The Eighth Amendment, for example, bars "cruel and unusual punishment, a term that first appeared in the British Bill of Rights in 1689. In 1972, Justice Brennan described it as
In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, "There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is 'cruel and unusual'."
- The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," especially torture.
- "A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion."
- "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
- "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."
One of the things that impresses me about organizations that help whistleblowers is that their staff needs not only to be attuned to the law, the politics and the media of the situation, they also need to be extremely good therapists. For most whistleblowers, like Bradley Manning who will be 25 on December 17, this is a first time experience and they have little understanding of the full implications of what they have done. This hardly ever get mentioned. Instead, the media complains that they didn't follow bureaucratically correct whistleblowing procedures. This is like blaming the victim of a bad crash for not calling their insurance agency soon enough.
There are five million people who already had access to the information that Bradley Manning revealed. That's not a secret; that's class privilege.