Manning's torture: preventive war on open government

stills from 2007 video posted by Wikileaks showing a US Apache helicopter firing on civilians in Baghdad

Are we doing the government's own, dirty work?

I just now got it. I'd searched my mind for weeks, probably months, trying to figure out why the U.S. government (and the British terrier) has come down so hard on Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Sure, no institution wants its endemic practices of deception to be broadcast to the world, and there is no institution more powerful than the U.S. government, but the aggressive offensive it has launched on these two men appears to be all out of proportion to what it might gain from any likely outcome.

While lying in bed this morning listening to the BBC I was pondering if or when we will learn the story behind the UN resolution which approved foreign intervention in Libya: How did the most gung-ho elements in the most gung-ho countries arrange it? That is, how did they ensure that no members of the Security Council would vote nay (including two with absolute veto power)? And why? I mean, what do they think is in it for them? Then, as my mind went back to Bradley Manning's parlous plight in a Marine Brig,* I realized that we may never know more than we do now; the leaks may have been fixed, the taps plumbed tight.

I don't think the U.S. has any intention of trying and sentencing either Bradley or Assange. Aside from the fact that it would be too messy, for many reasons (including more revelations?), our entrenched oligarchy, that brutal mob, already has what it wants. It's frightened the whistle blowers.

This is all part of an full-out war on open government.

The extraordinary damage Manning has done to exposing the lies of the war regime in Washington, beginning shortly before the world saw the Apache helicopter video, can't be reversed now, but he's certainly not going to be handing over more evidence. As for Assange, our government doesn't even really have to have him physically in its hands: The role of the WikiLeaks editor is to hand off to other media, and publish on his own site, information furnished him by others, and even if Assange now has some worthy imitators, anyone who might be thinking of leaking to the public more information about illegal and criminal government acts of any kind will now be reconsidering the cost of acting with moral integrity and fighting for open government. The lesson seems to be: Don't fuck with the military; don't cross the bosses. You're not going to survive the war.

So it would seem to follow that when we write about and demonstrate against what has been done to Bradley Manning we are doing what the anti-whistleblowers want: Warning of the dangers in working for truth and open government.

But that would be true only if they are expected to win, and we can't let that happen.

Manning has been imprisoned without trial, shackled, tortured and drugged, for almost ten months. He was not charged with any crime until 7 months after he was locked up. He has undergone prolonged isolated confinement and total idleness, and he is now forced to go naked inside his tiny cell much of the time and during daily inspections by his guards while standing outside of it. He is subject to sleep deprivation because of repeated nighttime physical inspections, and not permitted to sleep during the day. He is constantly drugged with antidepressants. He is unable to exercise in any ordinary way and never in his cell, but only after being moved to an empty room where he is allowed to do nothing other than walk in circles or figure eights for one hour (or less, if he decides to stop). Manning's cell has no window or any natural light. He is permitted no pillow or sheets and his "blanket" sounds like it's a stiff carpet (can't be fashioned into a noose). He has been stripped of the glasses he needs to read, and is shackled whenever he leaves the cell. No trial has been scheduled. I can't imagine how he could survive intact as a human being.

[image from BoingBoing]

This is normal for them. This is the punishment for photography: