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.
94 thoughts on “Dropping the Hammer: Obama Administration Forces Out State Department Spokesman After Criticizing Treatment of Manning”
from the article:
Many of those interviewed said “they were forced to strip naked in front of other detainees, which is very humiliating for them,” Eviatar said. “The forced nudity seems to be part of a pattern to make detainees feel disempowered.”
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. ”
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.
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…
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…*
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 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)
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.
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)
(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.
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.
Anthony D. Romero
Thanks for the links.
From Salon (3/16/2011)
Varioius matters: Afghanistan, Libya & Manning
By Glenn Greenwald
(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).
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.
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?
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—
(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
Manning now has a tear proof garment and no longer has to sleep in the nude.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/14/manning.protest/ The protest seems limited to D.C. with a very small group of people. Maybe the organizers should hold the protests in more locations. The more attention this gets the better for Manning, hopefully.
“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).
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.
“rafflaw 1, March 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm
Good points eniobob, but I am still disappointed.”
You are not alone.
It was probably a paid contractor that thought it up. For a very hefty price!
Comments are closed.