What is the Obama Administration Doing to Bradley Manning?

We’ve been a bit remiss in covering this story, but recent revelations about the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning (for details, see Glenn Greenwald) make clear that the military — and thus the Obama administration — is subjecting Manning to a regimen that constitutes torture. Manning’s treatment appears to be designed solely to inflict mental suffering and break his will (most likely, as Greenwald suggests, with the goal of getting him to implicate Julian Assange and Wikileaks).

Like many, I’ve been disappointed with Obama’s civil liberties record, but in some cases — such as the failure to close Guantanamo and to prosecute Bush administration officials responsible for torture — his administration’s failings might reasonably be blamed on political forces beyond his control (such as the willingness of other politicians to demagogue the Guantanamo issue). This is not such a case. No one is forcing the Obama administration to torture Manning in this way, and there is no apparent reason why his administration — having made such a concerted decision to inflict suffering on Manning — should be treated any differently from the Bush administration when it made similar decisions.

Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



  1. It’s not like he’s a citizen, he’s been declared a terrorist already. Obama has been more egregious than Bush in prosecuting whistle-blowers. Again, see Glenn Greenwald for details.

  2. “Declared a terrorist.” It is ominous when a real patriot, a Real Hero (not a conflabulated, PC, post-September 11th hero) is declared a terrorist. America has gone terribly wrong. I do not recognize her. She is fearful, and acts out of her Fear and Fantasy.

  3. This declaration of terrorist status is entirely non-judicial; the stripping of rights, denial of habeas corpus, the essentially torturous treatment is shameful. The President need merely speak and it is decreed. If the President would only do this to Gingrich, Palin, both party’s leadership and those that lobby them, I might be able to support these fiat judgments, but anyone who’s willing to bring light and information should be protected. I could support summary execution of politicos in lieu of other term limits, fast, final and effective–and NO revolving door!

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