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CodePink activists protesting on behalf of Bradley Manning outside the FBI building in Washington, DC, in January. (AP photo)

More questions for Obama about Bradley Manning

ASK THIS | March 12, 2011

Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaks source, has been held in maximum confinement, under harsh conditions, in a military prison for eight months. At his press conference on March 11, the President said he had looked into the Pentagon’s handling of Manning and that it meets “our basic standards.” Really?

By Barry Sussman

At his press conference March 11, President Obama was asked about the Army’s treatment of Bradley Manning, the soldier who has been kept naked in his cell at night and naked outside his cell for inspection in the morning at Quantico, Va.

Manning’s alleged crime was to make public secret documents on a grand scale, including 250,000 State Department cables.

Why naked? Because Manning is said to be a danger to himself, which Manning disputes. Reasonable questions would be:

Q. Just who determined that he is a danger to himself?
Q. What’s the history of nakedness as a safety measure at Quantico? How many other prisoners have been or are now kept that way and what did they do to earn such Abu Ghraib handling?
Q. Routinely, when inmates have mental problems aren’t they hospitalized or given some special attention to deal with their problems? What makes Manning different?

The reporter Jake Tapper put this question to the President at the press conference:

“(T)he State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, said the treatment of Bradley Manning by the Pentagon is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid. And I’m wondering if you agree with that. Thank you, sir.”

Obama’s response:

“With respect to Private Manning, 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. 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.”

What to make of that? Obama says he has personally looked into these conditions and they meet “our basic standards.” That sounds like they meet his basic standards; is there another interpretation? Maybe there could be a couple of follow-up questions for the President:

Q. Manning has been imprisoned 10 months and has been in maximum confinement – solitary – at Quantico for eight. Apparently there was no need to keep him naked until recently, so he is now more of a danger to himself than he used to be. If that’s the case, isn’t it likely that it is the Army’s treatment of him in prison that has made Manning crack? And perhaps the treatment should be changed?

Q. You said you can’t go into detail about some of the Pentagon’s concerns. Well, can you tell us this much: It has now been ten months: does the military ever plan to court-martial Private Manning or put him on trial? If yes, what is taking so long?

Add end: PJ Crowley, citing the impact of his remarks about Manning's treatment, has resigned from his State Department position, Politico reported on March 13.

Posted by Simon Leigh
03/12/2011, 02:26 PM

He's a "turst" isn't he? Americans are so terrified of "terrorists" that they revolt at the thought of anyone from Guantanemo Bay being legally tried on the mainland, so Obama can't close it as he promised, and continues to flout international law.

What were the rest of their "concerns"?
Posted by Mark, NYC
03/12/2011, 05:02 PM

Obamaspeak: "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.”
In other words, the Pentagon has other "concerns" that do not have anything to do with Private Manning's safety.
And what are those? Obama doesn't say, but the guards are using their by-now standard ops to "break down the prisoner" through humiliation and degradation, the same they have done at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base, etc., etc. Seeking any pretext to strip-search was also done with Capt. James Yee and with Maher Arar, in addition to having the Jordanians and Syrians torture him.
As for giving Bradley Manning a "smock" to wear, does it look at all like the ones used on prisoners in the Stanford prison experiment? Those were intended to humiliate and to increase the "prisoners'" feeling of helplessness. They were also strip-searched.
It's obvious why Obama doesn't want to go into that part, but no matter: the whole world is watching.

Posted by sallysense
03/12/2011, 07:01 PM

(Another letter sent to the President today.)

Mr. President,

Please properly investigate the possible/probable inhumane treatment of PFC Bradley E. Manning, being detained in the United States Marine Corps Quantico Brig in Virginia.

Common sense tells the conscience that possible/probable inhumane treatment must be fully investigated.

Facts of the case, as reported by David Coombs, PFC Manning's defense lawyer, indicate that:

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has stated that PFC Manning has been a model detainee.

Brig forensic psychiatrists have continually stated that there's no mental health justifications for the extreme conditions of PFC Manning's detainment.

Quantico Commander Colonel Daniel Choike has denied a fair request by PFC Manning to be removed from the medically unnecessary extreme current conditions of his detainment.

Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used a sarcastic remark made by PFC Manning, (referring to the waistband in his shorts), as an unfair convenient excuse to unjustifiably further increase the extreme conditions of PFC Manning's detainment, with no contact of, nor recommendations from, the mental health staff to do so.

The Brig (excluding mental health staff as they don't recommend the extreme current conditions) is using loopholes in policies to unfairly increase the extreme conditions of PFC Manning's detainment.

These extreme conditions, inconsistencies between policies, and possible/probable abuse of authority, must be investigated.

The communication and exercise and sleep of PFC Manning is being severely restricted to the viable concern of inhumaneness.

Hence, to now rely on the sole assurance of those allegedly behind this alleged mistreatment, does nothing to justly bring the truth to light.

Our country's principles of conscientiousness, deserve to have a serious matter such as this be fully investigated by unbiased independent third parties.

Again, please properly investigate the possible/probable inhumane treatment of PFC Bradley Manning.

Anything less falls short of truth and justness, and hence the American way, as your words so often convey.


Sally Kline

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