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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On A Serious Note

Most of you have heard of Julian Assange, but few of you are sure who the heck Bradley Manning is. Quite simply, Mr. Manning is the American soldier who leaked the 200,000 or so classified cables to Wikileaks. It's easy to see that the classification of documents is quite silly in the U.S., with things like defence budgets routinely given to the press and a childish nickname of a foreign diplomat seen as "sensitive".

  What the documents exposed is how silly the defense department is in document classification, using it as a weapon against enlistees. The leaks do not contain any information that could cause harm to the United States, save for embarrassment, and this is according to the Secretary of Defense. However, there is one American seriously harmed in this story, that man being Private Manning himself.

   While Wikiperv is out acting like a rockstar and demanding things in exchange for not releasing more cables, the actual guy who gave them to the smug asshole is rotting away in jail. That's right kiddos- Christian Audigier's long-lost twin brother is partying it up, making huge cash, and looking like a hero for information freedom whilst the dude who made the whole thing  possible is languishing in solitary. Private Manning could very well have sold the leaks to another nation, but made the conscious choice not to because he believes that information should be free.

 Private Manning has been incarcerated in intensive solitary for over 7 months without trial, let alone conviction. Deprived of any human contact for in excess of 23 hours per day, he is starting to lose his mind. He is under constant surveillance, not permitted to exercise, and denied simple things like a pillow or sheet. Mr. Manning is being kept in conditions generally reserved for the most dangerous convicted felons purely as a punitive measure, and regardless of your opinion on his snitching, this is not how human beings treat each other. 

  When Obama came into power, he stated that he would work to close Guantanamo, but didn't utter a peep as to how to deal with solitary confinement, a situation that most civilized nations view as torture. Long-term isolation has been proven to not only psychologically, but physically alter the human brain. Studies going back over 40 years have concluded that solitary confinement slows brain functioning. Even 120 years ago (Google In re Medley) the U.S. Supreme Court recognized solitary confinement as psychologically injurious. And if you want modern, let's look at a study on those incarcerated during the Yugoslavian war that found isolated prisoners and those with post-concussion syndrome to have the same cognitive impairments. 

  The conditions that are starting to drive Bradley manning mad are what are preventing the extraditions of many terror suspects to the United States from various nations. They are also what Private Manning was aware of when he leaked the cables. Bradley Manning was acutely aware that the U.S. tortures, imprisons, and assassinates those who speak against her superiority and still released his knowledge. It could be easily said that this kid has more balls than brains, that he's brave or cowardly, that he's a loyal citizen of the world or a traitor to the nation he calls home. It could be all of these or none at all, but we may never know because the possibility of Bradley Manning receiving due process, a fair trial and punishment, and humane incarceration is near nil.  

  While Wikileaks makes the news and Assange and media profit, the man who made it happen will be irreversibly changed and may never see the light of day. The information may have been released, but if you tell anyone that it is free, you are lying. 

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