While the media fervor has subsided around Bradley Manning’s conditions at a Marine brig in Quantico, VA, we all need a reminder that nothing has changed for Bradley. He still spends 23 out of 24 hours alone in his cell in severe isolation, with severe restrictions on his social contact, news consumption, freedom to exercise, and ability to sleep.
That’s why it was encouraging to see the LA Times editorialize last week on Bradley Manning’s conditions, calling his imprisonment “inhumane” and “indefensible.”
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst suspected of providing documents to WikiLeaks, can’t reasonably complain that the military has him in custody. But the conditions under which he is being held at the Marine detention center at Quantico, Va., are so harsh as to suggest he is being punished for conduct of which he hasn’t been convicted. [...]
Nevertheless, Manning is in “maximum custody.” Also, under a “Protection of Injury” order, he is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, even though his lawyer says a psychologist has determined he isn’t a threat to himself. His lawyer also says that Manning is denied sheets and is unable to exercise in his cell, and that he is not allowed to sleep between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he is made to sit up or stand by his guards. [...]
Manning’s status is periodically reviewed. Ideally, the next review will confirm what seems obvious: that he doesn’t pose a threat to himself or others and that his presence at future legal proceedings can be secured with a much more humane confinement. If the review doesn’t lead to a change in Manning’s treatment, the Pentagon should conduct its own inquiry.
Some see Manning as a whistle-blower who deserves leniency for exposing official duplicity; others believe that, like anyone who engages in civil disobedience, Manning, if guilty, should accept punishment for his actions. But regardless of one’s view of his alleged conduct, the conditions under which he is being held are indefensible.
According to Manning’s attorney, there won’t be a look at Manning’s condition until February. Until then, Manning will continue sit isolated in his cell. Please add your name to our letter to the Quantico brig commander urging humane treatment for Bradley Manning.