The Guardian reports:
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman has launched a public attack on the Pentagon for the way it is treating military prisoner Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of handing the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks.
PJ Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the US state department, said Manning was being “mistreated” in the military brig at Quantico, Virginia. “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence,” he said.
Crowley’s comments signal a crack within the Obama administration over the handling of the WikiLeaks saga in which hundreds of thousands of confidential documents were handed to the website.
As news of the remarks rippled through Washington, President Obama was forced to address the subject of Manning’s treatment for the first time.
Asked about the controversy at a White House press conference, Obama revealed he had asked the Pentagon “whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”
Obama would not respond specifically to Crowley’s comments, which are the first critical remarks from within the administration about the handling of Manning. The prisoner is being held for 23 hours in solitary confinement in his cell and stripped naked every night.
It’s obvious that the Military can’t be depended upon to conduct themselves in a manner that fits the wearing of the uniform, especially the brig rats at the Marine base. That’s from the colonel down. I don’t think it has changed any since when I was a member of the U.S.M.C., the members were the dregs of all the units. That’s most likely why the treatment is going the way it is now with Pvt. Manning.
Manning is accused of leaking classified documents to “the enemy, though the Pentagon never provided any indication of who “the enemy” actually is.
Common sense tells us that the Pentagon considers the American Public “the enemy” since Manning released the documents to the public. Common sense also tells us that because authority is intrinsic and lies within individuals, “We the People” are therefore authorized to know what our government is doing.
And… without authorization from the the people, the Pentagon has no authority to imprison Manning and force him to stand naked outside his cell. But in so doing, the Pentagon has demonstrated what it does possess… naked perverted power.
The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.
Bradley Manning (the prisoner) is held for 23 hours in solitary confinement in his cell and stripped naked every night. President Obama asked the Pentagon “whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”
In response to conditions of torture at Guantanamo Vice president Cheney replied_ “The detainees are living in the tropics; they are well fed. They have everything they could possibly want.”
Ask a question and 99% of the time the answer will be just what is believed you want to hear…….
I don’t know the reason for the mixed messages–State will probably retract in a coupla days–but I do know that paranoid institutions (and the military sets the standard for paranoia) slide into torturing very easily. Just have a close look at the history of IDF practices; I don’t want to know how many Palestinians died by being sodomized with the barrel of a loaded, hair-trigger rifle.
It’s one thing for an army to torture in an environment where it is a criminal act and generally though of as unspeakable (Dershowitz and Ignatieff made it “speakable” again). It’s quite another to have so recently worked in an environment where it was not only legitimized but rewarded–indeed, interrogators were chewed out if they weren’t enthusiastic enough about it.
You’re not gonna change the attraction to torture among the military simply by standing up and saying, Ok, torture will no longer be tolerated–as Obama did. It’ll be another two generations before the military will stop taking its practice for granted. But they will never stop practicing it entirely.
The Obama administration would like to be able to kill Manning, and they hope to take out Assange at the same time. This would be the kind of “object lesson” that has characterized regimes, both autocratic and democratic, since at least 5000 BCE. You nip an unwanted behaviour in the bud by slaughtering its early practitioners. In this case it might work, or it might be fuel for the ripples of serious unrest we’re seeing in the Western world. I wouldn’t put a sizable bet on the latter.
It’s a waste of time to report on Obama’s words — they are empty. The truth lies in what he does or does not do.