By now you have heard about Private First Class Bradley Manning, a military intel officer who has been charged with being involved in leaking classified documents and videos to Wikileaks. He’s been in solitary confinement for months, and human rights groups have been looking into his treatment, claiming that he’s been abused.
From last Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, last December:
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The United Nations’ top anti-torture envoy is looking into a complaint that the Army private suspected of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks has been mistreated in custody, a spokesperson said Wednesday.
The office of Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture in Geneva, received a complaint from one of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s supporters alleging conditions in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., amount to torture, said spokesperson Xabier Celaya. Visitors say he spends at least 23 hours a day alone in a cell.
The U.N. could ask the United States to stop any violations it finds.
Think Progress is now reporting that Rep. Dennis Kucinich is protesting the Army’s treatment of Manning, as well as requesting face time with him. Why? Because he (among others) would like to see for himself what is actually going on, and he is questioning whether this is a case of the U.S. Constitution being violated. If it is, he wants something to be done about it:
This is particularly shocking in light of new information revealed that Manning was suspected of having poor mental health before he was deployed to Iraq, with some superiors even requesting that he not be given firearms. Yet despite this press coverage of Manning’s treatment, the military has offered very limited access to him and has refused to address the concerns of human rights and civil liberties advocates.
Now, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates inquiring about Manning’s condition, protesting the Army’s treatment of him and requesting a visit with the imprisoned solider. In the letter, Kucinich writes that, if Manning is need of mental health treatment, the “Army must end the extreme conditions of” his confinement or at the “very least…explain the justification” for taking such extreme measures during his imprisonment.
Common Dreams has posted Kucinich’s entire letter here. The following excerpt refers to the possibility of Manning’s Eighth Amendment rights being ignored:
Now, reports indicate that the Army has taken Pfc. Manning, a soldier with documented mental health problems, and confined him under conditions that are almost guaranteed to exacerbate his mental health problems. If true, the Army’s treatment would obviously constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
There have been ongoing arguments about whether or not Manning has been abused. As Think Progress notes, “solitary confinement is a practice that is common in America’s prison system.”
Last month, leading human rights groups Amnesty International and the Physicians for Human Rights both sent letters to the Department of Defense protesting Manning’s treatment; they noted that solitary confinement is widely used across the United States, it is almost unheard of for it to be used against a prisoner like Manning who has yet to even be convicted of a crime.
Questions still linger. Hopefully, Dennis Kucinich will be able to provide some answers.