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One of the most important trials of the decade is unfolding just outside of Washington, D.C. at Ft. Meade, MD: the court martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly disclosing information to Wikileaks.

Typically, the only reporters consistently attending and covering the dramatic pre-trial proceedings have been far outside the MSM. Alexa O'Brien, Kevin Gosztola, and Nathan Fuller have provided excellent and critically important coverage of Manning's secretive pre-trial proceedings, but major national newspapers have afforded the hearings limited summary attention at best. Now that Manning has been testifying about his abhorrent pre-trial confinement conditions, some in the MSM have woken up, but only to do brief stories that usually rely heavily on the Associate Press reports rather than doing their own independent nvestigating.

The MSM reports tend to sanitize Manning's treatment in pre-trial confinement conditions, and do little to explain what it means to be kept in a cell 23 hours a day, only being allowed out for 20 minutes of "sunshine time" during which guards would escort a shackled Manning around an exercise yard.

When the MSM describes "pre-trial detention," substitute "solitary confinement." Manning--an American citizen yet to be tried or convicted of any crimes--was held in his cell, sometimes naked, for 23 hours a day despite the fact that all of his psychologists (plural) believed the confinement conditions to be totally unnecessary and actually detrimental to Manning's mental and physical health.

From testimony over the weekend, we learned that he military leadership and guards at Quanico--who had no medical training or degrees--substituted their judgment for that of multiple trained psychologists so that they could keep Manning on an unnecessary, punitive "suicide watch" or "prevention of injury" (POI) status. [Note how in Orwellian fashion, the names for this type of confinement suggest that it was being done for Manning's own good.] Their amateur judgments were based on things like rumors about Manning's sexual orientation or "observations" that Manning was not talkative enough, despite a rule that Manning could only talk at a "conversation volume level" to other detainees, who were too far away to hear anything Manning said at a "conversational volume level." Yet the leadership at Quantico relied on the guards' and amateur "counselors" armchair-diagnoses rather than the well-informed opinions of multiple well-credentialed psychiatrists, all of whom agreed that Manning did not need to be on POI status.

I explained in detail over the weekend precisely how Manning's pre-trial confinement conditions violated basic human rights standards.

Solitary confinement is strictly prohibited under international law. It is a cruel practice that causes permanent psychological damage. The impacts can range from hallucinations, emotional damage, delusions and impaired cognitive functioning to anxiety and depression--the very reasons Manning was initially put in solitary in the first place. 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. One of his treating military psychologists, Col. Rick Malone, much to his credit, testified that:

   The way he was being held was detrimental to his physical and mental health.  His custody status was a stressor . . . He was taken off medications after several weeks because he was symptom-free. . .in complete remission . . .and posed no harm to himself or others.
The abusive pre-trial confinement conditions make Manning's case more than just another whistleblower prosecution under the draconian Espionage Act--a phenomenon threatening enough to our democracy.  Manning's treatment reversed the usual presumption of innocent-until-proven-guilty and punished Manning for a crime he had yet to be even tried for, let alone found guilty.

I'll be at All Souls Church in NW Washington tonight to hear Manning's attorney David Coombs' first-ever public presentation on the case. Anyone sharing my outrage about Manning's pre-trial confinement conditions should attend.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for your attention to this (15+ / 0-)

    and your legal explanations. I follow you here and on Twitter.

    Oklahoma: birthplace of Kate Barnard, W. Rogers, W. Guthrie, Bill Moyers & Eliz. Warren. Home to proud progressive agitators since before statehood. Current political climate a mere passing dust cloud; we're waiting it out & planning for clearer days.

    by peacearena on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 06:12:44 AM PST

  •  Wish I was in DC to attend - need to hear atty (8+ / 0-)

    at the same time, we Americans complicit in the security state

    Juan Cole has a couple of posts up today

    One about how ALL of us are being watched. I recall at Berkeley in the 1960's the sense that FBI agents were all around. Recent book lays it out in Hoover's role to shut down dissent. Also see FBI footprints all over the black movements, Malcolm X and ML King.

    When will we find out the FBI involvement in OWS? And what other agencies? For sure, local police forces infiltrated the movement.

    Now that all of us are under constant surveillance, any one of us, (will I be next) could be arrested at a demonstration or anywhere and our history of contacts could be on full display.

    Here is piece from Juan Cole on surveillance

    NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under digital surveillance, Trillions of Messages Stored

    http://www.juancole.com/...

    And here is an article from NY Times on direct efforts to attack Juan Cole. Juan is a mid east history prof at U of Michigan. First thing I read every morning. For those following middle east events, a must read.

    Here is the link to NY times article

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

  •  Catch 22's are a military specialty (12+ / 0-)
    Manning could only talk at a "conversation volume level" to other detainees, who were too far away to hear anything Manning said at a "conversational volume level."

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 06:34:09 AM PST

  •  lies, torture, vicious cruelty. inarguable. (6+ / 0-)

    The prisoner should be freed. The jailers up on charges, especially the commanders. Manning should sue for damages after getting help and time to recover. Despicable conduct by judge and jury cowards trying to destroy this soldier. How weak are the mighty? How phony their honor?
    How sick their rectitude? A disgrace to the uniform. Brittle. Petty.
    Let
    Him
    Go

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 06:57:41 AM PST

  •  according to the bradley manning support network.. (6+ / 0-)

    website, david coomb's presentation at all souls church will be live streamed at bradleymanning.org tonight.

    i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

    by joe shikspack on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 07:01:21 AM PST

  •  I was thinking that we have (6+ / 0-)

    "militarized" most everything. In the military a person is owned by the military. Some people thrive in that environment and others just do the best they can. Manning was considered "property" and he was also presumed guilty by his military superiors. And also by President Obama who made the fatal mistake of a CiC to say so publicly. Quantico is trying to excuse its behavior toward Manning because they had suffered a suicide (or two) before his arrival. But their treatment of Manning was more than a prevention effort. It included humiliation, isolation and sensory deprivation (they wouldn't give him his glasses for a couple of weeks and they often missed his 20 minutes of sunshine and he had no windows.) They can get away with it because this is all in a military court. There are no civilian rules in a military court and  it is all CYA for the brass balls that rule.

    AND there will be no transcripts coming out of the court. AND it will be shrouded as best they can. The military brass balls that rule hate sunshine as much as any wrong doer even if they don''t do wrong.  CYA is their motto, their creed and their ethics.

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 07:06:02 AM PST

    •  There are two critical issues for this age to (0+ / 0-)

      address: whether the rights enumerated in the amendments to the Constitution represent a maximum or a minimum and whether a person's voluntary surrender of rights or consent to abuse negates the abuse.

      Since the Amendments are framed as prohibitions on the behavior of agents of government and the protection of human and civil rights is merely an intent, are the enumerated prohibitions to be the sum total of prohibitions or are they the least we can expect from our agents of government. The Miranda decisions suggest the latter -- that if the agents have complied with the minimum standard, they are good to go. As far as consent is concerned, there seems to be a legal principle at work which would argue, for example, that the only thing wrong with "involuntary servitude" is that it was involuntary. After all, wives promising to honor and obey until death was long a standard.  And individuals who volunteer for military service implicitly agree to give up their lives.  So, their other rights can be considered surrendered as a "lesser-included" sacrifice. That's how come traditionalists argue with conviction that the troops are owed nothing. They volunteered to potentially die, so they should be glad to be alive. That's how personal responsibility works. The individual has no-one to blame but himself.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 09:10:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But Obama says it's NOT Torture (6+ / 0-)

    it's "enhanced confinement" or whatever, so it's all good right Bro?

    "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." - Morpheus

    by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 07:09:07 AM PST

  •  We do need more news coverage of the Manning case. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GoGoGoEverton, NonnyO

    But IMHO the defendant is no hero, or even a whistleblower. If he had just released the video showing a war crime in progress, he might have such a claim. Instead, he is alleged to have illegally provided Wikileaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, all of which he could not possibly have reviewed to know their contents.

    The guy is innocent until proven guilty, and I have a real problem with how the authorities have treated Manning while he is in custody. However, he is charged with committing serious crimes and there seems to be considerable evidence against him.

    All that being said, I agree it is a shame the media have not done more reporting on his court martial. The public has a right to hear Manning's defense as well as the prosecution's allegations against him. And considering that Manning appears to have risked everything to help the American people understand what our government is doing in our name, it is a travesty of justice that our so-called free press is complicit in assisting our elected officials in covering up those acts.

    •  Daniel Ellsberg (3+ / 0-)

      Do you consider Daniel Ellsberg a 'whistleblower' and 'hero' (yes, this is a trick question)?

      •  There's a significant difference there. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GoGoGoEverton

        Ellsberg leaked only the Pentagon Papers (i.e., only that material that was relevant to the wrongdoing he was blowing the whistle on)—not each and every bit of information he had access to. He also leaked that material to the New York Times, a responsible journalistic outlet, which would exercise editorial oversight.

        Manning released, to my knowledge, every piece of nonpublic information he could get his hands on—not just that material relevant to the wrongdoing he is being called a "whistleblower" for revealing. And he released that material not to a responsible journalistic outlet but to Wikileaks where editorial oversight was all but nonexistent.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 09:22:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Manning had access to much more information (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias, 2020adam

          than he released.

          My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

          by Jesselyn Radack on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:25:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But he released well more than was relevant. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GoGoGoEverton

            Much of the material he released wasn't evidence of any kind of wrongdoing on the part of the US, and wasn't relevant to any kind of "whistleblowing" case... but was being kept out of the public eye for a reason.

            If there was any kind of rational process by which Manning chose what he would leak to Assange/Wikileaks, I've yet to hear about it; the impression I've gotten from what I've seen is that it was more "spaghetti on the wall" than "whistleblowing." Do you have any information pertaining to such a process?

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:52:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you know if the second hour of (0+ / 0-)

            tonight's presentation was filmed and is possibly online to see ?

    •  The guy is innocent until proven guilty (4+ / 0-)

      The president aka CIC disagrees with you.

      When you think of the Commander in Chief making this pronouncement, how can you expect "justice" from a military court?

      "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

      by allenjo on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 07:52:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chris Floyd did a good post on this (5+ / 0-)

    topic, focusing on the NY Times.

    if you relied on the nation's pre-eminent journal of news reportage, the New York Times, you could have easily missed notice of the event altogether, much less learned any details of what transpired in the courtroom. The Times sent no reporter to the hearing, but contented itself with a brief bit of wire copy from AP, tucked away on Page 3, to note the occasion.

    That story -- itself considered of such little importance by AP that it didn't even by-line the piece (perhaps the agency didn't send a reporter either, but simply picked up snippets from other sources) -- reduced the entire motion, and the long, intricate, systematic government attack on Manning's psyche, to a matter of petty petulance on Manning's part, a whiner's attempt to weasel out of what's coming to him. This is AP's sole summary of the motion and its context:

    Private Manning is trying to avoid trial in the WikiLeaks case. He argues that he was punished enough when he was locked up alone in a small cell for nearly nine months at the brig in Quantico and had to sleep naked for several nights.
    It is clear what the unnamed writer wants the reader to take away from his passage. We are supposed to think: "That's it? That's all he's got? That they gave him a private room and made him sleep in the buff for a few nights? Is that supposed to be torture?"
    He points out that Russia's persecution of Pussy Riot received much much more coverage.
  •  I don't like how the whole pre-trial thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345

    with his confinement went down...though it seems that his lawyer(s) had something to do with the time it took to go to trail (but not his treatment).

    Still, what case is the atty going to make? Just 3 days ago the judge accepted language for a plea deal and he'll probably serve what, 5-8 yrs if he behaves well?

  •  I also have a direct question: (0+ / 0-)

    How much unrelated and classified information is allowed to be released with the information related to the 'whistleblowing' before a crime is committed? Is your answer at all dependent on the circumstances of the specific issue being whistled and who the info is delivered to?

    •  Legal definition of whistleblower answers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias

      your question

      5 USC Section 2302

      (A) any disclosure of information by an employee or applicant which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences—
      (i) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
      (ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety,

      if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs; or
      (B) any disclosure to the Special Counsel, or to the Inspector General of an agency or another employee designated by the head of the agency to receive such disclosures, of information which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences—
      (i) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or
      (ii) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;

      One additional note: Per executive order, agencies cannot classify information to cover up waste, fraud, abuse, illegality or embarrassing government behavior.

      My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

      by Jesselyn Radack on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:28:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Manning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, Don midwest, aliasalias

    The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament nominated Private Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny.
    The revelations – including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq – have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.
    Citizens worldwide owe a great debt to the WikiLeaks whistleblower for shedding light on these issues

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 08:04:46 AM PST

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