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Abominable. March 13, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Politics, Rants.

Just abominable.

Remember when Barack Obama ran for President? Remember how he campaigned hard against the Iraq War and the abuses of authority during this so-called “War on Terror”? Remember how he promised to close Guantanamo Bay? Remember how Obama vowed that the United States would not engage in torture?


Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking government files to WikiLeaks, will be stripped of his clothing every night as a “precautionary measure” to prevent him from injuring himself, an official at the Marine brig at Quantico, Va., said on Friday.

Private Manning will also be required to stand outside his cell naked during a morning inspection, after which his clothing will be returned to him, said a Marine spokesman, First Lt. Brian Villiard.

“Because of recent circumstances, the underwear was taken away from him as a precaution to ensure that he did not injure himself,” Lieutenant Villiard said. “The brig commander has a duty and responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the detainees and to make sure that they are able to stand trial.”

Private Manning is a maximum-security detainee under “prevention of injury watch,” a special set of restrictions — a step his supporters, who contend that he is not suicidal, have said is unjustified. He has not been elevated to the more restrictive “suicide watch” conditions.

Lieutenant Villiard said the new rule on clothing, which would continue indefinitely, had been imposed by the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes. He said that he was not allowed to explain what prompted it “because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.”

Really. The Army is so concerned with Manning’s privacy that they’re willing to present a contrived bit of bullshit in order to justify their inhumane treatment of an alleged “traitor.” Remember, Private Manning hasn’t gone to trial yet—if I remember our jurisprudence, Manning is innocent until proven guilty.

Glenn Greenwald writes,

Let’s review Manning’s detention over the last nine straight months: 23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he’s allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards’ inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards’ full view. Is there anyone who doubts that these measures — and especially this prolonged forced nudity — are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will? As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees — let alone citizens convicted of nothing — are entitled.

How is this at all different from what the Bush Administration allowed to occur at Guantanamo Bay?

You know, this is beyond the pale. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support an administration that will turn a blind eye to torture and dehumanization. If President Obama wants to claim a moral high ground and distinguish himself from his predecessor, then he MUST stop this inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning. It is not enough to merely spout platitudes on one day and then fire officials who criticize you for allowing a prisoner to be mistreated. What adds the insult to the injury is Obama’s response to a question during a recent press conference about Manning’s treatment:

With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are. I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety as well.

Are you fucking kidding me? This is the same kind of nonsense bullshit that would fall from George W. Bush’s lips. This is the same kind of doublespeak that, a few years ago, would have been decried as “Orwellian.” What the hell do you mean you “have actually asked the Pentagon…”? Asked? You’re the goddamn President! Commander-in-Chief! You don’t ask the abuser if his/her tactics are appropriate—you stop the abuse and tell them what the standards are.

President Obama, you are no better than the war criminal who preceded you.



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