As the pre-trial of Pvt. Bradley Manning gets more complicated, it seems to increase the possibility he could be the American version of Neil Aggett of South Africa and/or the Alfred Dreyfus of France.
The Dreyfus story is already well known. The world should know about Dr. Aggett, a white who joined in the anti-apartheid campaign and died in prison. Security police claimed he hanged himself.
His family, friends and activists, and one fellow prisoner, said he probably died from torture. He was the 51st campaigner to die in detention, but the first white in almost 20 years. The “best guess” for his death is Feb. 5, 1982.
I will never forget his funeral. The death of this white do-gooder stunned the country. An Afrikaans newspaper published my interview with his family.
Fifteen thousand turned out for his funeral. I remember calling the bureau astonished that police stood back and let them march. It may have been the straw, or one of the straws, that broke apartheid’s back.
At this stage, Manning is finally in a court, after 17 months of imprisonment, much of it in solitary, a brief portion forced to sleep naked.
This denies him his constitutional right to a speedy trial. In general civilians must be tried within six months unless they request delays or the prosecution needs a witness who is not available. The U.S. Supreme Court has set no time limit but precedent holds that if the right is denied the only remedy is dismissal of charges with or without prejudice. A delay of more than a year has been ruled prejudicial in some cases.
For it to take this long, and for so much of the early days to focus on Manning’s apparent cross-sexual tendencies makes it appear more like the case is about a military RuPaul than treason.
His right to not be punished before trial, violates the Uniform Military Code of Justice. Solitary confinement for lengthy periods is clearly punishment, some experts say torture.
It has led to torture in many cases. Aggett only made it through 70 days. French resistance leader Jean Moulin twice tried to kill himself to avoid talking to Nazi Klaus Barbie, and apparently succeeded the second time.
It also should be noted that it is now widely accepted Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Even if it had war crimes would remain war crimes. Whatever Manning did was because he felt war crimes had been committed.
Just following orders has not been accepted since the Nuremburg Trials. We led them.