12 April 2011

Nearly 300 Legal Scholars Sign Letter Protesting Torture of Bradley Manning

AlterNet | By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | 11.04.2011

A coalition of 295 legal scholars from universities around the world have signed a letter protesting the torture of Bradley Manning, and published this week in the New York Review of Books. Composed and drafted by Bruce Ackerman, of Yale Law School, and Yochai Benkler, of Harvard, the letter details his treatment, and points out that it is a violation of both the Eighth and Fifth Amendments. “If continued,” the letter states, “it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, 'the administration or application…of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.'”

As the Guardian points out, one of the signees includes Harvard's Laurence Tribe, who instructed President Obama in constitutional law and was a legal adviser in the justice department under the Obama Administration until three months ago. In an interview with the Guardian:

Tribe said the treatment was objectionable "in the way it violates his person and his liberty without due process of law and in the way it administers cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offences, not to mention someone merely accused of such offences".

The letter, which includes signees from prestigious universities around the world, specifically calls out Obama for his law background and completely indicts him for his actions regarding Manning's treatment:

President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as Commander in Chief meets fundamental standards of decency. He should not merely assert that Manning’s confinement is “appropriate and meet[s] our basic standards,” as he did recently. He should require the Pentagon publicly to document the grounds for its extraordinary actions --and immediately end those which cannot withstand the light of day.

Read the full letter and see the list of signatories here.

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