[lbo-talk] Obama on Bradley Manning

Dennis Claxton ddclaxton at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 24 19:49:10 PDT 2011

At 05:48 PM 4/24/2011, James Leveque wrote:

>Glenn Greenwald has this to say about it.

Greenwald and more here. The Aftergood comment says Obama is mistaking a charge for a conviction. Thing is Manning has still not even been formally charged:


Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, told Politico.com yesterday,

“The comment was not appropriate because it assumes that Manning is guilty. The president got carried away and misspoke. No one should mistake a charge for a conviction ­ especially the nation’s highest official.”


Manning's legal team made a decision to focus public attention on Obama because with one call he could change conditions of Manning's detention. It seems to be working and one big reason is a letter to Obama from legal scholars, including one of his mentors.


The strongly worded <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/>open letter, published in the New York Times Review of Books on Monday, called the condition’s of Manning’s detention a violation Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, they wrote, it “may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, “the administration or application of

procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.” The letter provides this description of Bradley’s detention: “For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for twenty-three hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question “Are you OK?” verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again “Are you OK?” every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a “smock” under claims of risk to himself that he disputes.”

But the letter doesn’t end with the specific conditions of Bradley’s detainment. It goes on to shine light on the administration’s possible motives for holding Bradley. “The administration has provided no evidence that Manning’s treatment reflects a concern for his own safety or that of other inmates. Unless and until it does so, there is only one reasonable inference: this pattern of degrading treatment aims either to deter future whistleblowers, or to force Manning to implicate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a conspiracy, or both.”

The list of scholars who signed the letter includes Barack Obama’s own constitutional law professor, Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America’s foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign. The letter was written by two other distinguished law professors, Bruce Ackerman of Yale and Yochai Benkler of Harvard. Read More: The <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/>full letter was published in the New York Times Review of Books and originally posted on <http://balkin.blogspot.com/2011/03/statement-on-private-mannings-detention.html>Bruce Ackerman’s blog (with a full list of signatories).

Guardian UK coverage is <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/10/bradley-manning-legal-scholars-letter>here.

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