

    PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day.

    The guards are required to check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay. PFC Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay.

    He receives each of his meals in his cell.

    He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

    He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

    He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell. The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.

    He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

    He does receive one hour of ""exercise" outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

    Coombs says that a television is placed in front of Manning's cell for anywhere from 1 to 3 hours during the week and up to 6 hours on the weekend (Manning's visitors told me he has 1 hour of TV time per day), but he also said "the television stations are limited to the basic local stations." But the key fact is the virtually complete 23-hour-per-day isolation and solitary confinement, which is precisely what all of the empirical data and other evidence I compiled earlier in the week indicates produces long-term psychological damage and even insanity.

  2. I'm going to quarrel with "…one of two bad reasons: spite, or a desire to coerce testimony…." – a third reason is possible, and that is deterrence. If I were another possible Bradley Manning, tempted to seek notoriety and get back at my bosses whom I disliked at, say, NSA, hearing about the conditions under which Manning is being held might take a lot of the wind out of my sails. Is that an adequate reason? Haven't thought about enough to have an opinion. But it is at least as plausible as the two you have identified.

  3. Anyone who called for Bush to be impeached for torture should be saying the same for Obama. This won't happen, however, not only because of Democrats' hypocrisy, but because torture is no longer as shocking as it was when Bush did it.

  4. Dave Schutz,

    Deterrence is a legitimate basis for punishing people who have been convicted, not for those awaiting trial. In any case, your deterrence argument proves too much, because it would justify any treatment, including torturing Manning to death.

  5. Manning's treatment, as reported by that bilious fool Glenn Greenwald, doesn't sound very nice. But the notion that it rises to anything approaching torture is ludicrous. The man is fed, clothed, kept warm, allowed to sleep, read, and watch television.

    I'm not going to call these kinds of linguistic contortions Orwellian. They aren't as distasteful as the previous administration's disingenuous arguments in the opposite direction. But they ultimately have the same effect of making it hard for us to draw the distinctions we must draw in making ethical decisions.

  6. Dave Schutz,

    I agree that that Manning’s treatment is mostly intended as a form of “deterrence”. (Possibly also to compel his confession and testimony against Assange, but I believe that the main purpose is to deter future leakers). I have little doubt that once Assange is in American custody, he too will be tortured, degraded, broken and then given a show trial. People will see that these two men will be broken and their lives destroyed. They will be forced to serve long prison sentences during which they will be treated horribly. I believe the Obama administration thinks this will end the WikiLeaks problem because the supporters of WikiLeaks will fear being handed over to the Americans and so they will be deterred from speaking out or from publishing leaked information which is embarrassing to the government. China and has been doing this quite successfully for years and I believe this is the plan of the Obama administration.

  7. (Klieman): "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."

    a) Valerie Plame was never a noc. She carried a black (diplomatic) passport on her first overseas assignment, with the Athens embassy. Plame worked "undercover" only in the sense that the CIA used the shell corporation, Brewster/Jennings, to hide bureaucratic bloat from Congress.

    b) Richard Armitage told Robert Novak that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, not "Rove and Cheney". Further, there is no injury in asserting that someone is a CIA analyst. If anything, it supports Ambassador Wilson's claims to expert knowledge.

    c) According to a congressional investigation, Ambassador Wilson's inquiries supported the CIA's conclusion that Iraq sought uranium ore in Niger. Ambassador Wilson testified that he related this to a journalist who used him as a source (David Corn, evidently) and he (Corn) heard "did not" when Wilson said "did". I wonder why no one has ever asked David Corn about this. I also wonder if Plame joined the conversation during David Corn's conversations with Ambassador Wilson. In other words, did Wilson and Plame reveal Plame's relation with the CIA to David Corn?

  8. Mark,

    This is what I mean. Leaving aside the hyperbolic and hyperventilating "tortured, degraded, [and] broken" bit, Mitch Guthman above believes that Assange will be given a "show trial". You know, like the show trials that Stalin staged in the Soviet Union when people were forced to confess to nonexistent crimes and then executed.

    Mr. diZerega, "I know you are but what am I" doesn't constitute an argument, except in a Monty Python sketch.

  9. Let's get real Mr. Birnbaum.

    He has had no trial, not that you seem to care. These conditions will undermine his ability to think clearly in order to defend himself when he has one.

    He is kept in conditions that have been shown repeatedly to break down a person's mind.

    You describe these conditions as acceptable.

    I think the Orwell comparison is quite apt.

  10. Malcolm Kirkpatrick: No doubt to be a REAL Spy Plame would have had to carry a passport stamped "Double Super Secret Agent" and worn the secret decoder ring that all real CIA undercover agents have. That and known that you should never shake a martini as it bruises the gin.

  11. Manning is probably being tortured for the same reason that people are always tortured – to extort false confessions from them. It seems clear that the FBI is attempting to concoct a criminal case against Assange, and Manning will be the star witness. So he's going to have to say whatever they need him to say, and torture is the best way to get that testimony. We're at the moral level of North Koreans now.

  12. Fred,

    "NOC" = Non-oficial cover, a spy. These would carry the standard blue passport of business travelers, students, or tourists, or not be US citizens at all. CIA employees with diplomatic immunity, like Valerie Plame in Athens, do not qualify. Analysts who openly commute to Langley, like Valerie Plame with Brewster/Jennings in the US, do not qualify.

  13. Now we know why Obama would not prosecute Bush for torture: he approves of torture and did not want to set a precedent that would open himself up to prosecution by a future president.

  14. larry birnbaum,

    I think you are begging the question regarding “show trials”. In fact, many of our recent “terrorism” criminal trials have had elements of the show trial particularly with respect to rulings about the admissibility of evidence that would not be permitted in a real criminal trial. Probably the clearest example of this was a series of decisions by Judge Brinkema’s in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui to admit evidence related to the events of September 11th even though the defendant was neither accused nor convicted of having participated in the events of that day. Indeed, on the Government’s own evidence, it was clear that Moussaoui was not the 20th hijacker as the jury had been told in pretrial leaks and probably was completely unaware of the actual plot.

    Other “major” terrorism trials have featured similar evidentiary rulings as well as government orchestrated pretrial propaganda campaigns. These propaganda campaigns and the use of testimony obtained by torture are both classic elements of the show trial. I suspect that the use of torture on Manning (as described by Glenn Greenwald and others) may be intended to take us further down that road by breaking the defendant and forcing him to confess in open court in an effort to preserve what little of his live and personality remain to him. The article linked to by Bloix supports this thesis. We aren't the Soviet Union China yet but I believe we are well on our way.

  15. Malcolm Kirkpatrick,

    I do not think that your factual claim are accurate. In the first place, the evidence from the Libby trial was clear that she was not openly a CIA employee during most of her time with that agency. There was clear testimony that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003. The unclassified summary of Plame’s employment history said that "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States." And also: “she [Plame]traveled at least seven times to more than ten times…sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias — but always using cover — whether official or non-official (NOC) — with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

    Second, you seem to be saying that only “non-official cover” agents (as I think the CIA calls such people) are the only one who would properly be considered to be “covert” but I don’t think this is correct. I think you are confusing the terms “legal” and “illegal” are they were used in during the Cold War. In fact, most "covert agents" use some form of diplomatic cover, often under their real names. What made her "covert" was not the type of passport she used, nor whether she traveled under an assumed name. Rather, she was "covert" because she did not disclose her relationship to the CIA and, indeed, went to considerable effort to conceal it.

    Again, it isn't necessary to be an "illegal" to be a covert agent. In fact, most covert agents have diplomatic cover. In KGB parlance, such agents are called “legal residents”. A "legal resident" agent was someone who spied from the Soviet (or other Warsaw Pact) embassy or trade mission and was always protected by diplomatic immunity. He or she would have some sort of cover, such as being ostensibly employed as a commercial, cultural or military attaché or even a chauffeur. An analogy might be the “Ace” Rothstein character in the movie Casino. He has been sent by organized crime to run the Tangiers but for licensing reasons he does so in his ostensible job of beverage manager. Similarly, the KGB rezident in Washington might be listed as a lowly commercial attaché even though he would basically outrank the ambassador. The fact that he worked under diplomatic cover did not mean that he was not a “covert agent”. "Ace" Rothstein was carried on the books as the beverage manager to hide his true role. In fact, he ran the casino.

    “Illegals” are not simply people who have some kind of “non-official cover”. They are often agents who are able to establish themselves under very deep covers, often as living for decades as nationals of the target country. They are people like Alexander Ulanovsky and Gordon Lonsdale. True “illegals” are the very rarest of birds. I seriously doubt whether the CIA has ever hand any true illegals in the countries it targeted during the Cold War and almost certainly nobody has “illegals” in places like Iran or North Korea.

  16. "We’re at the moral level of North Koreans now."

    "Now we know why Obama would not prosecute Bush for torture: he approves of torture…"

    "We aren’t the Soviet Union China yet but I believe we are well on our way."

    I feel pretty much the same about this kind of thinking and rhetoric as I do about "Tea Party" thinking and rhetoric. Disgusted.

  17. Anon,

    An embassy employee with a diplomatic passport has official cover. Such are not covert agents. There is no cover to be blown. Tell the counter-intelligence agents of the target country that some "cultural attache" of the US embassy works for the CIA and the response will be a yawn: "And…?". Plame's employment with Brewster/Jennings was covert only in the sense that it hid bureaucatic bloat from Congress.

    (Anon): " '…she [Plame]traveled at least seven times to more than ten times…sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias — but always using cover — whether official or non-official (NOC) — with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.' ”

    We agree. If Valerie Plame worked overseas as an embassy employee, the embassy carried her on the books as a State or Commerce department employee. That's "official cover" and gives CIA employees diplomatic immunity. Once she is so marked, she is forever not a NOC; that's like recovering your virginity after giving birth.

  18. Mark – since the Espionage Act is presumably limited by the Brandenberg test, I wonder if you could explain what 1) the act criminalizes that is 2) not non-enforceable that 3) clearly applies to Manning.

  19. The author of the comment at 1:15 today was me, Mitch Guthman. I wasn’t seeking anonymity, just having trouble typing on my new iPad. Sorry.

    On the merits of your response: The problem I have with your definition of “covert agent” is that it does not seem sensible to say that no one operating with diplomatic cover can be a “covert agent”. I do not see why that is so and the analysis you provide is not at all compelling. We know, for example and contrary to your assertion, that a significant amount of time and effort was spent by the FBI, MI5 and SIS (and others) in determining who at Soviet embassies and trade mission was merely a cultural attaché and who was part of the KGB and GRU rezidenty. It may come as a surprise, but the Soviet Union had many of it citizens stationed abroad as journalists, trade representatives, Aeroflot clerks and diplomats, etc. The vast majority of these people were not agents and KGB and GRU agents were, at first glance, indistinguishable from people actually performing those legitimate functions. It was only through carefully observation and detailed record keeping that actual trade representatives, Aeroflot clerks and the like could be distinguished from agents of the KGB and GRU.

    A quick glance through the Mitrokhin Archive or any decent history of Cold War espionage activity will demonstrate that your cramped definition does not comport with reality. There were many significant Soviet agents who operated as “legals” under diplomatic cover for long periods of time without being known to Western counterintelligence. Aleksandr Mikhailovich Orlov, Vasily Mikhailovich Zarubin, Alexander Vassiliev come immediately to mind as significant Soviet agents mentioned in the Mitrokhin Archive who at various times operated under diplomatic cover as “legals” without being identified as such for long periods of time (insofar as published histories can be trusted).

    Moreover, I do not see how the fact that CIA personnel under diplomatic cover can be identified as such with some effort makes them any less covert. That the “Revolutionary Organization 17 November” was able to identify the CIA’s station chief in Athens, Richard Welch, and assassinate does not mean that he was not a covert agent. Indeed, the Welch case was one of the main It simply means that because of certain deeply ingrained flaws of trade-craft and institutional culture, American intelligence personnel are remarkably easy to identify even without the ability to conduct long-term surveillance and without a good record-keeping system. For whatever reason, the CIA has a very poor track record as regards keeping their station personnels’ identities secret but this does not mean that they are not trying to maintain their covert status.

    By contrast, the standard which you set would consider employees of so-called “NOC” organizations like Air America to be genuine covert operatives even though that organization and its employees made no real effort to hide its identity as “the CIA’s secret airline". At the same time, nearly all mainline American intelligence operatives would not be considered by you as being “covert agents” because they operate (or have at some point operated) under diplomatic cover. This is an absurd result but one which seems compelled by your desire to provide political justification for the members of the Bush administration to have leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent as part of an effort to discredit a critic of President Bush and intimidate others from speaking out.

  20. Does anyone have any sense of the strength of the case against Manning? Is it just Lomo's allegations? He hasn't been brought to trial yet, even though he's not in Guantanamo, so perhaps the prosecutors have some problems with evidence.

  21. (1) No U.S. court to my knowledge has held that supermax conditions are torture or "cruel and unusual punishment." I think that, over a period of months or years, that may be a mistake, but if we are talking about what the law — pre-Dubya law — has said, that needs to be considered.

    (2) Manning's jailor says that he is being held in the normal pre-trial confinement conditions at Quantico. Is that true? I don't know. Is it proper for him to be held at Quantico at all? I don't know.

    (3) If Manning were a civilian, there would be firmer limits on how he could be treated prior to trial — "innocent until proved guilty." But what does military law provide? I don't know.

    I think responsible observers should be seeking more facts right now, not calling this treatment "torture." What Jose Padilla suffered was torture. It's not clear to me that Manning's treatment meets that, however objectionable it may be on other grounds.

  22. (Mitch): "This is an absurd result but one which seems compelled by your desire to provide political justification for the members of the Bush administration to have leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent as part of an effort to discredit a critic of President Bush and intimidate others from speaking out."

    Valerie Plame carried a diplomatic passport on her first overseas assignment. She was not a "NOC". Richard Armitage was a State Department employee, a "member of the Bush administration" only in the sense that every current Interior Department janitor is a member of the Obama administration. Valerie Plame's employment as a CIA analyst supported, rather than discredited, whatever Ambassader Wilson concluded about the Iraq/Niger relationship. Do you contend that Armitage was motivated by a desire "to discredit a critic of President Bush and intimidate others from speaking out"? Even though Patrick Fitzgerald knows who revealed Valerie Plame's employment with the CIA, no one has been charged with that "crime".

  23. Malcolm:

    The Intelligence Identities Protection Act says nothing about non-official cover. It just requires that the CIA has taken some step to protect the person's identity. ANY sort of cover is thus sufficient.

    So stop being a Bush toady.

  24. Malcolm,

    I do not understand your preoccupation with Plame’s having carried a diplomatic passport. If published accounts are accurate, during the Cold War and still today, nearly all of the CIA’s operational personnel use diplomatic cover and carry diplomatic passports. This would include what they call “case agents” who are involved in recruiting and servicing spies. My understanding is that this is preferred by all intelligence agencies whenever possible because it greatly improves the chances of getting agents back if something goes wrong.

    Again, your preoccupation with defending the Bush administration leads you to support the absurd result that agents the CIA itself considers to be “covert” (and for whom they made some effort to create an undercover persona) can not be “covert” because then Plame would have been “covert”. By contrast, agents and others who work for so-called “NOC” outfits like Air America are “covert” even though the organization they work for is widely known to the public (and not simply other intelligence agencies) as a part of the CIA.

  25. Dilan,

    Make an argument without insults and I'll address it. Otherwise, I'll either ignore you or respond in kind,

    (Mitch): "I do not understand your preoccupation with Plame’s having carried a diplomatic passport. If published accounts are accurate, during the Cold War and still today, nearly all of the CIA’s operational personnel use diplomatic cover and carry diplomatic passports."

    The janitors and analysts who work for the CIA are not spies. Most CIA employees are not spies. The lady who wrote the act which protects identities of covert agents (Toensing) said it did not apply to Valerie Plame.

    "Toensing was retained by media organizations to comment on the Plame Affair. In March 2005 Toensing submitted an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, two journalists who were subpoenaed in the Valerie Plame investigation for refusing to reveal information obtained from confidential sources. In the brief, she argued that 'there exists ample evidence in the public record to cast serious doubt as to whether a crime has even been committed under the Intelligence Protection Act in the investigation underlying the attempts to secure testimony from Miller and Cooper.' "

    Fitzgerald's failure to prosecute Armitage suggests that this is the case. Further, as I said, Valerie Plame's employment as a CIA analyst supports rather than discredits her husband's assessment.

  26. Assuming that Plame was a covert op, the fact remains that she was "outed" by Armitage, not by Rove. Period, end of story.

  27. No point in rearguing the Plame case. If you want to believe the fiction that was the left's view, go ahead. The facts are in Mr. Kirkpatrick's comment and have been known for some time. And everyone knew (including the special prosecutor) that Armitage did the outing, and he was left alone, of course.

    As for Bradley Manning, he is in a military brig, and if this is now the definition of torture, then words mean nothing. There was a time he might have been tried, convicted and hung by now as a traitor, so I would say he is getting fairly humane treatment by comparison. He is entitled to a speedy trial, but otherwise, I don't see that his rights have been abused. Military justice is not known for providing country club style jails for its defendants; sort of makes you wonder why gays are so desperate to sign on.

    Well you guys got two weeks left to get any more mischief done, then school's out for a while. Thank goodness.

  28. "Military justice is not known for providing country club style jails for its defendants; sort of makes you wonder why gays are so desperate to sign on."

    Equally disgusting. Why is it so hard to fathom the following: That America is not "at the moral level of North Koreans"; that President Obama does not "support torture"; that our Republic is not "well on our way" to Stalinism; that the Army is not "torturing Bradley Manning".

    And that a touchstone of why that is the case is that we ultimately reject this kind of winking, sadistic homophobia.

    I believe this blog is entitle "The Reality-Based Community." Can we get back to reality, please? It's sorely needed.

  29. Malcolm:

    I made my argument. You ignored it because you know I am right.

    Look, the Plame leaks were indefensible and you are posting Bush talking points. There's no reason anyone should think that you are honest rather than a Republican troll.

  30. We have three topics here: 1) cold war legal policy on espionage, journalism, and detention, 2) prison policy on the choice between (likely) prison rape and (likely) isolation-induced insanity, and 3) Bradley Manning.

    1. It was nearly inevitable when Muhammad Atta and his crew dropped the WTC that democracies would have to face the fact that the apparent categorical difference between "war" and "peace" is in fact a continuum: in peacetime, State agents act with a presumption of innocence while in wartime they act (in free-fire zones) with a presumption of guilt. "Presumption" is a continuous variable. That is, if a police officer, responding to a bank robbery/hostage situation, sees someone, holding a dark, extended object, running toward a position occupied by fellow officers, shoots, and kills a stockbroker with an umbrella, that officer gets desk duty, and may face charges, while his supervisors investigate. If a soldier in a firefight sees someone, holding a dark, extended object, running toward a position occupied by his fellow soldiers, shoots, and kills a peasant with a hoe, well, congratulations on a one-shot kill, son. If Manning and Assange revealed information that puts soldiers or allies at risk, there is no good reason not to treat them as enemy agents (Assange) or traitors (Manning). Richard Fernandez wrote ahout this on his Belmont Club blog.

    2. Prison policy is a huge topic that deserves more consideration without the distraction of the details of specific cases that resulted in the incarceration. Whether it's treason or contempt of court over a refusal to pay a traffic ticket, does society derive any benefit that's worth the cost in current rates of incarceration, prison rape, and isolation-induced mental illness? To those who point to falling crime rates and rising incarceration, as though this is natural cause and effect, I ask: "What about societies with lower rates of crime and incarceration?" What are they doing right?

    3. I'll wait. Just a thought: If Manning's act is treason, why treat Major Hasan's Fort Hood shootings as something other than treason or enemy action?

  31. Dilan,

    I ignored you because you're rude and stupid. Bush administration officials will tell you that 2+2 = 4. I agree. Is this a "talking point"? You generalize improperly from one case. You are bipedal and warm blooded. Does this make you a bird? I'm hardly defending "the Bush administration" when I discuss one event. If you cared to discuss education policy, monetary policy, drug policy, the prescription drug benefit, immigration policy, abortion policy, etc., you'd find lots of difference between mainstream Republicans and my views.

    I addressed your argument in my reply to Mitch.

  32. To Larry Birnbaum:

    You're right, we need to get back to reality, especially after the view through your peculiarly rose colored glasses. The facts are that 1) Manning is being tortured – if you think not,you only display a peculiar lack of knowledge re: the human mind. As to wheter or not Obama supports torture – we continue the treatment of Manning, and we continue the process of rendition – under the leadership of Obama. Now, you may argue that these facts don't place us on the track to Stalinism or on a moral par with North Korea, that clearly is opinion, but the facts remain and your denial merely demonstrates your lack of understanding of very well established facts.

  33. The facts are that 1) Manning is being tortured – if you think not,you only display a peculiar lack of knowledge re: the human mind.

    Or perhaps you display a not-terribly-peculiar lack of knowledge re: the law on torture? I would be happy to see supermax conditions outlawed as torture, but no court has done so, and I don't think that Manning is in full-bore supermax, or that supermax rises to "torture" for the relatively short time Manning has been in them.

    I'm happy to be corrected with legal citations.

  34. I'll admit a lack of knowledge regarding super-max. From your comment I take it that this is more or less common. Is that including sleep deprivation? The fact that no one in our judicial system has ruled it torture is not evidence that it's not torture. It is evidence of the general incompetence of much of the judiciary. I am familiar with the effects of isolation and sleep deprivation, over both short terms (days and weeks) and longer terms such as months. The conditions described in several places makes it clear that what is being done is torture and it is wrong. I don't doubt that Manning has broken the law, although I thinik to a lesser degree than Ellsberg, and while I certainly can imagine that he will be convicted some day, I hope that his sentence will reflct that.

Comments are closed.