UN torture investigator: US gov's treatment of accused Wikileaks source Manning "cruel and inhuman"


The Guardian reports that Juan Mendez, special rapporteur on torture for the United Nations, has "formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source. PDF of the report is here.

Snip: "The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence."


  1. US Gov is showing how much is despises freedom. It cares nothing but what is best for it and the powers it answers to. It wipes it’s butt with the Constitution. And Adrian Lamo is a traitor.

  2. I guess the Joker’s indictment would be appropriate? That American values are really just a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble? 

    1. The thought of Bradley Manning ever getting his hands on a bat costume is what keeps Obama awake at night.

        1.  The Obama administration has brought more prosecutions against whistle blowers than all other administrations combined.

          I hope we have to bomb ourselves into compliance. I’d make popcorn for that.

          Careful now. We dont want to hurt the feelings of the commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces, right?

          1. I was making fun of all of us, because all of us are to blame.

            You make fun of one man. Very responsible of you. 

          2. Apart from not anticipating his repressive tendencies before electing him, I dont see how the American people are to blame for Obamas war on whistleblowers.

            Perhaps you have a theory?

        2.  You’re talking about the one man who has unlimited control over the military and unlimited privilege to pardon whoever the hell he wants?

          Yes, it IS nice when the glove fits.

    1. Really? You really hope the U.S. bombs itself into compliance? I’m sure you’re just being ironic and all that witty dystopian stuff.

      1. No, I think he really wants to see the US bomb itself until it is forced to do whatever it wants, just so he can get rich selling the military industrial complex whatever popcorn it needs for the operation. And he probably won’t even use real butter.

        Shame, mdhatter03. The world doesn’t need another war over oil.

      2. no, i hope we HAVE TO, because hopefully at that moment we might -all- see the idiocy. Nothing short of it has got us there.

  3. American values?  Come on.  Our government doesn’t seem to believe in American values.  I trust American values even more since 9/11, when a bunch of patriots heard what had happened to three other planes, and resolved to screw the terrorists out of a fourth opportunity.  Our government, on the other hand, doesn’t care to understand the way American values work, and that passive hijacking is no longer going to work, but instead are busy confiscating nail clippers from air travelers.  You want safe?  You believe in American values?  Hand out box cutters to airline passengers.  The realistic dangers of hijacking were addressed by strengthening the cockpit doors.  I want to see hijackers face off a planeload of lightly armed passengers, just let them learn what “death by a thousand cuts” means.  The government isn’t willing to figure out that we’re not going to put up with hijackers.  The government doesn’t seem to understand American values.

    I have mixed feelings about the disclosure of the classified activities of our government, but in our society we ought to value a spotlight shining on wrongdoing and we ought to challenge secrecy to ensure that it is truly necessary where granted.  It sure seems like there’s a lot of questionable stuff that goes on, things the government doesn’t want to have to answer for, and as a result I don’t really know what to think of the Manning thing.  On the other hand, we should be treating him appropriately, and it is disheartening (though not shocking) to have our treatment of him called into question.  It wouldn’t even shock me to learn that the UN guy is correct on most or all points.  Sigh.

    1. (general response)
      We need a UN investigator to tell us Manning’s treatment is cruel and inhuman now? Seriously, WTF. How about a special commisioner to determine the direction of up.

      American values?  Come on.  Our government doesn’t seem to believe in American values.

       You want safe?  You believe in American values?  Hand out box cutters to airline passengers.

      As a non-American, I find this an extremely good and thought-provoking point, and I’m amazed that it seems to be a new angle to me.

      I think far more needs to be said along these lines by Americans, in order to better distinguish themselves from their government in the eyes of others.

      1.  No, we don’t need a UN investigator for it.  What it says to *me* is that they’re afraid he’ll get off without “sufficient punishment”, so they’re determined to see he gets his up-front: the feet of military justice are likely to continue to drag, and he’s going to be continued to be jailed, so he’s effectively serving a sentence for something he hasn’t been convicted of.  Strikes me as the things the Sixth and Eighth Amendments were designed to guard against.

        Personally, I decided to win the war on terror by refusing to be terrorized.  My family visited NYC a month after 9/11, at a time many were cowering at home and avoiding travel, because I wasn’t willing to let anyone dictate my travel or destination plans.  I took some time before the first time I flew, to contemplate scenarios of what I would do in the unlikely event I was ever on a flight with a terrorist, and I resolved that I was quite fine with being an impediment to their success, and got the ethics and morality of it all out of the way, so that in the unlikely chance I would ever need to act, I would not have to wrestle with those issues at a time that minutes might count.  From my point of view, then, I’ve failed to be terrorized, and worse yet (for them), I’m a prepared opponent.

        That said, I see a lot of what has been done in the name of the “war on terror” to be a pointless fleecing of the American people by business interests anxious to sell dubious and expensive technologies, and by a bureaucracy that’s terrified of failing to prevent some future terrorist attack, an event that has a 100.0_% chance of happening, and almost certainly in some new and creative manner that doesn’t involve travel at all, or anything else we’ve protected against.  The administration suffers from “We must do something! This is something, so it must be good.”  It’s good CYA but it makes little sense otherwise.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should do nothing – not at all.  The steps we need to take, however, should be decided with a clear and rational mind that considers risk/benefit.  Strengthening cockpit doors?  Home run.  Better radio security and military intercept of aircraft off their flight plan?  Great.  Confiscating nail clippers?  Oh get real.  Nobody can identify what real “threat” this addresses – therefore it is just insane paranoia.

      2. I think far more needs to be said along these lines by Americans, in order to better distinguish themselves from their government in the eyes of others.

        You just need to pay more attention.  It’s not really a secret that the approval ratings of all three branches of the U.S. government are historically low.  Your assumption should be that if the U.S. government does anything a large proportion of U.S. citizens are against it.

        1.  That might be an unrealistic expectation; I’d hazard a guess I pay more attention to what goes on in the US than most people in the world already.

          I think I failed to articulate myself properly anyway; given my surprise at the apparent novelty of the point in question, and the obvious fact that many Americans would wholeheartedly agree with it, I think it’s fair to say the point should be made more often.

  4. The language of that claim is kind of useless, it would find “unhuman” all sorts of perfectly typical situations allowed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  What makes the Manning situation so unconscionable, to me at least, isn’t that he experienced “seriously punitive conditions of detention” as “someone who has not been found guilty of any crime” because that’s not exactly atypical in a military situation.  What’s effed beyond effed up about the Manning case is that UCMJ wasn’t even remotely followed.  The way things have unfolded for him since the day he was accused has pretty much been an example of “we’re mad at him, so throw all the rules into the air and just do whatever we want.”  That’s what’s troubling…

  5. To adapt Oscar Wilde’s famous phrase, “If this is the way that the United States treats its prisoners, it doesn’t deserve to have any.”

  6. It was the military that made him despair. It was the military that tortured him. And now some military judge is going to speak his sentence in a court martial after the commander in chief declared Manning guilty.


    1. Not sure how the military made him despair. In the correspondence I read of PFC Manning, he complained about military life not being quite what he signed up for, but what really tortured him were personal gender issues and how he could solve them.

      1. I think that’s the point; his gender issues are being used to humiliate him daily in the cell they’re holding him in pre-trial, pre-charging? 

        The implication is that he’s allegedly being strip searched each day, forced to sleep naked, whilst being part way through a gender reassignment process.

        Hence, the UN rapporteur is saying that the US is inflicting cruel, unusual and degrading treatment on Manning.

        Manning should be discharged from the army but set free. His ‘crime’ is to humiliate the USA by exposing the trigger happy dialogue of the Apache gunmen, who wantonly kill civilians and children.

      2.  He didn’t release State Department memos because of his gender issues.  Try reading the chat logs again.  There’s plenty of “OMG the U.S. gov’t is doing terrible things and I need to do something about it” in there.

        1. Good suggestion. I re-read the full logs. There are plenty of USA doing ‘terrible things’ and ‘info wants to be free’ comments. So you’re right. But by far – by far – his personal issues outweigh everything, at least in the logs. He’s a very unhappy, very unstable guy. I’m not a mind-reader, but I’d say PFC Manning was less a born whistleblower who’s now got troubles than a man with troubles who became a whistleblower. Meaning, I don’t believe if he was happy with himself and comfortable in the world, he would’ve made the choices he made. Just my opinion.

  7. It is a little known factoid that the President does not have direct call-in control of all branches, twigs and leaves of the US Government.  Least of all the US Military, of which he is so aptly dubbed “Commander In Chief.”  LOL, so go ahead, blame Obamney Clinton-Bush for it.

    1. Death by banana peel is far more likely than a dismissal. There must be something that either Manning or Assange has that hasn’t released that the administration wants back, which is likely the reason Manning is even still alive. If it turns out the unit guarding Manning is just abusing the Private just for shits and giggles, the military has a way of cleaning its own house.

    2. I have been sure since day one that that is the plan.

      If they bring him to trial, it all goes on the record. After years of abusive pre-trial handling he may not even be able to enjoy the settlement he will be offered in exchange for his silence.

  8. This is not a “wonderful thing”.  This is just plain depressing.  Please direct us to more wonderful things, Boing Boing.

    1. I understand your sentiment, especially in these days when the evil seems to be coming at us fast and furious from the inside and outside.  But it won’t do to always bury our heads in the sand.  As the phrase goes, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

      1. I see where you’re coming from.  I guess the thing that makes these posts so tiring for me is that they never have any suggestions for what the reader can do to improve things.  So many of Boing Boing’s articles are positive and action-oriented – “here’s a cool technique for fixing your CD player; go try it” or “here’s a great new book; go read it” – but these political articles are just “here’s another crappy thing your government is doing”.  Yeah, we get it, Boing Boing, but everyone complaining in the comments section of your website ain’t gonna change a thing!

        1. …everyone complaining in the comments section of your website ain’t gonna change a thing!

          So we should just pretend that it’s not happening? Totalitarianism exists because people like you pretend it isn’t happening.

        2. but you complaining will add something crucial?

          I agree with you, but you’re coming from the wrong position.

          BB is also very Do It Yourself. So do. 

          1. That’s just it, mdhatter03.  After reading an article like this, I can’t figure out what I CAN do.  Fortunately, Boing Boing is filled with people who are both creative and educated.

            So I guess what I’m asking for is some helpful suggestions.  Rather than just “look at this article I found about how screwed up our military justice system is” I would love for Boing Boing to add a little extra value: “look at this article I found […] AND here’s a related article on how some people like you are helping to improve it.”

            If that seems like complaining, then, well, I don’t know what to say.  I’m just looking for a way to get something positive out of this type of article.

          2. @ToddBradley:disqus – yeah I’m not sure what to do either. I’ve written my congresspeople about it. I’ve kept well informed from primary sources (many of which have been linked in articles here). It is one of the political-ish debates I will have with people who want to be better informed about it. Aside from that, I’m not personally sure what to do, but it’s a darned good question.

  9. Mr. Mendez should do a little research on US military prisons.  Manning is not being singled out for unusual punishment — military confinement is intended to be highly punitive, “pour encourager les autres.”

    Move along. No news here.

  10. I think the time is right for a candidate for public office that promises to vote the will of his constituents. The internet makes this easily possible with the representative passing info about issues to the constituents that are concerned with those particular subjects and then receiving the will of the  people in time to cast his/her vote.

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