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."
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: "I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards."
that criminal behaviour 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
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 defence department. But at least two other
words are called for: abusive and illegal...
Daniel Ellsberg is a former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. On March 21, Ellberg was among 35 protesters arrested at a rally for Bradley Manning outside the Quantico brig. The full text of "This Shameful Abuse of Bradley Manning" appears in the Guardian.