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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow Torture

Most people have heard about "Chinese water torture". Drip, drip, drip. The successive drops of water landing on your head are enough to make you crazy. It is a slow form of torture, slow and painless, and it leaves no marks. You were obviously crazy to begin with.

Long-term solitary confinement is a similar slow form of torture. It leaves no marks. Stop talking for nine months, and you forget how to talk. Stop listening and you forget how to listen. Hallucinations begin. The brain devolves.

Long-term solitary was used in the Charleston SC brig on prisoner Jose Padilla. This, along with stress interrogation, reduced his mind to shambles.

By January 2011, after almost nine months imprisonment, Bradley Manning was beginning to speak only slowly and haltingly, evidence that the regime of confinement was having some effect. According to FireDogLake, his guards began to play brutal games, taking turns giving him contradictory orders. And...
"... After Manning returned to his cell from recreation, Averhart came to his cell, declared he was, for all practical purposes, Manning’s God. Then, he ordered Manning be stripped and put on suicide watch..."
Manning was required to sleep naked under bright lights.

Protests occurred, growing ever-larger for several months. The committee of 300 lawyers whose protest letter is below may have helped impel this decision, as well as the many letters to the President written by individuals. And the protests and arrests.

At the end of April, Manning was moved to Fort Leavenworth and put in medium custody, where he has human contact and was doing well when last heard from.

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