PFC Manning & Thoreau’s ‘machines of the state’

by Daniel

The Defense Blog for PFC Bradley Manning recently posted the details of Manning’s internment at Quantico, a military brig in VA. It’s disgusting:

He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell. The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.

He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

He does receive one hour of “exercise” outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.

As a habitual comment-reader, the following quote by Henry David Thoreau in this comment was interesting:

This is why Thoreau’s observation on State goons is so poignant:
“The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus,(7) etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.”

And another posted a  poem by Erwin Markham which fueled Sidney Rittenberg to during time in a Chinese Prison in ’49:

They drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout

But love and I had the wit to win;

We drew a circle that took them in.

Recommended reading:

- “Is long-term Solitary Confinement Torture?” (Manning has been in for 5 months)

- Solitary Confinement / google scholar