U.S. Officials Have No Link Between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, But They Continue to Imprison, Torture Manning Anyway

Well this is an unfortunate development for the officials who decided imprisoning Private Bradley Manning would be a sure-fire way to take down WikiLeaks: according to NBC, "investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between [Manning] and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks."

Although Manning has admitted to downloading tens of thousands of classified government documents to draw attention to wrongdoings by the U.S. government, there is apparently "no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure."

Despite having been convicted of no charges, the 22-year-old Manning has spent months in a Virginia prison, where he is being held in solitary confinement and is only allowed to leave his cell one hour a day. He has been denied visitors and is being kept in conditions that are described as torturous and inhumane. Presumably, Feds were hoping Manning would break under the pressure and help bring down Julian Assange and his website. But that hasn't worked out.

As always, Salon's Glenn Greenwald is all over the latest Manning/WikiLeaks developments:

If [the NBC report is] true, that would leave the Obama DOJ with two options: (1) prosecute WikiLeaks and Assange for doing nothing more than receiving and publishing classified information:  an act that is simply not a crime in the U.S. and could not be prosecuted as one without criminalizing much of investigative journalism (indeed, it's no different than what The New York Times did in this case and countless other cases), or (2) defy political pressure, honor the First Amendment, and accept that Wikileaks did nothing criminal....

The DOJ's apparent failure to find the evidence it needs to prosecute WikiLeaks underscores the reasons for the increasingly inhumane treatment to which Bradley Manning is being subjected.  It's long been clear -- and reported -- that the Obama DOJ desperately needs Manning to incriminate Assange in order to be able to prosecute him (by, for instance, providing the Manning-Assange link that the DOJ is unable to prove).  The harsh, punitive conditions under which Manning are being held is designed -- like most detainee abuse -- to force him to say what his captors want him to say (yesterday, Amnesty USA followed Amnesty International in denouncing Manning's detention conditions as "inhumane").

Meanwhile, military officials are denying that Manning is being subjected to torture. NBC:

On Monday, U.S. military officials also strongly denied allegations that Manning, being held in connection with the WikiLeaks' release of classified documents, has been "tortured" and held in "solitary confinement" without due process.

The officials told NBC News, however, that a U.S. Marine commander did violate procedure when he placed Manning on "suicide watch" last week.

Greenwald notes in his column that placing Manning on suicide watch was just a sneaky way of keeping him in solitary confinement, under particularly harsh conditions. While on suicide watch, Manning has been stripped of everything but his underwear and has to stay in his cell for 24 hours a day (he lost his one-hour daily reprieve). Even his prescription glasses are taken away during most hours of the day. And this is happening to Manning even though three separate brig psychiatrists said the suicide watch order was unwarranted.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 25, 2011, 5:02am

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