The ACLU issued the following yesterday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NEW YORK – In a letter sent today to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the American Civil Liberties Union charged the “gratuitously harsh treatment” to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Pfc. Bradley Manning in military custody is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and serves no purpose other than to degrade, humiliate and traumatize him.
Manning, imprisoned for the past nine months at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia on charges of handing government files to WikiLeaks, has not been tried or convicted of any crime. He is reportedly being held in solitary confinement, which includes being forced to remain in his cell for 23 hours a day, and is stripped naked at night.
“The Supreme Court has long held that the government violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment whenever it ‘unnecessarily and wantonly inflicts pain,’ the ACLU’s letter reads. “No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read. Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution.”
Following the resignation this week of P.J. Crowley, the former State Department spokesman who called Manning’s treatment “counterproductive and stupid,” President Obama said Pentagon officials had assured him that the conditions of Manning’s confinement are appropriate and meet basic standards.
“Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution,” the ACLU’s letter reads.
The full text of the letter to Defense Secretary Gates can be found below:
March 16, 2011
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
United States Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Gates,
On behalf of the ACLU and its members, I write to express our grave concern about the inhumane conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning is being confined in the Quantico Base Brig. As a pretrial detainee who has been convicted of no crime, Private Manning may not be subjected to punitive treatment. Based on the reports of Private Manning and his counsel, it is clear the gratuitously harsh treatment to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Private Manning violates fundamental constitutional norms.
The Supreme Court has long held that the government violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment whenever it “unnecessarily and wantonly inflicts pain.” No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read. Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution.
Nor has the Department of Defense any legitimate purpose in requiring Private Manning to stand naked in his observation cell at “parade rest,” with legs spread and genitals displayed, in full view of guards and other officers. The very purpose of such treatment is to degrade, humiliate, and traumatize -- a purpose that cannot be squared with what the Supreme Court has described as “the basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment, which is nothing less than the dignity of man.”
President Obama recently stated that Private Manning’s conditions comply with the Pentagon’s “basic standards.” Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution. We ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that Private Manning is treated lawfully and humanely.
Anthony D. Romero
The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle weighs in today on Bradley, the firing of State Dept spokesperson Philip J. Crowley for criticizing the inhumane treatment of Bradley and more: "President Obama made things worse by insisting that Manning's treatment was 'legal.' In the past decade this country has insisted that many horrible imprisonment procedures were legal. Obama campaigned on the promise that just because some things were 'legal' didn't mean that they were right. He should heed his own words on the Manning case."
Meanwhile, if you want to laugh at idiots, go to Socialist Worker and, in fairness to them, they didn't write the nonsense, the Bradley Manning Support Group did. Someone tell them and Daniel Ellsberg to shut the f**k up. I'm not a person who uses the phrase "shut up" in day-to-day life. (By contrast, I use the f-word all the time.) But they need to. They need to buy a damn clue. "He's my hero,"pants Daniel.
Why would that be?
Because he's being tortued?
No, he's Daniel's hero because Daniel's saying Brad's the WikiLeaker.
Daniel, you're increasingly foolish. You need to just take yourself a time out and think about what you're saying. I'm reminded of a war resister whose family was appalled by what some of the 'supporters' were saying on his behalf but were afraid to call them on it because they were afraid it would hurt the war resister. (And, golly gee, Jeff Patterson was involved in the group doing the damage both times. Go figure.)
Bradley is not being "supported" with assertions that he's guilty. If he wanted to plead guilty, he would have by now. He does have an attorney. So if Daniel and Jeff's ridiculous group wants to "support" Bradley it's time for them to get their s**ty little act together and stop doing damage. You'll also note, in their bad and sexist article, that they can name Hillary -- who had nothing to do with the firing (Crowley is and was a Clintonista) but they go all rubber knees and dry mouth before they can say "Barack Obama." They have done nothing, NOTHING, for Bradley. They have drawn no support to him.
They have repeatedly written one bad column after another claiming Bradley is guilty. That's not how you defend someone, that's not how you support someone. Bradley is not a political football, he is a person. He will decide how he pleads and, until he does, no one can claim to support him and be believed if they repeatedly go around insisting he did what the government has charged him with. We've said it before, try paying attention, "support" is not fighting the government's case for them. Jeff, we get it. You want to take down the state. So get off you candy asses and go do it. But quit using Bradley as your political football. To defend and support Bradley, you need to be committed to his needs, not to advancing your own political interests. Repeating, he is not a football. For you, this is all just part of the 'struggle.' For Bradley, it's about the rest of his life.
March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.
The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.
While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.
Actions of civil resistance are spreading.
On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.
Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.
The following community sites -- plus War News Radio and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and this morning:
The Korean War, a.k.a. the “Unknown War,” was, in fact, headline news at the time it was being fought(1950-53). Given the Cold War hatreds of the combatants, though, a great deal of the reportage was propaganda, and much of what should have been told was never told. News of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians was routinely suppressed and the full story of the horrific suffering of the Korean people---who lost 3-million souls of a total population of 23-million--- has yet to be told in full. Filling in many of the blank spaces is Bruce Cumings, chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, whose book “The Korean War”(Modern Library Chronicles) takes an objective look at the conflict. In one review, Publishers Weekly says, “In this devastating work he shows how little the U.S. knew about who it was fighting, why it was fighting, and even how it was fighting. Though the North Koreans had a reputation for viciousness, according to Cumings, U.S. soldiers actually engaged in more civilian massacres. This included dropping over half a million tons of bombs and thousands of tons of napalm, more than was loosed on the entire Pacific theater in World War II, almost indiscriminately. The review goes on to say, “Cumings deftly reveals how Korea was a clear precursor to Vietnam: a divided country, fighting a long anti-colonial war with a committed and underestimated enemy; enter the U.S., efforts go poorly, disillusionment spreads among soldiers, and lies are told at top levels in an attempt to ignore or obfuscate a relentless stream of bad news. For those who like their truth unvarnished, Cumings's history will be a fresh, welcome take on events that seemed to have long been settled.”
Interviewed in two one-hour installments by Lawrence Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, producers of Comcast's “Books of Our Time” with the first installment being shown on Sunday, March 20th, Cumings said U.S. coverage of the war was badly slanted. Hanson Baldwin, the military correspondent for The New York Times, described “North Koreans as locusts, like Nazis, like vermin, who come shrieking on. I mean, this is really hard stuff to read in an era when you don't get away with that kind of thinking anymore.” Cumings adds, “Rapes were extremely common. Koreans in the South will still say that that was one of the worst things of the war (was how)many American soldiers were raping Korean women.”
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