Author: cossack


Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-6 20:52:44 |Display all floors

Coercion and humiliation seep through American culture

Why Bradley Manning is fighting for his sanity

    Coercion and humiliation seep through American culture, writes Alexander Cockburn
    By Alexander Cockburn
    LAST UPDATED 10:23 AM, JANUARY 6, 2011

    For the past seven months, 22-year-old US Army Private Bradley Manning, first in an army prison in Kuwait, now in the brig in Quantico, Virginia, has been held 23 hours out of 24 in solitary confinement in his cell, under constant harassment. If his eyes close between 5am and 8pm he is jolted awake. In daylight hours he has to respond "yes" to guards every five minutes. For an hour a day he is taken to another cell where he walks figures of eight. If he stops he is taken back to his other cell.

    Manning is accused of giving documents to Julian Assange at WikiLeaks. He has not been tried or convicted. Visitors report that Manning is going downhill mentally as well as physically. His lawyer's efforts to improve his condition have been rebuffed by the Army.

    Accusations that his treatment amounts to torture have been indignantly denounced by prominent conservatives calling for him to be summarily executed. After the columnist Glenn Greenwald publicised Manning's treatment in mid-December, there was a moderate commotion. The UN's top monitor of torture is investigating his case.

    Meanwhile Manning faces months, if not years, of the same. Will he end up like accused Chicagoan Jose Padilla, four years in total isolation and silence before his trial in 2007? Padilla was convicted as a terrorist and given 17 years, but only after his lawyer had been informed by prison staff that he had become docile and inactive to the point that he resembled "a piece of furniture".

    Just over the edge of 2011, torture is now solidly installed in America's repressive arsenal. Not in the shadows where it used to lurk, but up front and central, vigorously applauded by prominent politicians. Coercion and humiliation seep through the culture, to the extent that before Christmas American travelers began to rebel at the invasive pat-down searches, conducted by the TSA's airport security teams. They complained of being groped around bosoms and crotches.

    Covertly, there was always plenty of torture, just as there were assassinations. After World War Two, the CIA's predecessor, OSS, imported Nazi experts in interrogation techniques. But this was the era of Cold War competition: Uncle Sam the Good against the dirty Russians and Chinese. The US government would go to desperate lengths to counter accusations that its agents in the CIA or USAID practised torture.

    One famous case was that of Dan Mitrione, working for the US Agency for International Development, teaching refinements in torture techniques to Brazilian and Uruguayan interrogators.

    Mitrione was ultimately kidnapped by the Tupamaro guerillas and executed, becoming the subject of Costa Gavras's movie State of Siege. The CIA mounted major cover-up operations to try to discredit the accusations against Mitrione, quoted as having once told his students: "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect."

    The American liberal conscience began to make its accommodation with torture in June 1977, which was the month the London Sunday Times published a major expose of the torture of Palestinians by the Israeli armed forces and the security agency, Shin Bet. Suddenly American supporters of Israel were arguing that certain techniques – sensory deprivation, prolonged stress positions while hooded, incarceration in ‘cells' the size of packing crates, etc – somehow weren't really torture, or were morally justifiable torture under the "ticking time bomb" theory.

    Ahead lay the spectacle of Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, a supposed liberal defender of civil rights, recommending to Israel the notion of "torture warrants". The targets of the warrants would be "subjected to judicially monitored physical measures designed to cause excruciating pain without leaving any lasting damage". One form of torture recommended by the Harvard professor was "the sterilised needle being shoved under the fingernails".

    With the Great War on Terror, launched after the 9/11 World Trade Center attack in 2001, torture made its march into the full light of day. Presiding over this journey was George Bush's secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld.

    At Guantanamo Bay, it was Rumsfeld who gave verbal and subsequently written approval to torture suspects, using the notorious techniques of isolation, sleep deprivation and psychic degradation, with the Defence Secretary himself micro-managing the humiliations, some of them involving women's underwear.

    In the case of Abu Ghraib in Iraq, there is again a trail of evidence showing it was Rumsfeld who personally decreed and monitored stress positions, individual phobias, such as fear of dogs, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

    One US army officer, Janis Karpinski, has described finding in Abu Ghraib a piece of paper stuck on a pole outside a little office used by the interrogators. It was a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld, authorising techniques such as use of dogs, stress positions, starvation. On the paper, in Rumsfeld's handwriting, was the terse instruction, "Make sure this happens!!"

    On the home front, torture as a drastic mode of social control flowered luxuriantly in the American prison system, whose population began to rocket in the 1970s to its present 2.5 million total. Informally, licensed male rape went hand in hand with increasingly sadistic solitary confinement and prolonged sensory deprivation – a condition in which some 25,000 prisoners are currently being driven mad.

    As the Bush years drew to a close, liberals dared hope that the rule of law would return and with it respect for internationally agreed prohibitions on torture and treatment of combatants. Anticipation grew that the torturers, with the Bush high command at the apex, would face formal charges. Candidate Obama fanned that hope.

    On January 21, 1977, on his first day in office, President Jimmy Carter fulfilled his campaign pledge, issuing a pardon to those who avoided serving in the Vietnam war by fleeing the US or not registering. If he'd waited a month or two, the honeymoon was already turning tepid and he might well have lost his nerve.

    On his second full day in office, President Obama signed a series of executive orders to close the Guantanamo detention centre within a year, ban the harshest interrogation methods and review military war crimes trials. In his first State of the Union address a week later, Obama declared to the joint session of Congress: "I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. We can make that commitment here tonight."

    Within days of this false guarantee, Obama's Justice Department lawyers were telling US judges in explicit terms that the new administration would not be moving on from Bush's policies on the legal status of renditions and of supposed enemy combatants.

    Lawyers from Obama's Department of Justice emphasised to judges that they, like the DoJ lawyers instructed by Bush's men, held that captives seized by the US government and conveyed to secret prisons to be tortured had no standing in US courts and that the Obama regime had no legal obligations to defend or even admit its actions in any US courtroom. "Enemy combatants" would not be afforded international legal protections, whether on the field of battle in Afghanistan or, if kidnapped by US personnel, anywhere in the world.

    The torture system is flourishing, and the boundaries of the American empire are marked by overseas torture centres such as Bagram. There are still detainees in Guantamo – as of November last year, 174 of them. They are supposedly destined for a Supermax in Illinois. Manning fights for his sanity in Quantico.

    Memo to David Cameron. Resist all extradition requests by the US government, on the grounds that those accused of terrorism cannot possibly expect anything but torture and a kangaroo trial.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-17 04:49:30 |Display all floors

Bradley Manning torture: A comment on the USA


It is difficult for an outsider to fathom out the United States of America. The type of comment "Americans are fat and stupid" is beneath contempt; while one sees at first sight a nation with a very strong network of communities based upon mutual respect and help - human nature at its very best - we are then confronted with concentration camps and torture.

When we are around eleven years old, those of us who call ourselves educated, intelligent or civilised stop tarring entire nations with the same brush and cease to find it rewarding to slag off an entire nation by trashing its cuisine, for example, or saying its women cannot cook, or its men are weaklings...or that all Americans are obese and stupid. Some are; many are not and for those who call them stupid, try getting into one of their Universities and then call them idiots.

Sweeping nationalistic statements say nothing about the target but everything about the pinheaded, pith-brained nonentity that utters them. So when we try to fathom out the USA from the outside, we have to be careful not to fall into the same trap.

At a first glance for those of us whose knowledge of the country is second-hand (through American family members, close friends and acquaintances and internet contacts), the USA comes across as a Continent rather than a country, with several socio-economic realities reflecting the ethnic, social and economic mix in any particular point of the country one wishes to examine. Chicago is not New York, Miami is not Portland, Denver is not Austin.

However, if one tries to find a common thread, one can find a community-based society where the social network is strong, where people really do throw parties to welcome you into the neighbourhood and where genuine goodwill and the spirit of helping the neighbour is far deeper than the desire to show off, indeed a real and heartfelt desire to lend a hand without any notion of return. Americans are blessed with the ability to have a good laugh at themselves, a tremendous quality; Americans believe in doing the right thing, the morally sound.

Religion, the Bible, the Scriptures take on perhaps a greater significance than in many European countries where cities are based upon thousands of years of culture, where it is not difficult to find a church one thousand years old, where it is extremely easy to find buildings 500 years old and to feel history, ancestry, background.
The organization of space has been done in another way, due to the fact that Europeans often had a few square yards in which to build an annex to the parents' home in the Old Continent while the same Europeans transported across the Ocean to the New, found themselves with thousands of acres of pristine lands available, costing a pittance.

If the psyche of the American settler was one of an adventurer, these pioneers came together and forged a nation, a collective spirit of common goodness which saw the settlers brave the wilderness, albeit with the bullet along with the Bible, implanting a civilised, developed social model from East to West coasts.

Now where does this America fit in with the nightmare glimpse of Hades shown to us so recently by the Bush regime and before by those marauding minions of Baal in Vietnam, dropping napalm on kids, torturing villagers and committing massacres and rapes? No, it was not a one-off, because the entire infernal troupe re-enacted its diabolical script right before our very eyes again in Iraq.

It was all there. Concentration camps, torture, acts of brutality, sodomy, attacking prisoners with animals on chains, desecrating prisoners' food, urinating and spitting in meals, murder, rape, kidnapping, unlawful execution, you name it. Where did they dream this all up?

And where does this America fit in with the way Bradley Manning is being treated? Do those American people I described in the opening paragraphs agree that he should be tortured daily just because he blew the whistle on some of Washington's more disgusting practices? And if he hadn't, would we ever have found out what was going on? If Washington is behaving like the Demon, I want to know about it.

As Dostoyevsky said, "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons". Bradley Manning is 22 years old and has not been convicted of any crime. He has been tortured daily for the last seven months. He is deprived of sleep and he is held in solitary confinement, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions and against United Nations law.

So where does this vision of the USA fit in? As I said, for an outsider it is extremely complicated to come up with a balanced judgement of the United States of America, however much objectivity and goodwill we try to show. Is this the mirror image of the USA, the one that tortures Bradley Manning?

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey
No Virgin Girl in America

American can not live without SEX.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-17 04:52:45 |Display all floors

Confucius Peace Prize

Bradley Manning or anyone else who exposes the horrific secrets of US attacks the way he did DESERVES A MEDAL!

Let's award him the CONFUCIUS PEACE PRIZE, because the NOBEL is only for war criminals (Kissinger, Obama, etc. )
No Virgin Girl in America

American can not live without SEX.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-17 05:23:14 |Display all floors
Shocking. Have Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International ever visited him?

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-18 00:22:50 |Display all floors
Originally posted by timbatu at 2011-1-17 05:23
Shocking. Have Red Cross, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International ever visited him?

Can't imagine the dumb yanks allowing them in.
No Virgin Girl in America

American can not live without SEX.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-18 00:24:37 |Display all floors

Reply #20 mechanic's post

Hi there coward I've been waitin' on you
The Brotherhood of Knights of the Mystic Sea

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2011-1-19 22:09:28 |Display all floors

Tortured until proven guilty!

Tortured Until Proven Guilty: Bradley Manning and the Case Against Solitary Confinement

Posted by sakerfa on January 2nd, 2011

See Also: ( – Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom” – Read More Here

(HuffingtonPost) – The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

In the earliest days of our Republic, a group of well-meaning Philadelphia Quakers set out to reform the prison system. The idea was to remove convicts from the mayhem and corruption of overcrowded jails to solitary cells where sinners would return to mental and spiritual health through reflection. In the Walnut Street Jail, no windows would distract the prisoners with street life; no conversation would disturb their penitence. Alone with God, they would be rehabilitated.

There was a small problem. Many of the prisoners went insane. The Walnut Street Jail was shut down in 1835.

No Virgin Girl in America

American can not live without SEX.

Use magic tools Report

You can't reply post until you log in Log in | register

Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email:
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.