Now We are Torturing US citizens: Wake Up US; Enough Is Enough!
PFC Bradley Manning, the 19 year old solider accused of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, has been in solitary confinement for the past seven months.
Glenn Greenwald at Salon feels that the conditions of Manning's detention amount to torture.
"For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions.
For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch).
For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.
Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not "like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole," but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, isolated entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out."
Many nations and humanitarian organizations have classified this kind of long term near total isolation as torture. The treatment is particularly galling to Greenwald, because Manning has never been given a trail. "The U.S. ought at least to abide by minimal standards of humane treatment in how it detains him. That's true for every prisoner, at all times. But departures from such standards are particularly egregious where, as here, the detainee has merely been accused, but never convicted
Phyllis Chesler is also writing about torture.
Solitary confinement is the most barbaric of punishments. Few people can withstand this form of torture without becoming very ill, both physically and mentally.
Am I talking about the Soviet Gulag? Or about some hell-hole in Afghanistan or Iran?
Last year, The New Yorker ran a piece about solitary confinement. The article concludes that this punishment amounts to torture, that it can even induce “acute psychosis with hallucinations.” The article describes the cases of two political prisoners or prisoners-of-war: AP’s Middle East correspondent, Terry Anderson, who was put into solitary by Hezbollah in Lebanon for six years. Anderson “felt himself disintegrating”; his mind went blank; he had hallucinations; he started to become “neurotically possessive about his little space”; he felt his brain was “grinding down.”
He also describes Senator John McCain who said that “solitary confinement crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more than any other form of mistreatment. And he said that even though he had his arms broken and was subjected to other forms of torture.”
Clearly, the New Yorker’s man, Atul Gawande, opposes this practice.
He does mention the cases of two unnamed inmates: one was convicted of felony-murder and spent five years in isolation. After a few months he began talking to himself, pacing back and forth, having panic attacks, and hallucinating. After a year he was hearing voices on the television who were talking to him.
In another case, Gawande describes another American man in solitary whose initial crime was armed robbery and aggravated battery but who then “misbehaved” at a medium security prison for which he was was put in solitary or in isolation for almost fourteen years. This man stopped showering and began throwing his feces around his cell. He became psychotic.
Even he was released after he served his sentence of fifteen years.
Gawande does not mention the man I have in mind, a man whose living head is on a pike in the public square for all to see—a message, a warning to us all—a man who killed no one.
I am talking about Jonathan Pollard...........................................more