Honesty By Accident

Philippa Thomas is a reporter for BBC:

I just heard an extraordinary remark from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. He was speaking to a small audience at MIT on “the benefits of new media as it relates to foreign policy”, an event organised by the Center for Future Civic Media.

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”.

But still, he’d said it. And the fact he felt strongly enough to say it seems to me an extraordinary insight into the tensions within the administration over Wikileaks.

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.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to double down on the fairy tale that Bradley Manning is being stripped naked every night for his own protection, and the Quantico brig commander refused a formal request by Manning and his attorney to end the forced nudity and the 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement. Glenn Greenwald has details on all of this, and I am just going to quote what Glenn writes about the legal battle:

Yesterday, the Quantico base commander denied Manning’s formal request for less harsh treatment — including an end to his forced nudity and 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement.  That request — which is really a formal complaint of mistreatment — will now be forwarded to the Secretary of Navy, and if he also rejects it, then Manning’s lawyer will file a Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.  Manning’s counsel today released his rebuttal to the Commander’s decision and it supplies much more detailed information about just how harsh and punitive is Manning’s treatment; Marcy Wheeler documents how similar in language and content is this treatment to many of the core methods of degradation popularized during the Bush administration. …

That emphasis is mine; I highly recommend that you do actually click that link and read the rebuttal; it’s quite revealing of how dishonest and misleading the military authorities have been about Manning’s treatment.

Author: KATHY KATTENBURG

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