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The National Shame of the US Military's 'Slow Torture' of Bradley Manning


Stripping before men still clothed is the first step toward weakening the prisoner’s psychological defense. … But stripping is also sexually laden. It transposes sexual gestures, acts and innuendo from a strip club to the torture chamber. Thus sex is always present in the torture chamber whether the victim is a man or a woman. The sexing of torture is deeply grounded in the recesses of the torturer’s psyche.

-Marnia Lazreg, Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algeria to Baghdad

The process – employed in the name of “security” – which involves the mutual destruction of human dignity, seems to be an integral part of most police and specialized agency methods.

-Breyten Breytenbach, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist

Ever since I first read about the program to routinely strip PFC Bradley Manning, conceived by his jailers at Quantico Brig in Virginia, I have been trying to figure out in this time of moral fatigue how to express how morally outrageous this behavior by US military personnel is.

For anyone who has been away on vacation to Planet Apathy, Manning is imprisoned for allegedly releasing classified materials to WikiLeaks. He has recently been charged with 22 crimes, including “aiding the enemy,” which can carry the death penalty. His jailers apparently hope young Manning will incriminate the big fish Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Assange just lost an initial extradition hearing in a case brought by Sweden, which wants to extradite him from Britain to question him on controversial sexual allegations. It is widely suspected the US hopes to extradite him to the US once he's in custody in Sweden.

Bradley Manning, Quantico Brig and a naked detainee in Abu Ghraib under the Saddam regimeBradley Manning, Quantico Brig and a naked detainee in Abu Ghraib under the Saddam regime

Whether or not The New York Times and other newspapers that have printed some of the WikiLeaks material – and the American people who read and benefited from the information -- are considered “the enemy” was not made clear by the military. The Times now regularly cites information from the releases to shed light on how our elected government works around the world.

Relevant to all this are the many signs that our military is becoming quite desperate not to lose face over its two problematic military occupations. This fits nicely into Marnia Lazreg’s thesis that torture (in her case, in the Algeria War) is a tool of the “twilight of empire.” At this historical juncture, the fear within our government of something like WikiLeaks must be incredible.

Given the circumstance of the lifting of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the fact Manning is openly gay, it’s fair to ask what possible reason there is to make the young man stand outside his cell naked for “inspection” or to force him to sit naked in his cell for seven hours at a time.

story | by Dr. Radut