The uprisings in Egypt have inspired all sorts of people, including Private Bradley Manning, the young man being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, accused of being the source for Wikileaks. Manning’s friend David House tweeted after visiting him this week that “Bradley’s mood and mind soared” at the news from Egypt.
Manning’s mental health has been the subject of much debate, the putative explanation for his isolation and extreme treatment, but a new report on an Army investigation finds that a mental health specialist recommended Manning not be deployed to Iraq in the first place.
Now the Washington Post reports that two Army officials questioned the leadership of Manning’s superior officers, who overruled a recommendation that he not be deployed and sent him to Iraq regardless.
“This clearly demonstrates the failure of the Army to take care of the soldier,” Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs, told the paper. Where have we heard that before?
An overstretched military has been sending soldiers in unstable condition back to war for years now. For the second year in a row, more US soldiers committed suicide than were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve been failing to take care of our soldiers since the beginning of the wars—in part by starting them in the first place.
Bradley Manning’s mental health continues to be used as a reason to punish him before he’s even faced trial, but the evidence is mounting that the Army is making him suffer for a problem they created in the first place. Meanwhile, he’s treated like a convicted criminal for what, if he’s guilty, was an attempt to expose the conditions soldiers were living under.
It’s past time we took an honest look at what we’re doing to our soldiers, as well as how we’re treating our detainees.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.