Obama is okay with the torture of Bradley Manning

With 22 percent real unemployment, with millions foreclosed on and millions more to follow, with Republican union busting met tepidly by national Democrats and forcefully by workers and state Democratic representatives, with tax cuts in place for the wealthy and with our military occupations continuing largely out of the public’s consciousness in Iraq and Afghanistan; does it really matter how one solitary individual is treated when the entire array of state power is deployed against him?

President Obama is satisfied with the treatment Bradley Manning is receiving, “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.”

Bradley Manning is the young Army private who has been accused of aiding the enemy by releasing classified information about the conduct of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and State Department communiqués. He faces, if convicted of all charges, a possible death penalty and up to 52 years in prison. The sole evidence against him is testimony from a convicted felon, in which the felon, Adrian Lamo, stated that Bradley told him that he gave secret government documents to the WikiLeaks website.

We all remember the alarm bells going off as government officials and media pontificators warned of the grave threats to intelligence sources in Iraq and Afghanistan after the documents were published in the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. Since that time there has been official backtracking as Defense Secretary Gates wrote, “However, the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.” And a senior NATO official in Kabul told CNN that there has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection or to be moved because of the leak.

Despite these and other similar statements, the confluence of government and corporate media propaganda has the majority of Americans believing the exact opposite, that indeed WikiLeaks did put lives at risk by releasing classified information. This conclusion is based on personal observation and not scientific polling, since our propaganda sources choose not to poll on issues that display the ignorance the American public is left with after being inundated nonstop with disinformation claiming that 2+2=5.

The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee 2005 Minority Report stated: In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

“There is at least a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violate a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.”

More than five years later and exactly no one has answered for these crimes. Incredibly, no one has even been questioned, because there has been no judicial investigation, grand jury or special prosecutor appointed to bring the high and mighty to justice. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Ashcroft, etc., were all given a free pass by the Obama administration. Not being an attorney, when I first ran across the above statement, I had to look up ‘prima facie.’ It means that the case to convict based on public evidence has been made, unless rebutted. U.S. law is supposedly based on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. Prima facie is the proof of guilt and the defense better get to work and disprove the evidence. But in the U.S. that’s not necessary, because there is no trial and no justice for those at the top. [1]

But a 23-year-old private, 22 at the time of the alleged leaks, is a whole other matter. Throw the book at him. Throw him in solitary. Parade him around naked for the guards. That’s U.S. style justice.

All done on the word of a convicted felon, Adrian Lamo. This is the due process accorded to a young man who volunteered to serve his country. Let’s assume that Lamo’s accusations are true. He relates that Bradley told him via email, in so many words, that he had a crisis of conscience and felt compelled to bring to the light of day official documentation of war crimes that were being committed daily by our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Nuremberg Principles were codified by the International Law Commission of the United Nations after trying Nazi war criminals at the conclusion of WWII. Principle IV states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” Whether it was Manning or not, whoever leaked the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and made public evidence of war crimes as a normal occurrence was complying with this supreme law.

Manning himself has not admitted to the leaks, but what does it matter if he is the hero that brought crimes of Empire to the public or not? His treatment for his 10-month incarceration has been 23-hour solitary confinement with one hour of exercise to walk around an empty room. He has no contact with people other than guards, with the exception of one friend who is allowed to visit him twice monthly. Since March 2 he has been forced to sleep in his underwear or naked with no sheets in a chilled room. He is believed to be gay and he is forced to stand inspection every morning naked for the guards perusal. All this for someone who has been convicted of absolutely nothing. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley told an audience at MIT recently that Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He resigned two days later under reported pressure from the Obama White House. Amnesty International calls his treatment inhumane, others call it torture, but it meets the commander in chief’s standards.

“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,” said Obama. But Manning himself has related that he has been placed on Suicide Risk watch, despite the Brig Psychiatrist at Quantico Marine Base where he is being held, stating he is a low suicide risk.

It’s obvious that Manning is being treated inhumanely to elicit testimony from him against Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks website. If he is the whistleblower who provided evidence of widespread war crimes and our country’s general disdain for the right of self determination for foreign peoples, he is a hero. If he had nothing to do with the release of information, he is a hero for not lying to implicate Assange, despite the tremendous pressure on him to do so. Our government under both Bush and Obama does not use torture and inhumane treatment to get at the facts, but to justify its crimes of Empire with lies from those broken by torture.

Ten months of this inhumane treatment and he hasn’t broken, Manning deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is certainly more deserving of it than the 23 soldiers awarded it for the massacre of 300 Native American prisoners of war in 1890 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Or perhaps, Obama can just give the young man his own Nobel Peace Prize awarded concurrent with his escalation of the Afghanistan war and occupation.

One solitary young man with the courage to stand up against the entire U.S. Empire, if that is not heroism I don’t know what is.

[1] There was one Special Prosecutor and Grand Jury convened. It was done under President Bush’s watch to find who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name and was done before the Judiciary Committee’s Minority Report was written. There was actually a conviction and a subsequent commutation of sentence from Bush for Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis Scooter Libby. Libby was not tried for the leak, but was tried and found guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, one count of perjury and three counts of making false statements to the grand jury and federal investigators. The perjury, obstruction and false statements kept the investigation from reaching his superiors Bush and Cheney. Bush then repaid him by commuting his sentence. Incredibly, President Obama has done nothing to bring about justice and one could say that Bush actually did more.

Nick Egnatz is a Vietnam veteran. He has been actively protesting our government’s crimes of empire in both person and print for some years now and was named “Citizen of the Year” for Northwest Indiana in 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers. Contact Nick at nickatlakehills@sbcglobal.net.

One Response to Obama is okay with the torture of Bradley Manning

  1. Readers may be interested in this March 14 New York Times Editorial and March 17 update to it. I had not read either when I wrote the above piece.

    New York Times
    The Abuse of Private Manning
    Published: March 14, 2011