Lamo: what's your endgame plan, then?. . .
Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] - and god knows what happens now - hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms - if not, than [sic] we're doomed - as a species - i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens - the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN's iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded - people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . - i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
if i knew then, what i knew now - kind of thing, or maybe im just young, naive, and stupid . . . im hoping for the former - it cant be the latter - because if it is… were fucking screwed (as a society) - and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.
Manning described the incident which first made him seriously question the U.S. Government: when he was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi "insurgents" who had been detained for distributing so-called "insurgent" literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than "a scholarly critique against PM Maliki":
i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled "Where did the money go?" and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…
i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…
And Manning explained why he never considered the thought of selling this classified information to a foreign nation for substantial profit or even just secretly transmitting it to foreign powers, as he easily could have done:
Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?
Lamo: why didn’t you?
Manning: because it's public data
Lamo: i mean, the cables
Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open… it should be a public good.
That's a whistleblower in the purest and most noble form: discovering government secrets of criminal and corrupt acts and then publicizing them to the world not for profit, not to give other nations an edge, but to trigger "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms." Given how much Manning has been demonized -- at the same time that he's been rendered silent by the ban on his communication with any media -- it's worthwhile to keep all of that in mind.
But ultimately, what one thinks of Manning's alleged acts is irrelevant to the issue here.
The U.S. ought at least to abide by minimal standards of humane treatment in how it detains him.
That's true for every prisoner, at all times.
But departures from such standards are particularly egregious where, as here, the detainee has merely been accused, but never convicted, of wrongdoing.
These inhumane conditions make a mockery of Barack Obama's repeated pledge to end detainee abuse and torture, as prolonged isolation -- exacerbated by these other deprivations -- is at least as damaging, as violative of international legal standards, and almost as reviled around the world, as the waterboard, hypothermia and other Bush-era tactics that caused so much controversy.
What all of this achieves is clear.
Having it known that the U.S. could and would disappear people at will to "black sites," assassinate them with unseen drones, imprison them for years without a shred of due process even while knowing they were innocent, torture them mercilessly, and in general acts as a lawless and rogue imperial power created a climate of severe intimidation and fear.
Who would want to challenge the U.S. Government in any way -- even in legitimate ways -- knowing that it could and would engage in such lawless, violent conduct without any restraints or repercussions?
That is plainly what is going on here.
Anyone remotely affiliated with WikiLeaks, including American citizens (and plenty of other government critics), has their property seized and communications stored at the border without so much as a warrant.
Julian Assange -- despite never having been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime -- has now spent more than a week in solitary confinement with severe restrictions under what his lawyer calls "Dickensian conditions."
But Bradley Manning has suffered much worse, and not for a week, but for seven months, with no end in sight.
If you became aware of secret information revealing serious wrongdoing, deceit and/or criminality on the part of the U.S. Government, would you -- knowing that you could and likely would be imprisoned under these kinds of repressive, torturous conditions for months on end without so much as a trial: just locked away by yourself 23 hours a day without recourse -- be willing to expose it?
That's the climate of fear and intimidation which these inhumane detention conditions are intended to create.
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