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America's Treatment of Detainees

Amnesty International has written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates objecting to the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, which was first reported here.  The group denounces the oppressive conditions under which Manning is being held as "unnecessarily harsh and punitive," and further states they "appear to breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."  The letter describes Manning's treatment as particularly egregious "in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offence." Moreover:

The harsh conditions imposed on PFC Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement . . . may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair trial.

The letter follows a report from Manning's lawyer, former Lt. Col. David Coombs, that the conditions of his detention temporarily worsened in the past week, prompting a formal complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Amnesty's letter also follows a report that the U.N.'s leading official on torture is formally investigating the conditions of Manning's detention, a fact confirmed two weeks ago by The New York Times  ("the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Mendez, [] said he had submitted a formal inquiry about the soldier’s treatment to the State Department").  

Of course, caring what Amnesty International or the U.N. have to say about the conditions of America's detainees is so very 2004.  Now, such a concern is -- to borrow a phrase from Alberto Gonazles -- a quaint and obsolete relic of the past.

Read the full article at Salon...

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