Published on Thursday, February 3, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
Kucinich: Does Treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning Constitute ‘Cruel and Unusual’ Treatment?
Release by Congressman Dennis Kucinich
WASHINGTON - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking for information about reports that the Army ignored evidence of the mental health problems of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. Kucinich also asked for confirmation and explanation of reports that the Army is holding Pfc. Manning in conditions that would likely exacerbate his condition and could contribute a violation of the his Eighth Amendment right of protection from ‘cruel and unusual' punishment.
The full text of the letter follows.
February 2, 2011
The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Dear Secretary Gates
This morning, The
The Army ignored Private Manning's mental health problems before he was arrested for leaking the documents to WikiLeaks, and the consequences of that disinterest are now obvious. Since his arrest, the Army has reportedly treated Private Manning in a way that is almost certain to exacerbate his mental health problems.
In December 2010, Glenn Greenwald reported on the conditions of Private Manning's confinement at the Marine brig in
Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a "Maximum Custody Detainee," the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed.... For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.
In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at
On January 3, 2011, the Psychologists for Social Responsibility issued an "Open Letter" in which they protested the conditions of Private Manning's incarceration "based on the exhaustive documentation and research that have determined that solitary confinement is, at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of
"Empirical research on solitary and supermax-like confinement has consistently and unequivocally documented the harmful consequences of living in these kinds of environments . . . Evidence of these negative psychological effects comes from personal accounts, descriptive studies, and systematic research on solitary and supermax-type confinement, conducted over a period of four decades, by researchers from several different continents who had diverse backgrounds and a wide range of professional expertise... [D]irect studies of prison isolation have documented an extremely broad range of harmful psychological reactions. These effects include increases in the following potentially damaging symptoms and problematic behaviors
"To summarize, there is not a single published study of solitary or supermax-like confinement in which non-voluntary confinement lasting for longer than 10 days where participants were unable to terminate their isolation at will that failed to result in negative psychological effects."
Today's article states that the Army actually recognized that Private Manning had mental health problems, but deployed him to
Now, reports indicate that the Army has taken Pfc. Manning, a soldier with documented mental health problems, and confined him under conditions that are almost guaranteed to exacerbate his mental health problems. If true, the Army's treatment would obviously constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the
If these reports are true, the Army must end the extreme conditions of Private Manning's confinement, and provide him with the mental health treatment that the Army recognized he needed even before his deployment to
I look forward to your response.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs