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.