The US military is trying to “break” Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking secrets to WikiLeaks, but it is Defense Secretary Robert Gates that could end up with a blemish on his record, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said Monday.
Manning attorney David Coombs revealed last week that for at least two nights in row, the Army private had been “stripped naked” for as long as seven hours at a time.
In the mornings, he was left without clothes and forced to stand at attention.
“Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?” Kucinich wrote recently. “Officials have confirmed the ‘non-punitive’ stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime. This ‘non-punitive’ action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas.”
“It appears they’re trying to break him,” Kucinich told MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer during a Monday interview. “This is not defensible. There is no way, stretch of the imagination that this could be allowed, or that this should be happening in America.”
The Ohio Democrat suggested that there could even be legal consequences for Secretary Gates if he allowed the harsh treatment of Manning to continue.
“I just want to say one thing if I had a chance to talk directly to Secretary Gates. He’s at the end of his career, Secretary Gates. It would be a shame to have a blot on his record which suggests he suborned human rights violations,” he said.
“There will be consequences under the law for Secretary Gates for continuing to be complicit in the way this soldier is being treated.”
“I don’t have any position on Mr. Manning’s guilt or innocence, but the way he’s being treated raises questions about the Pentagon and about Secretary Gates,” Kucinich concluded.
Manning has been held at the prison since July under a maximum security regimen, which leaves him in his cell for 23 hours a day, because authorities say his escape would pose a risk to national security.
The army private faces numerous charges for stealing classified files and is suspected as the source of a massive trove of classified documents published on the WikiLeaks website in recent months, infuriating and embarrassing US officials.
The Pentagon earlier rejected allegations of harsh conditions and said Manning received treatment similar to others under the high-security regime.
“He’s not being treated differently than any other maximum security detainee and not differently really that much from the medium security detainees,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told MSNBC after he paid a visit to the site himself.
On Wednesday, the government denied Manning’s Article 138 request that he be removed from Maximum custody. The defense had ten days to file a rebuttal.
US military authorities brought additional charges against Manning on Wednesday, accusing him of illegally downloading vast numbers of secret government files and “aiding the enemy.”
Military prosecutors did not explicitly define what “enemy” Manning allegedly aided.
If convicted, Manning could face the death penalty, or life in prison.
This video is from MSNBC’s News Live, broadcast March 7, 2011.
— with AFP