Dropping the Hammer: Obama Administration Forces Out State Department Spokesman After Criticizing Treatment of Manning

The Obama Administration has finally responded to the international outcry over the abuse of Bradley Manning. After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley acknowledged the abuse, the Administration fired him with the apparent approval of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now, everyone is in agreement: there is no problem in how Bradley Manning is being abused. That is particularly the case with former White House aide Mike Hammer who will replace Crowley. There’s a nice way to start a job — the replacement for the guy who dared to admit concerns over a human rights case.


International groups and civil libertarians have denounced the Obama Administration for the mistreatment of Manning, the Army private who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia.

In speaking to a group at MIT, Crowley said the treatment of Manning “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Notably, he also said that Manning is legitimately under arrest for the alleged commission of the serious offense of leaking classified information.

Crowley is reportedly personally offended by the mistreatment of Manning — a sentiment that is not welcomed in this Administration any more than the last Administration.

Obama has assured the public that he has determined that Manning is being treated well. How? By asking the Defense Department, of course. They say that Manning is being treated well and that some of the conditions of his confinement are there to help him.

For her part, Hillary Clinton accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret,” but there is no evidence that she fought to protect him from being forced out by the Administration.

Source: CNN

94 thoughts on “Dropping the Hammer: Obama Administration Forces Out State Department Spokesman After Criticizing Treatment of Manning

  1. From Salon (3/13/2011)
    WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning
    BY GLENN GREENWALD
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/03/13/crowley/index.html

    Excerpt:
    So, in Barack Obama’s administration, it’s perfectly acceptable to abuse an American citizen in detention who has been convicted of nothing by consigning him to 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement, barring him from exercising in his cell, punitively imposing “suicide watch” restrictions on him against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists, and subjecting him to prolonged, forced nudity designed to humiliate and degrade. But speaking out against that abuse is a firing offense. Good to know. As Matt Yglesias just put it: “Sad statement about America that P.J. Crowley is the one being forced to resign over Bradley Manning.” And as David Frum added: “Crowley firing: one more demonstration of my rule: Republican pols fear their base, Dem pols despise it.”

    Of course, it’s also the case in Barack Obama’s world that those who instituted a worldwide torture and illegal eavesdropping regime are entitled to full-scale presidential immunity, while powerless individuals who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing and illegality are subjected to the most aggressive campaign of prosecution and persecution the country has ever seen. So protecting those who are abusing Manning, while firing Crowley for condemning the abuse, is perfectly consistent with the President’s sense of justice.

  2. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the President of the United States – Barack H. O’Bush.

    I expected this from the Bush Administration, not the Obama Administration.

    Round and round we goes, when we hits bottom, nobody knows … but I suspect we’re close.

  3. Hey now, this guy had no idea what he was talking about. I mean, anyone can see that months of solitary confinement, interrupted sleep, humiliation, and psychological programing , and lack of physical exercise is necessary for the good of the Nation as well as Private Manning himself. If these steps weren’t taken he might be able build a mock dummy, and tunnel out of the high security prison The Shawshank Redemption style, and get accused of a crime again.

    Remember, once someone in authority thinks you might have committed a crime, they get to do whatever they want with you. That’s how our system works.

  4. The Obama administration did this by the book. By first labeling Bradley Manning “The Enemy” they laid the bricks for his unlawful treatment. I assume that when his treatment gets to soft there they will transfer him to a more harsh jailer:: Sheriff Joe of Maricopa County AZ.
    And for the rest of us: We should know better than to expect our rulers to allow us to expose their wrongdoing.

  5. What I don’t understand is why Obama is trying so hard to commit political suicide? Every day it gets harder to defend the guy and his administration. I never would have believed it but it looks like Bill Clinton was our last Democratic president I don’t know what Obama is but hes not my kind of Democrat.

    “For her part, Hillary Clinton accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret,” but there is no evidence that she fought to protect him from being forced out by the Administration.” This doesnt surprise me…the main reason I didn’t support or vote for Hillary is I believed she was way too much of a politician, and not in a good way…whereas ole Obama young, fresh, untainted by politics….haha I’m a fool…

  6. From The Boston Globe (3/14/2011)
    State Dept. spokesman quits over remarks
    Decried treatment of leaks suspect
    By Farah Stockman
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2011/03/14/state_dept_spokesman_quits_over_remarks/

    Excerpts:
    The remarks, which Crowley later described as his personal opinion, were blogged by BBC reporter and Nieman fellow Philippa Thomas. The next day, CBS’s Political Hotsheet blogged about her report. So did Foreign Policy Magazine and Salon. On Friday, President Obama was asked about them at a White House press conference.

    **********

    But others say Crowley, a seasoned spokesman with more than 24,000 Twitter followers who frequently bantered with the press from the podium of the State Department briefing room, took a stand of conscience and knew the consequences.

    “We are talking about a person who understands the current media environment,’’ said Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, who said he heard about the remarks on Twitter within minutes. “If you want to get your message out, the old-fashioned way is to have a quiet discussion with a reporter as an exclusive. The new way is to let it boil up from the tweeters and the bloggers who are going to be in every university audience.’’

    Vaidhyanathan said Crowley, who also served as spokesman for President Clinton’s National Security Council, would not have used the same blunt words at the State Department because it would have reflected poorly on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    **********

    Thomas, one of about two dozen attendees at the seminar hosted by MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    In her blog post she wrote that she made sure to ask Crowley whether the remarks could be on the record and that she would not have published them if he had refused.

    Thomas wrote that Crowley made the remarks during an informal talk about the power of new media in response to a question about Manning’s treatment, which the questioner described as “torture.’’

    “Crowley didn’t stop to think,’’ Thomas wrote.

  7. From Salon (3/14/2011)
    The clarifying Manning/Crowley controversy
    By Glenn Greenwald
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/03/14/manning/index.html

    Excerpt:
    The forced “resignation” of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley — for the mortal sin of denouncing the abusive detention of Bradley Manning — has apparently proven to be a clarifying moment for many commentators about what the President is and how he functions in these areas. Writing at Time’s Swampland, Mark Benjamin identifies the real crux of the controversy:

    Free speech advocates are shocked, and, as I wrote last week on TIME.com, concerned over Obama’s record as the most aggressive prosecutor of suspected government leakers in U.S. history.

    Those advocates have wondered whether the penchant for secrecy in the Obama administration comes from the President, or those around him. Obama’s statement on Manning, followed by Crowley’s resignation, seem to suggest some of this comes from the President himself.

    It’s long been obvious that the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers “comes from the President himself,” notwithstanding his campaign decree — under the inspiring title “Protect Whistleblowers” — that “such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled.” The inhumane treatment of Manning plainly has two principal effects: it intimidates future would-be whistleblowers into knowing that they, too, will be abused without recourse, and it will break him psychologically (as prolonged solitary confinement and degrading treatment inevitably do) to render him incapable of a defense and to ensure he provides whatever statements they want about WikiLeaks. Other than Obama’s tolerance for the same detainee abuse against which he campaigned and his ongoing subservience to the military that he supposedly “commands,” it is the way in which this Manning/Crowley behavior bolsters the regime of secrecy and the President’s obsessive attempts to destroy whistleblowing that makes this episode so important and so telling.

    Denunciations of the President from his own supporters are as intensive and pervasive here as they have been for other prior incident, if not more so. Matt Yglesias wrote that “to hold a person without trial in solitary confinement under degrading conditions is a perversion of justice” and that it’s a “sad statement about America that P.J. Crowley is the one being forced to resign over Bradley Manning.” Andrew Sullivan — writing under the headline “Obama Owns the Treatment of Manning Now” — said that Crowley was forced out “for the offense of protesting against the sadistic military treatment of Bradley Manning,” that “the president has now put his personal weight behind prisoner abuse,” and that “Obama is directly responsible for the inhumane treatment of an American citizen.” Meanwhile, Ezra Klein previews his denunciation of the President’s treatment of Manning and Crowley by announcing that it’s his first ever lede “that isn’t about economic or domestic policy” but rather is “about right and wrong,” and then questions “whether the Obama administration is keeping sight of its values now that it holds power.” Those strong words are all from supporters of the President.

    Elsewhere, The Philadelphia Daily News’ progressive columnist Will Bunch accuses Obama of “lying” during the campaign by firing Crowley and endorsing “the bizarre and immoral treatment of alleged Wikileaks leaker.” In The Guardian, Obama voter Daniel Ellsberg condemns “this shameful abuse of Bradley Manning,” arguing that it “amounts to torture” and “makes me feel ashamed for the [Marine] Corps,” in which Ellsberg served three years, including nine months at Quantico. Baltimore Sun columnist Ron Smith asks: “Why is the U.S. torturing Private Manning?,” while UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman — who only last year hailed Obama as “the greatest moral leader of our lifetime” and eagerly suggested on Friday (before Obama’s Press Conference) that Crowley was speaking for Obama — mocked Obama’s defense of the Manning treatment as “clueless on the Bush level” and now says of Crowley’s firing: “The Torturers Win One,” lamenting Obama’s overt support for a policy that is “unconscionable and un-American and borderline criminal.”

  8. Torture is codified into law under Obama. Bush tried to hide it but under Obama there are no prosecutions and continued torture. The treatment of Manning is known to us because he’s on American soil and an American citizen.

    I hope people keep up pressure for Manning and expand that pressure to our detainees in Gitmo, Bagram and other black holes. When torture becomes acceptable to the vast majority of American citizens, when the president makes it “legal” this nation has been degraded beyond recognition.

    Obama should be impeached or forced to resign through the peaceful protest of our citizens, just as Mubarak was.

  9. From the link provided by SwM:

    “To lead the world, we must lead by example,” Candidate Obama said in October of 2007. “We must be willing to acknowledge our failings, not just trumpet our victories. And when I’m President, we’ll reject torture – without exception or equivocation.” (Obama)

    Well … there goes leading the world.

    Obama is wrong … period.

  10. I don’t think Obama equals Mubarek. I agree that what Obama is doing is terribly terribly wrong. I think Daryl Issa would like to start impeachment proceeding against Obama but more likely over his birth certificate not torture which Issa supports.

  11. SL,

    Just because St. Patty’s day is coming upon us it is not fair to make everyone Irish is it…You can’t even argue he is a Black Irish…those were of Spanish dissent… Now, if you wanna say that he is of the Bush Clan…. Not to be confused with the Klan….

  12. I have been pondering over his “change” of world view. The only logical explanation I can come up with is that he stupidly kept on too many Bush hirelings and they keep him in an information bubble where what he knows is filtered through a Bush lens.

    The only other explanation I have is that he lied through his teeth when on the campaign trail.

  13. I don’t think he lied during the campaign. I think he has been captured by the national security state.

  14. While I don’t agree with the impeachment suggestion mentioned earlier, he is doing what the Dems do best. That is to run and hide from their own voters. Metro had it right when he asked why do they work so hard to screw with their base? Someone Obama will listen to needs to sit down with him and release all of the air from the bubble and explain to him that he is authorizing torture of an American citizen. I don’t who that person would be, but Holy Crap there has to be someone. If he keeps this up the Teapublicans will not only increase their gains they will destroy women’s rights and completely hand the country over to the corporations. And they won’t do it behind closed doors. They will do it with fanfare on the Capital steps.

  15. Swarthmore mom,

    President Obama is in charge. He’s an intelligent, well-educated man. He’s to blame if he’s “been captured by the national security state.” He has not proven himself to be a man of principle–just another politician hoping to get elected to a second term.

  16. rafflaw,

    “Someone Obama will listen to needs to sit down with him and release all of the air from the bubble and explain to him that he is authorizing torture of an American citizen.”

    I believe Obama already knows that the United States is torturing people–including an American citizen. He just won’t admit to it in public.

  17. Elaine,
    I realize that he knows what torture is, I am just beginning to think that he is being controlled by the CIA and DOD and he is too naive or scared of challenging his puppetmasters. How the hell can he listen to the same people accused of torturing the prisoner that they are handling Manning the same way they are handling everyone else in the Brig? I say call their bluff and remove the entire staff on duty and replace them with “my men” who report to Obama before their own superior officer. It is sad that he won’t challenge the system. He could “deputize” Kucinich to determine if the care is proper and if not, heads should roll. I know I am dreaming, but it is still morning, isn’t it?

  18. rafflaw,

    Is Obama being controlled by others–or is he one of them? I don’t think it’s morning in America any longer. In fact, I don’t think it has been for quite some time.

  19. I think if Obama were to be impeached as Jill suggests that there would be tremendous hurt and outrage among the african american community that is still very loyal to Obama. Their support in polls is at 91 percent.

  20. rafflaw,

    Not naive … definitely scared. I would be.

    SwM,

    Impeachment is a closet teabagger’s wet dream. Bush got away with it big time … so will Obama.

  21. rafflaw,

    I hear this excuse for Obama’s behavior all the time. Any man of conscience and courage would die rather than allow another person to be tortured or to order soldiers into battle or to kill civilians with drones, etc.

    Further, Obama took money from the MIC and Wall Street, by the handful before he was elected. He could have refused to run at any time. Now if this were true, he could resign and tell the American people he is being threatened or blackmailed. Instead, he was playing golf this weekend.

    I never heard you use that excuse for Bush when he tortured. Couldn’t that be said of him as well? Was Bush a victim of the MIC? Manning and many other men and women of our nation have risked their lives to tell the truth. If that were really the case with Obama he has no courage. Anyone should choose their own death over the killing and torture of others.

  22. All the fat cats on Wall Street got away with their crimes too. We rarely go after the rich and powerful. We do go after whistleblowers and the little guy.

  23. Elaine M.
    1, March 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    All the fat cats on Wall Street got away with their crimes too. We rarely go after the rich and powerful. We do go after whistleblowers and the little guy.

    =======================================================

    Whistleblowers and little guys are easy. It takes guts to go after the fat cats and Washington is stocked to the rim with cowards who like to dress up in imaginary uniforms and brandish phony swords. They fool themselves; they don’t fool us.

    I find it particularly entertaining when they award each other medals.

  24. Then again…if the Head Teabagger farted how many heads would bounce…we know they would be the head as they would be able to float away with all of the hot air…

  25. Speaking of dropping the hammer. The BoA document dump is starting. Some information has been released by the shadowy group Anonymous. Hard to access some of this because of high traffic, but I expect mirror sites to start popping up.

    Here is one of the main links at Zero Hedge

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/operation-leaks-releases-initial-bofa-emails-indicating-premeditated-intent-deceive-governme

    Story this morning on DKos.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/14/956169/-Naked-Capitalism:-Anonymous-Whistleblower-Charges-BofA-With-Large-Scale-Insurance-Scheme

  26. Jill,
    The reason you never heard that “excuse” from me for Bush was because I expected more from Obama. These situations are not blackmail or extortion as you and I would know it. It is more subtle and probably dirtier. Besides, I never used the term “Any man of conscience and courage would die rather than allow another person to be tortured or to order soldiers into battle or to kill civilians with drones, etc.” to describe Obama and his lack of courage on this issue. I was attempting to describe my frustration at his perfomance, or lack of, on this issue. I have stated before that I don’t see things as black and white as you do. In my opinion we need to look at the politics involved because these people are political animals, no matter what we think of them. That is why it is even more frustrating because it is hurting him politically to take this head in the sand approach.

  27. rafflaw, I am not sure it is hurting Obama politically except with a small minority. Torture does not seem to be that important to the voting public, and he knows it. If Obama loses, it will be more than likely due to high gasoline prices.

  28. Raff, you owe me one keyboard and screen cleaning. Not to mention the coffee I snorted out my nose. Of course, the kindly banksters are as pure as the driven snow. As are the Koch crime family and their man-servants, Thomas, Alito, Walker and their wholly-owned media.

    What do you see as the chances for a real Hobbs Act prosecution? Never mind. I know the answer.

  29. OS,
    put it on my tab! :) I think your answer is the correct one.
    SM,
    You could be right, but that would be an indictment of the desensitizing of the country.

  30. rafflaw,

    What is it about torture that is not black and white for you?

    Obama had at his inauguration an enormous reservoir of good will. He still has a great deal of good will. He could have come out right then (or still now) and told people what was actually happening to him–how he was subtly being blackmailed into hiring all the people from industries who gave him money and how they were forcing him to kill civilians and order more war, protect financial and war criminals, say he had the right to kill American citizens if he declared they were terrorists etc.

    If you research Obama’s background you will see the same man today as the man before he was elected. It was precisely because people would not do their research that they believed they were electing a different person than the one they actually did elect. That is not my opinion. That is research you can do on your own.

    Finally, if you truly believe Obama is being blackmailed then the best course of action would be to peacefully push him safely out of office. That way he can blame leaving office on the people and no harm will come to him.

  31. SwM,

    You are correct about the torture issue and the general population. It saddens me to say it, but it is true.

    Teabaggers use the issue to target liberals hoping it will keep them from voting for Obama … in reality, they don’t care about the issue either.

    All that being said, those of us who genuinely do care must keep up the fight simply because it is the morally right thing to do.

  32. The only way to “peacefully push” him out of office would be not to vote for him and vote for a republican instead. He has no primary opponent and there is no viable third party so the republican party at this point is the only alternative.

  33. Blouise, I hope I am not wrong but maybe the more attention Manning receives in the media the better chance he has.

  34. AY,

    “SL,

    Just because St. Patty’s day is coming upon us it is not fair to make everyone Irish is it…You can’t even argue he is a Black Irish…those were of Spanish dissent… Now, if you wanna say that he is of the Bush Clan…. Not to be confused with the Klan….”

    Come on, AY – EVERYONE’s Irish on St. Patty’s day! I’m just giving O’Bush a head start :)

    ————————————————-

    Blouise,

    “Impeachment is a closet teabagger’s wet dream. Bush got away with it big time … so will Obama.”

    Swarthmoremom,

    “Torture does not seem to be that important to the voting public, and he knows it.”

    Bingo – we have two winners. Even if the GOP were to recapture the Senate and WH, they cannot go after Obama without going after Bush/Cheney first. And we know that’s not going to happen.

  35. Swarthmore,

    “The only way to “peacefully push” him out of office would be not to vote for him and vote for a republican instead.”

    Or you could vote third party.

    “Dr. Rumack: what was it we had for dinner tonight?
    Elaine Dickinson: Well, we had a choice: steak or fish.
    Dr. Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna.”

  36. Obama’s mom is of English and Irish descent. If ancestry.com is correct, I am related to them as a ninth cousin.

  37. Swarthmore mom
    1, March 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm
    Blouise, I hope I am not wrong but maybe the more attention Manning receives in the media the better chance he has.

    ==============================================

    I agree … in fact I think that’s his only chance and I believe that had his name faded from public view, he would now be dead.

    What he did punched the State Department and their cohorts, the CIA, right in the old ego … it embarrassed them at home but really got them into hot water abroad.

  38. Swarthmore mom
    1, March 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm
    Obama’s mom is of English and Irish descent. If ancestry.com is correct, I am related to them as a ninth cousin.

    ========================================

    Oh goody … can you get us on Air Force One?

  39. SWM,

    For safety and security reasons…I would not admit that in public….If you do again…I’ll call Ross and see if we can use his attic…..

  40. SwM,

    Look at the difference … AY wants you to hide in an attic while I want you to get us on Air Force One … I guess you could say that in either case, you’ll be up in the air.

  41. Gyges, Don’t know of a third party candidate for this election. Maybe someone will step up but with Obama at the top of the union sample ballot will be hard for the person to get more than 2 percent.

  42. The worst part of the story is that Cheney and Obama are cousins. The relatives were in Ann Arundel County, Md. Maybe ancestry. com is wrong.

  43. SM,
    Obama is Irish? Wow. It that a free app on Ancestry.com to check if you are related to Obama?? Maybe if enough “relatives” send him a message, we can get him to remember the rule of law.

  44. Crowley is a retired Airforce colonel. I assume he takes our nation’s security seriously. Obama aliennates his base by papering over the crypto-facist tendancies of the previous admionistration. He’s losing voters like me. He’s giving the Republicans the White House.

    I suspect that if the preident’s handlers were dumb enough to allow him to be directly questioned about this episode his response would be similar to his response to those on the left who thought his healthcare plan was a joke and a give away to the insurance companies.

    In that case Obama, with an agressive and condesending tone he resrves for those on the left,said in essense that he had to live in the real world, that he didn’t have the luxury of maintaining hard idealogical positions.

    But questions of healthcare (and let’s be honost, he really just wanted to say he had one in the “win” column. It didn’t matter what was in the bill) are political. Questions of torture and war crimes are matters of law. The United Nations Convention Against Torture IS United States law and has been since the Reagan administration. It contains not “emergency” provision allowing for the “ticking time bomb” scenario that right-wing fantasist drool about. It also makes it a crime for governments to knowingly refuse to prosecute war criminals.

    The military pretends to be concerned about Manning’s mental health while doing what it thinks (knows) it can get away with to destroy him physically.

  45. From TPMDC
    Conyers: Obama Would Be In Trouble If The 2012 GOP Field Wasn’t So Weak
    Evan McMorris-Santoro | March 14, 2011
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/conyers-obama-would-be-in-trouble-if-the-2012-gop-wasnt-so-weak.php?ref=fpb

    Excerpt:
    Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a stalwart of the House’s progressive wing and the self-proclaimed Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Monday that President Obama should be thanking his lucky stars the Republicans can’t seem to rustle up someone credible to take him on.

    Pointing to the numerous ways Obama has disappointed his wing of the Democratic party since taking office, Conyers suggested Obama might have a hard time of it in 2012 if the Republicans came up with someone suitable.

    “I’m sure he realized what he was getting into,” Conyers said of Obama, reflecting on his term in office. “He tried to close Guantanamo, he was against tax cuts for the wealthy — we keep having a longer and longer list of things that he wanted to do, wished he could do more about and of course is having a big problem.”

    Conyers also lamented the White House talk of increased offshore oil drilling and general discussions of the environment.” In general, he criticized Obama for “all these concessions with the people that are going to oppose him.”

    “The only thing that saves him, of course, is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody to run against him next year,” Conyers said before launching into a bit of free-association on the potential 2012 GOP field so far:

    You could count Sarah Palin, my favorite undisclosed candidate. Or Michele Bachmann. Newt Gingrich has been reinvented for the third time. And Romney…He didn’t finish the thought about Romney.

    “It’s not the greatest list to choose from as we go into the next election,” Conyers concluded.

  46. Elaine, I posted that this morning but glad you are posting it again. At the end of the article Conyers said of course I support Obama.

  47. Swarthmore mom,

    Sorry about that. It’s hard keeping track of all the articles I’ve read and articles people have posted links to. I think I’ve even posted more than one link to the same article on some threads.

  48. The Obama administration has won its request to access the twitter records of anyone they believe is involved in Wikileaks (see the EFF or ACLU). Please remember that this was an active request by the Obama DOJ which they have been fighting for against the ACLU and EFF. Here is an interview with Manning’s friend, one of the few people allowed to see him. It is from Der Spiegel online:

    03/14/2011

    The Bradley Manning Campaign
    ‘I Have Watched My Friend Degrade over Time’
    Bradley Manning is accused of leaking the “Collateral Murder” video and other documents to WikiLeaks.

    David House, 23, is an IT expert from Boston who works for the Bradley Manning Support Network, which is campaigning on behalf of the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, House speaks about the charges against Manning, the harsh conditions under which he is being held and the possibility that he could face the death penalty.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: The US Army recently announced new charges against Bradley Manning, the alleged 23-year-old WikiLeaks whistleblower, relating to the leak of classified US documents. The 22 charges include “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense. How does this change the case against him?

    David House: Bradley Manning is now facing the possibility of execution for blowing the whistle on gross injustices.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Didn’t the prosecution declare that they would only seek a life prison sentence?

    House: Until the additional charges were brought, Manning had been charged with a variety of military offenses, which could lead to a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison. The military authorities and the prosecution have said they would not seek the death penalty, but they are not the ones who ultimately decide on sentencing. The judge can completely ignore the prosecution’s advice.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Manning has already been held in custody since last May. He is currently being kept in solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. What conditions is he being exposed to there?

    House: Bradley has not been formally indicted, put on trial or convicted. Yet he is still held in solitary confinement in his cell for 23 hours a day, unable to exercise, unable to access newspapers and unable to go outdoors. He has been held under these conditions for eight months now.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: What kind of effect has this confinement had on him?

    House: From first-hand observation of Bradley, I can say that I do not know how solitary confinement could be classified as anything other than torture — a horrible, inhumane thing. I have watched my friend degrade over time — physically, mentally and emotionally.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: From the outside, it appears as though the US military is trying to break him.

    House: I have been visiting Bradley since September and that is exactly the case. I have seen him undergo very hard emotional times due to his condition, duress that is not typical for prisoners under normal conditions. The only conclusion I can come to is that they are trying to break him and that they hope to get him to issue a confession so they can go after the WikiLeaks organization and Julian Assange.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: There appears to be a hint of vengeance in the aggressive approach taken by the US government in its case against Manning and its efforts to try to take WikiLeaks to task in response to the embarrassment caused by the publication of the Afghanistan, Iraq and US diplomatic cables.

    House: One memo from Capitol Hill stated that the release of the cables had not damaged national security, but was highly embarrassing for a few politicians and diplomats. I think that is one of the primary motivating factors behind the revenge-like conditions they have imposed on Bradley.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are the allegations against Manning valid? And what kind of evidence is the prosecution relying on to build its case?

    House: Most of the public evidence at this point appears to be in the form of an alleged chat log between Bradley and US hacker Adrian Lamo. In this alleged chat log, the full contents of which have never been published, Manning supposedly talks about releasing the (“Collateral Murder”) helicopter gunship video in order to cause worldwide debate. Lamo, however, had been placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold just three weeks before coming forward with these charges. There is also a question of whether Bradley Manning is even the source of the document at all.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is expected next for Manning? When do you think he will be put on trial?

    House: US citizens have the right to a speedy trial, but in this case the government has continuously been throwing stumbling blocks in the way of the trial proceedings. I believe this is being done in order to keep Manning in solitary confinement for longer and to weaken his mental and emotional state ahead of a trial.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Would the trial be held in public or as a military court-martial behind closed doors?

    House: A major portion of the trial, if not the whole trial, will be conducted in secret — and this even though Manning is now facing the possibility of execution.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: If Manning had leaked the helicopter gunship video that documented what many would describe as a war crime, would you view the release of that information as a criminal act as many in the US have depicted it to be?

    House: I believe that individuals who witness outrageous crimes against humanity taking place have an obligation, not just as a US citizen but as a human being, to bring these injustices to light.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Has Manning cooperated with the prosecution?

    House: As far as I know, Bradley has not cooperated at all with the prosecution, but Bradley Manning and I can’t talk about the specifics of his legal case because we are under strict surveillance when I visit him.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: You have personally been involved in helping Manning to prepare a defense for months now. How did you first get involved with the Bradley Manning Support Network?

    House: I shared mutual friends with Bradley before his arrest and I even met him once in Boston at a party. I saw a case where this man’s rights had obviously been trampled upon, and where the officials leading the investigation here in Boston were harassing, intimidating and bribing Manning’s former colleagues and friends.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: What, precisely, is the network doing?

    House: Members of the Bradley Manning Support Network are a mixture of individuals from all over the US and around the world. We have raised more than $100,000 for Manning’s defense fund, with much of that money going to his attorney, David Coombs.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Has WikiLeaks provided support to the network or the defense fund?

    House: WikiLeaks donated $10,000 in January.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is the Support Network demanding?

    House: The US military has to take the option for execution off the table. I cannot fathom living in a country that executes whistleblowers and I hope that many Americans and people in other countries see it in the same way. Apart from that, Bradley Manning deserves access to a speedy trial.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: How realistic are the chances that those demands will be met?

    House: The only way Bradley Manning is going to have a good outcome here is if there is growing international pressure on the US to take the option of executing a whistleblower off the table. We need the action of every citizen in the entire world who values the principles of government transparency.

    Interview conducted by Michael Sontheimer”

    I also recommend Al Jazeera for information about this case and how it relates to our torture of other detainees.

  49. Swarthmore mom 1, March 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

    “I think if Obama were to be impeached as Jill suggests that there would be tremendous hurt and outrage among the african american community that is still very loyal to Obama. Their support in polls is at 91 percent.”

    There is doubt and it has been talked about months ago.The community is inspired by President Obama,but we are not blind either.

    And questions have been raised trust me.Impeachment has not even been talked about but there is a feeling of something missing.

  50. eniobob, I hope that is true but support is still at 91 percent in a poll I saw a month ago. I think when you impeach a brother and let all the white guys off it might look a little more than suspicious.

  51. So it’s the Joe Pesci, circa ‘Lethal Weapon 2’ defense.

    Obama is beyond reproach…

    “Because he’s black.”

    Lovely.

  52. I think “impeachment” of the first black president as Jill has suggested would be a terrible stain on this nation’s history. I am sure all the birthers and racists would be elated.

  53. I really don’t think impeachment is worth talking about. If Bush wasn’t impeached, I can’t imagine Obama being impeached. Besides, do we want Biden to be President? Has he spoken out against the Manning detention treatment? Has he spoken out against anything the administration is doing or not doing?

  54. As I stated before, if the GOP starts invoking the word “impeachment”, they will need to go back to the McFlight Admuddlestration in order to see where this all started. And it all started in three places:

    Vice President Cheney’s office;
    The Department of Defense; and
    The Office of Legal Counsel.

    An investigation is half-assed if they’re only going to look from 2009 to date.

  55. Its not an excuse but it is worth thinking about,a commentator said this morning that there has been no president in modern times that has faced the type of situations that President Obama has faced in such a short period of time in their presidency.

    From the financial front to jobs,wars,natural disasters and an electorate where some think that you are not a citizen of the coutry you preside over.

    And my own personal observation a youthful president raising a family in the midst of all of that.

  56. Swarthmore,

    Have you looked? Since we only know the candidate for one of two major parties (and even he’s just only presumed) I think it might be a bit early to talk about how there’s no third party candidates.

    Also, regarding impeachment. I bigger stain would be not upholding the law because he was the first black president. Judging someone by the content of their heart, not the color of their skin means exactly that.

    Bob,

    Simple ideas tend to work out one of two ways. The first class I call “let’s put a hole in the damn door so I don’t have to keep letting the dog out.” The second I call “I don’t want to cook out in the rain, let’s grill these hamburgers in the tent.”

  57. SwM,

    Gotta love Dennis … one hell of a leader

    Now what in the world is “Learned Helplessness”? Sound so innocuous. Bet some CIA creep received a big “Atta Boy” for that one.

  58. “rafflaw 1, March 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Good points eniobob, but I am still disappointed.”

    You are not alone.

  59. “Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking a massive trove of classified material to WikiLeaks, has been imprisoned since May 2010. The treatment to which he has been subjected, including protracted isolation, systematic humiliations and routinised sleep deprivation, got more extreme last week when the commander of the brig at Quantico, Virginia, imposed on him a regime of forced nakedness at night and during an inspection of his cell every morning until his clothing is returned.

    These types of abusive tactics were authorised by the Bush administration for use on foreign detainees captured in the war on terror, on the theory that causing “debilitation, disorientation and dread” would produce “learned helplessness” and make them more susceptible and responsive to interrogators’ questioning.

    Reports about Manning’s treatment indicate that the Pentagon has continued to utilise reverse-engineered SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, extraction) techniques that were developed during the Cold War to train US soldiers in case they were captured and tortured by regimes that do not adhere to the Geneva Conventions.

    The use of such methods in 2011 signals that the American torture playbook hasn’t been retired; it’s gone into a new printing. In the years between 9/11 and mid-2004, the actual policy of torture was still largely secret. Before the lid was peeled back by the Abu Ghraib photos and the first batch of “torture memos”, the touchstone of the public debate was the hypothetical ticking bomb scenario.

    Torture advocates opined that the use of non-maiming techniques (i.e., “torture lite”) is a lesser evil, and might be legitimately employed by American interrogators to break a recalcitrant terrorist suspected of possessing valuable intelligence (e.g. the whereabouts of that ticking bomb) in order to keep Americans safe. In those years, torture advocates never envisioned the use of such tactics on a US soldier, for if they had, their claims would not have gotten such traction in the mainstream media (or been fetishised in the Jack Bauer character of the popular television program 24).

    Domestic torture

    Yet, today here we are, subjecting an American soldier to some of the techniques that were cleared for use by the CIA on Abu Zubaydah in 2002. The panoply of tactics applied to Abu Zubaydah includes many that Manning has been spared, such as waterboarding and the confinement box.

    This development was hardly unforeseeable. Opponents of torture had staked their positions in the early debate with warnings not only that torture is illegal and ineffective, but also with historic evidence that states which authorise the torture of enemies embark down a slippery slope.

    In the Bush administration’s inner circle, officials who opposed the authorisation and use of interrogational abuse as illegal and counterproductive to national security were excluded from decision-making. Interrogation policy was guided and gassed by the presumptions that violence and degradation would work to elicit true information, a claim that in the American case has been proven patently false – but still gets trumpeted as true by those who resist being encumbered by facts and evidence.

    Presumptions of efficacy and rightlessness had the predictable effect of expanding the universe of those deemed to be torturable in the quest for actionable intelligence. Over the last decade, thousands of foreign prisoners taken into US custody in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq were subjected to systematic and wanton abuses, the vast majority of whom were either entirely innocent (arrested by mistake, rounded up in sweeps through villages or sold for bounty) or who had no meaningful intelligence.

    This universe continues to expand because there has been no serious and sustained effort to confront the abject failures and high costs of the torture policy. Rather, the false presumptions of efficacy and rightlessness continue to be persuasive to those who make or endorse US interrogation policy.

    Defining the slippery slope

    The subjection of Manning to tactics originally authorised for foreign terror suspects proves that torture opponents were correct about the slippery slope, as they were about everything else. Putting Manning through the “learned helplessness” regimen makes president Barack Obama’s day-one promise to “end torture” and “restore the rule of law” even more of a mockery than the “looking forward, not backward” commitment to unaccountability for crimes perpetrated by officials of the previous administration. The torturous treatment of soldier/citizen Manning is even occurring on the Nobel Peace Prize-winning no-to-torture-president’s watch.

    But in Manning’s case, the rationale that undergirded the authorisation of interrogational abuse – the legitimate need for actionable intelligence to keep Americans safe – is entirely missing.

    Manning has already been charged and faces court martial for providing classified information to a legally undefined enemy – a conundrum that will pickle the process of his prosecution.

    The classified information that Manning gathered and leaked because he felt that the public had a right to know includes: over 260,000 diplomatic cables, including ones revealing the lengths to which the US went in trying to thwart torture investigations in allied countries; tens of thousands of intelligence reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some of which contradict the public discourse about what US forces are doing in those countries; and two videos that expose military targeting of unarmed civilians.

    The actual act of leaking has already happened and is over. Manning has been charged. Why, then, is his abuse continuing and intensifying?

    There is a slippery slope answer to this, too. States that utilise torture inevitably expand the reasons to justify its use. Manning is being abusively instrumentalised for the goal of trying to implicate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as an active procurer of the leak in order to seek Assange’s extradition to the US.

    No evidence has come to light that WikiLeaks or Assange influenced or aided Manning to leak before the fact. But the political beast wants to feast on Assange’s head, and so Manning’s interrogational abuse continues.” found at al jazeera

    Lisa Hajjar teaches sociology at the University of California – Santa Barbara and is a co-editor of Jadaliyya.

    If you’re good with this support Obama. If you’re not, peacefully protest now.

  60. The CIA calls it “No Touch” torture and it’s been around for quite awhile. What is being done to Manning is the most benign form of it as it includes stress positions and everything we saw at Abu Gahrib except the direct physical assaults.

    http://www.mindjustice.org/wisdom.htm#III
    —–
    Getting off on a tangent here and ended up looking up a specific law but I’ll post it anyway:

    Aside from being punitive, a confession from Manning true or not, that implicates Assange or others connected with Wikileaks opens the door for him (Assange), or them, disappearing down some judicial black hole in the US.

    The recent Twitter info requests for the usage log from is specific to an American programmer/encryption specialist Jacob Appelbaum. If the government can tie Applebaum to the Manning documents he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

    I think the government really, really wants to put someone in jail forever just to have a chilling effect on any future whistleblowers. With Assange and the Icelandic Parliament member not being easily reachable maybe Mr. Applebaum will be an easier target.

    The Twitter request should show just how far this country has fallen regarding due process:

    “Assistant U.S. Attorney John Davis said the information sought by prosecutors is routine data that is turned over all the time in the course of criminal investigations, no different than phone records or credit card bills.

    A specific federal law, the Stored Communications Act, allows the government to obtain certain records about electronic communications without a search warrant and without demonstrating probable cause.

    “This is an investigative measure used in criminal investigations all over the country, every day,” Davis said.”

    Without a warrant and without demonstrating probable cause, got that?

    http://www.salon.com/wires/us/2011/02/15/D9LDBKCO0_us_wikileaks_investigation/
    —–

    That authority for the logs comes from subchapter 2703 or 2709 of 18 USC Chapter 121 “STORED WIRE AND ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND TRANSACTIONAL RECORDS ACCESS”.

    2709 is “Counterintelligence access to telephone toll and transactional records” This subsection basically disregards any and all legal protections (such as they are) in the other subsections.

    Normally, under 2703 (the other most relevant subsection) there is this requirement for the call logs:

    “2703 (C) Required Disclosure):
    (2) A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall disclose to a governmental entity the—
    (A) name;
    (B) address;
    (C) local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations;
    (D) length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized;
    (E) telephone or instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
    (F) means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number),
    of a subscriber to or customer of such service when the governmental entity uses an administrative subpoena authorized by a Federal or State statute or a Federal or State grand jury or trial subpoena or any means available under paragraph (1).
    (3) A governmental entity receiving records or information under this subsection is not required to provide notice to a subscriber or customer.”

    So either there are a whole lot of requests being made using Administrative letters or a whole lot of counterintelligence investigations going on. In either event IMO, the disregard for the 4th Amendment goes on “all the time” according to the government’s own Mr. Davis quoted above.

    The specific statute can be found here, I’ll add a space between the /’s and the w’s and the . and if you want to look it up just paste in the address line and close up the space.

    http:/ /www .law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sup_01_18_10_I_20_121.html

  61. From Salon (3/16/2011)
    Varioius matters: Afghanistan, Libya & Manning
    By Glenn Greenwald
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/03/16/various_matters/index.html

    Excerpt:
    (3) The forced nudity imposed on Bradley Manning followed by the forced resignation of P.J. Crowley has really created a media tipping point in this story. In addition to the scathing New York Times Editorial from Monday (Manning’s treatment “conjures creepy memories of how Bush administration used to treat terror suspects”), editorial condemnation has now come from The Los Angeles Times (“punishment, not protection, is the purpose of these degrading measures”) and The Guardian (“There was at least the ghost of an excuse for bullying foreign combatants but no US need for mistreating one of their own”). Perhaps most notably, even the military-revering, establishment-defending Washington Post Editorial Page today emphatically condemns these conditions as “uncomfortably close to the kind of intimidating and humiliating tactics disavowed after the abuses at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons that eroded the country’s standing in the world.”

    The abusive treatment of Manning is indeed now reverberating internationally. Der Spiegel has a long article on the conditions of Manning’s detention, noting that “even US politicians believe they’re illegal” and highlighting the point I’ve repeatedly made:

    Before he was inaugurated, Obama talked about the importance of whistleblowers, or sources who expose abuses within their organizations. Such “acts of courage and patriotism” ought to be “encouraged, rather than stifled,” his website read at the time.

    Once in office, Obama underwent a radical shift. His government is currently taking legal action against a number of whistleblowers. The government apparently wants to use the Manning case as a deterrent.

    Meanwhile, The Guardian has an excellent article today describing how Physicians for Human Rights is now formally raising objections to the role of brig psychiatrists in enabling Manning’s inhumane treatment (just as they once raised objections to the role played by health professionals at Guantanamo). On Twitter today, the generally pro-administration Ezra Klein re-printed this insightful observation: “Oddly, Manning’s treatment helps to justify his actions ex post. Is a govt that would do this a govt we should trust to act in secret?” And even National Review, in a fairly good feature article, discusses the consensus among progressives and other Obama supporters that has now arisen in condemnation of Obama’s treatment of Manning (though they amusing note at the end that “there’s a notable (though not surprising) exception: The New Republic”: once again dutifully fulfilling its principal function in life).

  62. From the ACLU

    March 16, 2011

    Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
    United States Department of Defense
    1000 Defense Pentagon
    Washington, DC 20301-1000

    Dear Secretary Gates,

    On behalf of the ACLU and its members, I write to express our grave concern about the inhumane conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning is being confined in the Quantico Base Brig. As a pretrial detainee who has been convicted of no crime, Private Manning may not be subjected to punitive treatment. Based on the reports of Private Manning and his counsel, it is clear the gratuitously harsh treatment to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Private Manning violates fundamental constitutional norms.

    The Supreme Court has long held that the government violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment whenever it “unnecessarily and wantonly inflicts pain.” No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read. Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution.

    Nor has the Department of Defense any legitimate purpose in requiring Private Manning to stand naked in his observation cell at “parade rest,” with legs spread and genitals displayed, in full view of guards and other officers. The very purpose of such treatment is to degrade, humiliate, and traumatize — a purpose that cannot be squared with what the Supreme Court has described as “the basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment, which is nothing less than the dignity of man.”

    President Obama recently stated that Private Manning’s conditions comply with the Pentagon’s “basic standards.” Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution. We ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that Private Manning is treated lawfully and humanely.

    Sincerely,

    Anthony D. Romero
    Executive Director

  63. (CNN) — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has been imprisoned in the Quantico Marine Corps Brig for nine months, suspected of giving highly classified State Department cables to the website WikiLeaks. He has not been tried, yet is kept in solitary confinement in a windowless room 23 hours a day and forced to sleep naked without pillows or blankets.

    Human rights groups have condemned his treatment, and even State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley spoke out against it. Crowley has resigned, allegedly under pressure from the Obama administration. Defense officials say Manning is stripped of his clothes nightly to prevent him from committing suicide, yet his civilian lawyer says his client is at no risk.

    The problem with the argument that Manning is being kept in long-term solitary confinement to prevent his suicide is that long-term solitary confinement causes suicide.

    One of the most stunning statistics in criminology today is that, on average, 50% of U.S. prisoner suicides happen among the 2% to 8% of prisoners who are in solitary confinement, also known as segregation. When I tour prisons as I prepare for expert testimony in class-action lawsuits, many prisoners living in isolation tell me they despair of ever being released from solitary.

    And there is an objective basis to their fear: One of the many psychiatric symptoms known to be bred in solitary is mounting anger, plus the dread that losing control of that anger will lead to more disciplinary infractions and a longer stint in segregation. So the prisoner despairs of ever gaining more freedom, and that despair leads to suicide.

    Suicide is merely the tip of the iceberg. Solitary confinement breaks prisoners down and practically guarantees they will never function normally in society again. This explains a troubling rise in the recidivism rate since the advent in the late 1980s of wholesale solitary confinement in “supermaximum”-security prisons.

    Long-term solitary confinement causes many psychiatric symptoms, including mental breakdowns. Even the relatively stable prisoner in segregation experiences mounting anxiety, paranoia, an inability to concentrate, somatic symptoms, despair and anger. But the prisoner prone to emotional disorder falls apart.

    In a 2009 study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 56% of state prisoners reported symptoms consistent with serious mental illness requiring treatment. And we know from much research in criminology that prisoners with serious mental illness are selectively consigned to solitary confinement — after all, as a group they are not known for their ability to conform to the rules, and in prison, rules pile upon rules.

    The other major stressor leading to suicide or mental breakdown in solitary confinement is the near total lack of contact with loved ones and caring others. Manning’s family is in England and cannot visit, and even his visits with his friend, David House, are infrequent or stressful because of the ever-present security precautions that make real connection difficult.
    Manning is a pretrial detainee. The Constitution requires that innocence be assumed until guilt is proved.

    Visits in supermax prisons are typically problematic. The facilities are far from urban centers, the visitor is put through stringent searches, the visitor and prisoner are separated by an indestructible fiberglass window, and the prisoner is kept in chains, even though he is isolated in a separate and secure room. Many prisoners in these circumstances tell me they discourage visits from their family, including their children, because “I don’t want them to see me in chains.”

    What goes on in the isolation prison unit is a secret — unsurprising if visits are discouraged or difficult, and the media is excluded. The government’s secrecy about Manning’s condition is consistent with the policy on the part of departments of correction to bar the media from interviewing prisoners and to refuse to release information about the use of stun guns and riot guns in solitary confinement units. This kind of secrecy is a necessary precondition for abuse. Indeed, in my investigations of supermaximum-security units around the country, I find unspeakable abuses, including senseless deprivations of clothing and inappropriate beatings.

    Manning is a pretrial detainee. The Constitution requires that innocence be assumed until guilt is proved, and that the defendant in criminal proceedings be provided with the wherewithal to participate in his legal defense.

    Clearly, Manning’s treatment violates these constitutional guarantees and international prohibitions against torture. Why? Have we permitted our government, under the cloak of security precautions, to set up a secret gulag where conditions known to cause severe psychiatric damage prevail? As a concerned psychiatrist, I strenuously object to this callousness about conditions of confinement that predictably cause such severe harm.

    The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Terry A. Kupers.

  64. You can do something about this: “Bradley Manning is accused of humiliating the political establishment by revealing the complicity of top US officials in carrying out and covering up war crimes. In return for his act of conscience, the US government is torturing him, humiliating him and trying to keep him behind bars for life.

    The lesson is clear, and soldiers take note: You’re better off committing a war crime than exposing one.

    An Army intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, the 23-year-old Manning – outraged at what he saw – allegedly leaked tens of thousands of State Department cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. These cables – cables that show US officials covering up everything from child rape in Afghanistan to an illegal, unauthorised bombing in Yemen.

    Manning is also accused of leaking video evidence of US pilots gunning down more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists – and then killing a man who stopped to help them. The two young children of the passerby were also severely wounded.

    “Well, it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” a not-terribly-remorseful US pilot can be heard remarking in the July 2007 “Collateral Murder” video.

    Walking free

    None of the soldiers who carried out that war crime have been punished, nor have any of the high-ranking officials who authorised it. And that’s par for the course. Indeed, committing war crimes is more likely to get a soldier a medal than a prison term. And authorising them? Well, that’ll get you a book deal and a six-digit speaking fee. Just ask George W Bush. Or Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice. Or the inexplicably “respectable” Colin Powell.

    In fact, the record indicates Manning would today be far better off if he’d killed those men in Baghdad himself – and on the lecture circuit, rather than in solitary confinement.

    Hyperbole? Consider what happened to the US soldiers who, over a period of hours – not minutes – went house to house in the Iraqi town of Haditha and executed 24 men, women and children in retaliation for a roadside bombing.

    “I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head,” said one of the two surviving eyewitnesses to the massacre, nine-year-old Eman Waleed.

    “Then they killed my granny.”

    The relative value of life

    Almost five years later, not one of the men involved in the incident is behind bars. And despite an Army investigation revealing that statements made by the chain of command suggest they “believe Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as US lives”, with the murder of brown-skinned innocents considered “just the cost of doing business” – a direct quote from Maj Gen Eldon Bargewell’s 2006 investigation into the killings – none of their superiors are behind bars either.

    Now consider the treatment of Bradley Manning. On March 1, 2011, the military charged Manning with 22 additional offences – on top of the original charges of improperly leaking classified information, disobeying an order and general misconduct. One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy”, is punishable by death. That means Manning faces the prospect of being executed or spending his life in prison for exposing the ugly truth about the US empire.

    Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided to make Manning’s pre-trial existence as torturous as possible, holding him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day since his arrested ten months ago – treatment which Psychologists for Social Responsibility notes is, “at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of US law”.

    In addition to the horror of long-term solitary confinement, Manning is barred from exercising in his cell and is denied bed sheets or a pillow. And every five minutes, he must respond in the affirmative when asked by a guard if he’s “okay”.

    Presumably he lies.

    While others sleep soundly

    It gets worse. On his blog, Manning’s military lawyer, Lt Col David Coombs, reveals his client is now stripped of his clothing at night, left naked under careful surveillance for seven hours, and, when the 5:00am wake-up call comes, he’s then “forced to stand naked at the front of the cell”.

    If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, it seems the empire will make sure you have none either.

    Officials at the Quantico Marine Base where Manning is being held claim the move is “not punitive”, according to Coombs. Rather, it is for Manning’s own good – a “precautionary measure” intended to prevent him from harming himself. Do they really think Manning is going to strangle himself with his underwear – and that he could do so while under 24-hour surveillance?

    “Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?” asked US Representative Dennis Kucinich. Good question, congressman. Like the men imprisoned in former President Bush’s Iraqi torture chamber, Manning is being abused and humiliated – despite having not so much as been tried in a military tribunal, much less convicted of an actual crime.

    So much for the presidential term of the candidate of hope and change.

    Administrations change, much remains the same

    Remember back when Obama campaigned against such Bush-league torture tactics? Recall when candidate Obama said “government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal”? It appears his opposition to torture and support for whistleblowers was mere rhetoric. And then he took office.

    Indeed, despite the grand promises and soaring oratory, Obama’s treatment of Manning is starkly reminiscent of none other than Richard Nixon.

    Like Obama – who has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any president in history – Nixon had no sympathy for “snitches”, and no interest in the US public learning the truth about their government. And he likewise argued that Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, had given “aid and comfort to the enemy” for revealing the facts about the war in Vietnam.

    But there’s a difference. Richard Nixon never had the heroic whistleblower of his day thrown in solitary confinement and tortured. If only the same could be said for Barack Obama.

    Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, while Charles Davis is an independent journalist.

    On March 20, CODEPINK and others will hold a rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, USA, in support of Bradley Manning. For details, click here.” (go to al jazeera)

  65. You can do something about this: “The world doesn’t have to be this way…it’s just the way it is now.

    People say “things won’t ever change.” WRONG! The people of Tunisia and Egypt showed that there is no guarantee that brutal dictatorships will last forever, even when they’re backed up by the most powerful military in the world! The public workers and students of Wisconsin have surprised everyone in massing for weeks against an attempt by those grouped around the Republican Party to break them. The people of the Middle East, and those of the heartland in this country, have surprised everyone by waking up.

    The unjust occupation of Iraq, the war on the people of Afghanistan, the drone bombings of Pakistan and Yemen, the secret wars, the black sites or torture and rendition, Obama’s indefinite detention, the repression against Muslims and antiwar activists — all of this is growing worse, and seems permanent.

    But none of these are permanent, and our world doesn’t have to be this way. It’s just the way it is because we have not yet stood up to it in enough numbers to back down the forces of empire and repression.

    We’re going into the streets on this 8th anniversary of the attack on Iraq with a new sense of the potential power we hold. See you there!
    This weekend there are three days of activities against the wars and occupations

    *On Friday March 18th* anti-war veterans will be in high school classrooms as part of World Can’t Wait’s “We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour” talking to students about how important their role is in resisting these wars while others will be outside high schools throughout DC leafleting and talking to students to mobilize them for Saturday March 19th.

    Help with distributing flyers at highschools…
    *Time: one school lets out at 12noon. Others at 2:45 and 3pm. If you can come help flyer, call Bob at 347-693-3319 and we will get you flyers and directions.

    *On March 19th* people will be converging on the White House, along side war veterans, to demand an end to the illegal wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, torture and the drone bombings in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

    On Saturday, March 19th, Protest at the White House/Lafayette Park…
    *Date/Time: Noon
    Where: Lafayette Park, H and 16th Streets NW (across from the Whitehouse)

    *Look for the large Predator DRONE (that is daily murdering civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere) and the orange jumpsuits (yes, Guantanamo is still open and torture is still going on) and orange banners. Put on an orange jumpsuit, help carry the drone and banners!

    Finally on *March 20th* we’ll head to Quantico, VA, where accused whistle-blower Bradley Manning is being tortured for allegedly releasing evidence of U.S. war crimes and demand his release!

    *On Sunday, March 20th, Free Bradley Manning…*
    Date/Time: 2pm
    Where: Main St. and Rt. 1 (Jeff Davis Hwy.), Quantico, VA
    Three 56-person buses have been reserved for five hours. Board buses in front of Union Station, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, in Washington, D.C., at 12:30 p.m. Buses will be boarding to return from Triangle/Quantico at 4:30 p.m. To reserve tickets for the bus ($10 round-trip). Driving directions to Quantico

    If you can join in with any of the above events: dcevents@worldcantwait.net or call 347-709-2697.
    On Fri, Sat and Sun call us at anytime at 347-693-3319.
    Nationwide protests this weekend – find yours here.
    No matter where you are protesting, send your photos, videos and reports to reports@worldcantwait.net or post to the World Can’t Wait Facebook page.
    Actions planned if anti-war and international solidarity activists are called to Grand Jury or indicted
    23 anti-war and international solidarity activists have been subpoenaed to appear in front of a Grand Jury in Chicago, headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. They have done nothing wrong. They have educated and organized against U.S. wars around the world. And they have stood in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and Colombia.

    All 23 of the targeted activists said that they will not cooperate with this witch hunt against the movements so many of us have worked to build. The U.S. attorney is working to put these activists in prison. Whether some of them are indicted, or others are jailed for refusing to testify, the threat is very real.
    We pledge:
    We will carry forward the fight for our right to speak out, organize and to stand in solidarity with those who want freedom;
    We will stand up to any escalation of the attacks on anti-war and international solidarity activists;
    We will join the national day of protest when anti-war and international solidarity activists are ordered to appear in front of the Chicago Grand Jury or indicted.
    Anti-war and international solidarity activism is not a crime!
    Sign the pledge here.
    Petraeus, Gates caught joking about Libya
    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, shared what was meant to be a private joke about Libya when the two met on the tarmac in Kabul today. But the exchange was caught on an open microphone and didn’t remain private for long.

    PETRAEUS: “Welcome back, sir, flying a little bigger plane than normal … You gonna launch some attacks on Libya or something?”

    GATES:”Yeah [laughter]. Exactly.”

    Keep spreading this video: any attack on Libya must be stopped.” (World Can’t Wait)

  66. Follow the money. But don’t contribute your own until you’ve read the latest from Pvt. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs.

    “There are several organizations that are collecting donations for the defense of PFC Bradley Manning. The only organization that is contributing funding to PFC Manning’s legal defense is “Courage to Resist.” Other organizations have been established independently to promote advocacy and awareness related to PFC Manning’s case. These organizations do not contribute in any way to the legal expenses involved. ”

    http://www.armycourtmartialdefense.info/

    Some websites are using their version of Pvt. Manning’s imprisonment to raise money for their own purposes. This is only to be expected in a society that de Tocqueville described as having one outstanding characteristic – “avarice”. Nothing has changed in 250 years.

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