A group of prominent actors, artists, and musicians joined with leading human rights organizations on Friday to urge President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates to take "immediate action to address the inhumane and unjustified treatment of PFC Bradley Manning at Quantico Marine Base."
"Despite the recommendations of three forensic military psychiatrists, the Brig Commander at Quantico refuses to lift the POI (Prevention of Injury) status and change his confinement classification from MAX to Medium Custody In (MDI)," the letter (pdf) charges. "On the evening of March 2, 2011 PFC Manning was stripped of all his clothing by the Quantico Brig and left naked in his cell for the next seven hours. ... There can be no conceivable justification for this type of degrading treatment. It brings back memories of the abuses committed in Abu-Ghraib, which blackened the reputation of America's armed forces."
The letter was signed by actors Danny Glover and Viggo Mortensen, artist Shepard Fairey, and musicians Rosanne Cash, Tom Morello, and Michael Stipe, all of whom have been known in the past for their political activism. They were joined by Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, blogger Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, and representatives of Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Government Accountability Project.
Ellsberg, who has repeatedly compared Manning's actions to his own leaking of the Pentagon Papers forty years ago, has taken a leading role in condemning the United States for its use of "no-touch torture" in an attempt to force Manning to implicate WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in his massive leak of US government documents. Hamsher has also been active in writing and publishing posts which bring public attention to Manning's abusive treatment.
"We, the undersigned, demand an immediate investigation into the conditions of Pfc. Manning’s detention," the letter concludes, "and urge you to order a stop to the cruel treatment of an American soldier entitled to the same human rights and constitutional protections afforded to all citizens. Every human being deserves to be treated with respect. Every human being deserves due process. Pfc. Manning is receiving neither."