Arthur Silber rises from his sickbed to pen a powerful piece on the torture of Bradley Manning by the Nobel Peace Laureate in the White House — torture which has only gotten worse since I wrote about it here yesterday. You should read the entire article by Silber (and give him some financial support in a grave hour of need while you are there, if you can); but here are a few excerpts:
A human being can be destroyed in a seemingly infinite number of ways, as history repeatedly demonstrates. Our capacity for cruelty is limitless. It would appear to defy gratification. We are all too familiar with the horrifying varieties of physical violence inflicted on the human body, but there is another method of seeking to destroy those whom we have designated as enemies to our own survival. In one critical respect, this method is worse than injuries that might be visited on our fragile corporeal form, for while the body may survive intact, the person — that is, his mind and soul — will never be made whole again.
This method of destruction throws the victim into a nightmare world, one which mocks every effort to comprehend it. Cruelty is presented as compassion and solicitude for the victim’s well-being; the words of justification seek to convince those who suffer that their unbearable pain should be accepted for their own good. The victim knows that every utterance of his tormentors is a lie, and the more he attempts to understand why they act so monstrously, the greater his suffering grows. …This is evil; those who seek to impose this fate on a human being are engaged in evil of an especially monstrous kind.
Read this New York Times story about the latest cruelties inflicted on Bradley Manning, and you will see the operation of these mechanisms. We must remember that Manning is, as the Times story states in its first sentence, the “accused.” As of this date, Manning has been tried for nothing. As of this date, Manning has been convicted of nothing.
The story informs us that Manning “will be stripped of his clothing every night as a ‘precautionary measure’ to prevent him from injuring himself,” and that he “will also be required to stand outside his cell naked during a morning inspection.” A Marine spokesman says that “the underwear was taken away from him as a precaution to ensure that he did not injure himself.”
But as the story goes on to tell us, Manning “has not been elevated to the more restrictive ‘suicide watch’ conditions.” The same Marine spokesman also says that “the new rule on clothing … would continue indefinitely,” and that “he was not allowed to explain what prompted it ‘because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.’”
Thus, according to this spokesman, Manning is subjected to repeated humiliation and degradation — for his own good. Moreover, the reason for the repeated humiliation and degradation cannot be provided because of the military’s boundless concern for Manning’s “privacy” — that is, the military also refuses to explain the reason for its cruelty for Manning’s own good.
…First, forcing a prisoner to remain naked for extended periods of time is not only a barbaric means of humiliating and degrading him: it necessarily includes a very significant element of specifically sexual humiliation and degradation. Add to this unforgivable atrocity the well-known fact that Manning is gay. Especially in the hypermasculinized world of the military, such sexual humiliation and degradation represents an intentional, additional cruelty. I can only say that the U.S. government and the military of which it is so proud put Torquemada to shame.
Second, these cruelties and the purported “justifications” offered by the military, all in a notably high profile case, definitively put the lie to the propaganda spewed by the U.S. government in response to the torture, including sexual humiliation, revealed at Abu Ghraib: that such incidents were an “aberration” perpetrated by a few “bad apples.” (I emphasize that similar torture and humiliation occurred in other locations as well; Abu Ghraib is probably the best-known instance.) They also definitively put the lie to Obama’s patently false claim that he has “ended torture,” a point I have made repeatedly.
Now we have the U.S. military, with the full support of the U.S. government, openly engaging in repeated acts of cruelty, atrocity, humiliation and degradation — acts which the military proclaims will “continue indefinitely” — and offering nauseatingly ludicrous justifications which would not convince a minimally healthy ten-year-old child. No honest observer can regard these actions of the U.S. government and its military as “aberrations”: these actions are brazenly offered as U.S. government policy. …
Silber also very wisely bids us keep this important fact in mind: “…we must beware falling into the trap of selective outrage. The horrifying case of Bradley Manning is an especially high profile one, but he is hardly the only victim of even this particular form of the U.S. government’s monstrousness.”
Indeed. Similar — and even worse — treatment has been doled out to many thousands of people caught up in the American gulag (and its proxy operations) over the past decade. Many others are suffering this kind of torture, and worse, today, right now, at the hands of the Peace Laureate. And many more will be subjected to this evil in the future.
NOTE: Yesterday we pointed out here that the New York Times story first confirming that Manning had been subjected to forced nudity by the Peace Laureate appeared on Page 3 in the printed version of the “paper of record.” The latest story, which Silber links to, and which confirms that Manning will now be subjected to this mind-breaking torture every single day, appeared on …. Page 8 of the “paper of record.” The story — only fitfully noted as it is — is rapidly sinking out of sight.