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At Bradley Manning's court martial hearing

The USA stands condemned for the way it has treated Bradley Manning.

Award-winning journalist, commentator and broadcaster, Amy Goodman, backgrounds in a piece on truthdig the appearance of Bradley Manning at a pre-court martial hearing the other day.    It almost takes one's breath away when reading what Manning has been subjected to.

"Veteran constitutional attorney Michael Ratner was in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., that day Manning took the stand. He described the scene: “It was one of the most dramatic courtroom scenes I’ve ever been in. ... When Bradley opened his mouth, he was not nervous. The testimony was incredibly moving, an emotional roller coaster for all of us, but particularly, obviously, for Bradley and what he went through. But it was so horrible what happened to him over a two-year period. He described it in great detail in a way that was articulate, smart, self-aware.”

Ratner said Manning described being kept in a cage in Kuwait: “There were two cages. He said they were like animal cages. They were in a tent alone, just these two cages, side by side. One of them had whatever possessions he may have had; one of them, he was in, with a little bed for a rack and a toilet, dark, in this cage for almost two months.” Ratner quoted Manning from his testimony, recalling his words: “For me, I stopped keeping track. I didn’t know whether night was day or day was night. And my world became very, very small. It became these cages.” Ratner added, “It almost destroyed him.”

After Kuwait, Manning was shipped to a brig in Quantico. Manning’s civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, said earlier this month: “Brad’s treatment at Quantico will forever be etched, I believe, in our nation’s history, as a disgraceful moment in time. Not only was it stupid and counterproductive. It was criminal.” The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, attempted to visit Manning, but then refused when the military said it could surveil and record the visit. He reported: “Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.”

Manning’s cruel treatment was described by officials as necessary, as he was a suicide risk. Yet Navy Capt. William Hocter, a forensic psychiatrist at Quantico, said he was no such risk, but was ignored. “I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this,” Hocter testified. “It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact.”

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