Jacob August 17, 2015 4:57 PM

Any encounter with American “law and order” entity – police force, prison system, prosecutors, TSA and other federal agencies – shows again and again that they are aggressive, vindictive, and cruel.

“Military justice is to justice what military music is to music” – Groucho Marx

Jim Lippard August 17, 2015 5:27 PM

They confiscated three books by the late, great philosopher of law Ronald Dworkin: Law’s Empire, A Matter of Principle, and Taking Rights Seriously.

d33t August 17, 2015 5:34 PM

“At the time, Chelsea was not informed why these items were taken. Her cell was searched, and they were removed when she was placed in solitary confinement for 24 hours following an investigation into allegations that she was “disrespectful” to an officer.”

Any excuse to torture Manning with solitary.

Where’s Amnesty International? I haven’t gotten any sort of call to action with regard to Manning’s poor treatment by her persecutors so far.

albert August 17, 2015 6:08 PM

They couldn’t get the death penalty, so they settled for the next best thing, hell on earth.
It’s not just America, most fascist governments are similar.
. .. . .. o

Anura August 17, 2015 6:13 PM

This is a good example of why a military should neither run their own prisons, nor try cases where the punishment is more than a fine or a dishonorable discharge.

@Jim Lippard

Justice for Hedgehogs is also by Ronald Dworkin.

Thoth August 17, 2015 7:22 PM

@Bruce Schneier
Wow… the US Warhawk Govts are really so narrow minded and childish to take away the Data and Goliath book …..

Good job, United States of America … for continuing to piss people off, step on toes of others, misuse and abuse others and other really childish and dangerous stuff that endangers themselves and others (including their so-called ‘friends/allies’).

Clive Robinson August 17, 2015 7:29 PM

I think we can be sure of one thing, the orders for this sort of behaviour came via an edict from the Commander in Chief, passed down the line on a say.

It fits in with his control freakerie and endless witch hunts for whistle blowers, all in his vain attempt to protect his image and hide the fact he lacks real substance and dares not tell the truth.

I guess the real question is, is history going to treat him as more ignominious than Nixon or not?

Either way his time is nearly at an end, will he actually use the remaining time wisely or unwisely try to buy his way towards the image he wants but does not rightly deserve?

Dirk Praet August 17, 2015 8:49 PM

The entire idea behind the treatment of people like Manning and Assange is to thoroughly break them and preferably drive them into suicide with the sole purpose of setting a clear example what exactly happens when you stick it to the man. By any means necessary.

I wonder August 17, 2015 9:52 PM

Question for Bruce: in your decades of travels and travails, have you encountered anyone in law enforcement who you respect and find trustworthy?

Nick P August 17, 2015 9:55 PM

@ Dirk Praet

You hit the nail on the head. It’s why you don’t see me trying to rationalize or justify any aspect of it. If they are allowed to do it, they’ll do it to both punish their enemy and send a message to the next one.

Nick P August 17, 2015 9:57 PM

@ I wonder

I’ve met at least one in each town I’ve lived in here in the South. I’ve overall met around half a dozen I’m fairly sure about and 10-20 more that at least acted professionally. I’ve met a fair share of the other type, too.

Ddd August 18, 2015 12:16 AM

@Clive Robinson
“I think we can be sure of one thing […]”

I do not think so. What makes you believe this is not an initiative from a military personnel?

Sam August 18, 2015 4:51 AM

@Dirk Praet

… the sole purpose of setting a clear example what exactly happens when you stick it to the man. By any means necessary.

The Declaration of Independence claims it is a self-evident truth that the pursuit of happiness is a unalienable right. Apparently it’s alienable now.

In a 2013 poll by a YouGov, 41% of responders said it is impossible for most to achieve the American Dream, while 38% said it is still possible.

Clive Robinson August 18, 2015 6:00 AM

@ Ddd,

What makes you believe this is not an initiative from a military personnel?

The simple fact that they would know that it would go public, and they politicos do not want a repeate of the Lynndie England affair and it’s subsequent fall out over the treatment of prisoners [1]. The millitary would have cleared the type of treatment and scope it covered from the very top, ie the Commander in Chief, as there are to many “pensions” at risk.


Wesley Parish August 18, 2015 6:05 AM


I was under the impression that the treatment of Chelsea Manning fell under the following paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence:

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

Make of it what you will …

Sam August 18, 2015 6:59 AM

@Wesley Parish

That line comes from a section of quite specific complaints about the then-current King of Great Britain. The section starts with:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Followed by a bunch of stuff, including the line you quote. So unless your claim is that Chelsea Manning wielded had a position of power and authority comparable to the King of Great Britain and had been systematically abusing that role at the expense of all Americans, then no, I don’t think your quote has relevance here.

ianf August 18, 2015 7:04 AM

Actually, @Dirk Praet & Nick P, you’ve got it backwards. The whole prison “idea” is to prevent (here:) “traitors” like Manning from terminating their own lives, thus denying their wardens opportunity to engage in slow torture. If driving internees to suicide was the informal intention, I’m sure there’d be plenty of means for “speeding” such along. However, as a suicide also would nullify the custodial sentence, it has to be prevented so the detainee will continue to “experience” the punishment. Remember that there are few professions where exhibiting sadistic behavior is permitted, if not of very essence, so Manning et al are these jailers’ Value Meal Ticket!

That said, and much as I commiserate with Manning on her sad fate, she is the architect of her own misfortune. First, by enlisting in an enterprise that required voluntary relinquishing of her vital human rights; secondly, by not shutting up about the deed, sharing at any price (I keep thinking of Andy McNab’s 1991 incarceration w/ 2 SAS mates in a Baghdad prison in the same corridor as downed US airmen. Forbidden to converse between cells, the Yanks just couldn’t stop gabbing, even though it led to repeated severe punishment beatings. Must be an American Communicative Affliction… the 3 Brits whispered among themselves, otherwise kept schtum & avoided the worst.)

PS. Please don’t conflate Manning with Assange, a different pair of… trousers.

Bruce Schneier August 18, 2015 8:18 AM

“Question for Bruce: in your decades of travels and travails, have you encountered anyone in law enforcement who you respect and find trustworthy?”

I don’t interact much with law enforcement narrowly defined: the police. I interact more with policy makers, counter terrorist analysts, and the like. That all being said, the answer is “yes, of course.”

CallMeLateForSupper August 18, 2015 8:42 AM

The ACLU states, [Manning] ” will face charges for disrespecting an officer, misusing medication, and possessing prohibited items.”

Re: disrespecting an officer, I am curious to know what form it took and what prompted it.

Re: misusing medication, slightly out-of-date toothpaste? Get REAL, Leavenworth!

Re: possessing prohibited items, one wonders how on earth contraband (gasp!) got past the massive security of a federal prison and wound up in a prisoner’s cell.

Interesting that the last two arose only after Manning was in solitary, a la “Let’s see what else we can dig up on prisoner Manning, in case the ‘disrespect’ thing doesn’t fly.”

albert August 18, 2015 9:59 AM

@Jacob had it right from the beginning, the rest is just piling on.
Mannings suicide, should it ever happen, would be bad news for the system. It would be hard to convince the American public that it was really a suicide, so more bad publicity.
Fascist governments and their militaries are emotionally regressed. They act like petulant, spoiled brats and react with violence to any violation of ‘their’ rules. It’s a given that most US citizens are brainwashed by the MSM. This is even more widespread among the military and the govt. When you believe your own propaganda, you’re already in trouble.
Against all odds, we, as a nation, have made some progress against racism, sexual discrimination, and violence. It’s slow progress. The ‘ruling elite’ (to which none of us belong) are the primary impediment to faster progress on these issues.
. .. . .. o

Nick P August 18, 2015 11:54 AM

@ ianf

I agreed with his statement that Manning’s punishment and treatment were an example to be set. I agree with you that they don’t want a suicide.

Czerno August 18, 2015 4:32 PM

@Jacob : “”Military justice is to justice what military music is to music”

Not of Groucho’s though, the quote’s author was Georges Clemenceau, the great French statesman who was dubbed the Tiger (during the Great war, WW I).

Dirk Praet August 18, 2015 7:40 PM

@ CallMeLateForSupper

… slightly out-of-date toothpaste? Get REAL, Leavenworth!

It must be seriously awkward for a visitor to shove a tube of toothpaste up his/her rectum. How else could he/she have avoided detection of such contrabande by an undoubtedly formidable military security system ?

@ ianf

… she is the architect of her own misfortune

So are most folks who have ever been posthumously rewarded military decorations. They just decided to architect their misfortune in service of their overlords, not in plotting against them. The same thing can be said about Jesus. 2000 years after the facts, he still has quite a following.

First, by enlisting in an enterprise that required voluntary relinquishing of her vital human rights

Could you please be so kind as to point me to the article in the UDHR that stipulates which actions carry either voluntary or forced forfeiture of one’s human rights?

Please don’t conflate Manning with Assange, a different pair of… trousers.

Pretty classy to compare Pvt. Manning to MAS*H’s Corporal Klinger. The USG may see it differently, but the rest of the world actually owes this person quite some gratitude in exposing the extent of US spying on world and dog.

You may have a point that Manning’s suicide may not serve the USG’s best interests (cfr. forced-fed prisoners in Gitmo), but in practice it really is what she is being pushed in. There’s only so much a person can take. (fade out on MAS*H theme)

HGG August 18, 2015 9:40 PM

@ Dirk Praet, ianf

Ms Manning is an extension of Mr Assanges ideology so its probably fair to conflate them though I hate the words “fair game”.

Curious August 19, 2015 3:02 AM

I think people shouldn’t put too much into the kantian notions of moral imperatives, as if preaching to the choir, or subscribing to the mental baggage of an assortment of dubious establishments makes one a better or a more just human being. Thus, for a society to berate a whistleblower for not having done things differently is a lot of bs.

CallMeLateForSupper August 19, 2015 8:48 AM

I read something, somewhere, this morning that shed needed light on the outdated toothpaste thing.

Apparently said material was medically prescribed, became outdated because Manning had not been using it. Failure to take prescribed medication is an infraction.

I have not read anything that explains how the reading material got through security nor why posessing that material is an infraction.

Mike August 20, 2015 4:35 AM

@callMeSupper Re “failure to take prescribed medication is an infraction”. So I checked my stack of toothpaste tubes, and it’s not a medicine any more than soap is. And mine doesn’t have an expiry date, except one to say “12M” meaning once opened, use within 12 months. This is pretty much normal for loads of washing products which are quite usable several years later, but might look the worse for wear some unspecified time after 12 months. “Here’s your toothpaste: if you don’t use it you’re not complying. Its expiry date is next week, if you use it beyond its expiry date, you’re not complying. You only get one tube every 2months, if you request more than that you’re being disruptive. If you point out the illogicality, you’re being disrespectful.”
But, congratulations CallMeSupper, you’ve passed the bar exam for barrack-room lawyer.

@MikeColes, you’re full of empathy aren’t you. And that’s a very handsome shirt you’re wearing.You should be in charge of making rules in military prisons.

Dirk Praet August 20, 2015 5:17 AM

@ Mike

But, congratulations CallMeSupper, you’ve passed the bar exam for barrack-room lawyer.

The way I read @CallMeLateForSupper’s comments was that he was merely trying to point out the distorted “logic” behind the toothpaste issue. Not that he was supporting it.

Wesley Parish August 20, 2015 7:04 AM


My point was that Chelsea Manning was now in the position of the Thirteen Colonies and the United States Government was now in the position of said King George. Ie, the United States had declared war on its citizens … I do know what I am talking about …

tyr August 20, 2015 4:36 PM

If there’s a person in the military more entitled to
disrespect their superiors than Manning I’d like to
see them.

You have to earn respect and you have to deserve it
to keep it. The shameful treatment of Manning has made
sure no one in authority over him/her desrves any.

I’m sure his infractions, the real ones, deserved some
penalties but the current methods of treating prisoners
are a disgrace that should be roundly condemnned by any
decent human being, military or civilian. Manning is the
bravest soldier the US has ever produced, right up on
the same level as Smedley Butler. Mannings treatment
makes a lie out of every pious mouthing of “rule of law”
you have ever heard from his tormentors. Manning is not
their first victim and won’t be the last.

The official party line is to blame the lower echelon of
his jailers for any infractions of treatment, the truth
is that someone higher up has to be responsible any time
you see something like this. Of course those dumb kids
who were punished for Abu Ghraib did it all on their own
because they were bored. If you believe that, you know
very little about militaries. The excuse I was in my office
when it happened doesn’t cut it if you were responsible
for knowing what goes on in your unit. Their commander
should have gone to jail immediately for what happened.
Since that didn’t happen it was ordered and condoned and
the guards were scapegoated to cover it up.

Freedom of the press only extends to those who make soothing
platitudes those in power want to hear. Assange is what
happens if you present the raw material and let others
decide what it means. If you want to discount the impact
of Manning, Snowden, Assange, and Applebaum then stop
treating them like minions of Satanic evil and free them.
Every abuse you inflict on an opponent makes their case
against you stronger.

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