The case of SPC Bradley Manning, held indefinitely in isolation in a Navy brig in Quantico, Virginia, is taking on ever more ridiculous proportions. Manning was arrested after it became known that he was the primary source for leaking a large amount of classified diplomatic information to the organisation Wikileaks, which then distributed this to the general public. An honest country has nothing to fear if its diplomatic efforts become known, since they will reveal the legitimate and peace-seeking nature of its dealings. The United States, on the other hand, went for a policy which is best summarized by its own expression ‘shooting the messenger’. They immediately imprisoned Manning, who had been military intelligence officer in occupied Iraq, for his actions. He has been held in isolation for 10 months, prevented from having any contact with the outside world, is kept in jail for 23 out of 24 hours, and even forbidden to work out by doing pushups in his cell, lest this embolden his spirits. It is not sufficient – the prison regime in the navy barracks has now announced that he must also sleep naked in his cell (on a bed made of a concrete slab) and even attend morning roll call in the nude.(1)
The attentive observer will note more than a passing degree of erotic humiliation in this treatment. Although unconfirmed, the story is widely reported that Manning grew frustrated with the hypocrisy of American military policies because he is gay and was subjected to the absurdity of the US Department of Defense’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This is an infamous rule which effectively harnesses all the efforts of gay military servicemen and -women for the United States’ war efforts while simultaneously denying them any recognition for their personality or their legitimate presence in that same military. Only just now, under the massive pressure of public opinion as well as a substantial majority of Congress, is the military slowly giving up on its decades-long effort to frustrate any reform of such policies. It seems fitting then that their final revenge is the humiliation of a gay soldier who ‘betrayed’ his country’s military-industrial complex in two ways: first, by revealing the truth about its actions abroad, and second, by committing the hateful crime of being prepared not just to kill men, but to love them as well. Indeed, this tells one all one would need to know about the psychopathic and degenerate mindset of the leadership of the American military. Are we truly to believe that a military establishment that tortures and abuses all those that are delivered into its hands, whether they are random shepherds from the Afghan hillside or unhappy soldiers from its own intelligence divisions, is the right instrument to bring freedom and democracy to the peoples of Libya or Iraq?
1) Ed Pilkington, “Bradley Manning’s jailers accused of ritual humiliation”. The Guardian (March 6, 2011).