This Shameful Abuse of Bradley Manning
by Daniel Ellsberg, March 12, 2011
President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, "are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."
If Obama believes that, he’ll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they’ve been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing
When that criminal behavior ordered from the Oval Office came out, Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed. But if President Obama really doesn’t yet know the actual conditions of Manning’s detention – if he really believes, as he’s said, that "some of this [nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation] has to do with Private Manning’s wellbeing", despite the contrary judgments of the prison psychologist – then he’s being lied to, and he needs to get a grip on his administration.
If he does know, and agrees that it’s appropriate or even legal, that doesn’t speak well for his memory of the courses he taught on constitutional law.
The president refused to comment on PJ Crowley’s statement that the treatment of Manning is "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid". Those words are true enough as far as they go – which is probably about as far as a state department spokesperson can allow himself to go in condemning actions of the defense department. But at least two other words are called for
That’s just my guess, as to their motives. But it does not affect the illegality of the behavior If I’m right, it’s likely that such harsh treatment wasn’t ordered at the level of a warrant officer or the brig commander. The fact that they have continued to inflict such suffering on the prisoner despite weeks of complaint from his defense counsel, harsh publicity and condemnation from organizations such as Amnesty International, suggests to me that it might have come from high levels of the defense department or the justice department, if not from the White House itself.
It’s no coincidence that it’s someone from the state department who has gone off-message to speak out about this. When a branch of the
The fact that Manning’s abusive mistreatment is going on at
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