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US Army Soldier Chelsea Manning Could Face Solitary Confinement for Some Really Stupid, Trumped-Up Reasons

Her toothpaste is expired? WHOSE FAULT IS THAT, PRISON?!



Usable Chelsea Manning photo

Apparently, “disrespecting” people by sweeping food onto the floor, having copies of I Am Malala and Out Magazine, and letting your toothpaste expire, are all behaviors deserving of the mental torture that is solitary confinement in prison. At least, they are according to the US Army.

Chelsea Manning, the US Army Soldier who in May 2010 was arrested for violating the Espionage Act by releasing 700,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, may be facing solitary confinement. According to The Guardian, for whom Manning writes a column from prison:

[Manning] has allegedly been charged with four violations of custody rules that her lawyers have denounced as absurd and a form of harassment. The army private is reportedly accused of having showed “disrespect”; of having displayed “disorderly conduct” by sweeping food onto the floor during dinner chow; of having kept “prohibited property” – that is books and magazines – in her cell; and of having committing “medicine misuse.”

The maximum punishment for such offences is an indeterminate amount of time in a solitary confinement cell.

The fourth charge, “medicine misuse”, follows an inspection of Manning’s cell on 9 July during which a tube of anti-cavity toothpaste was found. The prison authorities noted that Manning was entitled to have the toothpaste in her cell, but is penalizing her because it was “past its expiration date of 9 April 2015”.

The “prohibited property”… included the memoir I Am Malala by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, a novel featuring trans women called A Safe Girl to Love, the LGBT publication Out Magazine, the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair and a copy of Cosmopolitan that included an interview with Manning.

Also confiscated was the US Senate Report on Torture. It is not clear why any of these publications were considered violations of prison rules – a request by the Guardian to the army public affairs team for an explanation of the charges received no immediate response.

Does any of this make sense to any of you? Because it doesn’t to me. It doesn’t make sense to her lawyers either, and they are fighting it, as they consider it harassment on the part of those running the brig at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, because of who she is. Because she’s well-known? Because she’s transgender? Because she won’t shut up and continues to write about important issues and be an activist even from prison? Or, more likely, a combination of all of those things.

Regardless, it’s shameful that a prisoner, any prisoner, would be singled out in this way. It goes to show how in-need of reform our prison system is, and how important it is to have more oversight over the US military.


(via Jezebel; Manning image via mathew lippincott on Flickr)

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