Reminder: Chelsea Manning Was Twice Driven To Suicide By A Regime That Tortures Whistleblowers

As Chelsea Manning is finally released from a grueling, draconian imprisonment in which she was literally tortured by her own government for revealing the truth about its war crimes, I think it would be good for us all to keep at the front of our minds exactly what this heroic individual has been through. Yes, Manning’s release is of course a cause for rejoicing, and we should all shower her with appreciation for what she did, but it needs to be pointed out here that we probably shouldn’t expect too much of her going forward. I hope the press leave her alone, and I truly hope that activist groups refrain from attempting to recruit her to their many causes. I hope we keep our gratitude high and our expectations very low.

Chelsea Manning was tortured. Studies have shown that fifteen days of solitary confinement causes permanent psychological damage, and Manning was in solitary confinement for nearly a year. United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez stated unequivocally that Manning’s treatment was “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” and 295 legal scholars signed a letter declaring that she was being “detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.”

Solitary confinement is classified as torture because human evolutionary programming is designed to send out uncomfortable distress signals when we are separated from our fellow primates to prompt us to rejoin the pack, in the exact same way it sends out uncomfortable distress signals when we step on something sharp to prompt us to avoid tissue damage. They’re both forms of pain, forms of torment. We’ve all been somewhat isolated for short periods of time for various reasons, so it’s hard to sympathize with how excruciating this type of torment can be, but that’s only because we can’t imagine going through it for so long.

Chelsea Manning was tortured, as surely as if they’d strapped her down and gone to work on her with fire and steel. As a result of the trauma they inflicted upon her, she attempted suicide last July. To punish her for her attempt to end her misery, they tortured her some more. She attempted suicide again in October.

So let’s hope Chelsea Manning lives out the rest of her days in relative comfort, with plenty of soft sheets, puffy blankets, and foam pillows. Let’s hope that she can find a way to heal the depraved, monstrous injuries which were inflicted upon her beautiful mind so that she can live those days unmolested by screaming inner demons. But to expect any more acts of heroism from her after the unforgivable things that her nation’s government did to her would be unreasonable and unkind. She did her job. Miracles happen, but first and foremost we ought to be wishing her comfort, healing, and peace.

We should also keep in mind that the horrors which were unleashed upon Manning are still bullets in the chamber ready to be fired at the next brave soul who steps forward in a desperate attempt to rescue humanity from its madness. The current administration is showing no more signs of human decency when it comes to whistleblowers than the previous administration, which despite Obama’s promise to protect whistleblowers and have the most transparent administration in history would go on to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. Remarks made by CIA director Mike Pompeo about Julian Assange and transparency advocacy group WikiLeaks indicate that if anything this administration intends to be even more aggressive in pursuing and punishing truth-tellers than the previous one.

So feel free to point this out whenever you hear anyone smearing people like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden for “hiding away” and “evading justice”. They are not evading justice, they are evading torture, just as you or I or anyone else would, and they are right to do so. When you say that these people should turn themselves in, you are literally calling for someone to be tortured, because that is what your government does to people who tell the truth. Whatever their crimes, nobody deserves torture. Please make your government sane and just before you start demanding that people entrust themselves to its sanity and justice. Thank you in advance.

Check out this video for a closer look at what even a few days of solitary confinement can do to the human mind.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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