Americans can be seriously anal at times

Chelsea Manning could be placed in solitary confinement indefinitely for having banned items in her cell including a copy of the Vanity Fair issue featuring Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, according to her lawyer.
The transgender US soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning was convicted of espionage in August 2013 and is serving 35 years for passing more than 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks.
Manning, 27, who worked as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq, is serving her sentence at the maximum security Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.
The prison has charged her with “possession of prohibited property” which also included a copy of I am Malala, the memoir by teenage activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Manning also had books about transgender issues and the hacking group Anonymous, and a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine.
She is also charged with “misusing medicine” after an out-of-date tube of toothpaste was found in her cell.
The former army private was also charged with disorderly conduct for sweeping food onto the floor, and disrespect to a prison guard.
She will appear before a three-person prison panel on Tuesday to hear her punishment for the rules infractions.
Indefinite solitary confinement is the maximum penalty Manning could face.

Note about the toothpaste:

Her cell was subsequently searched which led to the discovery of books and magazines, and the toothpaste which had expired on April 9.

Yes: out of date toothpaste could lead (in part) to solitary confinement for 30 years.

It’s one of the seriously weird things about the american society. Vast punishments for the tiniest infractions. Kid chews a pop tart into hte shape of a gun and gets suspended from school etc.

Essentially, it’s Cartman and you will respect my authority. Those who do have authority really do insist on it being respected.

Just a weird, weird. place at times.

As if being banged up for 35 years isn’t a punishment in the first place. Their attitude toward Death Row is equally odd. Over here, when we still had the death penalty, conditions were eased given that you were about the be strangled. Over there it’s solitary confinement and very, very, strict rules for a decade or more before they kill you.

Just weird.

32 thoughts on “Americans can be seriously anal at times”

  1. “Essentially, it’s Cartman and you will respect my authority. Those who do have authority really do insist on it being respected.”

    Which is, I suspect, a recipe for disaster when the product of the Entitlement Generation gets to legal age of responsibility…

    Mind you, as a former soldier, Jenner should be used to this sort of regime, no?

  2. But the entirety of US officialdom – as well as many managers and lawyers in the private sector – IS already the Entitlement Class: “I have a power, therefore it is my entitlement to use it as arbitrarily as possible to override the will of others, and my duty to be harsh and punctillious.” Anti-noblesse-oblige.

    Horrid thing is it is spreading here.

  3. Giovanni Botulismo

    America – where all the Puritan extremists went. Not for more freedom, but because they disapproved of the increasing freedoms at the time on this side of the pond. They wanted more strictures, more authority, more god and certainly none of that “fun” stuff.

    And they got it, in many ways.

    Lovely place in many ways, but

  4. Look at the draconian penalties for not filing certain financial informational returns (FBAR in particular), even when there’s no tax owed.

    Or various absolute-offence wildlife stuff – find a claw, bone or feather from a listed species on the ground and keep it and you could go to jail.

    Then there’s the whole civil forfeiture nonsense…

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve often thought that the U.S. doesn’t have justice system, it has a vengeance system.

  6. They have something like a 97% conviction rate because of the absurd plea bargaining system. Such a figure would make a Communist country blush. Effectively, it’s not a trial-based system but a blackmail-based plea-bargaining system with a thin veneer of trials skimming along over the top for those who won’t submit.

    Just look at what happened to Conrad Black, for instance.

  7. ” Their attitude toward Death Row is equally odd. ”

    At least when we had the death penalty, we used to execute them in a timely and humane manner instead of keeping them on death row for decades.

  8. As is usual with the septics, you’ll find contrasting examples of bizarrely lax and liberal treatment. It is a land of contrasts. Some areas are apparently almost normal.

    In the particular case of Manning, I suspect the authoritahs are just taking the opportunity to dick him around as much as she’s been dicking them around. Not only can’t they shoot the traitor, they must indulge the traitor’s ludicrous pc attention seeking. Harsh measures for toothpaste abuse seem appropriate.

  9. I agree that Americans are much more likely to follow rules than Brits. But that’s mostly a function of their schools, which actively teach social behaviour and demand compliance on small things – for example most Americans I’ve worked with have almost identical cursive handwriting.
    I think the process originated in the need to integrate a mass of people from many different cultures, and it did that very well, vastly better than the Brits are doing now.
    On balance I think this makes the US culture much more energetic and team-orientated than our own: compared with New York’s emergency services’ response to 9/11, the UK equivalents behaved disgracefully on 7/7.
    The crime and punishment variance has a different cause. In the UK, the judge who sentences a murderer for torturing his victim then burying her alive will come from a class that’s at no risk of suffering that fate, and so will hand down a lenient sentence. An American judge will think ‘that could have been my daughter’, and sentence the killer to die.
    Overall, I don’t see the UK surviving mass immigration from broken cultures, whereas the US has quite a few centuries left to go.

  10. Hang on, this is a military prison, not a civilian one. There are good reasons why Britain’s Colchester has reoffending rates which are a fraction of its civilian counterparts: you are still under military command, and if there is one thing militaries are known for, it’s being anal.

  11. I see what Bradley Manning did wrong. He changed his name to Chelsea Manning, instead of Chelsea Clinton. Then his espionage would have been ignored.

  12. BiND (and by the way, why are there so man blokes on here?

    Vengeance, maybe.
    Deterrence, surely.

  13. I’m not sure it does particularly deter when any random bugger can be picked up for any random thing and forced to plea-bargain down to a “short” stretch of chokey if they piss off the wrong person.

    Seems to have rather a lot of potential to be random and capricious, like the old Soviet Art. 58 offences (if I’ve got the number correct).

  14. From what I understand, there are over 300,000 federal offences in American law and most lawyers estimate that every man, woman and child breaks at least three of them a day.

    I do sometimes think that America is beginning to resemble the Soviet Union and soon the UK will have to re-assess its strategic relationship with the country. I am not sure who else we could cuddle up to. The EU? Russia? China?

  15. *sigh*

    OK, let me see if I can explain this so even a Euroweenie can understand it…

    Bradley Manning got the sentence he got for one reason… to let other Army personnel know what is in store for them if they choose to leak classified information to outside agents/organizations.

    Bradley Manning is getting the treatment he’s getting now because the United States Army has chosen, for very good reasons, to continue to make an example of him.

    This was done to remind Army personnel that Manning’s still in prison, and also to remind them that the Army can make his time very, very hard time if it wants to.

    This ain’t about Bradley Manning, it’s about any and all soldiers out there considering doing something to become a 15 minute hero to America’s Bernie Sanders contingent.

  16. @Dennis the Peasant

    On the other hand, there is the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. A part of the constitution that the American authorities, federal and state, clearly hold in contempt. And the rest of the document as well.

  17. She is also charged with “misusing medicine” after an out-of-date tube of toothpaste was found in her cell.

    Because Manning is a celebrity (and so can afford outside legal help) this will be dropped. This is a *cop’s* charge for when they’re trying to throw everything at the wall in the hope that something sticks.

    Toothpaste isn’t considered a medicine by the US military in case any of you were wondering.

    Its equivalent to ‘interfering with the police’ when you’re filming a traffic stop from 50 yards away for civilian cops.

    But – we *do* have this strong streak of Protestant ‘NO HAVING FUN’ thinking along with a huge fetish for ‘just follow orders’.

    If anything, you’d think our major cultural precedent was *Germany* instead of Britain.

  18. Salamander –

    So where you live denying a prisoner a copy of Vogue magazine is considered cruel and unusual punishment?

    I can only imagine the anguish you will feel when you learn the Army has confiscated Manning’s frilly window treatments and all his lace doilies.

    We’re a cruel lot.

  19. The US army has already sentenced the Brad/Chelsea (Sorry , I am not sure how far along Manning is…..) for 35 years. I am not sure what kind of parole can be expected, if any.

    Removing a prisoners magazines and toothpaste is quite frankly just petty and a little on the vindictive side in the context of effectively taking someones adult life away and releasing the person as a pensioner.

    In fact, has it actually occurred to the average US tax payer that they will be supporting Manning for the rest of his/her life? Manning will be released from prison and then almost start drawing the basic social security pension (what ever that is in the US, assuming the US is still rich enough to afford it).

    Think about THAT next time you file your tax return. Now I come to think about it, America does treat its traitors quite well. Free lodging, and three squares a day plus a pension at the end of their sentence.

  20. Salamander –

    Bradley Manning will receive either a Bad Conduct Discharge or, more likely, a Dishonorable Discharge at the time of his release. Either way he’ll lose all military/veterans benefits.

  21. Salamander

    “I do sometimes think that America is beginning to resemble the Soviet Union”

    No, that’s the times when you’re not thinking.

    I take it you’ve never been to the US, btw?

  22. @Jack C,

    See the link I posted earlier:

    Denying entry and deporting a German student since he was going to play some gigs when on holiday (paid for with a free meal), thus engaging in unauthorised economic activity in contravention of the visa waiver program provisions?

    And that doesn’t throw up a reasonable parallel?

  23. Abacab,
    Without knowing the details, this sounds like officialdom behaving like cock-juggling arsebadgers. Not unknown in the West.

    The Soviet Union didn’t have a Visa Waiver Program, so it’s a bit of leap wouldn’t you say?

    The US really isn’t much like the Soviet Union. I mean, seriously?

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