wikileaks: applying pressure

I should have connected the dots earlier. I’ve been trying to figure out why — aside from general asshattery, of course — subject Manning to seven months (and counting) of solitary confinement, particularly when it amounts to torture, and there simply isn’t any reason to apply this to a cooperative and non dangerous prisoner. But the key was right here in the NY Times article: The department could try to charge Assange with conspiracy, especially if they could persuade Private Manning to testify against Mr. Assange.


The inimitable Greenwald has, of course picked up on this and run with it: Getting to Assange through Manning.

The need to have Manning make incriminating statements against Assange — to get him to claim that Assange actively, in advance, helped Manning access and leak these documents — would be one obvious reason for subjecting Manning to such inhumane conditions:  if you want to have better treatment, you must incriminate Assange.  In The Huffington Post yesterday, Marcus Baram quoted Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning’s legal defense fund, as saying that Manning has been extremely upset by the conditions of his detention but had not gone public about them in deference to his attorney’s efforts to negotiate better treatment. 

Greenwald notes that to attempt to to charge Assange with conspiracy by claiming he actively solicited Manning’s input is a weak argument — every investigative journalist has done exactly that, perfectly legally, over the decades, from Woodworth to Ellsberg to Litchblau and many others. But if Manning could be “persuaded” to testify against Assange, a stronger case might be possible.

Which puts Manning’s treatment behind bars into an extraordinarily ugly light.

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