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When I was a kid, one of the oft-repeated phrases I heard on television crime shows was that a suspect was “innocent until proven guilty.” I thought this was the way “the good ol’ U.S. of A.” handled justice, a fair way that gave me faith in the system. I don’t hear that phrase very often anymore and I’ve become wary, nay, scared, of the way our “justice” system is operating. When Bush, Cheney, et. al. decided torture was a good idea for enemy combatants (and, hell, why not a few bona fide Americans, too?), that’s when I lost faith in our system.

(Please, don’t lecture me on the fact that the Bush/Cheney torture orders were necessary because we are in a war and it’s only being used on our enemies. Bull shit. Once torture is okayed for our “enemies,” that clears the way for it to be used on the rest of us if we happen to look like “enemies.”)

When President Obama took office, I had great hopes that he’d nix the whole torture program. Well, it seems he hasn’t. Last week, I read an article on Salon about the treatment of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private suspected of leaking sensitive information to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. The article turned my stomach and churned in my brain. It ought to be required reading in America.

Link here: “The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention” by Glenn Greenwald

According to Greenwald, Private Manning has not yet been charged with a crime, yet he’s been held since May 2010. Worse yet, he has been kept in solitary confinement 23 hours per day during the months he’s been held. Twenty-three hours a day! For months and months and months. And he hasn’t been charged.

Greenwald goes into some detail about what solitary confinement can do to a person over much shorter periods of time. He explains that the punishment is so harsh and soul-crushing that “. . . many Western nations — and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses — refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence.”

Sounds to me like the government has decided that Bradley Manning is guilty without even giving him a chance to defend himself. It’s as though government officials are using solitary to break him, to make him a puddle of mentally ill goo, completely incapable of defending himself. When did America become a nation of thugs?

I, as an American, am OUTRAGED by the government’s use of torture in my name.  I cannot scream that loudly enough. Whether Private Manning is truly guilty (or not) of what the government says he’s done, we need to abide by the process we used to have in place – “innocent until proven guilty” – and charge the guy so he can stand trial. And we need to quit holding him in solitary so that he can effectively stand trial. If this nation can’t manage this, then none of us average Americans is safe from our new system of anti-justice. Not only that, we can be tortured with impunity . . . just because.

It’s time for the United States of America to quit torturing people. Period. If all it takes is an Executive Order (or an order from The Executive, which is how Bush instituted torture), then, by god, let’s get on with it. President Obama, I’m waiting . . . .


[Note: Glenn Greenwald wrote a follow-up article to the one cited above. This one is called “Government harassing and intimidating Bradley Manning supporters.”

What was that I just said about average Americans not being safe from the new system of anti-justice?]