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Current Page: Politics | Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Detention of Bradley Manning Ignites Debate among Christians

Detention of Bradley Manning Ignites Debate among Christians

Private First Class Bradley Manning's actions merited his arrest, said Christian experts in the field of international relations and torture. But the experts disagreed over the details of his detention.

Manning is the U.S. soldier accused of releasing tens of thousands of classified documents to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

Dr. Mark Amstutz, professor of political science and international relations at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., criticized Manning for exposing the truth at the expense of his military position and his country. Amstutz strongly disagrees with supporters who liken Manning to a whistleblower, saying that Manning revealed information that was rightly kept secret.

"[Bradley Manning] has exposed … diplomatic information," said the professor to The Christian Post on Monday. "If [those documents are] going to be reliable, they need to be confidential."

In doing so, Amstutz said Manning betrayed his position with the military and his country.

The international relations expert also contended that the terms of the Wikileaks suspect's detention are justified.

"He's a guy who committed a very serious offense and who has a depressive state," Amstutz highlighted. "They have kept him under tight surveillance so that they can ensure he does not commit suicide."

However, the Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), holds a different view.

Killmer said of the U.S. government, "You really got to make sure that you're protecting the well-being and the integrity of that person."

Manning's supporters hold a similar view.

The Bradley Manning Support Network says the 22-year-old army soldier has been imprisoned for 300 days at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia while awaiting trial.

The network staged several protests over the weekend, including one on Saturday where U.S. military veterans denounced Manning's treatment and urged for his release in front of the White House. Protesters held banners and signs reading, "Americans have the right to know; free Bradley Manning." Similar rallies were held in California, Minnesota, and Oregon on Sunday.

Prior to the protests, Manning's attorney David Coombs revealed that the young soldier was being held in maximum custody under a Prevention of Injury watch. As a result, Manning is required to surrender all his clothing at night and sleep naked in his cell.

Government officials such as former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) have come forward to publicly denounce Manning's treatment.

Crowley said last week that Manning was being mistreated and "what is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the Department of Defense." Before that, Kucinich said in a March 4 statement that Manning's treatment is comparable to the abuse carried out at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Crowley later resigned over his comments.

Although NRCAT's Killmer does not have first-hand knowledge of Manning's prison conditions, he said, "If he's being held in a solitary confinement, it is torture."

Killmer described solitary confinement quarters as a room with cinderblock walls and only one small window in the cell's door. The room contains only a toilet and bed. Prisoners in these kinds of quarters may or may not be allowed one hour of exercise. He said this kind of treatment can cause serious emotional problems.

The anti-torture activist also commented on the alleged Prevention of injury precautions, saying that alternatives should be considered to preserve Manning's dignity as a human being.

Manning, an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army, was arrested in May 2010 as a suspected traitor who leaked over 90,000 secret memos, including war logs revealing the killings of Afghan civilians and two Reuters reporters.

Manning, a homosexual, said he was mentally distraught at the time of the leaks due to the break up of his relationship and the then losing battle over the Don't Ask Don't Tell military policy.

He was charged with 22 counts of violating the Uniform Codes of Military Justice, including eight criminal offenses and four non-criminal violations of Army regulations. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

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