Is Bradley Manning being tortured?
Manning has been in solitary confinement for the past 10 months, under a prevention-of-injury order that keeps him locked in his cell for 23 hours a day and stripped naked at night.
Free speech in America apparently doesn’t extend to government officials, said Luis Lema in Switzerland’s Le Temps. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was fired this week for speaking out against the brutal treatment of Bradley Manning, the young soldier accused of giving tens of thousands of U.S. military documents to WikiLeaks. Manning has been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 months, subject to a prevention-of-injury order that keeps him locked in his cell for 23 hours a day and stripped naked at night. Crowley called that treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”—and it’s hard not to agree. President Obama, exasperated by the flap, insisted that the Pentagon had assured him that Manning’s detention conditions were “appropriate.” But “skeptics might point out that George Bush, too, placed his full confidence” in the Pentagon’s interrogation methods.
It’s quite a “radical turnaround” for Obama, said John Goetz in Germany’s Der Spiegel. One of Obama’s campaign pledges was that government whistle-blowers would be “protected from reprisal.” But his government is currently pursuing legal action “against a number of such informants,” including Manning. Of course, given the gravity of the charges against Manning, it’s understandable that he was initially placed under high security. But over the months he has been a model prisoner, and even the military psychologist recommended “virtually every week” that he be treated like other prisoners. It seems clear that he has, in fact, been singled out for harsh treatment.
The “stench of U.S. hypocrisy” is nauseating, said Ryan Gallagher in the London Guardian. Manning has been convicted of no crime. Yet he has been held in isolation in a stark room that’s 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. “For the one hour each day he is allowed free from his windowless cell, he is taken to an empty room where he is allowed to walk but not run.” When he complained, the guards retaliated by putting him on suicide watch, forcing him to strip naked every morning and stand with his arms and legs outstretched for inspection. The one friend who has been allowed to visit him reports that Manning has gone from a “bright-eyed, intelligent young man” to someone who at times has appeared “catatonic,” with “very high difficulty carrying on day-to-day conversation.” In recent weeks, the U.S. government has condemned torture by the brutal, falling regimes in the Middle East, “yet at a prison within its own borders it sanctions the persecution, alleged psychological torture, and debasement of a young soldier.” Why don’t the American media point this out?
It’s not just the Americans who are ignoring this injustice, said Nicole Muchnik in Spain’s El País. Many Europeans have been passionate defenders of the rights of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. We have denounced his extradition to Sweden to face sexual-assault charges; we have declared him persecuted as a “champion of democratic transparency” for his courage in daring to make public American military documents. Yet all the while, “the real hero has languished in prison.”