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Anorak | Bradley Manning: the sexual torture of a mentally ill hero

Bradley Manning: the sexual torture of a mentally ill hero

by | 21st, December 2011

US ARMY analyst Bradley Manning, 24, is appearing at a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. It’s a military hearing to decided whether Manning should face court-martial for his alleged role in leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. Did Bradley Manning orchestrate the biggest national security leak in U.S. history? And even if he did, what harm did he do?

Also appearing are:

Adrian Lamo – a former hacker, who gave the chat logs to authorities, leading to Manning’s arrest

Jennifer Robinson – lawyer for Wikileak’s fonder Julian Assange

David Coombs – Bradley Manning’s attorney

This is a big deal. Bradley Manning is number 8 on Time’s list of 2011’s 100 most influential people. Bradley Manning was jailed at Quantico, a Marine base in Virginia. He passed his days in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day. He was forced to stand naked during inspections. He was not given his glasses. He could not see properly.

His one hour of exercise was in an empty room.

Daphne Eviatar noted:

Manning is also said to be a threat to himself, given the serious trouble he’s in. As a result, he’s on “Prevention of Injury” watch, which accounts for the lack of sheets and pillows. But his lawyer thinks that’s a ruse. And indeed, it’s hard to imagine why prison officials would treat someone who they worry is mentally disturbed by isolating him to the point that, as medical experts have documented, is likely to make him crazy.

There is no little irony in the how the US treated the whistle blower.

In May 2011, Bradely Manning’;s wquarters improved. David Coombs, his Army Court Marshall Defense Specialist, told media:

PFC Manning is now being held in Medium Custody.  He is no longer under Prevention of Injury watch and is no longer subjected to harsh pretrial confinement conditions. Unlike at Quantico, PFC Manning cell has a large window that provides adequate natural light.  His cell also has a desk, a bed, and a toilet.  The cell is approximately 80 square feet.  He is provided with a normal mattress, sheets and a pillow.  None of his clothing is taken away from him at night.

Matthew Norman writes:

The harder bit is deciding whether, in revealing some of the unlovelier aspects of US military endeavours, Manning is a hero, a traitor, or a confused, lonely, nomadic superhacker with father issues and a dash of save-the-world-from-itself Narcissism in the Julian Assange mould…

Then again, there is no overstating the abject incompetence of the US military, which, after decades of insanely counter-productive wars, one has come to take on trust. Manning’s most conspicuous act of heroism, along with publicising the corruption that helped to wash away the Tunisian regime, was exposing the insouciant brutality to which, in a less dramatic form, he has since been subjected himself. If the world had no right to see footage of US helicopter pilots gunning down Baghdad civilians with the giggly whoopings of teenage video gamers, what right does it have to know anything at all?

Collateral Murder is destined to be a new buzzphrase

Army Special Agent David Shaver and civilian contractor Mark Johnson said they found evidence Manning downloaded and e-mailed nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and a video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”
The government wants Manning court-martialled for aiding the enemy and 21 other charges.

Are all computer experts so afflicted? Adrian Lamo had been convicted in 2004 for hacking Microsoft and the New York Times.

The defence argues that Bradley Manning has mental health issues. Adrian Lamo

The 30-year-old, who acknowledged that he has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, spoke in formal, circuitous language, telling the court: “What I saw in those chats was an admission of acts so egregious that it required that response.”

Is Manning a terrorist?

Finally, after the fight, Manning was banned from his workplace. But it was too late. He already had begun sending out classified information.

His attorney brings up a good question: Why did none of Manning’s superiors take action against him sooner?

It is the same question critics have asked about the Army’s treatment of Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in a massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Despite ample evidence Hasan was a threat to others, the Army did virtually nothing to prevent his bloody rampage.

Manning is gay

Alexis analyzes (via):

[I]t’s not hard to see Manning’s private dilemma — his feelings of being an outsider, of being powerless, of being weak — letting him sympathize with the targets of powerful US organizations like the State Department and military. And the solution to his gender identity problem was the same as the one for geopolitics: everything had to come out. Secrets were corrosive at all levels.

In January of 2010, Manning was allegedly in the process of leaking the many, many documents to Julian Assange’s organization. At the same time, he was also publicly cross-dressing for a substantial period of time while on leave. … It’s incredible to think that as Manning was allegedly passing off the biggest data leak in US government history, he was experimenting with a different kind of transparency and public display of previously secret information.

Was Bradley Manning being humiliated (via Glen Greenwald)?

New York Times, June 8, 2004:

In the weeks since photographs of naked detainees set off the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, military officials have portrayed the sexual humiliation captured in the images as the isolated acts of a rogue night shift. But forced nudity of prisoners was pervasive in the military intelligence unit of Abu Ghraib, so much so that soldiers later said they had not seen “the whole nudity thing,” as one captain called it, as abusive or out of the ordinary.

Jane Mayer, The Dark Side:

[T]he CIA interrogators also announced they planned to become [Abu] Zubaydah’s “God.” They reportedly took his clothing as punishment, and reduced his human interaction to a single daily visit in which they would say simply, “You know what I want,” and then leave.

The New York Times::

A lawyer for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking secret government files to WikiLeaks, has complained that his client was stripped and left naked in his cell for seven hours on Wednesday. . . . The soldier’s clothing was returned to him Thursday morning, after he was required to stand naked outside his cell during an inspection. . . . First Lt. Brian Villiard, a Marine spokesman, said a brig duty supervisor had ordered Private Manning’s clothing taken from him.

UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman wrote:

The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning’s health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane. . . . This is a total disgrace. It shouldn’t be happening in this country. You can’t be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent.

This is the background to the trial of Bradley Manning.

Image: Seen at the corner of Bedford, Lorimer and Nassau, at the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border.

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Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, for a military hearing that will determine if he should face court-martial for his alleged role in the WikiLeaks classified leaks case. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

 



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