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US WikiLeaks Feature: The Persecution of Private Bradley Manning --- State Department Spokesman Resigns

UPDATE 13 MARCH: The case of Bradley Manning has claimed a victim today, albeit not of anyone who has been responsible for his detention.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley dared to say that, while "Bradley Manning is in the right place" for his actions, his forced-nudity treatment by Department of Defense officials was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid".

The remarks were documented by a BBC reporter, and by Friday afternoon, President Obama was having to hold the line, explaining that the handling of Manning was justified and appropriate. Asked "whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of the confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards", Obama replied that Pentagon officials "assure me that they are. I can't go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning's safety as well."

Crowley has now paid the price for the criticism, resigning because White House officials are reportedly furious that he dared refer to mistreatment.

Crowley had told friends that he was deeply concerned that mistreatment of Manning could undermine the legitimate prosecution of the solider, and he worried that the case could damage the US reputation around the world after Obama had said he would end abuses of detainees.


In December, we reported on "The Detention of Private Bradley Manning", the US soldier who allegedly provided documents to WikiLeaks in early 2010 on American military operations, including the killing of civilians, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This weekend, further developments as it emerged that Manning has been forced to remain naked for up to seven hours in his cell. Glenn Greenwald follows up for Salon:


GREENWALD UPDATE:  Robert Parry, at Consortium News, documents how crucial forced nudity was to the Bush detention and interrogation regime; Marcy Wheeler recalls how Bush-era official documents emphasized the importance of prolonged nudity in breaking down detainees; and in The Guardian, Ryan Gallagher writes about "Bradley Manning and the stench of U.S. hypocrisy."

To follow-up on yesterday's observations about the prolonged forced nudity to which Bradley Manning has been subjected the last two days: brig officials now confirm to The New York Times that Manning will be forced to be nude every night from now on for the indefinite future --- not only when he sleeps, but also when he stands outside his cell for morning inspection along with the other brig detainees.  They claim that it is being done "as a 'precautionary measure' to prevent him from injuring himself."  

Has anyone before successfully committed suicide using a pair of briefs -- especially when under constant video and in-person monitoring?  There's no underwear that can be issued that is useless for killing oneself?  And if this is truly such a threat, why isn't he on "suicide watch" (the NYT article confirms he's not)?  And why is this restriction confined to the night; can't he also off himself using his briefs during the day? 

Let's review Manning's detention over the last nine straight months:  23-hour/day solitary confinement; barred even from exercising in his cell; one hour total outside his cell per day where he's allowed to walk around in circles in a room alone while shackled, and is returned to his cell the minute he stops walking; forced to respond to guards' inquiries literally every 5 minutes, all day, everyday; and awakened at night each time he is curled up in the corner of his bed or otherwise outside the guards' full view.  Is there anyone who doubts that these measures -- and especially this prolonged forced nudity -- are punitive and designed to further erode his mental health, physical health and will?  As The Guardian reported last year, forced nudity is almost certainly a breach of the Geneva Conventions; the Conventions do not technically apply to Manning, as he is not a prisoner of war, but they certainly establish the minimal protections to which all detainees --- let alone citizens convicted of nothing --- are entitled.

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