The Manning Disgrace

Barack Obama's record on civil liberties arguably constitutes the worst part of his tenure so far. And his administration's treatment of Bradley Manning remains a particularly striking example:

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.


First Lt. Brian Villiard, a Marine spokesman, said a brig duty supervisor had ordered Private Manning’s clothing taken from him. He said that the step was “not punitive” and that it was in accordance with brig rules, but he said that he was not allowed to say more.

“It would be inappropriate for me to explain it,” Lieutenant Villiard said. “I can confirm that it did happen, but I can’t explain it to you without violating the detainee’s privacy.”

Private Manning is being held as a maximum security detainee under a special set of restrictions intended to prevent self-injury, even though supporters say there is no evidence that he is suicidal.

If Manning leaked classified documents, he should be brought up on charges (although surely not capital charges). But the solitary confinement and humiliating treatment that Manning has been subjected to constitute torture in moral -- if not legal -- terms. As such, it's even hard to defend such treatment for convicted violent felons. Manning not only does not seem to pose any threat to himself or others, but he hasn't been convicted of anything. The treatment of Manning is simply a disgraceful, ongoing violation of human rights.