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Helping Keep Sen. Begich Informed As He Prepares to Respond to the Inhumane Treatment of PFC Manning

10:42 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Earlier in the week, (along with 51 others) I wrote to Sen. Mark Begich about the abusive pre-trial treatment of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning. Within a few hours, Sen. Begich’s Chief-of-Staff wrote back, stating:

We got the letter and Senator Begich will have it today, if he doesn’t already. We’ll get you a response shortly.

Thanks – David

As Mark prepares his response, I’ve decided to keep him updated. I’ve just sent the following letter to him (I’m in Seattle, so unable to visit his local office):

March 11, 2011

Hon. Sen. Mark Begich
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sen. Begich,

Your Chief-of-Staff, David Ramseur, informed me Wednesday morning that, in the matter of my March 8th letter to you regarding U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning’s incredibly harsh treatment “We got the letter and Senator Begich will have it today, if he doesn’t already. We’ll get you a response shortly.”

As you continue to prepare to “respond shortly,” I thought you might appreciate being updated on how others in positions of responsibility, authority or concern for Manning’s treatment (as you are), are reacting.

1). Two independent reports emerged late Thursday that United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, P. J. Crowley, observed, according to his updated Wikipedia entry:

According to multiple first-hand accounts, Crowley told an audience of about twenty people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Future Civic Media on March 10, 2011 that accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning was being “mistreated” in Defense Department custody, and that the Defense Department’s treatment of Manning “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” When asked if his comments were on the record, Crowley replied: “Sure.”

2). Amnesty International, perhaps the most important international human rights non-governmental organization in the world, has been protesting Manning’s treatment to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates since January. On Thursday, they went further:

In late January, Amnesty International wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates denouncing the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention as “unnecessarily harsh and punitive” and in “breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties.” In the wake of the prolonged forced nudity to which Manning is now being subjected, Amnesty has escalated its denunciations: as the Associated Press put it today, the group is now “urging people to complain to the Obama administration about the confinement.”

In particular, Amnesty said that “the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning . . . amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities” and “appear to breach the USA’s human rights obligations.” As a result, the group is encouraging as many Americans as possible to demand an end to these conditions (independent of Amnesty, there is a planned protest outside the Quantico brig on March 20, expected to be fairly large in size, with others being planned at military detention facilities around the country for later dates). In case anyone is wondering what Amnesty is: it’s the world’s premiere human rights organization which Democrats once held up as authoritative on issues on detainee abuse circa 2001- January 20, 2009.

I will continue to provide you updates on how others are reacting to PFC Manning’s un-American treatment, as you continue to prepare to  “respond shortly.”


Philip Munger
Wasilla, Alaska

Hopefully, Sen. Begich is approaching this important issue with the same seriousness as has his colleague in the lower House, Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Our Letter to Sen. Begich on the Treatment of PFC Bradley Manning – Will You Co-sign?

3:04 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Saturday March 5th, I wrote a letter draft to Sen. Mark Begich, regarding the treatment of Army PFC Bradley Manning. I sent a copy of the letter to 27 progressive Alaska bloggers and writers, asking whether or not they were willing to co-sign the letter. So far, I’ve heard back from Kelly Walters, Deirdre Helfferich, Mel Green, Jesse Griffin, Stephen Taufen, and John & Heather Aronno, all of whom want their names attached. Additionally, award-winning progressive activist, writer and blogger Howie Klein from California asked to have his name attached.

Thanks, friends of justice and decency!

Here’s the letter. If you want your name attached, please let us know in the comments.

I am adding names as people request their names be added.

I will attach instructions directing Sen. Begich’s staff to the URL of this post in the letter, which I will hand deliver to his local office Tuesday afternoon (March 8):

March 8, 2011

Hon. Sen. Mark Begich
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sen. Begich

Since May 2010, U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning has been held as a pre-trial prisoner at the brig located at Marine Corps Base Quantico. During his incarceration there, PFC Manning has been subjected to what many view as outrageous practices, some have characterized as torture.

On February 4th, acting in his role as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Dennis Kucinich wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, requesting he be able to visit Manning at the Quantico brig:

Dear Secretary Gates:

I write to request that I be able to visit Private First Class Bradley Manning at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.

As you know, I am concerned about reports of his treatment while in custody that describe alarming abuses of his constitutional rights and his physical health. A March 2009 article by surgeon Atul Gawande discusses the effects of solitary confinement on prison inmates and prisoners of war: “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.” Studies highlighted that such prisoners, months after being released, revealed severe brain abnormalities mirroring those who had endured significant physical head trauma[1] .
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