There is a cell painted charcoal
where on an industrial mattress,
plasticized and devoid of comforting
lies a man of slight build.
He lives but does not live.
His whole world is in this concrete shell-
he showers, he eats, he shits and he sleeps.
His thoughts are different from the other
He is kept isolated still, for
“his protection,” protection from the
grunts who abuse him on shift changes-
contented to control him utterly.
The guards are now too young to recall
his trial, only knowing that he was almost
a traitor…almost, but not at all.
They have forgotten the Constitution or
what was once called freedom of speech.
The only freedom they know now is the type that
robotic drones dispense from the skies of
foreign lands. These human drones dispense freedom too:
freedom to be afraid. Freedom to cry,
freedom to die as soon as possible, utterly
alone and unloved.
How dare a man expose truth in a land
of patriotic Newspeak!
How perverse can you be not to see
But he will learn, thirty-five years might be
enough to teach him-
through torture, reach him
and distil from his pituitary gland down
to his toes,
the truth elixir that America knows,
in her infinite wisdom, in her motherly
for it can forever alter the identity
and Cause célèbre.
The wannabe game changers and political players,
take a mere shadow and turn him into
and make an example of him for undermining the
system. An act preserved and displayed as victorious
but in fact, rotten and notorious.
“I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crewmembers. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled—if not more troubled—than me by what they saw.”
-Pfc. Bradley Manning