The Bradley Manning Project

A prisoner accused of a crime was held from May 2010 until April 2011 in a Virginia military prison but was never brought to trial. He was being punished before trial by being held in solitary, with no prisoners in the adjacent cells to talk to. He slept under bright lights and cameras, and for some time he was forced to sleep naked. He was asked every 5 minutes if he was ok. He was required to respond, even if asleep. Done for 11 months, 23 hours a day, this is torture, and violates international law, United States law, the Constitution, and standards of human decency. Pretrial punishment is illegal.

A growing wave of outcry developed. There were arrests at Quantico's gate, a letter to the President from his mentor in Constitutional Law and 300 other lawyers. Then there was a stumble by the President. He accidentally spoke of the prisoner as if he were already convicted. A hasty press conference was called, announcing that the prisoner awaiting trial would soon be moved to a medium security cell at Fort Leavenworth. The torture was over.

How soon will this prisoner be brought to trial? How much of a case does the Army have against him? Possibly a very weak one, for it to be so long in the making. Perhaps there will be a "show trial".

Unfortunately, bringing him to a proper trial would make a public record of US violence against civilians. Machine gunners in a helicopter shot newsmen and kids who were witnessing a firefight. The prisoner is accused of exposing this crime. So he sits, waiting forever.

Or until we get him out.

His name is Bradley Manning.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Letter From Laurence Tribe And Friends

President Obama sits in the captain's chair of the American military. He is the supreme commander of the armed forces. He can order that Bradley Manning be released on bail until he comes to trial. Contrary to some people's belief, he does not exert command authority over all Americans, but he does have the ability to assert command authority over the military.

Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of Constitutional Law who was Obama's mentor at Harvard, where Obama ran the Harvard Law Review, has joined with over 250 other lawyers, calling on Obama to obey the 5th and the 8th amendments to the Constitution and to stop the pre-trial punishment of Bradley Manning. Here is their letter.

Here are some choice parts of the letter:

"Private Manning’s Humiliation

Bradley Manning is the soldier charged with leaking U.S. government documents to Wikileaks.

He is currently detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.

For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for 23 hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question “Are you OK?” verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again, “are you OK” every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a "smock" under claims of risk to himself that he disputes."

"The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, “the administration or application… of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.” "
"If Manning is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and punished according to law. But his treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no excuse for his degrading and inhumane pre-trial punishment. As the State Department’s PJ Crowly put it recently, they are “counterproductive and stupid.” And yet Crowley has now been forced to resign for speaking the plain truth.

The Wikileaks disclosures have touched every corner of the world. Now the whole world watches America and observes what it does; not what it says."

The letter also points out that Manning has been declared not to be a suicide threat or a social problem by the prison psychiatrist several times, yet he is being held in isolation in maximum security:
"Private Manning has been designated as an appropriate subject for both Maximum Security and Prevention of Injury (POI) detention. But he asserts that his administrative reports consistently describe him as a well-behaved prisoner who does not fit the requirements for Maximum Security detention. The Brig psychiatrist began recommending his removal from Prevention of Injury months ago. These claims have not been publicly contested. In an Orwellian twist, the spokesman for the brig commander refused to explain the forced nudity “because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.”"
Would you like to sign the Tribe letter?
"If you'd like to add your signature, please send your name and institutional affiliation to Signatories added below in periodic updates."

The more who sign the Tribe letter, the freer we will be.

Obama can release him on bail.

You can tell Obama that you would like him to do this. For the survival of the system we believe in. Yes, you can!

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