Tag Archives: Robert Gates

Letter From Amnesty International To Robert Gates SecDef

 

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT

Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street

London WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)20 7413 5500 F: +44 (0)20 7956 1157

E: amnestyis@amnesty.org W: www.amnesty.org

 

BY FAX AND MAIL

Ref: AMR 51/2011/004

AI index: AMR 51/006/2011

The Honorable Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense

1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington DC 20301

USA

19 January 2011

Dear Secretary of Defense

I am writing to express concern about the conditions under which Private First Class (PFC) Bradley

Manning is detained at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

We are informed that, since July 2010, PFC Manning has been confined for 23 hours a day to a single

cell, measuring around 72 square feet (6.7 square metres) and equipped only with a bed, toilet and

sink. There is no window to the outside, the only view being on to a corridor through the barred doors

of his cell. All meals are taken in his cell, which we are told has no chair or table. He has no

association or contact with other pre-trial detainees and he is allowed to exercise, alone, for just one

hour a day, in a day-room or outside. He has access to a television which is placed in the corridor for

limited periods of the day. However, he is reportedly not permitted to keep personal possessions in his

cell, apart from one book and magazine at a time. Although he may write and receive correspondence,

writing is allowed only at an allotted time during the day and he is not allowed to keep such materials

in his cell.

We understand that PFC Manning’s restrictive conditions of confinement are due to his classification as

a maximum custody detainee. This classification also means that – unlike medium security detainees

– he is shackled at the hands and legs during approved social and family visits, despite all such visits

at the facility being non-contact. He is also shackled during attorney visits at the facility. We further

understand that PFC Manning, as a maximum custody detainee, is denied the opportunity for a work

assignment which would allow him to be out of his cell for most of the day. The United Nations (UN)

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMR), which are internationally recognized

guiding principles, provide inter alia that “Untried prisoners shall always be offered opportunity to

work” should they wish to undertake such activity (SMR Section C, rule 89).

PFC Manning is also being held under a Prevention of Injury (POI) assignment, which means that he is

subjected to further restrictions. These include checks by guards every five minutes and a bar on his

sleeping during the day. He is required to remain visible at all times, including during night checks.

His POI status has resulted in his being deprived of sheets and a separate pillow, causing

uncomfortable sleeping conditions; his discomfort is reportedly exacerbated by the fact that he is

required to sleep only in boxer shorts and has suffered chafing of his bare skin from the blankets.

We are concerned that no formal reasons have been provided to PFC Manning for either his maximum

security classification or the POI assignment and that efforts by his counsel to challenge these

assignments through administrative procedures have thus far failed to elicit a response. We are further

concerned that he reportedly remains under POI despite a recommendation by the military psychiatrist

overseeing his treatment that such an assignment is no longer necessary.

Amnesty International recognizes that it may sometimes be necessary to segregate prisoners for

disciplinary or security purposes. However, the restrictions imposed in PFC Manning’s case appear to

be unnecessarily harsh and punitive, in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary

infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offence.

The conditions under which PFC Manning is held appear to breach the USA’s obligations under

international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and

Political Rights (ICCPR) which the USA ratified in 1992 and which states that “all persons deprived of

their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human

person”. The UN Human Rights Committee, the ICCPR monitoring body, has noted in its General

Comment on Article 10 that persons deprived of their liberty may not be “subjected to any hardship or

constraint other than that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect for the dignity of such

persons must be guaranteed under the same conditions as for that of free persons …”.

The harsh conditions imposed on PFC Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of

innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting

trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement – which

evidence suggests can cause psychological impairment, including depression, anxiety and loss of

concentration – may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defence and thus his right to a fair

trial.

In view of the concerns raised, we urge you to review the conditions under which PFC Manning is

confined at the Quantico naval brig and take effective measures to ensure that he is no longer held in

23 hour cellular confinement or subjected to other undue restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Lee

Program Director

Americas Regional Program

Cc COL Carl R. Coffman Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Myer, VA

COL Daniel J. Choike, Base Commander, MCB, Quantico


One Nation, Under God, and Its Child Soldiers

by C.J. Maloney
Recently by CJ Maloney: Good Luck and Good Hunting

Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
~ Matthew 18:2–6

My brain did not begin the day thinking about war, the base activity which Lew Rockwell once termed “the murder end of the state.” (Rockwell, Jr, Llewellyn H. Speaking of Liberty. Auburn, AL, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2003, p.139) It was thinking about the beach, a far more pleasant activity. This being modern America, though, it wasn’t long, not even five minutes after our arrival, when my wife exclaimed an “Oh…my…God.” That’s when I noticed she’d bought along The New York Times and the war crawled onto the beach with us.

She handed the paper to me in disgust, as if it were covered in filth. Shielding my eyes from the sun to read the article I see we’ve been arming and training Somalia’s army, at least the one we favor, and they in turn are using that money to arm children (some as young as nine) to fight our War of Terror. As I read further into it I am, needless to say, dripping in proud patriotism. What fresh hell is this? We’re back in Somalia?

I have vague memories of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down, a nice tale of our last disastrous fool’s errand into Somalia. Granted, we left once but an empire never truly leaves anywhere forever. Now, not wanting to put our own soldiers at risk this go round we are instead using locals as armed proxies to do our bidding. In this case, that means fighting whomever we’ve designated as the enemy for this month and, to make the American flag unfurl even more proudly in the sun, we’re arming and training child soldiers to do it.

All these little boy soldiers are funded and armed by a tentacle of the Pentagon called AFRICON, which was created in 2008 to make certain that no matter where in Africa mayhem may erupt an American weapons dealer will be there to cash in. Some of the latest entries onto the list of our “allies in the War of Terror” include Nigeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Uganda, and now Somalia’s “Transitional Government.” To the informed, that reads as if the local police department has been funding and arming the local pimps, drug dealers, Mafia dons, and cutthroats, but our War of Terror requires these types of compromises, so I am told.

The more historical minded could sit back and wonder what all the (little bit of an) uproar was about, and would point to the ubiquitous drummer boys used by both sides during America’s Civil War. The American use of children in battle is nothing new; it merely faded as we climbed up the ladder of civilization. Over the past decades we’ve come tumbling back down that ladder and here we are, 2010, knowingly arming children to fight on the empire’s behalf. What we are seeing is what one always sees in a militarized society – the slow devolution away from civilized behavior and towards what the soldier-scholars call “total war,” sparing no woman or child. It is the American Way.

Of course, all the guilty parties are just shocked to the very core of their shrunken, shriveled souls that American taxpayers have been (and are) arming children. “Now, now,” the U.S. State Department says to the Somalia faction that we back, “Don’t you go using children as soldiers, you hear?” The head master of our Somalia proxy, a Fagin-like thug named Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, has ordered his army chief to conduct a “full review” to get to the bottom of things. The United Nations estimates that up to 25% of our allied army in Somalia consists of child soldiers, so it shouldn’t be too tough a task for him to find one of our little armed urchins.

While our political masters are upset, no doubt, over the embarrassment this caused them (for a few moments, until the story quickly faded) don’t think for a moment that this has made them cut off the flow of money, weapons, and ammo to these child soldiers. Our army of little African boys is “a critical piece” of our War of Terror in the Horn of Africa, say the experts. Plus, consider the cost savings, as doubtless Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has. Not too long ago he whined that an all-volunteer force was getting awful expensive, and according to The New York Times our little boy soldiers are getting paid, if at all, only $1.50 per day, and that’s quite a bargain by any measure.

So as not to appear too one-sided, it must be admitted that AFRICON has provided (and is providing) these children with certain job skills that they can fall back on until the end of their days. For instance little Ahmed, all of 15-years-old, was sent to Uganda at the age of 12 and taught by American trainers “how to kill with a knife.” His fellow soldier Awil, now 12-years-old, says he “loves the gun.”

And to be fair, while the political grandees around the globe have laws (specifically the Convention on the Rights of the Child) that prohibit the use of children in combat, neither the United States or Somalia ever signed it, so it’s a bit of a stretch to expect us to adhere to something we are not signatories on.

Enough. I stop reading the paper and watch my son running the length of the shoreline with the ocean waves his backdrop, and I think of all the children, barely older than he, that part of my every workday is spent to supply with weapons. I gag on a surge of patriotism.

There are many predictions on this site for the coming demise of the American empire, and with God’s mercy that blessed day can’t come soon enough.

October 18, 2010

CJ Maloney [send him mail] lives and works in New York City. He blogs for Liberty & Power on the History News Network website and the DailyKos. His first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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