To the editor:
The manner of detention of Private Bradley Manning, who is being held for allegations he released classified material, is being studied by the courts to determine if the U.S. Government violated his rights.
Manning was held in solitary confinement for many months. The effects of doing so are well understood and include, hallucinations, impairment, and depression. At least on one occasion he was made to stand naked after having his underwear taken. Sleep and sensory deprivation were also allegedly used while he was in solitary. Finally, it is alleged that he was placed in stress positions. Similar techniques have been documented as having been used against unlawful enemy combatants captured on the battlefield.
The justification for using such techniques on a U.S. citizen who is presumed to be innocent should be a high bar, if tolerated at all. I would note that when similar abuses surfaced in the Abu Ghraib scandal the nation's reaction was one of shame.
Maj. Nidal Hasan has been held in pre-trial confinement on charges of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. There has been no suggestion of mistreatment during his confinement and we all presume him to be innocent. Still, the difference in the confinement of both military men seems striking. This is especially troubling given that Manning is not believed to be responsible for any deaths.
Pertinent fact: On December 3, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled the trial judge in Hasan's case, Col. Gergory Gross, should be replaced for having displayed bias against Maj. Hasan. Judge Gross ruled Hasan must comply with army regulations and shave the beard he had grown while in confinement. Hasan retains his beard. This contrast sharply with treatment accorded Private Manning.
We can speculate on the reasons for the stark difference in confinement of the two military men.