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US Military Threatens Chelsea Manning with Indefinite Solitary Confinement

The United States military has issued a set of “charges” or allegations against Chelsea Manning, which could potentially result in a punishment of indefinite solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth where she is serving her sentence.

According to a list the military sent to Manning, which Fight for the Future posted, the allegations include “disrespect,” “disorderly conduct,” “prohibited property,” and “medicine misuse.”

All of the alleged misconduct took place during the first part of July. On July 2, Manning allegedly was disrespectful to a “correctional specialist”—or prison guard—during dinner. She also allegedly swept food on to the floor.

Manning, who was placed in solitary confinement while under investigation, had her cell inspected on July 9. Officers found “prohibited property”—books and magazines. An expired tube of toothpaste was also found in her cell, which is apparently uncalled for in the military.

The “disrespect” toward Manning essentially consisted of Manning refusing to talk to the guard about her conduct. She repeatedly stated, “You are accusing me,” “This interview is over,” and, “I want my lawyer,” which are justifiable responses when anyone is being told they did something punishable. In fact, it is more respectful than arguing with an authority figure.

Fight for the Future has shared the names of the books and magazines, which the US military considers contraband.

Advocate, OUT Magazine, Cosmopolitan issue with an interview of Chelsea, Transgender Studies Quarterly, novel about trans issues “A Safe Girl to Love,” book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy — The Many Faces of Anonymous,” book “I Am Malala,” 5 books by Robert Dorkin, legal documents including the Senate Torture Report, book: “Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential.”

The military had a problem with Manning having the Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover too.

What is additionally troubling is a hearing on these “charges” is planned for August 18, and the public and press may be prohibited.

Fight for the Future called this a “disturbing attempt to silence Chelsea’s voice” and launched a petition.

Manning has in the past months used a Twitter account to express her views on “government transparency, transgender rights, and the prison system.” She has become a columnist for The Guardian and written a bill to push for reform of the Espionage Act, which she was convicted of violating when she provided US government documents to WikiLeaks.

Freedom of the Press Foundation and First Look Media have also raised more than $159,000 so that Manning can pursue an aggressive and thorough appeal. The appeal is expected to be filed this year.

The US was already shamed by world leaders when Manning was placed in conditions of solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine brig during her pretrial detention. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez concluded Manning had endured “cruel and inhuman” punishment. It is rather stunning that, once again, she might be put back in solitary for a significant period.

A close-up photograph of two Oreo cookies. (Wikimedia Commons / Evan-Amos)
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."