United National Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Mendez expressed deep disappointment Monday following the news that the Pentagon has refused to allow him unrestricted access to Pfc. Bradley Manning. The UN had sought to investigate repeated claims of Manning’s mistreatment in custody.
“My request is not onerous,” Mendez insisted, saying that his mandate requires him to have unmonitored access to detainees in such cases. The Pentagon insisted Mendez would be allowed to meet Manning, but only if the meeting could be monitored by US officials.
Criticism of the abuse of Manning has been growing for months, and even led to the ouster of State Dept. Spokesman P.J. Crowley, who called the military‘s treatment of Manning “counterproductive and stupid.”
Manning has detailed much of his own abuse in a memorandum, and his lawyer insists that some of it rises to the level of unlawful pretrial punishment. The Obama Administration has denied the charges of abuse, but with officials playing the game of denying access to international monitors (including Amnesty International) and even domestic officials (Rep. Dennis Kucinich was likewise denied access), the stance seems less than credible.