In an open letter published recently in The New York Review of Books, Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and co-author Bruce Ackerman, professor at Yale Law School, detail the detention of Bradley Manning, a US soldier charged with providing government documents to Wikileaks, and call on President Obama and the Pentagon to document grounds for what the authors describe as “illegal and immoral” confinement.

As of Mar. 15, the letter had already garnered approximately 300 signatories, including several HLS faculty members. In it, the authors decry Manning’s treatment as follows: “The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, ‘the administration or application…of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.’”

Benkler, who is faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is the Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at HLS. His latest book is “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom,” which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Sharealike license. Benkler also recently released a working draft of a paper titled “A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks And The Battle Over The Soul Of The Networked Fourth Estate,” which is slated for publication in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

Bruce Ackerman is the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School. A prolific author and expert in constitutional law, he has written several books including “Social Justice in the Liberal State” and his multivolume constitutional history, “We the People.” His most recent book is “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic,” which was published by Harvard University Press in 2010.

For more information:
Click here to read a related editorial from The New York Times, published on Mar. 14, 2011.
A complete list of signers has been posted on the blog balkinization.