April 11th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Law school prof denounces treatment of Manning

Nearly 300 professors and legal scholars from around the nation have signed an open letter calling on the government to end the detention of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with passing classified information — including more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables — to WikiLeaks.

Written by Yale law school professor Bruce Ackerman and Harvard law school professor Yochai Benkler, the letter argues that Manning is being detained under “degrading and inhumane conditions” that violate the U.S. constitution. It appears in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books and was also published online in March, where it attracted 295 signatories.

The letter alleges that the treatment of Manning, which includes keeping him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and requiring him to strip naked except for a “smock,” is illegal under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits punishment without trial.

The authors write:

If Manning is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and punished according to law. But his treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no excuse for his degrading and inhumane pre-trial punishment. As the State Department’s PJ Crowly put it recently, they are “counterproductive and stupid.”

They also appeal to President Obama, as a former professor of constitutional law himself, to uphold “fundamental standards of decency.”

In an e-mail to the News, Ackerman said he wrote the letter because he considers Manning’s situation a “test case” of how the Obama administration will act in the future.

“I’ve been generally concerned with the extent to which the Obama administration is in fact making a significant break from the manifold illegalities of the so-called ‘war on terror’ of the Bush era,” he said.

Manning has been held at the Quantico marine base in Virginia since July 2010, where he awaits a court-martial, The Guardian reported.

  • LinaKrishnanIndia

    The world had a lot of expectations from Barack Obama-perhaps too many. But he should remember he’s Obama first and the President later.

  • DCHeretic

    Manning is accused of a grave crime. Dumping hundreds of thousands of classified documents onto a computer server controlled by an irresponsible foreign ego maniac would be a serious crime in ANY country. While Manning is being held for trial, he is being fed, provided medical care, has access to reading materials, and receives visits from friends and legal counsel. During the period of forced nude sleeping, he had access to blankets and bedding. Given the brutal conditions that he would face had he been accused of this crime most anywhere else in the world, Manning should be grateful that he is incarcerated in the United States and subject to American justice.

    By the way, I have slept nude nearly every day of my life since I was 13 years old. Brief nudity in front of one’s own gender is no big deal. Cry me a bucket of tears, Bradley Manning!

    Gay Alum, 1995

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    > Manning is being detained under
    > “degrading and inhumane conditions”
    > that violate the U.S. constitution.

    You’d be surprised what rights one gives up when protecting the U.S. Constitution (um, **capital “C”** you flippin’ hippies…). I have no sympathy for Manning, nor do I think that anything he is undergoing is illegal, gratuitous, or out of line. Welcome to the army, soldier!

  • jnewsham

    He has been described as “catatonic” by those who have had the chance to meet with him. Such conditions of imprisonment are simply uncalled for. This is punishment, pure and simple, intended to break him down.

  • The_Lorax

    Thank God for some action here. Where is the protest these days? Is everyone so drugged by their daily media infusion they simply don’t care about the world anymore? We need to multiply this action and the debate by about 10 million so we can see that we have an engaged population who cares enough to get off their duffs and do something.

    I think the release of many of the documents are unfortunate because an ambassador ought to be able to offer an opinion about a world leader freely to his or her government without fear of causing an international incident (i.e., an opinion is private, not illegal), but the cover-up of civilian deaths in Iraq and all the other illegal and immoral crap–well, weighed in the balance we need all that out there.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange.

    Is my meaning clear?