Crime and Justice: Rights of The Accused

 

Bradley Manning

    Back in February of this year, I wrote a piece regarding the treatment that Bradley Manning, former U.S. Army Specialist with the 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad, was receiving while incarcerated at Quantico. For those that don’t remember the story, Bradley Manning is the soldier that stands accused of releasing thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks last year. He was arrested, and subsequently brought back from Iraq and began his stay at MCB Quantico in late July of last year.

     Since arriving at MCB Quantico, Bradley Manning’s treatment at the hands of his jailors has been, in the opinions of MANY, overly harsh and abusive. This is where the following post comes in:

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     Lately, there has been a lot of attention given in the press to the treatment that Bradley Manning is receiving by his jailors at the Quantico brig. Most say that the level of his confinement, and the measures that Quantico is taking are severe, even for someone accused of the crimes that Manning is being accused of. I’m going to weigh in here.

    While I don’t feel any personal pity for someone who would commit treasonous (that’s what they are folks, like it or not!) actions against their fellow brothers and sisters in arms and their country by leaking classified information, and thereby “giving aid and / or comfort to our enemies”, I DO have concerns that certain elements of the military may, by virtue of their position and nature, be punishing Manning BEFORE he’s been convicted.

    Think about it. Bradley Manning is being confined by the very entity that he stands accused of injuring by way of his actions. Who’s “watching the watchers”? What’s to say that they’re not looking for some justice BEFORE the justice? Bradley Manning is only being afforded ONE hour of exercise time outside of his cell. This is UNHEALTHY. A person needs more than that to maintain muscle tone, proper mental health and physical well-being. The people in charge of his confinement should find it IMPERATIVE to ensure his mental and physical wellness, for a plethora of reasons.

    Again, I have no pity here. As a former soldier who has friends that are still out there in harm’s way, I think Bradley Manning should, if convicted of these offenses, receive the fullest extent of punishment that the laws of our land will allow. HOWEVER! I ALSO believe in the rights of the accused, and that Bradley Manning MUST receive fair treatment in accordance with these rights. Herein lies the moral “high road” to true justice.

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     Since this was written, Manning has been moved to Fort Leavenworth, and is no longer under the severely restrictive conditions imposed upon him at MCB Quantico. He was moved in late April of this year, largely as a result of several scholars and professionals speaking out against his ill treatment.

     I wonder sometimes if it is in the accused’s best interests to be held in a military stockade or brig. Ever since the revelations of Abu Ghraib in 2004, I have had my doubts about the military being able to adequately guarantee the rights of the accused while incarcerated, without inflicting injury because of prejudice. In my not so humble opinion on this one, I believe that cases like this should be transferred to a civilian facility while awaiting trial, simply due to better oversight.

     Speaking of “awaiting trial”, I’m also curious as to what is taking the Army so long to initiate UCMJ proceedings against Mr. Manning. I guess since they’ve already violated certain constitutional rights of Mr. Manning’s, the “right to a speedy trial by a jury of his peers” isn’t of any great concern either…

     It is not my intention for this blog entry to become a scathing indictment of the military. Quite the contrary, I stand firmly behind those that are out on point, defending my liberty. I will not however, suborn their mistreatment of fellow human beings. Honestly, it pisses me off when my Army (I was part of the team for six years!) misbehaves so openly, without seeming to care what we think at all. This type of bullying under the cover of service to the nation gives heavy credence to the words of those including Oscar Wilde, who once stated that: “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious,” and Samuel Johnson, who wrote: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” I therefore renew my call for greater accountability and responsibility on the part of the Armed Forces:

Treat Bradley Manning (and all who stand accused!) Fairly!

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