For heroically revealing US high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq, Chelsea Manning was subjected to appalling affronts to her dignity and fundamental rights.
For nearly seven years as a political prisoner, US authorities ruthlessly violated her 8th Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
A genuine heroic figure, she’s one of America’s best, earlier proceedings against her shrouded in secrecy.
She was unjustly convicted on multiple phony counts of long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act violations.
Detained for over 1,000 days prior to sentencing and imprisonment, she was horrifically mistreated—tortured in solitary confinement, kept nude in her cell at night and outside for morning inspections, denied virtually every right free people take for granted.
Her years of detention and near-seven-year imprisonment resembled a living death like in Plato’s Cave. People chained to a wall—remaining there throughout their lives, shadows replacing reality.
Wrongful charges and proceedings against Manning were rigged to convict. Doing the right thing was no defense—nor heroism above and beyond the call of duty.
Her horrific mistreatment is happening all over again. For justifiably resisting the Trump regime’s attempt to incriminate her, along with wanting to use her grand jury testimony against Julian Assange, she invoking her constitutional rights, refusing to respond to unjust questioning.
Refusal got her remanded into federal custody once again as a political prisoner, falsely charged with contempt—detained indefinitely for refusing to give grand jury testimony. In the US, constitutional rights don’t matter, nor protection under international and US statute laws.
A statement by her support committee said she’s been placed in solitary confinement—torture by other means. Isolating people in cages for days or longer is a flagrant 8th Amendment violation—reflecting brutal mistreatment of the nation’s most vulnerable.
Societies are best judged by how they treat children, the elderly, the infirm, their most disadvantaged and prisoners. The US fails on all counts.
Human and civil rights don’t matter. US prisons are notoriously harsh. Isolated prisoners lack constructive activities. Visits are rare, direct contact with others denied—lousy food delivered through cell door slots, treatment designed to inflict emotional and physical harm.
The full support committee statement said the following: “We condemn the solitary confinement that Chelsea Manning has been subjected to during her incarceration at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center.”
“Since her arrival at Truesdale on March 8th, Chelsea has been placed in administrative segregation, or ‘adseg,’ a term designed to sound less cruel than ‘solitary confinement.’ However, Chelsea has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day. This treatment qualifies as Solitary Confinement.”
“Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material.”
“She has not been outside for 17 days. She is permitted to make phone calls and move about outside her cell between 1 and 3 a.m.”
Sunday is day 17. “Chelsea is now in ‘Prolonged Solitary, as defined by Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (saying): “I have defined prolonged solitary confinement as any period in excess of 15 days. This definition reflects the fact that most of the scientific literature shows that, after 15 days, certain changes in brain functions occur and the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible.”
“Prolonged solitary confinement must be absolutely prohibited, because it always amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and may even constitute torture…”
“The jail says keeping ‘high-profile’ prisoners in adseg is policy for the protection of all prisoners, but there is no reason to believe jail officials view Chelsea as either a target or a risk.”
“If Truesdale wants to prioritize Chelsea’s health and welfare, as they consistently claim, then they should make sure she is able to have contact with other people in the jail.”
“We have worked to monitor Chelsea’s well-being since her arrival at Truesdale. In her first week, she contracted a bacterial infection which has since been resolved by antibiotics.”
“More recently, she experienced the shift between the prolonged under stimulation of 22-hour lock-down and a 45-minute social visit as so jarring that she threw up.”
“Although the facility has accommodated Chelsea’s medical needs, including hormone medications and daily post-surgery treatment, keeping her under these conditions for over 15 days amounts to torture, possibly in an attempt to coerce her into compliance with the Grand Jury.”
“The Mendez Report notes this tactic [saying]: ‘I have observed that solitary confinement…is often used as a deliberate method to obtain information or confessions.’ ”
“‘In such conditions, confinement amounts to a coercive tool and constitutes a cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and possibly torture.’”
“Chelsea is a principled person, and she has made clear that while this kind of treatment will harm her, and will almost certainly leave lasting scars, it will never make her change her mind about cooperating with the grand jury.”
“It bears repeating that while solitary confinement should not be used for anyone, it is especially immoral to place Chelsea in solitary, when she has not been accused of, charged with, nor convicted of any new crime.”
“We call upon the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center to remove Chelsea from ‘Administrative Segregation’ and these conditions which effectively constitute solitary confinement immediately.”
Clearly, Trump regime hardliners ordered her cruel and unacceptable mistreatment. Ideally, they want her eliminated. Maybe they’ll arrange it while having her in custody.
More on her mistreatment ahead when further information is known.
A final comment
The Truesdale Adult Detention Center’s “inmate’s handbook” said the following about so-called “administrative segregation”—prison-speak for cruel and unusual solitary confinement:
“In administrative segregation, you will be housed in your cell for a maximum of 22 hours per day. You will receive breaks according to an established break schedule.” Manning gets only what’s explained above.
“You will use your break — usually two hours long — to make personal phone calls and attend to your hygiene needs.”
“You will be able to go to three programs per week and will receive all detention center services unless by doing so you will cause safety or security problems.”
Denied contact with others at all times, Manning is prohibited from involvement in detention center programs.
“You do not have to choose between your break and program participation, unless the program you choose is being held during your scheduled break time. You can be placed in administrative segregation for the following reasons:
- Your participation in incidents occurring during prior incarcerations.
- You are a safety risk to other inmates, staff or yourself.
- You are a security risk.
- There are concerns about how well you handle being in jail.
- You have an extensive criminal history or a serious charge.
- The Detention Center does not have enough information about you.
“This can occur if you fail to cooperate with the intake/admission process, or if the Detention Center staff are unable to obtain the necessary information about you in order to make an informed housing decision.”
None of the above reasons apply to Manning. Yet she’s abusively isolated anyway, denied contact with others 24 hours a day, every day.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.