Over the last week, Bradley Manning's conditions of confinement have been laid bare in court. The military prosecutor, though, has studiously avoided calling these conditions "torture," or even the more comfortable euphemism of "enhanced interrogation techniques," which the Justice Department had actually, by the time of Manning's confinement, authorized (however dubious the torture memos were.)
So a little tutorial to spell it out the torture: solitary confinement/isolation; humiliation/forced nudity; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; and stress positions.
As with the torture narratives of all post-9/11 detention, we've heard over, and over, and over again that officials chose to overdo and go beyond that pale. Gitmo cases can't be tried because they're tainted by torture. At least Manning gets a military proceeding (with all its limits), which will hopefully find the he was tortured, meaning he would have to be set free.
(My Tweets are much more graphic and pointed @JesselynRadack.)
List of Torture Techniques Applied to Pfc. Bradley Manning:
1. Solitary Confinement/Isolation
Solitary confinement is strictly prohibited under international law. It is a cruel practice which causes permanent psychological damage. The impacts can range from hallucinations, emotional damage, delusions and impaired cognitive functioning to anxiety and depression. Solitary confinement is outlawed under the Convention Against Torture, ICCPR and the Geneva Conventions.
Manning was in solitary confinement in Kuwait and Quantico for nine months. He was in a cage (Kuwait) or a small, windowless cell for 23 hours a day. He was given 20 minutes of "sunshine call" each day, during which he could "walk" figure eights in restraints with guards holding him up. Eventually, he received 1 hour of recreation per day--still woefully below legal standards. His treating military psychologist, Col. Rick Malone, much to his credit, testified that
The ways he was being held was detrimental to his physical and mental health. His custody status was a stressor . . . He was taken of medications after several weeks because he was symptom-free. . .in complete remission . . .and posed no harm to himself or others.2. Humiliation Techniques
Bradley Manning, being held alternatively in "suicide risk" and "prevention of injury" status (despite military psychologists testifying that he posed no risk of injury to himself or others) pointed out that
If I really wanted to kill myself, I could use my underwear.Even though he was under 24/7 observation, the military took his underpants. At the routine count the next morning, he covered himself with the prevention-of-injury sandpaper blanket. An officer asked,
Detainee Manning, Is that how you stand at parade rest?Manning requested clarification. He was soon standing completely naked for morning count. Forced nudity is used to induce feelings of humiliation and fear. Manning also had to request toilet paper any time he needed to relieve himself. This was supposedly an anti-suicide measure, which is belied by the fact that he was under constant surveillance.
3. Sleep Deprivation
Upon his initial confinement in Kuwait, Manning's days and nights were reversed, being awoken in the evening and kept up all night. Sleep deprivation is a very effective torture technique used by torturers because it makes a person more suggestible, reduces psychological resistance and it reduces the body’s capacity to resist pain. It had this very effect on Manning, causing him to have what has been described as an "anxiety attack" and "nervous breakdown." Once he was moved to Quantico, guards awakened Manning multiple times on multiple nights each week, and a flourescent light was always visible from his cell. The Committee against Torture (CAT) has noted that sleep deprivation used for prolonged periods constitutes a breach of the CAT, and is primarily used to break down the will of the detainee. Sleep deprivation can cause impaired memory and cognitive functioning, decreased short term memory, speech impairment, hallucinations, psychosis, lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stress, anxiety and depression...even though Manning was supposedly in restricted custodial status due to anxiety and depression.
4. Sensory Deprivation
Sensory deprivation is used to instil a sense of fear, disorientation and cause dependency on their captor. Sensory deprivation has also been attributed to increased pain sensitivity and increased psychological stress. The military confiscated Manning's glasses, without which he cannot see. So all of the isolation he endured, he did so while essentially blind.
5. Stress Positions
Manning was kept shackled in his cell. He was told he had to stand because he was still "on duty." If he sat, he was not allowed to lean against the wall or lie down. The strangest thing was the "tear-proof smock," which was really a nearly floor-length, rigid, abrasive rubber-and-foam straight jacket. Manning donned this restraint, which he often had to wear with nothing on beneath. Manning got stuck in this device, which was supposedly for his protection, and had to be extracted by guards.
These physically and psychologically abusive techniques were used to disorient Manning and induce regression, psychic disintegration, and feelings of helplessness that lowered his defenses. He would routinely go through perfunctory "wellness checklists," and didn't start advocating for himself until his amazing attorney, David Coombs, told him to start filing formal grievances contesting his conditions of confinement so he could exhaust his administrative remedies. (These formal grievances led to 3 sham "Classified & Assignment Board" hearing, which Manning testified had already decided to keep him on restricted status.)
These techniques were used not by rogue CIA thugs, but by the military--on someone in pre-trial detention, not found guilty to have done anything.