Pfc. Bradley Manning is the soldier who was charged with leaking classified information to WikiLeaks last year. In a recent letter in the New York Review of Books, two law professors, including Harvard Law School Professor and Berkman Center Co-Director Yochai Benkler, characterize Manning’s detainment conditions as “degrading,” “inhumane,” and in violation of the Eighth and Fifth Amendments.
According to reports, Manning has been confined to his cell twenty-three hours a day, is not allowed to sleep during the day, and has been forced to sleep naked and remove his clothes for inspections. This harsh treatment is especially troubling considering that Pfc. Manning has been described as a well-behaved prisoner that does not pose any apparent risk to the safety of himself or others. Benkler and Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman posit that his mistreatment is an unconstitutional attempt to deter future whistleblowers, and to pressure Manning into implicating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a conspiracy.
After describing these conditions, the letter calls on (former constitutional law professor) President Obama to either publicly justify or put an end to this unconstitutional mistreatment. Over 250 legal scholars, including constitutional law expert Lawrence Tribe, have signed the letter, which can be read in its entirety here.