[HCCN] fw: Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning abuse

Judith Robbins judy at robbinsandrobbins.com
Sat Mar 12 20:10:31 EST 2011



Published on Saturday, March 12, 2011 by the Guardian/UK
This Shameful Abuse of Bradley Manning
The WikiLeaks suspect's mistreatment amounts to torture. Either  
President Obama knows this or he should make it his business.
by Daniel Ellsberg
President Obama tells us that he's asked the Pentagon whether the  
conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged  
with leaking state secrets, "are appropriate and are meeting our  
basic standards. They assure me that they are."

If Obama believes that, he'll believe anything. I would hope he would  
know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they've been  
behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a  
press conference the same thing: "I was assured by the the White  
House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's  
doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards."

When that criminal behavior ordered from the Oval Office came out,  
Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed.  
But if President Obama really doesn't yet know the actual conditions  
of Manning's detention – if he really believes, as he's said, that  
"some of this [nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation] has  
to do with Private Manning's wellbeing", despite the contrary  
judgments of the prison psychologist – then he's being lied to, and  
he needs to get a grip on his administration.

If he does know, and agrees that it's appropriate or even legal, that  
doesn't speak well for his memory of the courses he taught on  
constitutional law.

The president refused to comment on PJ Crowley's statement that the  
treatment of Manning is "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid".  
Those words are true enough as far as they go – which is probably  
about as far as a state department spokesperson can allow himself to  
go in condemning actions of the defence department. But at least two  
other words are called for: abusive and illegal.

Crowley was responding to a question about the "torturing" of an  
American citizen, and, creditably, he didn't rebut that description.  
Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity – that's right out of  
the manual of the CIA for "enhanced interrogation". We've seen it  
applied in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. It's what the CIA calls "no- 
touch torture", and its purpose there, as in this case, is very  
clear: to demoralize someone to the point of offering a desired  
confession. That's what they are after, I suspect, with Manning. They  
don't care if the confession is true or false, so long as it  
implicates WikiLeaks in a way that will help them prosecute Julian  
Assange.

That's just my guess, as to their motives. But it does not affect the  
illegality of the behavior. If I'm right, it's likely that such harsh  
treatment wasn't ordered at the level of a warrant officer or the  
brig commander. The fact that they have continued to inflict such  
suffering on the prisoner despite weeks of complaint from his defence  
counsel, harsh publicity and condemnation from organizations such as  
Amnesty International, suggests to me that it might have come from  
high levels of the defence department or the justice department, if  
not from the White House itself.

It's no coincidence that it's someone from the state department who  
has gone off-message to speak out about this. When a branch of the US  
government makes a mockery of our pretensions to honor the rule of  
law, specifically our obligation not to use torture, the state  
department bears the brunt of that, as it affects our standing in the  
world.

The fact that Manning's abusive mistreatment is going on at Quantico  
– where I spent nine months as a Marine officer in basic school – and  
that Marines are lying about it, makes me feel ashamed for the Corps.  
Just three years as an infantry officer was more than enough time for  
me to know that what is going on there is illegal behavior that must  
be stopped and disciplined.

© 2011 Guardian/UK

Daniel Ellsberg was put on trial in 1973 for leaking the Pentagon  
Papers, but the case was dismissed after four months because of  
government misconduct. He is the author of "Secrets: A Memoir of  
Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers."

more Daniel Ellsberg
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Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org
Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/12

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