Army Specialist Bradley Manning, arrested in June for allegedly leaking the classified material that WikiLeaks has since widely disseminated, has reportedly been detained in solitary confinement. Salon's Glenn Greenwald, a staunch defender of WikiLeaks and harsh critic of the U.S. government's response, reports that officials at Quantico's brig say that Manning is under solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, during which time he is monitored and barred from such activities as exercise.
The report has generated outrage among WikiLeaks supporters, who question the morality of how the 22 year-old Manning is being treated. These supporters, while outspoken against Manning's treatment, are careful to focus on what they describe as the immorality of such punitive confinement in general, and largely decline to argue that Manning is innocent of any crime. "Ultimately, what one thinks of Manning's alleged acts is irrelevant to the issue here," Greenwald writes.
- Could Be Considered a 'Form of Torture' Glenn Greenwald fumes:
Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.
Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture.
- Why Solitary Confinement is So Awful Greenwald cites a lengthy 2009 article by The New Yorker's Atul Gawande exploring the medical and psychological effects of solitary confinement. Here's an excerpt:
- Is Manning a Political Prisoner? "One of the headlines running on the Foreign Policy website today (and for the last several days)," Blogger Lew Rockwell muses, "is 'Planet Gulag: The world has many Liu Xiaobos. Here are 15 who matter.' ... But some of the things these governments accuse these dissidents of sounds an awful lot like the language used to describe the likes of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. I wonder. Will Manning or Assange ever make that list?"
- Sorry, He Committed Treason Commentary's J.E. Dyer, writing before news of Manning's treatment came out, made the case that Manning had committed a serious crime:
The managers of WikiLeaks are not themselves known to be agents of an enemy government; it is Manning's pursuit of damaging, high-profile Web publication that makes it clear he intended to act against his country's interests in wartime. ... I signed a dozen oaths in my 20 years in Naval Intelligence to never do--on pain of severe penalties--what Bradley Manning is charged with doing.