I'd be willing to bet that, if we knew everything we don't know, we'd find that America's track record on the handling of prisoners is no more enlightened than, say, Egypt's or Germany's or just about any other country you could name.
D.B. Grady writes at The Atlantic:
Saturday, February 23, marks Bradley Manning's 1,000th day in prison without a trial. In 2010, he was arrested for allegedly passing a trove of diplomatic cables and military reports to WikiLeaks, a nonprofit sunshine organization that publishes state secrets. Manning has been charged with everything from bringing discredit upon the armed forces to "aiding the enemy." Much of his first year of confinement was spent in humiliating suicide watch and Prevention of Injury conditions.
The actions of Bradley Manning offer a moment to reflect on the meaning of secrecy in the information age. Regardless of one's opinion of the young private (traitor or hero, disturbed or determined, ideological or idiotic), he put the entire secrecy apparatus to the test. Manning downloaded a perfect geologic slice of what we don't know, and presented that information to the world. He took the catastrophic loss of "secret" information out of the theoretical and into the real world. He initiated the government secrecy industry's worst-case scenario.
What is perhaps most astonishing is that the U.S. government had no substantive contingency plans or response mechanisms in place for such an event, aside from a shameful mistreatment of a harmless, if unwell, twenty-three year old. ...The Atlantic
The more the US is threatened with humiliation, the great the humiliation, discomfort, and cruelty with which the origin of that humiliation is treated. Bradley Manning wasn't the origin and America will not rest until we have subjected Julian Assange and everyone else involved to torture of one kind or another. And we wonder why terrorists target us!
The bigger the ego of a nation, the less defensible its actions when its secrets and lies are revealed. Robert Gates, then Secretary of Defense, reminded us that the "consequences for US foreign policy" as a result of Manning's actions were "fairly modest." As Grady points out, it was embarrassing and that's all.
For all that Bradley Manning revealed, he didn't really reveal much. But by its shameful non-application of justice in Manning's prosecution -- 1,000 days in chains for a nonviolent offense, without the dignity of a trial by jury -- the U.S. government has itself revealed the most terrible truth imaginable. ...The Atlantic
Most of us forget these incidents quickly. But some of us don't. And the rest of the world doesn't.