The United States of America is in the process of slowly and deliberately destroying a human being before the eyes of the world. All of President Obama’s posturing about the conduct of dictator Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya will not expunge his own calculated cruelty in allowing his Pentagon to continue the degrading and dehumanizing punishments being inflicted on PFC Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old Army intelligence specialist accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of files to WikiLeaks. AP reports Manning has now been charged with “aiding the enemy,” a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison.
Whatever Manning has done, if anything, the Pentagon has no right to reduce him to a vegetative state. Yet that is what it is doing, using methods similar to those for punishing dissidents under Stalin. As military commander-in-chief, Obama could put the kibosh on the Pentagon’s sadism, which Manning has endured these past seven months locked in maximum security solitary in the Marine Corps brig at Quantico, Va. Yet Obama shows no inclination to honor the Constitution’s 8th Amendment that forbids “cruel and unusual punishments.” And “bizarre” is the only word for the latest Pentagon humiliation that requires Manning to stand to attention for inspection outside his 6 by 12-ft. cell each morning stark naked.
“Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?” Rep. Dennis Kucinich(D.-Ohio) asked rhetorically in a statement quoted by CBS News. “Officials have confirmed the ‘non-punitive’ stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime. This ‘non-punitive’ action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas. The justification for and purpose of this action certainly raises questions of ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ and could constitute a potential violation of international law,” Kucinich said.
The Congressman cited the Army Field Manuel, which states: “If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations, prohibited actions include…Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner.”
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