The shameful tale of Pfc. Bradley Manning recently took a new and horrible turn. Owing to the caprices of Quantico Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes, Manning is now being made to sleep naked and, in the morning, to stand naked for morning roll call. This, according to Marine Corps spokesperson Brian Villiard, is for Manning’s own protection.
Why are the Marine Corps authorities at Quantico prison, not content with keeping Manning in conditions of near-solitary confinement and POI (“prevention of injury”), now suddenly demanding the naked thing, as well? You are not going to believe why.
According to the blog of Manning’s defense attorney, David E. Coombs, Manning had the temerity to ask the brig officer exactly what it is that he needs to do in order to have the restrictions on his imprisonment loosened a bit. Keep in mind that brig forensic psychiatrists have repeatedly stated that there is no mental health justification for keeping Manning confined on POI watch. Even so, Manning was informed that there was nothing he could do to have the restrictions removed, because brig officials considered him at risk of self-harm.
Manning then made the apparent mistake of flippantly remarking that, if he really wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.
That apparently is the point at which Barnes bethought herself to further humiliate Manning by making him sleep naked, on the pretext that she is concerned that he is a suicide risk. But was Manning placed under a Suicide Risk Watch? No. And why not?
Because Suicide Risk Watch requires a brig mental health provider’s recommendation, is why not, and the brig mental health providers have already said repeatedly that Manning is not a threat to himself. And so Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes has resorted to such tools as are at her disposal in order to further degrade Manning, who is charged with being a military whistleblower.
Last week, Daniel Ellsberg said of Bradley Manning: “Our enemy is generally al-Qaeda, and they want these wars to continue. The people who give comfort to the enemy are the people who sent troops there and are keeping the cost of the war from the people. Bradley Manning is acting in the interest of the United States and against the interest of our enemy al Qaeda. … There’s a campaign here against whistleblowing that’s actually unprecedented in legal terms.”
What is the point of torturing this young man? It is to make an example of him? Or is it, as many suspect, an attempt to break him, and thereby gain his cooperation in bringing charges against Julian Assange?
At the President’s website, Change.gov, there is a page that lays out the Ethics Agenda of the incoming Obama Administration. It includes a lot of great-sounding things: exposing special interest tax breaks to public scrutiny, ending the abuse of no-bid contracts, requirements for independent monitoring of lobbying laws and ethics rules, and the timely release of presidential records. It also includes the following paragraph:
Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.”
Bradley Manning is (1) a federal employee, and (if the allegations against him are correct) (2) a watchdog of wrongdoing who (3) exposed the abuse of authority in government. So how are those who supported the Obama/Biden ticket after reading these lofty promises supposed to feel now?