ACLU Calls Military Treatment Of Accused WikiLeaks Supporter Pfc. Manning Cruel And Unusual

Letter To Defense Secretary Robert Gates Says Pentagon Confinement Standards Must Comply With U.S. Constitution FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org NEW YORK – In a letter sent today to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the American Civil Liberties Union charged the “gratuitously harsh treatment” to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Pfc. Bradley Manning in military custody is in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and serves no purpose other than to degrade, humiliate and traumatize him. Manning, imprisoned for the past nine months at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia on charges of handing government files to WikiLeaks, has not been tried or convicted of any crime. He is reportedly being held in solitary confinement, which includes being forced to remain in his cell for 23 hours a day, and is stripped naked at night. “The Supreme Court has long held that the government violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment whenever it ‘unnecessarily and wantonly inflicts pain,’ the ACLU’s letter reads. “No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read. Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution.” Following the resignation this week of P.J. Crowley, the former State Department spokesman who called Manning’s treatment “counterproductive and stupid,” President Obama said Pentagon officials had assured him that the conditions of Manning’s confinement are appropriate and meet basic standards. “Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution,” the ACLU’s letter reads. The full text of the letter to Defense Secretary Gates can be found below: March 16, 2011 Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates United States Department of Defense 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1000 Dear Secretary Gates, On behalf of the ACLU and its members, I write to express our grave concern about the inhumane conditions under which PFC Bradley Manning is being confined in the Quantico Base Brig. As a pretrial detainee who has been convicted of no crime, Private Manning may not be subjected to punitive treatment. Based on the reports of Private Manning and his counsel, it is clear the gratuitously harsh treatment to which the Department of Defense is subjecting Private Manning violates fundamental constitutional norms. The Supreme Court has long held that the government violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment whenever it “unnecessarily and wantonly inflicts pain.” No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read. Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution. Nor has the Department of Defense any legitimate purpose in requiring Private Manning to stand naked in his observation cell at “parade rest,” with legs spread and genitals displayed, in full view of guards and other officers. The very purpose of such treatment is to degrade, humiliate, and traumatize — a purpose that cannot be squared with what the Supreme Court has described as “the basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment, which is nothing less than the dignity of man.” President Obama recently stated that Private Manning’s conditions comply with the Pentagon’s “basic standards.” Given that those standards apparently permit Private Manning to be subjected to plainly unconstitutional conditions, it is clear that the Department of Defense must adapt its standards to meet the demands of the Constitution. We ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that Private Manning is treated lawfully and humanely. Sincerely, Anthony D. Romero Executive Director

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