The Abuse of Private Manning

| Mon Mar. 14, 2011 9:47 PM PDT

Mark Kleiman:

I had breakfast yesterday with two colleagues, both of them actively interested in public affairs and both of them relatively heavy consumers of newspapers and television news. Neither of them had heard about the maltreatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning until the flap over P.J. Crowley’s statement.

Today the New York Times editorialized about Manning, so maybe finally a few more people will hear about this:

Private Manning is in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. For one hour a day, he is allowed to walk around a room in shackles. He is forced to remove all his clothes every night. And every morning he is required to stand outside his cell, naked, until he passes inspection and is given his clothes back.

Military officials say, without explanation, that these precautions are necessary to prevent Private Manning from injuring himself. They have put him on “prevention of injury” watch, yet his lawyers say there is no indication that he is suicidal and the military has not placed him on a suicide watch.

....Private Manning is not an enemy combatant, and there is no indication that the military is trying to extract information from him.

Actually, I'm not sure that last part is true. I think it's entirely possible that the military wants Manning to provide evidence that implicates Julian Assange on espionage charges. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the abuse of Manning is being done in hopes of extracting from him the kind of confession they need in order to make an indictment stick.

It's loathsome behavior regardless, of course. And just to remind everyone: Manning is, for the time being anyway, an innocent man. He hasn't even been put on trial yet.

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