The real reason Chelsea Manning could face solitary: It’s about power

I wonder when we’ll know what actually happened at today’s hearing. Leonard, below, explains why that might be hard.


Chelsea Manning has, in her recent past, faced the most serious charges that can be brought against a person in this country. At one point, the whistleblower faced an “aiding the enemy” charge, which can carry capital punishment. This week, by contrast, Manning will defend herself against disciplinary charges including acts as ostensibly innocuous as possessing unapproved reading material and storing expired toothpaste. The potential punishment is outrageously harsh: Indefinite solitary confinement (a form of torture, according to the United Nations).

We should not be surprised by the pettiness of the charges and the extremity of the punishment. Prisoners in the U.S. are regularly isolated for far less — failure to return food trays, for example. The punishment within prisons for the tiniest violations represent what philosopher Michel Foucault called “micropénalité,” or the microphysics of power — the production of docile bodies through the monitoring and control of everyday…

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