Eighty year-old Daniel Ellsberg was arrested on Saturday in front of the White House when he refused to leave at the request of police. He was one of 113 people who were arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police station on March 19, 2011 for protesting President Obama’s continued torture of Bradley Manning.
Manning is being held in pre-trial confinement at the Quantico brig. His psychological evaluation has been deliberately mis-categorized for 8 months now by two Quantico brig commanders, over the objections of three brig psychiatrists, in order to subject him to dehumanizing and humiliating conditions. The current Brig Commander Denise Barnes recently ordered that Manning be stripped naked each night “for his own good.”
President Obama has voiced his firm support for Barnes’ actions. At a recent press conference, he said he personally asked the Pentagon if the conditions of Manning’s confinement were appropriate. “They assure me that they are,” said the President. Obama echoed Barnes’ justification for stripping Manning naked each night when he said “some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety.”
Obama also recently forced State Department spokesman PJ Crowley to resign after he said that Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous,” “counterproductive” and “stupid.”
Those who have objected to Manning’s conditions and have asked Obama to justify what he is doing include Amnesty International, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Jack Balkin of Yale Law School and 220 law professors, Michael Stipe, Viggo Mortensen, Danny Glover, Tom Morello, Shephard Fairey, Roseanne Cash and Welsh Labour MP Ann Clwyd.
The government has charged Manning with “aiding the enemy,” a capital crime that could carry the death penalty. Daniel Ellsberg was likewise accused by Richard Nixon of “aiding and abetting the enemy” when he leaked the Pentagon papers.
Ellsberg, a Marine veteran, was also arrested the next day at Quantico after Prince William Police reneged on an agreement that would have allowed him and four fellow veterans to lay a wreath at the Quantico Iwo Jima memorial.