Deprivation of rights

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Posted April 4, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.

Veterans for Peace hosted a March 30 presentation about Bradley Manning at the Ventura Unitarian Church.

Pvt. Manning is a polarizing figure, a hero whistleblower to some, an irresponsible law-breaker, even a traitor to others. Regardless of one’s view, his case should cause concern for every American.

Allegedly he copied and sent secret documents to Wikileaks, portions of which were published online. Some contents revealed embarrassing diplomatic discourse, some tattled mere gossip and some were shattering videos of U.S. violence to non-combatant civilians.

Following arrest, Manning was kept in solitary confinement for 11 months with limited stimuli, limited sleep and, for a time, the humiliating requirement to remain nude even for morning parade. His privacy was violated ostensibly to prevent suicide, but he never threatened this and had been assessed as not at risk.

His treatment has been called touchless torture. A body of legal scholars said it violated the Eighth Amendment – cruel and unusual punishment – as well as the Fifth Amendment in that Manning is being punished prior to trial. His right to a speedy trial has been blocked by the prosecution’s stalling on “discovery,” i.e. the defense’s right to learn evidence and witness testimony. Thus his attorney can’t prepare.

In case one believes that only Manning’s rights are at stake, think again. One of his supporters had his computer seized and searched without reason.

Some speculate the real target is Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks and that the treatment is designed to “break” Manning to get him to implicate Assange.

But it is our Bill of Rights that is the casualty. If Manning can be deprived of rights, so can anyone.

– Therese Defarge,


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