I consider PFC Bradley Manning, who gave Julian Assange most of the military information for Wikileaks, to be a hero, despite the fact that he is now a prisoner at Quantico, a top security military prison, AND being tortured with sleep deprivation, by being waked up constantly during the night. Scientists who study sleep have done this with mice, and it makes them psychotic. He is also forced to stand naked during morning inspection, although all the other inmates are wearing prison uniforms. This sort of humiliation is another sort of torture, that was used by the US on Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib. Manning has stated that he felt that leaking this material to Assange was a moral choice he felt compelled to make after watching videos of US soldiers shooting civilians, including children from helicopters. He was even more appalled by the fact that the other soldiers and officers around him seemed to find the video funny and were laughing about it.
Part of the reason for Manning’s incarceration may not only be the leaks, it may be the fact that he’s a gay guy and we all know the problems that gays have in the military. Now we come to another institution: Paypal. How are these two things connected? It turns out that Paypal refuses to accept donations to a fund that has been set up to lobby for Manning’s freedom. And why is this? Elon Musk, who founded Paypal in 1999, has taken his profits and invested them in "Space X," one of the several new private companies that the administration is using to take over the space program, in order to help reduce the deficit by reducing the tax dollars that used to go to NASA. Clearly, the government has pressured Musk to make sure that Paypal does not cooperate with the organization trying to help Manning, with the (implicit or explicit) threat that they might send their dollars to one of the other private space companies (and there are several).
Manning is incarcerated despite never having been either tried OR convicted. The British government has repeatedly stated its "concerns" to Washington about Manning’s treatment and the UN has launched an inquiry into whether his conditions amount to torture.
I hate to think that President Obama would continence something like this. Whether or not we voted for him or agree with everything he’s done, most of us feel that Obama is an honest and upstanding man, so this saddens and disappoints me–and I hope it will sadden and disappoint you as well. However, without the use of Paypal, there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it.
UPDATE: Manning’s family reports that, thanks to protests from human rights campaigners, he has now been moved to the "more open" military facility of Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.