Three Months Ago Bradley Manning Was Largely Forgotten, But Not Any More -- What Changed?
By Greg Mitchell, The Nation
Posted on March 4, 2011, Printed on March 5, 2011
Ten months after he was arrested for allegedly leaking classified material, including diplomatic cables, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was very much in the news this week -- with the military bringing 22 new charges against him, including "aiding the enemy" (unspecified) to being stripped naked for seven hours at the prison the past two nights. His supporters and attorney David Coombs continued to charge that the conditions of his confinement were overly harsh and punitive, while the Pentagon continues to deny that.
With Manning gaining wide attention now, it’s worth recalling that three months ago he was largely forgotten. How did so much change? Here's some background if you have just tuned into Manning's case recently
Even amid the vast Cablegate coverage, as I trace in my new book The Age of WikiLeaks, Manning got little notice, although the blog FireDogLake kept on the case. Then, on December 15, Glenn Greenwald at Salon delivered a strong piece on Manning’s “inhumane detention.”
He charged that the conditions constituted “cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a
Liberal blogs highlighted Greenwald’s piece and two days later the Guardian carried a report on Manning’s health “deteriorating.” He was subject to some form of suicide watch, but it seemed to his attorney more punitive than necessary.
On December 19, Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, supplied some fresh details
The same day, NBC Nightly News paid a visit to Manning’s hometown in
Four days later, David House, who had befriended Manning, filed a report at FireDogLake (which had been following the soldier’s plight closer than any site) on his recent visits with Bradley Manning at
On December 27, Glenn Greenwald revived a key component of the Manning saga, by ripping Wired for a “journalistic disgrace.… For more than six months, Wired’s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed—but refuses to publish—the key evidence in one of the year’s most significant political stories
The following day, Wired editor Evan Hansen and senior editor Poulsen responded separately. “It’s odd to find myself in the position of writing a defense of someone who should be held up as a model,” Hansen wrote, referring to Poulsen. “But it is unfortunately necessary, thanks to the shameless and unjustified personal attacks he’s faced.” Bottom line
Greenwald quickly responded, again pointing out that Lamo had made claims about Manning’s direct contacts with Assange that were not borne out by the published chat logs. He concluded
In any event, the exchanges sparked an important update by the Wired editors. They revealed that they had reviewed the chat logs and found no unpublished Manning references to Assange. This seemed to undermine some of Lamo’s claims and might make it harder to prosecute Assange in this matter.
Then, on January 3, Manning’s lawyer Coombs hinted that he would soon file motion to dismiss the charges against Manning due to lack of a speedy trial guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Two days later, on the Democracy Now! radio program, well-known writer Dr. Atul Gawande, referring to the Manning case, said, “People experience solitary confinement as even more damaging than physical torture.” More than 30,000 people signed a petition on Manning’s behalf.
As charges of cruel treatment of Manning continued, a Pentagon spokesman responded by describing the prisoner’s confinement as “maximum,” not “solitary,” since others were incarcerated nearby and he did get to watch some TV and see visitors—and was being treated like others in the unit. David Coombs challenged this assessment, charging that Manning, in fact, was the only prisoner in “maximum” custody while others were held in “medium” detention.
And the protests continued. Now
Greg Mitchell is the former editor of Editor & Publisher and author of nine books on politics and history.
© 2011 The Nation All rights reserved.
View this story online at
Donations can be sent to the
"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