Thank You Glenn Greenwald For Discussing The Cruel Treatment Of An American Hero, Bradley Manning And Exposing The Practice Of Using Solitary Confinement As Torture
Today Glenn Greenwald discusses the DOJ’s attempt to find a way to indict Assange without having to indict the news media as well because investigative journalism would be criminalized. They are trying to avoid the issue of the first amendment altogether. They have decided to go with accusing Wikileaks of actively seeking out information from Manning. If this case is actually brought forward it will have a chilling affect on news media and bloggers. Everyone knows investigative journalists do pursue information, often aggressively. Our media is already severely handicapped and controlled by our government which is controlled by corporations. We know from Professor Janine Wedel’s work countries that become so dysfunctional nothing works develop new systems to get around the dysfunction. The internet and blogging have become this new system to bypass the often useless, slanted, and propagandizing corporate news as well as the secretive government. They are finding internet journalism difficult to control. This situation with Assange and Manning is most likely seen as an opportunity more than a problem to the powers that be.
Greenwald: In sum, investigative journalists routinely -- really, by definition -- do exactly that which the DOJ's new theory would seek to prove WikiLeaks did. To indict someone as a criminal "conspirator" in a leak on the ground that they took steps to encourage the disclosures would be to criminalize investigative journalism every bit as much as charging Assange with "espionage" for publishing classified information.
Greenwald refers to his story from yesterday about the harsh conditions Bradley Manning is kept in. Sadly these conditions are very common place in the United States and in fact there are private prison corporations who build what they call supermax prisons which have all segregated cells, as well as federal and state prisons with supermax units. I was put in a segregated cell with harsh conditions in a “mental health unit” and then told I did not have a mental illness, I was just “arrogant and nasty“. They then kept me in the mental health unit for about ten days which does not follow their own logic. Yes I was pissed, very pissed as I am sure Bradley Manning is and I had more than a right to be. Their definition of arrogant is someone who knows they don’t know what they are doing and they are violating civil rights. I certainly did have PTSD and it was the psychologist who made the above statements to me, with the psychiatrist sitting behind him? My response was it was not a crime to be arrogant and nasty or a lot of doctors and lawyers would be imprisoned.
One of the reasons isolation cells are used is to induce mental illness and make the inmate dependent on the prison staff and DOJ staff. Often inmates already have mental health issues before they are incarcerated, this makes them easy targets for this kind of abuse. They essentially destroy people and don't care. Inmates are not seen as being human, that is how the guards end up enjoying torturing them. It certainly had a devastating affect on me, making the PTSD much worse. I actually had staff tell me they were going to “break” me when they violated the 8th amendment in an attempt to have me put in administrative segregation in retaliation for writing grievances, speaking my mind about not getting medical care, being blocked from going to the law library, and more(this is what they call trouble making). At the same time the inmate is kept in solitary confinement they block communication with the outside world, going so far as to move prisoners around so media, family and prison rights organizations can’t find them. I was moved to four different facilities in less than a month while being promised each time I was moved I was going to Nome for a hearing.
Manning has a history of being emotionally confused in the past (and who would not be considering the information he was seeing) and may be very vulnerable to their psychological tactics. Prisons use harsh conditions as punishment to manipulate inmates into cooperating. They are trying to get Manning to help them incriminate Assange so they can indict him. This is kind of a stepped up version of jail house snitch tactics. We all know how lawyers, especially prosecutors, manipulate laws and demonize defendants to the benefit of their cases.
What if they used the same amount of energy they are using to get to Wikileaks staff to get due process for low income people, or gave the funds they are using to the public defender agencies, how about just using all this inventiveness to charge our own war crime offenders or gee, using the resources to go after Osama Bin Laden? Justice is selective in the U.S. to the side of money, corporations and power. I want to know what lawyers are working on this for the Obama administration, perhaps Jay Bybee or John Yoo? It’s right up their alley as solitary confinement is a form of torture.
Segregation, lack of privileges, no exercise, no exposure to the outdoors, no contact with people, low calorie starvation diets, no commissary, no heat, no running water, no mattress, no pillow, no blanket, wool blanket (and you are allergic), no showers, no ventilation, withholding of medication, laughing at you when you cry, administration of sedative drugs, constant verbal abuse from prison staff, no activity other than sitting in the cell (but they allow Bibles), refusing to allow you to have your eye glasses and a dangerous roommate are some of the tactics used to get prisoners to do what they want. At Hiland Mountain Women’s Correction Facility’s mental health unit here in Alaska they will even chain women to the floor by their ankles. I experienced many of these tactics mentioned above myself. I was not chained to the floor, but they threatened this treatment several times. They withheld a mentally ill woman's medication and then when she was out of control they called a riot squad to chain her to the floor. Before they received her in the unit they went around telling the other inmates she was "nasty" setting up negative thinking about her. Abruptly stopping psychiatric medications is dangerous and causes severe behavior issues, it is also malpractice.
They had a "treatment" program which has different levels. Certain behaviors got points and as the inmate advanced levels they got more privileges. Needless to say I refused to cooperate with their program and told them so. They would give me little slips of paper with goals for the day on them and I would flush them down the toilet and give them a grievance form. My goals were getting my medications as well as getting bailed out so I had the ability to get my cat and property safe. I also wanted to find all the witnesses I could before they left Homer as it was the end of summer. I had figured out by then the public defender agency would do nothing.
The fact that nurses participate in this abuse is extremely disturbing. One nurse told me the mentally ill were not considered patients, they were just inmates. I worked with mentally ill legal offenders in another state. When there was abuse I contacted the state and got something done about it as well as speaking up about it at the facility. It is hard to believe a nurse would participate in abuse and torture, but I experienced and witnessed it.
Greenwald: Whatever else is true, the DOJ seems intent on pressuring Manning to incriminate Assnage. It would be bizarre indeed to make a deal with the leaking government employee in order to incriminate the non-government-employee who merely published the classified information. But that may very well at least partially explain (though obviously not remotely justify) why the Government is holding Manning under such repressive conditions: in order to "induce" him to say what they need him to say in order to indict WikiLeaks and Assange.
Glenn Greenwald is absolutely right, but I hope he knows how widespread these kinds of prison conditions are in this country. The really sad thing is hardly anyone in the country seems to know after all these years, perhaps because it is so horrible people just can’t believe it. I am glad this subject is being discussed, knowing people are being tortured breaks my heart everyday.
Here are links to my experiences with the Department of Corrections in Alaska. Note Joe Schmidt, Sarah Palin's old boyfriend is still running the DOC. Governor Parnell replaced a lot of commissioners, but kept him.
When I got through with this post I went back to Glenn Greenwald's post to get the link and found he had quite a bit of updating done. Olberman did a segment on this story and Greenwald was on Democracy Now today.