Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) charged today that the miilitary's treatment of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking confidential materials to Wikileaks, is comparable to the abuse carried out at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Manning was forced Wednesday night to sleep naked in his cell at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., the Marines confirmed Friday. First Lt. Brian Villiard called it a "situationally driven" event, but would not elaborate on what led to the stripping of Manning, the Associated Press reports. The actions were described as "not punitive."
"Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?" Kucinich said in a statement today. "Officials have confirmed the 'non-punitive' stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime. This 'non-punitive' action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas. The justification for and purpose of this action certainly raises questions of 'cruel and unusual punishment,' and could constitute a potential violation of international law."
The congressman cited the Army Field Manuel, which states: "If used in conjunction with intelligence interrogations, prohibited actions include, but are not limited to- Forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner."
Kucinich said he has repeatedly requested to visit Manning, in order to observe the conditions of his detainment. Manning has been held in restrictive conditions at Quantico since July 2010, and some have questioned why the legal proceedings against him have taken so long.
This week, the Army filed 22 additional charges against him and for the first time formally accused Manning of aiding the enemy, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported.
"My request to visit with Pfc. Manning must not be delayed further," Kucinich said today.
Secretary of the United States Army John McHugh said in a letter to Kucinich that Manning's "pretrial confinement is in compliance with United States law and Department of Defense and Department of Navy policy and regulations, which are consistent with U.S. constitutional requirements."
However, Manning's attorney David Coombs said in his blog, "There can be no conceivable justification for requiring a soldier to surrender all his clothing, remain naked in his cell for seven hours, and then stand at attention the subsequent morning."
Coombs writes in his blog that Manning is the only detainee at Quantico that is being held both in maximum custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch -- over the recommendation of mental health professionals who have indicated that Manning is not a risk to himself or to others.