Thursday, December 16, 2010

Evidence the incarceration of Bradley Manning is torture

Is 23 year-old Bradley Manning, not convicted of any crime, being tortured by the US government?

Glenn Greenwald describes the incarceration of Bradley Manning, a dual citizen of the US and UK who is a whistle-blower and the presumed leaker of most of the material that WikiLeaks released in 2010:
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.  For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch)...

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado:  all without so much as having been convicted of anything.  And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.
Is Bradley Manning being tortured?  This is how I see it:   if the administration of drugs would routinely be considered necessary under the circumstances of Manning's confinement, then the prisoner is quite clearly being tortured.

Administering drugs in attempt to shift the threshold of human endurance is not legal in sports. Likewise, it should not be legal when it comes to incarceration. I think any medical personnel  associated with drugging prisoners in order that they may withstand higher thresholds of physical or mental deprivation than would otherwise tend to be endurable are engaged in something unethical that must surely be illegal. I believe that such medical professionals are accomplices to torture. 

Otherwise, the Western legal system crumbles.   States could justify various torture techniques on the basis that a drugged and abused prisoner did not experience much pain.   Or the government might administer an otherwise "cruel and unusual punishment," justified on the basis that a convicted man "didn't feel anything" (so the punishment wasn't cruel).   To conserve prison space,  the state might decide that it's convenient to administer drugs that render inmates comatose (easier to store them that way).   Look at what appears to have already happened to Bradley Manning -- who hasn't even been convicted of anything --and none of these scenarios is particularly far-fetched.
In addition to the Obama administration, medical personnel at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia must be held to account for the conditions of Bradley Manning's incarceration.
To donate to Manning's legal defense fund, visit the Bradley Manning Support Network.

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