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Supporters liken Bradley Manning’s detention to torture

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Next House intel chairman calls for Manning’s execution

The soldier accused of leaking secret US documents to secrets outlet WikiLeaks is being held in conditions that could amount to torture, his supporters say.

US Army Private Bradley Manning has been detained in solitary confinement since May, when charges were brought against him for “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system,” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source.”

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It is widely believed that Manning provided WikiLeaks with thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, as well as 250,000 US State Department cables.

Manning, who has not yet been convicted of a crime, has been kept in solitary confinement at the US Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months. For two months prior to that, he was detained in a military jail in Kuwait.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald noted that the conditions in which Manning is held “constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.”

“[T]he accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries,” he added.

Jeff Paterson, the man who runs Manning’s legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post that he had hoped conditions would improve without applying pressure through the media.

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“His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels,” Paterson said.

Manning is “very annoyed” by the way he is being treated, Paterson said. The inability to exercise is particularly distressing to the Army private.

While Paterson says that Manning’s solitary confinement is consistent with a suicide watch, Quantico’s mental health officials have said he is not a suicide risk.

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Coleen Rowley, a former special agent/legal counsel at the FBI’s Minneapolis division, told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Wednesday that it appears Manning was receiving the same type of harsh treatment reserved for terrorism detainees.

“I’ve never heard of punishing someone pre-conviction like this in solitary confinement,” she said. “It really sounds vindictive and in a way, it seems like some of the harsh interrogation tactics have kind of bled over now into the criminal process, which is just shocking.”

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Accounts of prisoners held for years in solitary confinement say similar things. Prisoners often experience panic attacks, compulsive behaviors, visual and auditory halucinations, severe depression and uncontrollable emotions, among other adverse effects.

Next House intel chairman calls for Manning’s execution

Solitary confinement is just one of the problems manning is facing.

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The next chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announced Wednesday that he believes Manning should be executed.

The “death penalty clearly should be considered here,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in an interview on a Michigan radio program.

“If they won’t charge him with treason, they ought to charge him with murder,” he said.

Rogers added that Manning aided US enemies by providing secret documents to WikiLeaks.

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“If that is not a capital offense, I don’t know what is,” he said. “We know for a fact that people will likely be killed because of this information being disclosed. That’s pretty serious.”

There is not yet evidence of Americans being harmed as a result of the leaks, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, the public is clearly not on WikiLeaks side. Overall, 68 percent say the release of secret documents harms the US interest and 59 percent want WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Dec. 15, 2010.

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