Bradley Manning is accused of leaking documents that described serious flaws in U.S. foreign policy in an effort to start a debate that would lead to a more perfect union. This patriotism for America has resulted in him being denied due process and treated inhumanely — virtual solitary confinement for ten months and now forced nudity. The actions of the government are inconsistent with the rhetoric of President Obama and Secretary Clinton; and inconsistent with what the U.S. Constitution requires.
Reports that Bradley Manning is being held nude every night at the Quantico Brig, then forced to stand naked in the hallway while he waits for his clothes, shows the inconsistency of the treatment of Manning with basic American values of due process, fair trial and human dignity.
Here is how his lawyer David Coombs describes his treatment:
“The Brig has stripped PFC Manning of all of his clothing for the past three nights, and they intend to continue this practice indefinitely. Each night, Brig guards force PFC Manning to relinquish all of his clothing. He then lies in a cold jail cell naked until the following morning, when he is required to endure the humiliation of standing naked at attention for the morning roll call. According to Marine spokesperson, First Lieutenant Brian Villiard, the decision to strip him naked every night is for PFC Manning’s own protection. Villiard stated that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to explain what prompted these actions ‘because to discuss the details would be a violation of PFC Manning’s privacy’.”
Manning, who has not been convicted of anything, has been held in virtual solitary confinement for ten months. David House who has visited him since September described him as “emotionally exhausted” and “catatonic.” The Constitution declares a right to bail, yet Manning who is not a risk of flight is denied bail. Americans are required to be provided due process of law and a trial before a jury of their peers before being punished. There is no provision in the Constitution allowing punishment before trial yet Manning is being punished … //
… How are the statements of President Obama and Secretary Clinton consistent with charging Manning with a death penalty offense based on allegations of leaking documents that showed war crimes as well as crimes by U.S. diplomats? How is it consistent with the rule of law to punish Manning before he is convicted and hold him in solitary confinement with forced nudity? Doesn’t the United States like other countries need informed citizens who can hold their government accountable?
The president and secretary of state should apply the standards they tell the rest of the world to live up to, to the United States and in particular to Bradley Manning. If they did not only would he be released on bail but the charges against him would be dropped and he would be proclaimed a hero for living up to the greatest ideals of patriotic Americans, generations of whom have worked to create a more perfect union.
Kevin Zeese serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network. (full text).
(Kevin Zeese serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network).