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UN Torture Investigator Says U.S. Military Treatment of Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning was 'Cruel and Inhumane'

A UN investigation into the treatment of Wikileaks soldier Bradley Manning in Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and in Quantico in Virginia, where he was held in solitary confinement and made to strip naked at night, has been described as  not 'definitive' because the UN rapporteur "has consistently been denied permission by the US military to interview the prisoner under acceptable circumstances."

As you may recall, in March 2011, Obama said of Manning's situation:

"I have asked the Pentagon whether or not the the procedures that have been taken in terms of his condition are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."

The Guardian reports: Manning

Juan Mendez has completed a 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning since the soldier's arrest at a US military base in May 2010. He concludes that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture.

"The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence," Mendez writes.

The findings of cruel and inhuman treatment are published as an addendum to the special rapporteur's report to the UN general assembly on the promotion and protection of human rights. They are likely to reignite criticism of the US government's harsh treatment of Manning ahead of his court martial later this year.

Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules [guardian]


Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Gay Wikileaks Private Bradley Manning is among one of 231 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, the AP reports:

ManningThe secretive committee doesn't reveal who has been nominated, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks. They include Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Norwegian Nobel Committee secretary Geir Lundestad told the AP on Monday that "The list of nominees is a mixture of repeated nominations and some new names."

Other names known to be on the list: Tunisian President Moncef Marzouk, Bill Clinton, and Helmut Kohl.

Last week, Manning deferred his plea at an arraignment.

Watch AFP and RT's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize" »


Lt. Dan Choi Ejected from Bradley Manning Trial, Thrown Off Base: VIDEO

Choi

Lt. Dan Choi, who was thrown out of the courtroom at the Bradley Manning trial, talks about his view of the proceedings as a "show trial". Olbermann agrees that it is "ridiculous even by military standards".

FireDogLake has a report on Choi's ejection from the trial and the base, during which the rank was ripped from his uniform:

Choi, a West Point graduate, went to the Manning trial because “soldiers stand up for integrity, and if the code of ethics and army values are important, then we should support Bradley Manning.” He added that Manning’s actions were not only in the interest of his unit, but also in the interest of the country. “He believed that our country as a whole needed to have integrity. The law of land warfare says that if a soldier sees a crime — a rape or a murder — it’s their responsibility to report it. As I understood it, he brought it up to the chain of command. The chain of command knew about it, and they were the ones who were in violation of the law of land warfare. To not report it is to be complicit. He was the only soldier in the chain of command to do the right thing, so that’s why we have to support him.”

Watch Choi's appearance on Olbermann, in which he discusses the trial, and his ejection, AFTER THE JUMP...

And if you're following the trial, there are several updates HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Continue reading "Lt. Dan Choi Ejected from Bradley Manning Trial, Thrown Off Base: VIDEO" »


Bradley Manning: Did Homophobia Make Him Leak?

Bradley_Manning_2_(cropped)I mentioned this briefly in last night's links roundup, but it's become a pretty big deal: Private First Class Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist who allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has officially made his sexual orientation a keystone of his defense. From Salon:

The young Army intelligence specialist accused of passing government secrets spent his 24th birthday in court Saturday as his lawyers argued his status as a gay soldier before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” played an important role in his actions.

Lawyers for Pfc. Bradley Manning began laying out a defense to show that his struggles as a gay soldier in an environment hostile to homosexuality contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.

So: Manning -- whose defenders have spent countless hours and expended countless millions of breaths proclaiming his nobility and rectitude -- is now tacitly acknowledging that the Wikileaks leak was a wrong and regrettable thing, and that he'd never have done it if he was in his right mind. Whether he really believes that, or whether he's only saying it because his spirit was broken by ten months in solitary confinement in some dank Army oubliette, is unknowable. What is knowable, and queasy-making, is that lawyers are now arguing in a military courtroom that gays can't be trusted with classified material until the military is purged of homophobia.

As it happens, Manning's lawyers aren't the first attorneys to make that argument in recent memory. Ann Coulter made it months ago, in an article entitled "Bradley Manning: Poster Boy For 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'." Maybe he should hire her. It'd definitely score points with the allegedly homophobic military personnel hearing his case.


50 European Parliament Members Send Letter to U.S. Expressing Concerns About Bradley Manning's Treatment

In advance of his first court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, on December 16, more than 50 members of the European parliament have sent an open letter to the U.S. government expressing concerns about the treatment of Wikileaks soldier Bradley Manning, the Guardian reports:

ManningThe MEPs said internal investigations into Manning's treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by "clear conflicts of interest".

They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning. Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.

The paper adds:

The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN's work elsewhere, "particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses".

"In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial," they wrote.

"We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning's right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement."

Meanwhile, WIRED reports that Manning's attorney claims that the government is withholding evidence favorable to Manning:

Manning’s defense attorney, David E. Coombs, is attempting to get evidence from the government to defend Manning in his upcoming pre-trial hearing on Dec. 16, but says the government is stonewalling him.

“The defense has repeatedly requested the below discovery in this case, but the government has consistently responded with a blanket denial of the defense request,” Coombs wrote in the partially redacted filing.

The evidence Coombs seeks includes copies of internal reports conducted by task forces assessing the damage from and the classification levels of the 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and 500,000 classified Iraq and Afghanistan war field reports allegedly leaked by Manning to WikiLeaks.


Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning to Get First Court Appearance After 17 Months in Confinement

Accused Wikileaks soldier Bradley Manning will get his first pretrial hearing on December 16:

ManningThe primary purpose of the Article 32 hearing is "to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government's case as well as to provide the defense with an opportunity to obtain pretrial discovery," attorney David E. Coombs wrote Monday on his website.

The defense may call witnesses and cross-examine the government's witnesses, Coombs wrote. Witnesses are placed under oath, and their testimony may be used during a trial.

Writes the Bradley Manning Support Network: "This will be PFC Manning’s first appearance before a court and the first time he will face his accusers after 17 months in confinement. In a blog post this morning, Manning’s lead counsel, David Coombs, notified supporters that the pretrial phase is scheduled to last five days."


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