March 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
A US soldier is held in solitary confinement. He’s been there since June. He’s kept naked for hours at a time and not allowed to sleep between 5am and 8pm. For one hour a day, he is allowed to walk around a room in shackles.
He’s not in a cave in Afghanistan, but in Virginia – in a high security prison where he is kept without trial or conviction for releasing secret evidence to Wikileaks revealing US soldiers shooting Iraqi civilians.
This profile piece from the NY Times paints the picture of who he is. A geek growing up, and harassed for being gay in his teens – his first strong social relationships came from friends in Cambridge, MA, where he hung around with computer nerds. He’s only a year younger than I am.
Wired magazine gives some more background as to why Manning released the information.
“I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
While in Iraq, the incident that got him the most was when fifteen detainees were arrested by the Iraqi Federal Police for printing anti-Iraqi literature. He was asked by the army to investigate who the “bad guys” were. He said he discovered the detainees had printed a scholarly critique of the Iraqi prime minister, one called “Where did the money go?” that followed what Manning said was a corruption trail within the Iraqi cabinet. He reported this to his commanding officer, but said “he didn’t want to hear any of it”. He said the officer told him to help the Iraqi police find more detainees. Manning said he realised, “I was actively involved in something that i was completely against”.
Opposition to the military’s handling of the case is growing. This week Philip Crowley, a senior State Department spokesman, resigned after calling his treatment “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” The UN, Amnesty International and peace activists have all been active on the case, demanding his release into a normal legal procedure.
Exposing war crimes should never be a crime. And considering Obama promised to close Guantanamo within a year of his election and has failed so spectacularly, the least he can do is end this shameful absurdity.