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"Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking for information about reports that the Army ignored evidence of the mental health problems of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. Kucinich also asked for confirmation and explanation of reports that the Army is holding Pfc. Manning in conditions that would likely exacerbate his condition and could constitute a violation of the his Eighth Amendment right of protection from 'cruel and unusual' punishment."

Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement for more than eight months. (photo: file)
Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement for more than eight months. (photo: file)

Bradley Manning's 'Cruel and Unusual' Treatment

By Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

04 February 11


Kucinich: Does treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning constitute 'cruel and unusual' treatment?
Questions follow a report that the army ignored evidence of mental health problems.

ongressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking for information about reports that the Army ignored evidence of the mental health problems of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. Kucinich also asked for confirmation and explanation of reports that the Army is holding Pfc. Manning in conditions that would likely exacerbate his condition and could constitute a violation of the his Eighth Amendment right of protection from 'cruel and unusual' punishment.

The full text of the letter follows.

February 2, 2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Gates:

This morning, The Washington Post reported that Pfc. Bradley J. Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who is accused of being the source of the WikiLeaks documents, was known by the Army to have had mental health problems even before his deployment to Iraq. "At Fort Drum, Manning balled up his fists and screamed at higher-ranking soldiers in his unit...." A "mental health specialist" recommended that he not be deployed to Iraq, "but his immediate commanders sent him anyway...."

In Iraq, evidence of his mental health problems accelerated. "[A] master sergeant who supervised Manning was so concerned about the private's mental health that he disabled Manning's weapon in December 2009...." "[I]n May 2010, Manning was demoted a rank for assaulting a fellow soldier...."

The Army ignored Private Manning's mental health problems before he was arrested for leaking the documents to WikiLeaks, and the consequences of that disinterest are now obvious. Since his arrest, the Army has reportedly treated Private Manning in a way that is almost certain to exacerbate his mental health problems.

In December 2010, Glenn Greenwald reported on the conditions of Private Manning's confinement at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a "Maximum Custody Detainee," the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day - for seven straight months and counting - he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed.... For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.

In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

On January 3, 2011, the Psychologists for Social Responsibility issued an "Open Letter" in which they protested the conditions of Private Manning's incarceration "based on the exhaustive documentation and research that have determined that solitary confinement is, at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law." Their Open Letter quotes extensively from the findings of Dr. Craig Haney, "a psychologist and expert in the assessment of institutional environments...."

"Empirical research on solitary and supermax-like confinement has consistently and unequivocally documented the harmful consequences of living in these kinds of environments ... Evidence of these negative psychological effects comes from personal accounts, descriptive studies, and systematic research on solitary and supermax-type confinement, conducted over a period of four decades, by researchers from several different continents who had diverse backgrounds and a wide range of professional expertise ... [D]irect studies of prison isolation have documented an extremely broad range of harmful psychological reactions. These effects include increases in the following potentially damaging symptoms and problematic behaviors: negative attitudes and affect, insomnia, anxiety, panic, withdrawal, hypersensitivity, ruminations, cognitive dysfunction, hallucinations, loss of control, irritability, aggression, and rage, paranoia, hopelessness, lethargy, depression, a sense of impending emotional breakdown, self-mutilation, and suicidal ideation and behavior."

"To summarize, there is not a single published study of solitary or supermax-like confinement in which non-voluntary confinement lasting for longer than 10 days where participants were unable to terminate their isolation at will that failed to result in negative psychological effects."

Today's article states that the Army actually recognized that Private Manning had mental health problems, but deployed him to Iraq anyway. Once he was in Iraq, the Army reportedly did not adequately supervise him and allowed his mental health problems to fester. His sergeant recognized that Manning's mental health was so compromised that he took the unusual step of disabling Manning's weapon in a war zone.

Now, reports indicate that the Army has taken Pfc. Manning, a soldier with documented mental health problems, and confined him under conditions that are almost guaranteed to exacerbate his mental health problems. If true, the Army's treatment would obviously constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

If these reports are true, the Army must end the extreme conditions of Private Manning's confinement, and provide him with the mental health treatment that the Army recognized he needed even before his deployment to Iraq. At the very least, the Army must explain the justification for confining someone with mental health problems under conditions that are virtually certain to exacerbate those problems and explain the danger he now presents that only these extreme conditions of confinement can avoid.

I look forward to your response.



Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

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Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+54 # ch cole 2011-02-04 23:01
It is TIME we upheld our original American Ideals of honesty...integ rity and fairness....pea
+72 # giraffe 2011-02-04 23:15
My g-d What has our country come to? What right does the Army have to treat a person like this? If the young man is not removed from his conditions immediately - somebody should have to "pay" for criminal charges.

Perhaps the "private" army that the USA now has will be a bigger downfall than the crooks who have stolen from us on Wall Street and in Congress + the United States Supreme Court (for illegally interfering in the state of Florida election in 2000 to give "W" the pResidency + the 2010 give away of our elections to big corporations in order to BUY our elections.

Is this democracy?

Thank YOU, Dennis Kucinich (who I wish was the President of the USA)
+18 # rf 2011-02-05 08:38
I think that if it was not cold as hell there would be a good sized group of people in ke in Cairo! ( I can dream can't I!)
+16 # DaveW. 2011-02-05 17:49
giraffe, "My g-d What has our country come to?" It's come to the precipice of a part-time Fascist state that uses propaganda along with punitive punishments for the "crime" of telling the truth. The "Army" is obeying orders from the Commander-in-Ch ief. I agree with your denunciations of Wall st., the Supreme Court and their egregious decisions both in 2000 and '10. But President Obama could end this young man's ordeal with ONE phone call. Truman said 'the buck stops here." That means Obama. Suggest anyone seeing this read author Robert Perkinson's brilliant and very disturbing book entitled "Texas Tough", "The Rise of America"s Prison Empire." You'll discover that "solitary confinement" was the FIRST torture procedure used in America's fledgling prison system in the 1830's and after its pernicious effects upon the mind were exposed we altered to "physical" abuses, most prominently, the whip. Now, in another sign of "progress" we're back to the original plan. We're inflicting a sick and twisted agenda on Manning. We have a supposedly "sane" man who has the antidote. Guess it won't happen tomorrow. J-Lo and other "dignitaries" are coming over to watch the Super Bowl. Manning will be staring at four walls instead. And remember, he hasn't been charged with ANYTHING!
+3 # Hexalpa 2011-02-05 20:04
Sorry Dave. I inadvertently gave you a thumbs-down when I meant to hit the thumbs up.
+3 # DaveW. 2011-02-06 10:39
Hexalpa, Thanks! You've an attribute that's sorely missing amongst many of our elected leaders. I believe it used to be called integrity.
+65 # Frank Winkler 2011-02-04 23:24
Congressman Kucinich is exactly right in demanding that this matter be investigated. Manning hasn't been convicted of anything yet, but that hasn't prevented his captors from administering the worst sort of punishment. It is obvious that they are trying to induce mental illness as well as punish. Disciplinary action, to include courts martial, is in order for all responsible for directing and permitting such abuse, as well as those conducting it. This is not unprecedented. I witnessed as a USAF Security Police officer (Lt) such treatment and much worse administered regularly by USMC AWOL apprehension teams picking up AWOL marines at my base in Nevada. Prisoners were routinely beaten when custody was turned over to the Marines, followed by still more abuse, e.g., transporting a cuffed marine prisoner under a camper shell in the bed of a pick-up truck, and left in the shell to swelter in the desert sun for hours at 110+. Prisoners were beaten again once returned to 29 Palms USMC base, and beaten yet again if they complained or reported such abuse to doctors, higher-ups, etc. Marines asked that we not transport prisoners to their base so that they could make the pick-up themselves. This continued for the three years I was stationed at Nellis AFB (67-70) during the Viet Nam conflict, despite reports and complaints to Federal government by the victims' families, etc.
+26 # giraffe 2011-02-05 02:41
Thank You Frank Winkler for your service and for the report. The military machine is as bad as the current United States Supreme Court. With the retirement of John Paul Stevens --- the USSC has no credibility. Scalia, Roberts and their puppet Thomas SHOULD resign.

We have laws but only "some of us" have to follow the rules.

I saw an article that said the private is a British citizen. So where are the Brits on this matter! President Obama - as Commander in Chief - YOU should demand the private be treated properly. for g-d's sake the man has not even been charged with a crime.
+13 # Tasha 2011-02-05 13:41
Bradley Manning is a patriot! He needs our prayers--there are still many Christians in American--I have about given up that anything will change in "our" America unless there is another uprising by the people, i.e., Egypt--I will continue to be an Activist--Our leadership in this country has been abysmal for many years--and it seems it does not matter the "party" involved--or how many the "body count!" So far as the wealthy, might continue to live their preferred life style!
Our country is not the "leader" in the world any longer, who can believe the media, in print or on the airways--where is truth? Am certain it does not exist in our society. Check out the Bildeberg Society. They seem to back "down" with their future goals against the people when they are "faced up" to! So let's keep the pressure on the U.S. War Machine, the elite who wish to eliminate the working class, etc. Unless we the people speak out more--this kind of action against others, including rendition et al, could happen to any of us, such as has happened to Bradley Manning. We want no more torture, no more rendition--the real values of Americans do not involve this type of behavior on the part of government or the military!
+20 # LizR 2011-02-04 23:35
What do you think of Western civilisation, Mr Ghandi?

I think it would be a good idea...
+18 # LizR 2011-02-04 23:37
"It is TIME we upheld our original American Ideals of honesty...integ rity and"

I'm sure the Native Americans would agree that those were the original ideals.
+23 # Captain Bill 2011-02-04 23:56
WTF is going on??? Either charge him or release him. NOW!!! if not sooner!
+29 # 2011-02-04 23:57
The government acts in whatever vindictive way it wants to, regardless of constitutional or legal principle. When reports of such officially sanctioned sadism and abuse surface, as in the case of Bradley Manning, the sense of America, of what it means to be an American, is irretrievably lost. All sense of moral leadership vanishes. What happens to a country and its citizens when such basic rights are so brutally abused?
+21 # Glenda Guedes 2011-02-05 00:12
I have written Obama, who certainly is aware of Manning's treatment. How disappointing that Obama continues with the Bush tortures. No, I can not vote for him again. I will not vote for a republican either. Probably I will leave that spot blank. Can't vote for a Democrat like Obama who has given in to all Republican demands and is responsible for the torture of Manning. Who can we elect President?? Who will restore our country to us?
+9 # rf 2011-02-05 08:40
Obama is a Republican. He lied to us!
+26 # tomo 2011-02-05 00:39
Lewis Carroll has the mad Queen of Hearts running around shouting "sentence first, verdict later." Disgracefully, America has become that mad queen. Kucinich is a true patriot; what Obama and Gates are is anybody's guess. I just hope the rescue of Bradley Manning happens soon enough for there still to be a Bradley Manning to rescue.
+28 # freepressnow 2011-02-05 01:58
Thank you Mr. Kucinich. Please help us put an end to the nightmare.
+6 # Daisy 2011-02-05 02:14
It is the responsibility of the military to protect military assets, which includes both the enlisted and those they might harm by their actions on "our side". Additionally, they need to weed out the Abu Ghraib torturers who turned out to be great recruiters for the Iraqi insurgency. Nothing was done to deactivate Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who went jahidi at Fort Hood. Last question: why did Manning have access to the Wikileaks materials if he was not stable? Somebody isn't thinking and those persons are higher on the pay scale than either of these two.
+9 # soularddave 2011-02-05 11:08
Quoting Daisy:
Last question: why did Manning have access to the Wikileaks materials if he was not stable?

I've not found a link between Manning and Wikkileaks or the leakers. Sure, the blovators who entertain the masses with their rude assumptions and outlandish opinions have suggested this, but Assange has stated that he hadn't heard of Manning before the story hit the papers in Europe.

Let's separate fact from fallacy and put it out here. Certainly it's germane to the 'discussion'.

Finally, let's do our own research and provide it to our Congresspeople. At the very least, we ought to be contacting them and urging them to confer with Mr Kucinich and possibly sign on to the letter.
+2 # doslobos 2011-02-05 19:57
Why are these previous superiors not facing Court Martial for Dereliction of Duty--or, at the least, Negligence for allowing an "unstable" private access to classified material?
+21 # thomaf 2011-02-05 02:49
If there were ways to check the mental health of Americans, it would reveal alot. I've heard too many people, calmly state that both Julian Assange and Bradley Manning should be killed. Most of them are Republicans. These people have no idea that just by believing this way, they are, virtually, murderers. There is no difference from advocacy and performing the act. The intent makes one an accomplice. Just as members of Operation Rescue are all, equally, guilty of the murder of the man who performed legal abortions, Dr. Tiller. I mean, that would be like holding Dick Cheney responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, killed by his private mercenary army, for profit. Oops.
+20 # Leslie4701 2011-02-05 05:35
Thank you Mr. Kucinich. I appreciate what you are trying to do for Bradley Manning. Sincerely, Leslie Davis, founder and president of The Earth Protectors.
+18 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-02-05 05:36
We hang the heroes and reward the villains. All brought to you by, the Bush Gang and The War Machine.. "Taking over America and the World is our Business" Any sane person knows who should be tried for war crimes and it isn't Manning or Assange.. Look under and behind a Bush, you'll find the criminals and just plain greed and evil.. From a Son of the American Revolution, Pvt. Shandrack Pierson 1st Virginia and Vietnam Veteran, Cpl.Pierson 101st Airborne.. gary pierson help out RSN. Keep the truth going! Thank You. And Peace damn it!
+16 # PGreen 2011-02-05 06:55
It is likely that there is a motive behind the method of Manning's confinement, namely a forced (even if false) confession that Julian Assange actively initiated a scheme to release illegal documents. The administration wants to Prosecute Assange as well and set an example. Such an admission by Manning would enable the government to prosecute the Wikileaks journalist for actions that the government claims would not apply to other publishers such as the NYTs. Not only is this a false assumption (journalists often and constantly badger their sources for the release of illegal information all the time), but Manning's method of confinement makes any confession meaningless. However, the government wants to set an example, so it is doubtful that we will see responsible officials held accountable for Mannings treatment anytime soon. It probably goes to far up the chain of command to get at those who directed the policy.
+16 # Mitchell Jon MacKay 2011-02-05 08:03
Quite so and well spoken. Dwight Eisenhower warned of the impetus toward such developments albeit not in such sadistic terms, though he may have reflected on what he witnessed in German concentration camps. Yes, we've regressed to that in the USA.
+11 # barry stanley 2011-02-05 08:41
This is the same treatment of citizens that the people of Cairo are now trying to stop.
How credible are Obama and Clinton in their "support" for those protesting in Cairo when this goes happens on their watch?
+25 # Judy Walter 2011-02-05 08:41
Dennis is the only one who really 'gets it'. He's the only one I have ever trusted completely to care for this country, it's people, and the future of my children and grandchildren. He continues to go out on limbs that few politician are brave enough to chance, worrying about their political careers. Dennis thinks from his heart and his head, and takes action regardless of how it may impact his political future. Bottom line--Dennis does what's morally right.
+9 # soularddave 2011-02-05 11:15
Quoting Judy Walter:
Dennis is the only one who really 'gets it'. Dennis thinks from his heart and his head, and takes action regardless of how it may impact his political future. Bottom line--Dennis does what's morally right.

I wish I could click 'thumbs up' more than once.
+26 # Charles R. Berry 2011-02-05 08:43
Congressman Kucinich is a hero and should be lauded nationally for his stance. Thank god, he is in Congress.Let's all of us protest the conditions of Manning's imprisonment to President Obama, who should be ashamed of himself for permitting these conditions.
+26 # Susan 2011-02-05 08:47
Congressman Kucinich has also requested visitation with PFC. Manning. What a courageous man.
+24 # AML 2011-02-05 09:24
This administration had better figure out soon that if anything happens to Manning, no one will believe that the military is innocent of participation in his demise.
+13 # steven rosin 2011-02-05 09:29
I would really be ashamed as an American if I wasnt already. Sound like the Savak? Obama and the Unsupreme Court where are you?
+25 # jon 2011-02-05 09:52
Dennis Kucinich is one of the last REAL Democrats. It will forever remain our huge loss that he was not elected President.
+18 # Jayne Milner 2011-02-05 10:37
I wish Kucinich were President instead of Obama.
+16 # kathiemm 2011-02-05 11:20
I just want to add my voice to all of Dennis Kucinich's admirers. He is one of the most important and needed members of Congress, a man of great character and integrity.
+16 # BUCKLES 2011-02-05 12:20
This Vet voted for Obama, when he said "look forward not backward" thats when he adopted the Bush policies. He must know this young man Manning's being given cruel and unusual treatmen. Obama could stop it now. Get after the President !!!!!!
+13 # giraffe 2011-02-05 12:30
Day 2 since this was posted. Silence about the private. UNACCEPTABLE - President, Private Military Leaders, Congress, DOJ, USSC --- HELLO? Any of you named tuned in?

Senator K: Thank you for your brave and humane duty as a Congress person.

If you need signatures to put a bill in front of Congress --- post it and we'll sign
+10 # DrAnne 2011-02-05 13:21
I suspect that a substantial part of Pfc. Manning's mental health problems stem from an "attack of conscience". How twisted has this nation become when the truth has to be stolen by a lowly private. It is not ironic - as those who ascend the hierarchy must lose his/her conscience on the climb.

Thank you Mr. Kucinich and Pfc. Manning!
+10 # enrique 2011-02-05 13:27
Well, you had your chance electing Kucinich president. But you were so mesmerized by the big-time charlatans, that you didn't even see him, literally. Now that you got your illusions bashed in, maybe you vote for him this time, should he be prepared to lower himself once more to the circus. We need him, his intelligence and his integrity, desperately.
+8 # Jay Levy 2011-02-05 15:03
To show how venal the US military is, when I attempted to send Pvt. Manning a postcard just simply thanking him and telling him there were many others who support him, my postcard came back with a note from his "captors" advising me I "wasn't on the list of approved corresponders." Now I suppose I'm on a list of "suspected unAmericans." What a country.
+5 # asides 2011-02-05 17:08
Maybe I do not know the whole story and maybe this is really a sane person in an insane world. Julian Assange has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize while this man is tortured. Is this because he was the giver of dangerous info and Julian is the holder of this info. Julian should demand this man be released or else go ahead and let the shit hit the fan. There will not be too many more leakers willing to leak to Wiikileaks if not. Wikileaks turned this man in. Who is getting rich off this man's leak! Dennis, keep fighting for what is right and please run for president again!
+4 # Foxtrottango 2011-02-05 19:31
I would agree that President Obama should be charge with human rights violations against his own people. He must now realized that GWBush has canceled his trip to Switzerland because the people of that nation wants it's government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the alpine country.

That is what is called justice in my book, something those Five Supreme Court right wing conservative Justice and now, Mr. Obama cannot come to terms with it.
+6 # Hexalpa 2011-02-05 20:01
Quoting giraffe:
My g-d What has our country come to?
Thank YOU, Dennis Kucinich (who I wish was the President of the USA)

MANY of us wish that Dennis was President.
Thanks Dennis, I have been trying to interest SOMEONE in power in Bradley Manning's plight. I had nearly given up on "office holders"
+5 # AMC 2011-02-05 23:55
So it appears Dennis kucinich is the only elected official in Washington with the character to do what every one of them should be doing. That's why many of us refer to the Washington crowd as alleged representatives . Thank you Congressman Kucinich.
+5 # Magars 2011-02-06 14:24
Congressman Kucinich has the courage to address and share topics and concerns that other legislators are afraid to address. That's the reason that most of liberal americans are so discontented with our so called"represen tatives". People in Congress are more for political correctness, than for the truth and justice. What the media will say about this letter, including MSNBC? (After Comcast ownership)
+5 # shirley 2011-02-06 16:53
Thank you, Congressman Dennis Kucinich! What can we as ordinary citizens do to help Bradley Manning?
+1 # giraffe 2011-02-09 04:14
Day 6 since K requested release of the PVT- HELLO - Obama, Private Army, VP Biden, 911, anybody? R's - maybe you can leave the discussion of abortion alone long enough to take care of the LIVING -- Are they waiting for him to die mentally? It happens - remember the German experiments with orphans? (Or was that done in the USA also?) Isolation can lead to death.

They are trying to get Assange to the USA and IF "they" do -- we should take a lesson from Egypt - ya think?

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