Sunday, August 07, 2016

255.5 - Outrage of the Week: Chelsea Manning faces charges for attempting suicide

Outrage of the Week: Chelsea Manning faces charges for attempting suicide

Speaking of war crimes brings us to one of our regular features. This is the Outrage of the Week.

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that Chelsea Manning, the war crimes whistle-blower now in prison for 35 years for the heinous crime of letting the American public know the nature of the war we were fighting in Iraq; Chelsea Manning, who had survived months of solitary confinement - considered torture under UN treaty; Chelsea Manning, who proved herself stronger than the government ever knew, nonetheless had hit a wall and tried to commit suicide.

I was able to report that she survived and described herself as well and glad to be alive.

What the government has put her through - with, we can and must assume, the full knowledge and approval of the Amazing Mr. O - is outrageous enough, but this latest news goes beyond the bounds of even minimal decency.

According to the ACLU, which is representing her, on July 28 she was informed that she is facing serious new charges based on her attempt to commit suicide. In other words, having brought her to a moment of such despair that she tried to kill herself, the Army is now talking about punishing her for that very act.

These so-called "administrative offenses" include:

- resisting a group of prison guards called "the force cell move team," which is truly odd because she remembers nothing of the night and was unconscious when they got to her cell;
- having "prohibited property," with no indication of what that "property" would be; and
- "conduct which threatens" because she apparently threatened someone or something by trying to kill herself.

Chelsea Manning
If she is convicted of these "offenses," she could be reclassified into maximum security, have an additional nine years in medium custody added to her sentence, or even be placed in solitary confinement indefinitely, up to and including the rest of her 35-year sentence.

This is not the first time the Army has tried this: Last year, she was threatened with solitary for possession of LGBTQ reading material and - I'm serious - an expired tube of toothpaste.

Chelsea Manning is a transgender woman being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison who has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria - the anxiety and depression connected with the stress of experiencing a conflict between one's physical characteristics and their gender identity - a denial that has continued even after her suicide attempt.

Chelsea Manning had a moment where her emotional pain had grown to such an extent she couldn't bear it - and now the Army wants to punish her for being in such pain.
It is indecent, it is unconscionable, it is an outrage.

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