Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old (gay or possibly trans) Army private who tipped off the world that Americans think Germany’s highest-ranking gay is a “wild card,” has been toiling away in solitary confinement at a Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. He’s permitted just one hour per day of escape, where he’s not even allowed to read newspaper reports about how his suspected Wikileaking has embarrassed Hillary Clinton (though his captors — basically, America — deny he’s refused the news). For the other 23 hours in the day, he gets by in a cramped cell without a pillow or sheets, even though, as Glenn Greenwald writes in a scathing takedown of Manning’s treatment, he’s never been on suicide watch. Or convicted of a crime. Or even put on trial for one. Greenwald concludes: All this amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Or perhaps even torture. Because humans are social beings, and forcing them to spend 96 percent of their time locked up and alone makes the mind go crazy. But at least he gets to have some folks visit?
Manning is barred from communicating with any reporters, even indirectly, so nothing he has said can be quoted here. But David House, a 23-year-old MIT researcher who befriended Manning after his detention (and then had his laptops, camera and cellphone seized by Homeland Security when entering the U.S.) is one of the few people to have visited Manning several times at Quantico. He describes palpable changes in Manning’s physical appearance and behavior just over the course of the several months that he’s been visiting him. Like most individuals held in severe isolation, Manning sleeps much of the day, is particularly frustrated by the petty, vindictive denial of a pillow or sheets, and suffers from less and less outdoor time as part of his one-hour daily removal from his cage.
It won’t be long until the McCains and Hannitys (and Rogers!) point out that Manning has always been an isolated loner, so his confinement should actually be comfortable! And don’t gays love being in prison too? You know, for the sex?