The Sustained Crucifixion of Bradley Manning
Re-post of 3-8-2011:
The placement of human beings in solitary confinement is not a measure of their depravity. It is a measure of our own. Lynn Parramore
Bradley Manning is being tortured for our sins.
For the sins of us American citizens, many of us of limited courage, conscience and/or consciousness.
He is also being tortured -- the torturous “killing of the messenger” -- for the appalling and vast sins of the amoral rulers of this country, who are responsible for gratuitous (although they don’t consider them gratuitous if there are corporate profits involved) massive deaths and massive suffering of human beings around the globe.
The powers that be who abandoned honor and morality long ago. The ones who think that might not only makes “right” but also should protect them from any millisecond of “embarrassment” or “unease” on being called on their corrupt cronyism, narcissism, violence, venality, and so often grotesque incompetence.
They are making an example of Manning for all potential whistleblowers. To make any people of conscience think twice before calling out war criminal behaviors perpetrated by the United States. Obama, still skating on image, was our chance to turn around the fascism of the Bush regime. Instead Obama, or “Obagman” as he was bitterly referred to by some commenter the other day and I find no argument, has done all he can to lock in fascism and oligarchical oppression in the United States forever. The new American way. The new world order. A race to the bottom. Institutionalized evil.
I write blogs pretty quickly and emotionally (obviously), motivated by a wave of righteous indignation often triggered by reading one or more skilled and informed commentators. But writing about the plight of Bradley Manning brings up a special sense of despair and futility within me, literal feelings of nausea, from my incredulity over so many still blind to the incredible injustice and cruelty involved. The reality that Obama et al. are so bloody and obnoxiously shameless. Evil.
Facing down evil sickens. It is the reason so many retreat into denial and prefer finding the comfort of the illusion of American justice on Law & Order, etc., or obsess about celebrity lives rather than the fast eroding security of their own and God forbid, their fellow countrymen’s and women’s or, also God forbid, of the extended, global “family of man and woman.”
When I found out about the secret, merciless, black ops torture program under the Bush regime I was appalled and sickened. When Obama came on board I was impatient for him to publicly acknowledge the horror of it all, and to make the perpetrators accountable. I even started wearing a black arm band trusting I would be able to remove it as soon as Obama “did the right thing.” Followed the U.S. Constitution. Honored the Articles of the Geneva Conventions. HAH!
Instead I entered a new dimension of nauseating horror. Obama was morally compass-less. Soulless. Let me say it. It is chilling to surrender to the reality that someone with so much power to do good, won’t. Will do all he can to build the impression he is doing good or at least the impression he “wants to do good,” but in the spin-dizzying name of bipartisanship he must “pragmatically” enable evil.
Come on, how can Obama not be “good,” enabled by Oprah and so much of the corporate media? He is an African American and does not deserve the racism coming at him from the right, so that automatically rallies many to his side. He is well educated and talks the talk of American idealism so well. He has a great big amiable smile and a good sense of humor, which slips up occasionally when he makes jokes about drones, etc. but again, how many really take issue? He has PERSONALITY. And in A.D.D., consumer and, more and more, economically terrorized America, who seriously has the time to separate personality from character? Well, not until it is way too late.
Obama is not trustworthy when it comes to decency and constitutionality. He will oblige these precepts short-term or on the surface, if it is politically convenient, making those praying for his “potential” emotionally seasick as he confuses and confounds yet again. Sadly, he and his entourage are addicted to their own power and co-addicted to the power of others. But, what the hey, why should he be any different from our Congress and Pentagon leaders and the leaders we thought we could trust that came before him? Ugly America has been going strong for a long time, but as I said in one of my earliest blogs, Obama seems to have brought his sled to the slippery slope of fascism. The Republicans have to make up complaints about Obama, because the reality is Obama has the same ultimate goals as the most conservative of them.
The Bradley Manning torture does not only illustrate to the relatively small number of Americans who really grasp its meaning -- are willing to and have the stomach for it -- how Obama is willing to shred the U.S. Constitution, one of many examples in Manning’s case, the eighth amendment which forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” What at first numbs me with despair but then enrages me finally is the Bradley Manning torture is so “in-your-face,” America. I mean, was “24” that good a show to make America shelve its long-time humanitarian stance against the use of torture? It was the beloved, paper-tiger Ronald Reagan, even, who at first embraced the idea of making it official, “NO EXCEPTIONS for the use of torture by America”!!! WTF happened?
Now, if you interfere with the corrupt will of the American ruling elite you will be subject to mind-breaking, physically harmful and degrading torture, on display for all.
The latest word on the merciless and intense degradation of Bradley Manning enrages me further. A new sadistic and sexualized dimension of his torture. Forcing his total nudity for 7 hours of his sleep time along with the morning inspection at his cell door. Okay, Corporal Manning, we are now throwing the death penalty at you and hand over your underwear, so you REALLY EXPERIENCE your full vulnerability to the anti-democratic powers that are running America. It’s got that dark, ugly, frat-boy-male-cult kinda imagination of cruelty but on steroids, don’t you think?
Here is an account from Medea Benjamin and Mike Davis about Manning’s present treatment:
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided to make Manning's pre-trial existence as torturous as possible, holding him in solitary confinement 23 hours a day since his arrest 10 months ago – treatment that the group Psychologists for Social Responsibility notes is, “at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law.”
Sustained solitary confinement and sensory deprivation short term erodes one sense of well being, long term leads to psychosis, doesn’t it? Of course, they claim to be giving him anti-depressants to combat the stress they are doing all they can to induce. WTF???
Benjamin and Davis go on:
In addition to the horror of long-term solitary confinement, Manning is barred from exercising in his cell and is denied bed sheets and a pillow. And every five minutes, he must respond in the affirmative when asked by a guard if he's “okay.”
Glenn Greenwald revealed at some point that the one hour of exercise Manning is allowed (And why can he not exercise within his own cell for God’s sake? Are they afraid of allotting him the benefits of endorphins?) is to walk in circles while shackled. If he stops at all he is immediately returned to his cell.
Benjamin and Davis:
And it gets worse. On his blog, Manning's military lawyer, Lt. Col. David Coombs, reveals that his client is now being stripped of his clothing at night, left naked under careful surveillance for seven hours. When the 5:00 am 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” but rather 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 Rep. Dennis Kucinich in a press release. 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.
This from Ryan Gallagher in the Guardian:
Earlier this week, the soldier accused of leaking thousands of confidential documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, was handed an additional 22 charges as part of his ongoing court martial process. The 23-year-old, who has been in solitary confinement for more than seven months, stands accused of computer fraud, theft of public records and willfully communicating classified information to a person not entitled to receive it.
He now also finds himself faced with a rare charge known as "aiding the enemy" – a capital offence for which he could face the death penalty.
The revelation will no doubt have come as a blow to Manning, although given his ongoing treatment it is likely he already feared the worst. Made to endure strict conditions under a prevention of injury order against the advice of military psychiatrists, he is treated like no other prisoner at the 250-capacity Quantico Brig detention facility in Virginia. Despite that he is yet to be convicted of any crime, for the past 218 consecutive days he has been made to live in a cell 6ft wide and 12ft long, without contact with any other detainees. He is not allowed to exercise or have personal effects in his cell, and for the one hour each day he is allowed free from his windowless cell he is taken to an empty room where he is allowed to walk, but not run.
One of the few people to have visited Manning, David House, spoke yesterday of how he had witnessed his friend go from a "bright-eyed intelligent young man" to someone who at times has appeared "catatonic" with "very high difficulty carrying on day to day conversation". House drew similarities with the case of Bobby Dellelo, an American prisoner who developed psychosis after a lengthy period in solitary confinement conditions similar to Manning's. "For me this has been like watching a really good friend succumb to an illness or something," he said. "I think that Bradley Manning is being punished this way because the US government wants him to crack ahead of his trial."
While there has been widespread and well publicised condemnation of issues surrounding Manning's detainment, his conditions have failed to improve. In fact, things may have got worse, not better, for the Oklahoma-born soldier who is incidentally entitled to UK citizenship through his Welsh mother. Just two days ago, for instance, only 24 hours after having been told he now faces a capital charge, Manning was made to strip naked in his cell for no apparent reason. According to David Coombs, Manning's lawyer, the soldier was then left without clothes for seven hours. When the wake-up call sounded for the detainees at 5am, in an act of forced humiliation, Manning was made to stand naked at the front of his cell.
The incident, described as "inexcusable and without justification" by Coombs, is symbolic of the entire twisted saga: a gross injustice on a nauseating scale. We must bear in mind, of course, that Manning allegedly leaked military files because he, according to unverified internet chat logs, saw wrongdoing and had no other course of action because his superiors told him they "didn't want to hear any of it". He did not want to be complicit in war crimes, and felt that by leaking the files he could prompt "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms".
Gallagher points out the number of recent sound bites Obama and US government leaders are indulging in condemning human rights abuses and repression across the Middle East. When it comes to a citizen of conscience in America? Not so much. Not at all. In fact, bring on the sadism, the institutionalized malice. Solitary confinement, sensory deprivation not enough. Now they up the ante with sexual abuse.
No one is surprised any more by hearing recent past Obama quotes of hypocrisy but Gallagher offers one more from some time in 2008, "Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Was that before or after he became President? It doesn’t matter. Say anything is the M.O. for Obama in morality-free-accountability-free (except if you are a whistleblower for justice)-Obamaworld. As for the military culture, which reveals rampant rapes and other sexual abuses, suicides, homicides, graft, aiding and abetting of the REAL enemy (extortion money to the Taliban, etc.), enabling of misogyny, coverups, minimizations and denials. Way to go, Barack. Clinton. Gates. Congress. Pentagon.
The main offense, Manning faces the death penalty for GOD’s sake, is really in “embarrassing” a corrupt US regime and a corrupt past one with horrifying truths. Such truths have been said to have to a degree inspired the current unrest in the Middle East. Ironically, Wikileaks disclosures are being taken very seriously and appreciatively outside of the United States, while Americans are easily distracted from their content with the Obama regime’s and an obliging media’s demonizations of Manning and Assange.
Bradley Manning has allegedly supplied evidence that American foreign policy rulers are war criminals. Supplied a detailed account of the vast scope and nature of this war criminality. In his young life, Manning enlisted to serve his country at the risk of losing his life, and now, apparently, has risked his life to communicate the criminality of the military culture he had entrusted his life to.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other criminal foreign policy colluders still easily receive massive rewards in book and speaking deals. Ironically, at the same time they dare not travel abroad, because even though they are protected by fellow war criminals in this country and the mass denial of many of the citizenry, thanks to the craven corporate media, authorities among the international community have no problem recognizing their enormous guilt in defying international and moral law.
The war criminals in charge presently, including and especially Obama, and the corporate press have demonized Manning as a criminal. He broke the military code of discipline and confidentiality. The fact that he did it to uphold the U.S. Constitution and reveal gross war criminality and corruption is ignored in Obama’s accountability-free world for real perpetrators. There is the glaring double standard dooming whistleblowers. There is always the “war on terror” post 9/11 blank check Obama and his regime, as the Bush regime, cash in on to shove aside citizen protections of due process for arbitrarily deemed “extenuating, extrajudicial” circumstances. Bald, bold and shameless they are. Disclosing criminal behavior in a non-criminal world would not be a crime. Ray McGovern in a recent blog declared that if this were a “just world,” Bradley Manning would be offered the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead he is facing a death sentence.
Where is the accountability for such atrocities as U.S. death squads, black site torture, indefinite detentions, drone incineration attacks on innocent civilians, the use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium weapons?
Alexander Cockburn writes:
The WikiLeaks documents show that the picture of the international business of the United States offered by the major U.S. media to the public is an infantile misrepresentation of reality. The efforts being made by Attorney General Eric Holder to bolster secrecy and espionage laws show that the U.S. government, led currently by a man who pledged "transparency," wants the American people to remain in blissful ignorance of what its government is actually doing.
The alleged leaker of the WikiLeaks files, Army Private Bradley Manning, currently being held in solitary confinement in sadistic conditions, should be vigorously applauded and defended for exposing such crimes as the murder of civilians in Baghdad by U.S. Apache helicopters. The WikiLeaks Afghan-related files are a damning, vivid series of snapshots of a disastrous and criminal enterprise.
In these same files, there is a compelling series of secret documents about the death squad operated by the U.S. military known as Task Force 373, an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, which has been hunting down targets for death or detention without trial. From WikiLeaks we learn that more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as Jpel, the joint prioritized effects list.
Julian Assange and his colleagues should similarly be honored and defended.
They have acted in the best traditions of the journalistic vocation.
Daniel Ellsberg released evidence of war criminality with the Pentagon Papers in 1971. It wasn’t until after 50,000 US troops lost their lives and between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese were killed that that war was ended and there was a public acknowledgment by many in the power elite, the press and the citizenry that it had been a tragic misadventure. Nixon wasn’t fond of Ellsberg, you can bet your life, but Ellsberg was not subjected to torture and the threat of death for blowing his serious whistle, was he?
Ellsberg sees Manning as having served the same role as himself. But the United States has become so fascistic that there is no remote structure in Obamaworld, as in Bushworld, for legal accountability of illegal and amoral abuse of power within this government. The corporate media is so cravenly obsequious to a criminal ruling class.
Chris Floyd always lays out the grim truth:
As you went about the business of being human, this inhuman thing has come. It has come in your name, wrapped in your flag, claiming your security as its raison d'etre.
And in the guise of a young, hip, educated progressive, it has just now declared that anyone who reveals any hidden evil committed by the fascist state is subject to prosecution for a capital crime. That's right. It has revealed that you -- you American citizen, you patriot, you believer in goodness and justice and genuine democracy -- you can be killed by the government if you tell the truth.
This is what the administration of President Barack Obama has demonstrated -- indeed, has proudly proclaimed -- in its treatment of the young man it is avowedly, openly torturing for telling the truth about American war crimes, Bradley Manning. There can be no mistaking the meaning, implications and import of Barack Obama's actions. Corporal Bradley Manning has been charged with leaking "classified material," including a video posted on WikiLeaks that showed American forces gleefully shooting up Iraqi civilians with helicopter gunships. Manning is also alleged to have obtained thousands of other files detailing crimes, corruption, cover-ups, lies and deceit by American forces and American diplomats around the world. Although American officials have repeatedly said that none of leaks attributed to Manning and to WikiLeaks have caused any bodily harm to any agent of American imperial power around the world, Manning is being accused of "threatening national security" and "aiding the enemy."
Then Floyd asks a very compelling question:
And who, pray tell, is the "enemy" being aided by the expression of truth? On Thursday, the Pentagon very helpfully spelled it out to the New York Times:
The charge sheet did not explain who “the enemy” was, leading some to speculate that it was a reference to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, however, the military said that it instead referred to any hostile forces that could benefit from learning about classified military tactics and procedures.
If that is not fascism, there has never been such a thing on the face of the earth.
To be sure, American officials say that they will seek only life imprisonment for Manning -- who they are now subjecting to hours of forced nakedness in front of video cameras. But the military judge who will oversee Manning's court martial is entirely free to disregard the prosecutor's stated intention and impose the full penalty for aiding the "enemy."
But again, who is the "enemy"? You are the enemy -- if you speak a truth that the government does not want you to reveal. (Of course, if you are an approved and coddled courtier, an eager, scurrying scribe like Bob Woodward, for example, you can reveal all the most secret "classified material" that you like, as long as it comes from savvy insiders "authorized" to praise their bosses and make their rivals look bad.) If you speak this unwanted truth, the government, the president -- the cool, savvy, modern, hip, educated progressive president -- can throw you in jail, subject you to torture, deprive you of sleep, and finally strip you naked in front of cameras to break you down and humiliate you in their efforts to dehumanize you, to grind you down into a piece of meat.
To follow up on Floyd’s question of who actually is the enemy, since Manning allegedly released the video and war logs to inform the citizenry, are we the unspoken “enemy” being abetted according to these war mongers? Seems so. Fred Branfman writes:
Both the Wikileaks Iraqi and Afghan War Logs, in short, have revealed that the entire U.S. Executive is a "vast lying machine", as journalist David Halberstam described the U.S. military in his affadavit for the CBS vs. Westmoreland trial. It must be understood that “truth” vs. “lies” is not even an operational category within the Executive Branch or military.
The purpose of communicating with the public is not to provide them with truthful information but rather to advance “the mission”. People who communicate with the public obtain their jobs and are promoted on the basis of their ability to mislead, deceive, “spin” and lie. There is no recorded case where Executive Branch officials have been rewarded for telling the truth to the American people, and many where they have been punished or lost their jobs for doing so. And nothing so epitomizes the degradation of democracy in America that the fact the public expects Executive Branch officials to lie to them, and that mass media journalists even betray their profession by defending Executive secrecy and excoriating those who reveal their lies like Julian Assange.
Assume the ostrich stance, America, or face down horror. We not only must fear the hard-knuckle knocking of the FBI or whomever on our doors but maybe the newest drones the size of insects bearing down on us. And multi-dimensional torture onto serious people of conscience. The new American normal. If you disclose criminality, in this case MASSIVE criminality, by breaking the code of confidentiality of the criminals since the criminals are so shamelessly and thoroughly in charge they then can torture you, threaten with the death penalty or a life time of incarceration, HELLISH incarceration.
The military industrial security complex killing machine is sucking up as of this Fall $719 billion of tax dollars which is crippling the welfare of US citizens, reducing jobs, preventing repairs of infrastructure, as well as enabling massive death and destruction to innocent people abroad as well as our own young soldiers all for corporate agendas.
For average Americans to hear that their country is corrupt, their amiable president is corrupt, their military is corrupt is repelling. The larger the scope of atrocity the thicker the walls of the bubble of denial. After 8 years of Bush, the cruelty of an Obama who offered change and continued on, spinning appearance, is heart and mind-numbing. Gaslighting. Crazymaking. Cruel. Dividing up and conquering the Democratic community. “Confuse” means “fused” “with”.
Remember when you were in your early twenties? There was a magnificent courage back then as one's identity broke forth into authentic adulthood. A vast potential then for soaring grandiosity as well as a cavernous vacuum for shame and self doubt. Bradley Manning is the tender age of 23. He enlisted in the army to serve his country. Out of idealism, courage and a spirit of adventure? He discovered the horror of mass indecency and illegality and he leaked the evidence. Massive evidence of the American lying war machine. Of a perverted military culture. He risked his welfare for truth.
Now he is being tortured, intensely and sadistically. A warning for the people of conscience of America. A litmus test for the morality or lack thereof of our President and our nation. A titillation for the authoritarian-following jingoists. Oh, and an additional bonus for homophobic war criminals and friends of war criminals and a hyper-masculine zero-tolerance (for peace mongering) military culture of trickle down sadism: the young man happens to be gay.
As the crucifixion continues and intensifies in its cruelty.