In their March 25, 2011 issue, they did a compilation of comments from foreign journalists regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning. Mr. Manning is accused, and is being held prisoner, of leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents to the Wikileaks website. As most people now know, many of these documents were breeches of national security, embarrassing revelations of how our foreign policy and apparatus works, or both, depending on your perspective.
According to The Week article, and other U.S. news sources:
- Manning has been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 months.
- His cell is six foot wide by 12 feet long where he is held 23 hours a day.
- The one hour when he is not in his cell, he is taken to an empty room where he can walk around but is not allowed to run.
- A prevention-of-injury order requires that he be strip searched every night.
- When he goes to sleep, he must wear a suicide proof smock.
- However, the military psychologist that is responsible for him has repeatedly stated that Manning should be treated as a regular prisoner and is not a danger to himself.
President Obama campaigned against this kind of behavior, specifically condemning the previous administration for its treatment of prisoners and declaring if elected President, he wold shut down the prison at Guantanamo within a year. His reasoning is that the prison was a stain on America's integrity and respect for justice and was used as a recruiting tool for terrorists around the world.
However, if you examine some of the foreign press reaction to this treatment of Manning, as reported in The Week article, you would think they we are still under the Bush administration:
- Switzerland's Le Temps: "Free speech in America doesn't extend to government officials. State Department spokesperson P.J.Crowley was fired this week for speaking out against the brutal treatment of Bradley Manning...Crowley called this treatment 'riduculous and counterproductive and stupid' - and its hard not to disagree."
- Germany's Der Spiegel" "It's quite a radical turnaround for Obama. One of Obama's campaign pledges was that government whistle blowers would be 'protected from reprisal.'...It seems clear that he (Manning) has, in fact, been singled out for harsh treatment."
- England's Guardian: "The 'stench of U.S. hypocrisy" is nauseating. Manning has been convicted of no crime. Yet he has been held in isolation in a stark room that's 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. In recent weeks, the U.S. government has condemned torture by the brutal, failing regimes in the Middle East, 'yet at a prison within its own borders, it sanctions persecution, alleged psychological torture and debasement of a young soldier.'"
- Spain's El Pais: "It's not just the Americans who are ignoring this injustice. Many Europeans have been passionate defenders of the rights of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks... while the real hero (Manning) has languished in prison."
So much for breaking from the Bush stigma and behaving on a higher ground when it comes to prisoner treatment. In a sense, you could argue that this approach is even worse than the Bush approach. At least the imprisonment of people under the Bush administration, right or wrong, had some connection to the physical battleground of terrorism, where the prisoner may have actually fought against our armed forces.
In the Manning case, he never fired a gun at an American, he was never on a physical battlefield facing American armed forces, and most importantly, he is an unconvicted American citizen who is undergoing such harsh treatment that the Founding Fathers must be turning in their respective graves. This is not the kind of America they wanted and they ensured that this behavior would be banned under the protections built into the Constitution.
But as we have observed previously, this President and his administration have not been strict adherents to the guiding principles in the Constitution. It attacked a foreign sovereign nation, Libya, without proper Congressional support and discussion, it ignored a judge's order to drop the moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and the President unilaterally decided that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, something he had no right to do. Once you have violated court orders and Constitutional protocol a few times, imprisoning an American under duress and terrible conditions becomes child's play.
This is just another example of the Obama-channeling-Bush phenomenon we have discussed previously. Consider:
- Obama campaigned to get us out of Iraq which he is doing far later than he implied and he is using the original Bush exit timetable.
- Obama campaigned to close Guantanamo Bay's terrorist prison, a prison Bush opened, but that event is unlikely to happen any time soon.
- Obama has gone on record that even if some of the prisoners at Guantanamo are found not guilty at trial, his administration reserves the right to still hold them indefinitely, so very Bush-like.
- Obama pledged to significantly reduce the number of Federal budget earmarks, but the number and value of earmarks are still at an all time high.
- Obama crucified the Bush administration while he was in the Senate for the record setting Bush budget deficits and then proceeded to blow those records out of the water with deficits that were three times larger.
- Obama signed the extension of the repressive Patriot Act, a law originally enacted under the Bush administration.
- Obama's reaction to the Gulf oil spill disaster was just as ragged and incompetent as the Bush reaction to Hurricane Katrina.
- Obama and Bush seem to have taken in inordinate amount of vacations and leisure time as the world exploded around them.
- Obama and Bush appear to have no clue on how to develop and implement a coherent strategy to repair our failing schools, win the war on drugs, fix our immigration situation, and find a way to make our country energy independent.
Very, very sad but not surprising. As it was pointed out many times in "Love my Country, Loathe My Government," we have two political parties int his country but really only one political class. When you compare the records and actions of the two parties side-by-side, you realize how true that observations is, two parties, one political class of people.
This Bush-like behavior by this administration has now trampled the rights of Bradley Manning. The international outrage is just as bad as the outrage towards the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners. Just another example of political class and government behavior that resulted in the exact opposite of the desire outcome.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that "An injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere." We should be very scared when an unconvicted American is held in isolation, falsely treated as a suicide threat, and treated in a degrading manner by being strip searched everyday by his government. As the above examples show, once government takes that first step over the line of legality and principle, the second and third and future stepovers become easier and easier.
Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at http://www.loathemygovernment.com/. It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.
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