Stewart Rhodes, head of the libertarian-constitutionalist rights group Oath Keepers, told Slate reporter Dave Weigel last week that imprisoned U.S. soldiers Bradley Manning, a hero to some on the left, and Terry Lakin, a hero to some on the right, should have been granted the same due process. He said it’s a sad fact that overheated political sentiment is determining how we decide to defend constitutional rights.
“What if Terry Lakin had been treated… just the same as Manning? Would the people who cheer the treatment of Manning have cheered that? Of course not! They’re judging the cause and whether the person is good or not, not judging due process. If this happened to Lakin, there’d be all this screaming from them about due process. They’d be right! But the same goes for Manning. It’s just a sad cycle of how human nature works.”
Lakin and Manning are both now being held at the Fort Leavenworth brig in Kansas. Lakin, the so-called “Colonel Birther” from Greeley, Colorado, refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he doubted President Obama’s citizenship. Manning downloaded restricted information to WikiLeaks last year that he believed exposed the abuses of the U.S. military and diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Manning was held for ten months at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia, in maximum-custody solitary confinement. Amnesty International and roughly 300 U.S. legal scholars said the treatment to which Manning was being subjected amounted to a violation of the U.S. constitution. Last month, the Pentagon transferred Manning to the medium-security facility in Kansas.
Dr. Lakin was arrested at his Pentagon medical clinic. He was court martialed, stripped of his rank and benefits and given a six-month sentence.
Rhodes founded Oath Keepers in 2009. The group attempts to persuade soldiers and police officers to refuse to carry out orders that violate the Constitution, including commands to conduct warrantless searches, to disarm the public, blockade American cities. To do anything, according to the group’s website, that infringes “on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.”