Right Thinking From The Left Coast
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life - Albert Camus

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Life of Bradley Manning

I’m sorry.  Am I the only person who’s having trouble getting worked up about the supposed brutal treatment of Bradley Manning?  Look, I’ve been on the anti-torture side from day one.  I thought our treatment of Jose Padilla was shameful.  But here is what Manning is experiencing:

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

This is actually better than my first grad school apartment.  It’s certainly better than the conditions at Gitmo.  This is not some stone coffin in which Manning has been imprisoned.  It’s a jail cell, a standard one.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

These are fairly standard hours for military personnel.  I’ve never been in the military but I have been rousted out of bed by a few marines who decided that sleeping in until 6:15 was the laziest thing they’d ever heard of.

The post goes on to note he is allowed to watch basic cable television and make written correspondence with approved people.  He even gets approved visitors on weekends.  There’s no indication of who those approved people are, of course.  He also has reading material (note that some of the above has been disputed).

What no one is disputing is that he is in solitary confinement and not allowed to interact with other prisoners.  He is also on Prevent of Injury watch, which means checks every five minutes, no pillows or sheets (but he has blankets and a mattress with a built-in pillow) and is forbidden from exercise except during the approved time.

Harsh?  Yeah.  Inhumane?  No fucking way.  If the report above is accurate, this is, in no way, torture or inhumane treatment.  He is not being beaten.  He is not confined to a dark cell.  He is not cut off from all human contact.  And given the nature of what he is accused of, screening his contacts and keeping him away from other prisoners seems appropriate.  Among other things, we don’t know if there is other information out there that he hasn’t leaked yet, but could, given the chance.

And let’s supposed that he is being forced to sit in his cell and stare at the walls all day.  That might be too harsh, but it’s not torture or inhumane.  For people to lump it in with actual torture, like sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, water-boarding, beating, walling, stress positions, sexual humiliation, etc. is insane.  Not only insane, but stupid.  It blunts efforts to stop real torture, not just here but in truly horrific regimes like Iran or North Korea.  How can you be taken seriously when you lump this in with the electric shocks and burning tongs that constitute real torture in places like Kyrgyzstan?

I wouldn’t want to live like that sure.  But then again, I did not leak hundreds of thousands of documents that may harm the United States and get friends and operatives killed.

And that’s the thing the liberal commentariat seems to be forgetting in their attempts to make Manning the victim.  He committed a crime.  When you commit a crime, you go to prison.  Prison is unpleasant, humiliating and boring.  It’s supposed to be that way.

Now maybe what Manning did has some ultimate nobel purpose.  I doubt it, since most of the revelations are more embarrassing than dangerous.  But let’s postulate that Manning’s leak was a good thing.  FIne.  But that doesn’t mean the law doesn’t apply to him.

During the torture debate, I addressed the fictitious ticking time bomb scenario with the following: if you really think you have a ticking bomb and really think torture is going to stop it, then you do the torture and then take the consequences of breaking the law.  You decided to make that sacrifice for the greater good.  You can’t make an open-ended exemption to the law for people who think breaking the law is justified.  The same applies here.  If you are in a position to receive classified information and you believe that releasing the information is vital to the health of the Republic, you release it and take the consequences.  (Of course, if you think it would harm the US, that’s called treason).

We are a nation of laws, not men, and a nation where actions have consequences.  Being confined to a military prison is a consequence of what Bradley Manning allegedly did.  Being confined to a military prison is the correct application of the law that Manning allegedly broke.  If he starts getting “enhanced interrogation” or is confined without trial for a long time, then we can talk.  Until then, I have to think that he is simply reaping what he has sown.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 12/19/10 at 01:08 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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