As discussed in class, Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier charged with leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks, has been detained for nine months in a military brig. Over the last month, the chorus of international and domestic critics condemning the conditions of Manning’s detention has grown. As The Guardian reported earlier this week, a letter signed by “more than 250 of America’s most eminent legal scholars” — including Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago — claims Manning is being detained “under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” Late last week, Manning’s lawyer charged that the brig is violating its own rules by denying “official visit” authorization to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a representative of Amnesty International, and Juan Mendez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture formally investigating Manning’s detention conditions. Now, Mendez, in strong language, has condemned the US. As The Guardian reports: “It is the kind of censure that the UN normally reserves for authoritarian regimes around the world.”
While critics claim the US media has been reluctant to question the administration on this policy, this US State Dept press briefing from Monday, April 11th, is clearly an exception. Reporters question whether the State Dept is using double standards when it criticizes China’s human rights practices.