The 22 year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks has never been convicted of that crime, and yet he has spent seven months in solitary confinement under horrific conditions.
Manning has spent the last five months detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia—before that he spent two months in a military jail in Kuwait, all the while facing conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and even torture. Manning was charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of U.S. classified information.
In an article for Salon, Glenn Greenwald reports that interviews with several sources familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, including Lt. Brian Villiard, a Quantico brig Officer, confirmed that the accused leaker is subject to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.
Since his arrest in May, Manning has been held in solitary confinement for 23 out of 24 hours a day—seven months straight. Manning’s activities have been heavily restricted—he is denied the right to exercise in his cell. He is denied a pillow and sheets. In what seems to be punishment straight out of a Nazi horror movie, medical personal administer anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the debilitating effects of the isolation.
Greenwald cites a March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law which explains that “solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.” The same report states: “Psychological effects [of isolation] can include anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis.”
Greenwald also cites an article by surgeon Atul Gawande entitled “Is Long Term-Solitary Confinement Torture?” In it, is a study of 150 naval aviators returned from imprisonment in Vietnam. The report found “social isolation to be as torturous and agonizing as any physical abuse they suffered.”
The U.S. government, the same government that vowed to end detainee abuse, is subjecting Manning to conditions specifically aimed to drive him insane.
Greenwald holds no bones when pointing the finger at the U.S. government for the egregious hypocrisy and human rights violations:
“These inhumane conditions make a mockery of Barack Obama’s repeated pledge to end detainee abuse and torture, as prolonged isolation — exacerbated by these other deprivations — is at least as damaging, as violative of international legal standards, and almost as reviled around the world, as the waterboard, hypothermia and other Bush-era tactics that caused so much controversy.”
Assange has been lauded a hero and suggested as Time’s “Person of the Year.” While there is no doubt that he deserves the accolades, the real hero, who has been highly ignored by media, sits in a cell for 23 hours a day, confined by the very government he hoped to change for the better.