State Dep’t Spokesman Slams Treatment of Alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley slammed the military’s treatment of its most well-known American prisoner, alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning, at an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology yesterday. The small gathering, on on “the benefits of new media as it relates to foreign policy,” was hosted by the Center for Future Civic Media. Prominent British journalist Phillipa Thomas was there, and she blogged about Crowley’s stunning comments:
Around twenty of us were sitting around the table listening to his views on social media, the impact of the Twittersphere, the Arab uprisings, and so on, in a vast space-age conference room overlooking the Charles River and the Boston skyline. And then, inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address “the elephant in the room”. What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Crowley didn’t stop to think. What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He paused. “None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place”. And he went on lengthening his answer, explaining why in Washington’s view, “there is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made”…A few minutes later, I had a chance to ask a question. “Are you on the record?” I would not be writing this if he’d said no. There was an uncomfortable pause. “Sure.” So there we are.
Thomas, a veteran BBC political correspondent currently in Boston as a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University, says she believes that Crowley’s extraordinary comments reflect tensions within the Obama administration over Bradley Manning’s treatment. Manning, a 23-year-old private first class in the US Army, was arrested on May 26, 2010 on suspicion of leaking classified American documents to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. His treatment borders on torture; he has been held in strict solitary confinement, deprived of sleep, and denied basic bedding items. He’s been forced to spend long periods naked and standing at attention. His mental and physical health have deteriorated. The United Nations is so concerned about Manning’s inhumane treatment that the world body has launched an investigation.
According to Raw Story, there could be legal consequences for US Defense Secretary Robert Gates over the Manning affair. Said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio):
“Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib? Officials have confirmed the ‘non-punitive’ stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime. This ‘non-punitive’ action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas… It appears they’re trying to break him… This is not defensible. There is no way, stretch of the imagination that this could be allowed, or that this should be happening in America.
I just want to say one thing if I had a chance to talk directly to Secretary Gates. He’s at the end of his career, Secretary Gates. It would be a shame to have a blot on his record which suggests he suborned human rights violations. There will be consequences under the law for Secretary Gates for continuing to be complicit in the way this soldier is being treated.”
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