David Cay Johnston recently wrote about the failure of the media to effectively articulate current issues, namely the tax cut debate, and how that failure impairs today’s policy debates. Eloquent writers and pundits are debating the news industry handling of the Wikileaks brouhaha and even I have taken a shot at media coverage and reaction.
Primarily released through alternative media sources, the conditions under which Bradley Manning, the young soldier suspected of leaking data to Wikileaks, is being held are beginning to emerge. Glenn Greenwald writes today that efforts, by Manning’s lawyers efforts to improve his circumstances have gone unheeded and they are now turning to the press to help apply pressure. Greenwald describes Manning’s confinement.
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 (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.
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.
A quick Google search for “Bradley Manning tortured” lists NPR and other blogs like Greenwald’s and Huffington Post but no mention, yet, on the traditional media.
Nevertheless, CBS thought it worth filing a report with the catchy headline “Is WikiLeaks Reneging on its Financial Promise to Bradley Manning?“,on December 9. CBS notes that Wikileaks’ support promised to aid in the legal defense of Bradley Manning “…has been surprisingly slow… and is delivering less financial support that originally promised”.
While I don’t know the reason this may have happened, CBS makes no mention of the financial troubles Wikileaks is suffering, not only with major funding sources shut down, PayPal, VISA, MasterCard but the legal costs Assange must also be facing.
Recently, CNN compared Assange supporters to Bonny and Clyde cult worshipers. These obvious slants not only fail to inform the public but seriously degrade the public debate on these very important topics.
Sadly, because Manning is in the US, he gets far less media coverage than he deserves and if you have a few shekels to spare, please donate to his defense.