The US Government appears to be sweating from the heat brought on by the United Nations after the international organization’s lead torture investigator publicly criticized the United States’ decision to deny official visits to Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. As Marcy Wheeler wrote this morning, “the State Department is might confused about what to do when the international community calls you on your human rights abuses.”
US Military regulations clearly state that Members of Congress, such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich, are allowed to have “official visits” with PFC. Manning at the Quantico brig. That means no one can eavesdrop on their conversation, and nothing from the visit can be used against Manning at his trial. Additionally, as Marcy noted yesterday,
Apparently, our “national interest” in the credibility of the UN extends only so far as it allows us to bomb other countries, but not so far as it might expose our own treatment of detainees to independent evaluation.
What do Quantico and the Pentagon have to hide? Are they afraid of what Bradley Manning might say about his treatment when the brig cameras are turned off?
For 9 months and counting, Bradley Manning has faced almost complete solitary confinement. He is still forced to strip nude nightly. He is still in maximum custody with an unnecessary “Prevention of Injury” order – far beyond that of any other detainee. He is still cut off from appropriate exercise and other rights afforded prisoners at the brig.
When confronted about Manning’s harsh treatment, President Obama said the Pentagon had reassured him that Manning’s confinement met “basic standards.“ If Manning’s conditions meets our “basic standards,” then why is the government going to such great lengths to keep him from meeting with official visitors?
Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, have tried to visit Manning for months to investigate Manning’s conditions in their official capacity. The Pentagon and Quantico Marine Base must allow official visits to Bradley Manning immediately.