Amnesty denounces the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, while new documents shed light on detainee deaths
(updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV [Mon.])
Amnesty International has written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates objecting to the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention, which was first reported here. The group denounces the oppressive conditions under which Manning is being held as “unnecessarily harsh and punitive,” and further states they “appear to breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The letter describes Manning’s treatment as particularly egregious “in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offence.” Moreover:
The harsh conditions imposed on PFC Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement . . . may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair trial.
The letter follows a report from Manning’s lawyer, former Lt. Col. David Coombs, that the conditions of his detention temporarily worsened in the past week, prompting a formal complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Amnesty’s letter also follows a report that the U.N.’s leading official on torture is formally investigating the conditions of Manning’s detention, a fact confirmed two weeks ago by The New York Times (“the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez,  said he had submitted a formal inquiry about the soldier’s treatment to the State Department”).
Of course, caring what Amnesty International or the U.N. have to say about the conditions of America’s detainees is so very 2004. Now, such a concern is — to borrow a phrase from Alberto Gonzales — a quaint and obsolete relic of the past.
Relatedly, the ACLU has obtained new documents which shed more harsh light on the 190 War on Terror detainees who died in American custody. Specifically, many of these documents — autopsy reports and military investigations – - show that at least 25 to 30 of those cases were “unjustified homicides,” i.e., murder. It’s long been known that many detainees were killed by their treatment during interrogation. I wrote about many of these cases here over a year ago, and Gen. Barry McCaffrey has said: ”We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.” But these new documents show that these deaths at the hands of U.S. captors were even more deliberate, brutal and widespread than previously known:
In one such case, a detainee was killed by an unnamed sergeant who walked into a room where the detainee was lying wounded “and assaulted him … then shot him twice thus killing him,” one of the investigating documents says. The sergeant than instructed the other soldiers present to lie about the incident. Later, the document says an unnamed corporal then shot the deceased detainee in the head after finding his corpse.
Appropriately, The Weekly Standard today has an interview with former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey in which he slams Eric Holder for the mere possibility that some of these detainee deaths will be criminally investigated, calling it a “witch hunt.” That view is not an aberration, of course. The Brookings Institutions’ Benjamin Wittes last week criticized the Obama DOJ for merely leaving open the possibility of prosecution for some of these CIA interrogators who were so sadistic and lawless that they even exceeded the boundaries of the torture permission slips given to them by the Bush DOJ. Both Mukasey and Wittes are speaking for the consensus of America’s political class. They — and it — literally believe that anyone acting as part of the American government should be able to get away with murder — which they’ll argue in between sermons on the evils of other nations’ human rights abuses and the need for the U.S. to “do more” to stop such abuses.
UPDATE: As they have done several times before, Jane Hamsher today drove David House to visit Bradley Manning at the Quantico brig — this time, as they announced ahead of time, House intended to deliver to brig officials a petition relating to Manning’s detention conditions which has been signed by 42,000 people (only House is on the approved visitors list, so Hamsher typically drops him off, waits at a base McDonald’s nearby [as she's been instructed to do], and then picks House up once his visit is done). Today, they went to the brig and House attempted to enter, the same way as always, but, as of
1:45 2:15 pm EST, both of them have been detained for 45 minutes 1 hour and 20 minutes, and told that they are not permitted to leave or else they will be arrested. They have now been told — without explanation — that they are not permitted to enter, and Hamsher’s car is being towed off the brig’s property and impounded. Here is House’s live Twitter feed sent during this episode (start at the bottom and read up):
And from Hamsher (read from bottom, up):
UPDATE II: More from Hamsher:
The claim is that Hamsher has only electronic rather than printed proof of car insurance — the same proof she’s had every other time she brought House there, though without a petition — and they have thus impounded her car. They also, though, are refusing — without any explanation — to let House visit Manning despite his being on the approved visitor list. So much for Manning’s once-a-week reprieve from solitary confinement.
UPDATE III: The real purpose of this Quantico episode seems clearly to be to deny Manning his only real visitor, thus making his already hellish solitary confinement that much more unbearable, in turn increasing the likelihood that it will crack him and thus induce the anti-WikiLeaks testimony from him that they need. But it’s also critical to note that the last time House went to visit Manning was in December, and afterward, he went on MSNBC to describe the deterioration of Manning’s physical and mental condition; now he’s been banned, at least for today, from seeing Manning again:
UPDATE IV: Juan Cole insightfully compares the treatment of Bradley Manning to the uprising in Tunisia: recommended.
More Related Stories
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
- Coburn calls questions about tornado aid "typical Washington B.S."
- Conspiracy theorists clash over London attack
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11