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Bill Quigley
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Saturday 25 February 2012
“Human rights’ advocates rightly point out that solitary confinement is designed to break down people mentally. Because of that, prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture.”

Bradley Manning, Solitary Confinement and Occupy 4 Prisoners

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Today US Army Private Bradley Manning is to be formally charged with numerous crimes at Fort Meade, Maryland.   Manning, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament, is charged with releasing hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets of the US government to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US and other countries.  The Bradley Manning defense team points out accurately that much of what was published by Wikileaks was either not actually secret or should not have been secret.

The Manning prosecution is a tragic miscarriage of justice.  US officials are highly embarrassed by what Manning exposed and are shooting the messenger.  As Glen Greenwald, the terrific Salon writer, has observed, President Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers for espionage than all other presidents combined.

One of the most outrageous parts of the treatment of Bradley Manning is that the US kept him in illegal and torturous solitary confinement conditions for months at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia.  Keeping Manning in solitary confinement sparked challenges from many groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU and the New York Times. 

Human rights’ advocates rightly point out that solitary confinement is designed to break down people mentally.  Because of that, prolonged solitary confinement is internationally recognized as a form of torture.  The conditions and practices of isolation are in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention against Torture, and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination.

Medical experts say that after 60 days in solidary peoples’ mental state begins to break down.  That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity. Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety and acute confusion. Essentially, the mind disintegrates.

That is why the United Nations special rapporteur on torture sought to investigate Manning’s solitary confinement and reprimanded the US when the Army would not let him have an unmonitored visit.

History will likely judge Manning as heroic as it has Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers.

It is important to realize that tens of thousands of other people besides Manning are held in solitary confinement in the US today and every day.  Experts estimate a minimum of 20,000 people are held in solitary in supermax prisons alone, not counting thousands of others in state and local prisons who are also held in solitary confinement.  And solitary confinement is often forced on Muslim prisoners, even pre-trial people who are assumed innocent, under federal Special Administrative Measures.

In 1995, the U.N. Human Rights Committee stated that isolation conditions in certain U.S. maximum security prisons were incompatible with international standards. In 1996, the U.N. special rapporteur on torture reported on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in U.S. supermax prisons. In 2000, the U.N. Committee on Torture roundly condemned the United States for its treatment of prisoners, citing supermax prisons. In May 2006, the same committee concluded that the United States should "review the regimen imposed on detainees in supermax prisons, in particular, the practice of prolonged isolation."

John McCain said his two years in solitary confinement were torture. "It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance effectively than any other form of mistreatment." The reaction of McCain and many other victims of isolation torture were described in an excellent 2009 New Yorker article on isolation by Atul Gawande.  Gawande concluded that prolonged isolation is objectively horrifying, intrinsically cruel, and more widespread in the U.S. than any country in the world.

This week hundreds of members of the Occupy movement merged forces with people advocating for human rights for prisoners in demonstrations in California, New York, Ohio, and Washington DC.  They call themselves Occupy 4 Prisoners.  Activists are working to create a social movement for serious and fundamental changes in the US criminal system.

One of the major complaints of prisoner human rights activists is the abuse of solitary confinement in prisons across the US.  Prison activist Mumia Abu-Jamal said justice demands the end of solitary, “It means the abolition of solitary confinement, for it is no more than modern-day torture chambers for the poor.”  Pelican Bay State Prison in California, the site of a hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners last year, holds over 1000 inmates in solitary confinement, some as long as 20 years.

At the Occupy Prisoners rally outside San Quentin prison, the three American hikers who were held for a year in Iran told of the psychological impact of 14 months of solitary confinement.  Sarah Shourd said the time without human contact drove her to beat the walls of her cell until her knuckles bled.

When Manning was held in solitary he was kept in his cell 23 hours a day for months at a time.  The US government tortured him to send a message to others who might consider blowing the whistle on US secrets.  At the same time, tens of thousands of others in the US are being held in their cells 23 hours a day for months, even years at a time.  That torture is also sending a message.

Thousands stood up with Bradley Manning and got him released from solitary.  People must likewise stand up with the thousands of others in solitary as well. 

So, stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning and fight against his prosecution.  And stand also against solitary confinement of the tens of thousands in US jails and prisons.  Check out the Bradley Manning Support Network, Solitary Watch, and Occupy 4 Prisoners for ways to participate. 



ABOUT Bill Quigley

Bill is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach him at Quigley77@gmail.com

His superiors were obviously

His superiors were obviously covering up all sorts of atrocities so here is another crime he was required to report:

907. ART. 107. FALSE STATEMENTS

Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent to deceive, signs any false record, return, regulation, order, or other official document, knowing it to be false, or makes any other false official statement knowing it to be false, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Manning was following the letter of the law when he released those documents... which I can tell you, as a retired military man, is not a career enhancing move.

By not exposing criminal acts

By not exposing criminal acts by military personnel Manning could be charged under this part of the UCMJ

878. ART. 78. ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT

Any person subject to this chapter who, knowing that an offense punishable by this chapter has been committed, receives, comforts, or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial, or punishment shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

By releasing documents to the only avenue he thought to be possible he was reporting offenses cited in this article of the UCMJ

919. ART. 119. MANSLAUGHTER

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who, with an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being in the heat of sudden passion caused by adequate provocation is guilty of voluntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court- martial may direct.
(b) Any person subject to this chapter who, without an intent to kill or inflict great bodily harm, unlawfully kills a human being--
(1) by culpable negligence; or
(2) while perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate an offense, other than those named in clause (4) of section 918 of this title (article 118), directly affecting the person; is guilty of involuntary manslaughter and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

If he has a decent lawyer, this would be his defense.

What happened to my comment?

What happened to my comment? it seems that disent is hard, or impossible to get into the net, there was 11 comments listed my comment never made it. I wonder why !

Put the bankers, politicians,

Put the bankers, politicians, and big money men in prison, not the people who take their RIGHT TO KNOW in their own hands, and are prosecuted for it.
If it was left up to me, anyone who made money off the auto bailouts, mortgage rip offs, and most of the shame that is daily life in high finance, in jail where they belong. And then let the people mandate through voting, who will be making decisions that affect the USA.
SO GET OFF YOUR BUTTS PEOPLE, AND TAKE BACK AMERICA! VOTE!!
And get Manning out of prison with some GOOD COUNSEL on his side, because he did what I would do...... BLOW THE WHISTLE PEOPLE.

tpo total asswipe !!!!!

tpo total asswipe !!!!!

American citizens are held in

American citizens are held in solitary confinement in total isolation with only an hour a day for a shower and rec on Texas Death Row. Some confined there never killed anyone. The "law of parties" allows a person who drove the car or was marginally involved in the crime to be sentenced to death. The men are denied adequate medical care and those who cannot walk are denied wheelchairs. Nutrition is inadequate. The showers have no ventilation and those with asthma cannot breath due to a lack of circulation of fresh air. Some cells have black mold due to leaks in the roof. If one man is gassed, all men suffer due to lack of proper ventilation. Why is this allowed to continue? Why don't you protest? Why will no one help these men?

Sorry, no sale. No question

Sorry, no sale. No question extended solitary is harsh and often unfair. Manning may well have caused harm or worse to many people by his actions, actions he apparently he meant to undertake by gaining access to classified documents. I won't make a case for Bush/Chaney at all and have written very publicly on that point. To those naive and hopefully well intentioned souls who believe no docuuments should b kept secret, I would be more supportive if they were more clearly involved in making things better than merely telling us why then place where they can raise hell freely is so terrible.

you wish not to know our

you wish not to know our dirty deeds . . . 787 billon dollar bailout ?? excuse me sir - BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ORIGINAL 787 BILLION DOLLARS WE THE PEOPLE ARE REPLACING
AN OSTRICH STICKS ITS HEAD IN THE SAND AND DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING. . . .
. . . SO TELL ME HOW IS YOUR PENSION ???
"Greece has never been the risk in the marketplace, it is the ramifications of a Greek default on an interconnected "maze" of "global"derivatives tying together financial institutions. . . . . DERIVATIVES = WALL STREET / BAILOUT \ SELLOUT . . . . you do not want to know ??? As an American It Is Your Right to KNOW. . . . . secret - secret - secret - secret - secret budget C.I.A. -.- secret - secret budget N.S.A. -.- war in afghanistan -.- war IRAQ 880 billion dollars - you do not want to know. . . . . secret, secret , secret and you are secret
PLEASE - DEAR SIR TELL ME HOW TO BALANCE A SECRET BUDGET / OF LIES / SMOKE AND MIRRORS / OF ..WASHINGTON'S . . . . YOUR RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN SIR - IS IN JEOPARDY - NOT FROM OUTSIDE BUT FROM WITHIN

My friend this is not a

My friend this is not a government of the people and by the people. It is a government of the well protected who have no idea that poverty is slavery. It is a government where good people have to do bad things. Ask the soldiers with PTSS. Good soldiers doing bad things. If they don't obey they get punished. Ask the good policeman how he feels destroying some good kids life by arresting him for marijuana. Ask the judge how he can sentence someone to death knowing that no rich person has been sentenced to death. This is a black and white society with no shades in it. He broke the law he must be punished. No he doesn't have to be punished. He doesn't have to be fired. He doesn't have to be expelled. We don't have to continue the war for one more day. The president will not be weak for stopping the war tonight. The ruling class has no moral justification for their enforcing bad laws. People have no duty to obey bad laws. Bad should be easy to identify. Does it harm or help a person. Easy.

YOU have spoken a great deal

YOU have spoken a great deal of truth- the United States inprisons more of its citizens than any other nation on earth . . . law and order ???
Communists spy on their neighbors - we wiretap our citizens and grant immunity from courts prosecutions - to hide truth from the people. . .
THE HOME GROWN TERRORISTS ARE IN WASHINGTON - USING PROPAGANDA - WAR -.- WAR -.- WAR -.- WE ARE PROTECTING YOU.....PRE-EMPTIVE WAR IS NOT A DETERENT - MURDER -GENOCIDE - BUTCHERY.......and we call them wrong ??? General Benedict Arnold was a traitor saying he was doing what was in the best interest of the country....scotus???? appointing bush president???

As far as I'M concerned,

As far as I'M concerned, Bradley Manning is a hero. George Bush and Dick Cheney should both be in his place in prison!

. . . I AM NOT AFRAID TO SAY

. . . I AM NOT AFRAID TO SAY WHAT I THINK -.- AND FEEL. . . . .
POWER . CORRUPTS . AND . ABSOLUTE . POWER . CORRUPTS . ABSOLUTELY. . . . .
I understand george bush retired with over 100 million dollars in "his" re-election fund. . . . . sorry - who golfs, where the hell is St Andrews? house speaker john boehner - and who pays ???

Y E S . . . . S I R . . . . H

Y E S . . . . S I R . . . . H E . . I S.......TRUTH.....JUSTICE???? ....THE AMERICAN - ???WAY?????

. . . Fort Meade, Maryland.

. . . Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning, is charged with releasing hundreds of thousands of documents exposing secrets of the US government to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. These documents exposed lies, corruption and crimes by the US and other countries.
. BUT AREN'T THESE THINGS THAT SHOULD BE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PEOPLE -( and yes I reaize we never were consulted/asked OR ADVISED ) "we the people" ?.? NO LONGER HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXAMINE OUR OWN GOVERNMENT'S ACTIONS -.- DEEDS -.- AND MIS-DEEDS ????
nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament - GENEVA CONVENTIONS QUAINT ??
IS IT STILL A DEMOCRACY WHEN THE GOVERNMENT HIDES THE FACTS FROM THE VERY PEOPLE THEY PURPORT TO SERVE AND KEEP SAFE ????

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