Barack Obama | Bradley Manning | News | Wikileaks

Obama Calls Treatment of Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning 'Appropriate' and 'Meeting Our Basic Standards'

Obama

President Obama assured members of the press today that treatment of Wikileaks soldier Bradley Manning, whose treatment has been described as inhumane and compared to torture, was "appropriate" and met "our basic standards."

Watch Obama respond to ABC News' Jake Tapper, AFTER THE JUMP...

Manning Manning spoke out today for the first time since his detention in a letter released by his lawyer:

The most graphic passage of the letter is Manning's description of how he was placed on suicide watch for three days from 18 January. "I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness."

**

When he was told he was being put on suicide watch, he writes, "I became upset. Out of frustration, I clenched my hair with my fingers and yelled: 'Why are you doing this to me? Why am I being punished? I have done nothing wrong.'"

He also describes the experience of being stripped naked at night and made to stand for parade in the nude, a condition that continues to this day. "The guard told me to stand at parade rest, with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder-width apart. I stood at parade rest for about three minutes … The [brig supervisor] and the other guards walked past my cell. He looked at me, paused for a moment, then continued to the next cell. I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked."

Said Obama of Manning's situation: 

"I have asked the Pentagon whether or not the the procedures that have been taken in terms of his condition are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. Good for the President. I'm glad he's defending this.

    Posted by: EI | Mar 11, 2011 5:41:23 PM


  2. Obama deserves to be impeached and tried for war crimes. After all, it's no better to have your family murdered by illegal war from a Republican than it is to have your family murdered by a Democrat. The people of Afghanistan aren't celebrating because it's a black man from Hawaii murdering them instead of a white man from Texas. And queers certainly aren't better off being kept as "less than equal" by a black Democrat instead of a white Republican.

    Posted by: Obama is a war criminal | Mar 11, 2011 6:15:30 PM


  3. By the way, which lying piece of Wall Street-owned trash STILL HASN'T CLOSED GUANTANAMO like he promised?

    Posted by: Obama is a war criminal | Mar 11, 2011 6:16:09 PM


  4. Torturing Bradley Manning

    Nicole Colson reports on the humiliations to which accused whistleblower Bradley Manning is being subjected while in military custody--and the new charges he faces.

    March 8, 2011

    BRADLEY MANNING, the 23-year-old Army soldier accused of leaking information to the muckraking Web site WikiLeaks, is facing a slew of new charges from the government--and the repressive conditions he's being kept in are growing more severe.

    On March 2, the Army announced it had filed 22 additional charges against Manning. The most serious is "aiding the enemy," an offense that carries a potential death sentence. Other charges include wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it will be accessed by the enemy, and violating Army regulations on information security.

    In a blog posting, Manning's attorney David Coombs wrote that the charges come at the recommendation of Manning's commander, and it is unclear whether he will actually face all of them:

    The decision to prefer charges is an individual one by Pfc. Manning's commander. The nature of the charges and the number of specifications under each reflects his determination, in consultation with his Staff Judge Advocate's office, of the possible offenses in this case. Ultimately, the Article 32 Investigating Officer will determine which, if any, of these additional charges and specifications should be referred to a court-martial.

    In a detailing of the charges, military prosecutors recommended that Manning be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on the charge of "aiding the enemy." However, the military judge would be able to dismiss the recommendation and impose the death penalty.

    "I'm shocked that the military opted to charge Pfc. Bradley Manning today with the capital offense of 'aiding the enemy,'" Jeff Paterson, of the group Courage to Resist, which has supported Manning, told the Washington Post [1]. "While the military is downplaying the fact, the option to execute Bradley has been placed on the table."

    Paterson added that "it's beyond ironic that leaked U.S. State Department cables have contributed to revolution and revolt" in the Middle East--"yet an American may be executed, or at best face life in prison, for being the primary whistleblower."

    The Pentagon claims that Manning should be charged with aiding the enemy because some of the information he allegedly leaked to WikiLeaks contained the names of civilian informants and others who have cooperated with the U.S. military.

    However, even the Pentagon has been forced to quietly admit there have been no deaths associated with the leaked documents. "We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents," Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell told the Washington Post.

    If anyone is responsible for putting civilian lives at risk in Afghanistan, it is the U.S. military, not Bradley Manning. A single helicopter strike in early March, for example, mistakenly killed nine Afghan boys, all under the age of 14, as they gathered firewood on a mountainside in Kunar province. Yet those who okayed the air strike will never face a court martial or a day in prison.

    In a videotaped apology, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez stated, "We had made a terrible mistake. These incidents are rare."

    Except they are not. Last year, documents released by WikiLeaks that Manning is accused of passing showed that the civilian death toll of the Iraq war was higher than previously thought. According to an analysis by the Guardian newspaper and others [2], the WikiLeaks documents showed that "more than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents...U.S. and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists, but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities."

    The information provided to WikiLeaks--including the devastating "Collateral Murder" video and the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs--detail a callous disregard for both Iraqi and Afghan civilian life on the part of U.S. war planners and, often, soldiers--including not only civilian death classified as "collateral damage," but war crimes such as the torture, rape and the murder of civilians.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    MANNING HIMSELF is now experiencing the savage behavior of the Pentagon.

    Manning has been in solitary confinement for more than seven months at a Marine brig in Quantico, Va. During that time, he has been subject to ongoing harsh treatment that, according to many experts, would rise to the level of torture under the Geneva Conventions (which Manning is not subject to, as he is not a prisoner of war).

    This includes being confined to a 6-by-12-foot cell for 23 hours each day, constantly watched on video cameras, denied physical exercise and articles of clothing and bedding, denied sleep during the day and repeatedly woken by guards throughout the night.

    The military claims Manning's treatment is standard for "prevention of injury" watch and that he is treated the same as any other detainee at Quantico--but these punitive measures are clearly designed to break his spirit.

    Just 24 hours after being informed that he now faces a potential death sentence, Manning was reportedly forced to strip in his cell, and then left naked for more than seven hours overnight. When it came time for his "morning inspection" at 5 a.m., Manning was forced to stand, naked, outside of his cell and submit to inspection. He has had to undergo this humiliation every day since.

    According to lawyer David Coombs [3], Marine spokesperson 1st Lt. Brian Villiard said "the decision to strip him naked every night is for Pfc. Manning's own protection. Villiard stated that it would be 'inappropriate' to explain what prompted these actions."

    Forcing a prisoner to endure such humiliations and then citing "privacy concerns" to refuse to discuss the reason why is the height of hypocrisy. According to Coombs, however, the latest humiliations for Manning may be punishment for a sarcastic statement he made to his jailors.

    Coombs noted that on March 2, after Manning had been told that his request to be removed from maximum custody and Prevention of Injury (POI) Watch had been denied by the Quantico commander, Manning "inquired of the brig operations officer what he needed to do in order to be downgraded from Maximum custody and POI." When Manning was then told that there was nothing he could do, according to Coombs:

    Manning then remarked that the POI restrictions were "absurd" and sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops.

    Without consulting any Brig mental health provider, Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes used Pfc. Manning's sarcastic quip as justification to increase the restrictions imposed upon him under the guise of being concerned that Pfc. Manning was a suicide risk. Pfc. Manning was not, however, placed under the designation of Suicide Risk Watch. This is because Suicide Risk Watch would have required a Brig mental health provider's recommendation, which the Brig commander did not have....

    While the commander needed the Brig psychiatrist's recommendation to place Pfc. Manning on Suicide Risk Watch, no such recommendation was needed in order to increase his restrictions under POI Watch...

    Given these circumstances, the decision to strip Pfc. Manning of his clothing every night for an indefinite period of time is clearly punitive in nature. There is no mental health justification for the decision. There is no basis in logic for this decision.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    THE "LOGIC" is only that the daily humiliation of Manning, on top of his already abusive treatment, is designed to make him more malleable to his jailors and to the government--in the same way that the forced nudity of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was used as a tool of punishment.

    That abuse of detainees, of course, was rightly called out as torture and a war crime--but few are currently speaking out on behalf of Manning, who is being persecuted by the Obama administration.

    Reports suggest that military officials have spent much of the past seven months attempting to link Manning directly to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an effort to make a case against Assange and WikiLeaks for "conspiracy." Having been unable to find any link between the two, Manning has become even more of a scapegoat for the government.

    The treatment of Bradley Manning has one purpose and design: to punish and humiliate the young soldier into giving the government what it wants--whether it's a trumped-up case against WikiLeaks, or his own submission and the breaking of his will.

    As Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald wrote [4]:

    The treatment of Manning is now so repulsive that it even lies beyond what at least some of the most devoted Obama admirers are willing to defend. For instance, UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman--who last year hailed Barack Obama as, and I quote, "the greatest moral leader of our lifetime"--wrote last night: "The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning's health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane...This is a total disgrace. It shouldn't be happening in this country. You can't be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent."

    Greenwald also pointed out [5] that last week, spokesperson Geoff Morrell declared in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie that the only people concerned about Manning's treatment were "some on the far left, a couple of Web sites in particular, and one of the shows on this network."

    As Greenwald noted, that must mean in Morrell's mind that Amnesty International and Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, are part of that "far left," since both have expressed concerns about Manning's treatment. A letter Amnesty sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates details the criminal nature of what's happening to Manning:

    [T]he restrictions imposed in Pfc. Manning's case appear to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive, in view of the fact that he has no history of violence or disciplinary infractions and that he is a pre-trial detainee not yet convicted of any offense.

    The conditions under which Pfc. Manning is held appear to breach the USA's obligations under international standards and treaties, including Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the USA ratified in 1992 and which states that "all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."...

    The harsh conditions imposed on Pfc. Manning also undermine the principle of the presumption of innocence, which should be taken into account in the treatment of any person under arrest or awaiting trial. We are concerned that the effects of isolation and prolonged cellular confinement--which evidence suggests can cause psychological impairment, including depression, anxiety and loss of concentration--may, further, undermine his ability to assist in his defense and thus his right to a fair trial.

    Yet while the conditions Manning is being subjected to have been widely reported, few reporters or media outlets have been willing to call out the Obama administration and the military for what amounts to torture of Manning. As Greenwald added:

    [J]ust fathom the contrived, shrieking uproar from opportunistic Democratic politicians and their loyalists if it had been George Bush and Dick Cheney--on U.S. soil--subjecting a whistle-blowing member of the U.S. military to these repressive conditions without being convicted of anything, charging him with a capital offense that statutorily carries the death penalty, and then forcing him to remain nude every night and stand naked for inspection outside his cell. Feigning concern over detainee abuse for partisan gain is only slightly less repellent than the treatment to which Manning is being subjected.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    What you can do
    Manning's supporters--including members of the Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, CodePink and others--will rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia on March 20 at 2 p.m. [6] to protest his treatment. Courage to Resist is organizing a bus to the event from Washington, D.C. [7]

    Visit the Bradley Manning Support Network [8] Web site for information and updates on the case or to sign a petition in support of Manning's release. You can also donate [9] to the Bradley Manning legal defense fund.

    Posted by: Obama is a war criminal | Mar 11, 2011 6:18:58 PM


  5. I'll probably get totally flamed for this, but I am on the fence about how I feel. On one hand, torture is never the way to go, and even if this does not officially fall under the category of "torture," whatever its definition is, I think it certainly surpasses the bounds of human decency.

    But I am not convinced that what Manning did was right. I think our troops overseas have it tough enough without this kind of information being leaked out there that could further stoke the already burning fires of hatred toward Americans in the Middle East. Should this information have been brought to light? Maybe, but I question the way it was done. How else could it have been done? I don't know, but I don't think there is a 100% correct answer in this case.

    Posted by: Austin | Mar 11, 2011 7:47:54 PM


  6. America cannot be excused from moral standards just because it's America. It tortures people, bans gays from all ends of society including in its own military that protects it, allows institutionalized inequality of gays, and all of a sudden it's so shocked that people are calling it out?! When will America actually be the *real* America that protects liberty and justice for all? I'm so sick of waiting justice, and I'm sick of the people in power keeping down anyone who points out their problems!

    Posted by: X | Mar 11, 2011 7:52:47 PM


  7. Despicable, Mr. President.

    Posted by: Rodney Wollam | Mar 11, 2011 8:27:25 PM


  8. America, where committing war crimes goes uninvestigated, uncharged and unpunished. In some cases those who advocated or approved torture are awarded medals of freedom or promoted. America, where someone dares to expose the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, are imprisoned, tortured (sleep deprivation and being forced to remain naked and stand before other prisoners and guards naked is a form of torture). Those who defend this treatment should be forced to undergo it for just a week, I'll wager their tunes will change.

    The world now clearly sees what America has become and Obama is little better than Bush in exercising an imperial Presidency. Obama should be charged with war crimes and abetting those that have committed war crimes. He should be held under the same conditions as Manning. And, as far as I'm concerned Manning's sexuality is irrelevant. This is wrong and wicked and evil and unacceptable in a civilized country. The President is despicable and a coward.

    If Americans, as one poster noted, are hated in the Middle East, we have earned every ounce of that hatred by our actions. We are there to steal the oil. We have killed, maimed and tortured thousands, if not millions of innocent men, women and children in our quest for empire and continue to do so. We are as brutal as any fascist army has been.

    @OBAMA IS A WAR CRIMINAL- thank you for posting the facts of this case. Sadly, therte are too many Obamabots that are willing to accept criminal actions from Obama that they decried when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld did likewise. Yes, in my mind Obama is a war criminal, as well as a coward. He certainly has proven he is no leader and not deserving of any "Peace" prize. The awarding of that prize to Obama will be forever recorded as a gross error and has diminished the prize greatly.

    Posted by: Bob R | Mar 11, 2011 9:49:18 PM


  9. This is pretty simple to me. Anyone who aids the enemy, in this case terrorists, is no better than the terrorists themselves. In some ways worse, because he was in a position of trust and betrayed that trust. If this is the modern version of tarring and feathering, so be it.

    And for those of you who hate obama, you are just as scary as sarah palin. Overly paranoid, chicken little hysterics who actually prefer to live in fear and wallow in conspiracy theories because it makes your lives more interesting.

    Do you really think mccain would have been better?

    Do you honestly think we should get involved in Libya?!!!!

    Didn't getting involved in Afghanistan and Iraq teach you people anything?

    I think Obama is spot on in dealing with Libya, I think this guy is a crybaby ass wipe for exposing classified documents and I wish the hell we would get out of Afghanistan and frankly the whole middle east, get ourselves more reliant on creating our own energy, forget about bending over backwards to protect israel.

    Posted by: dms | Mar 11, 2011 10:16:45 PM


  10. More of the same.

    I voted for a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) and we are seeing someone be like bush, maybe even worse.

    Karma. That's all I can say.
    :-{

    Posted by: FunMe | Mar 11, 2011 10:37:24 PM


  11. somebody please loan our current president a backbone....he's told everything is ok and he just takes it for face value?
    I would love to be first in line to pull the trigger on this traitor AFTER he is tried and convicted of his crimes.but he hasn't even been scheduled for trial yet....this is just un-American.

    the scum at gito are being treated better than he is.

    Posted by: data_never_worked | Mar 12, 2011 12:28:21 AM


  12. You can call it "appropriate" and "meeting our basic standards" all you want, I call it cruel and unusual punishment.

    Posted by: ravewulf | Mar 12, 2011 12:33:12 AM


  13. @DMS: This is pretty simple to you because you probably have a very simple mind. I find the entire situation very complex. Sorry you don't seem to hold the same contempt for Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, traitors all, who exposed a covert CIA operative for political gain, and lied us into an unnecessary war but label a whistle-blower, Manning, who you say aided and abetted the "enemy" by exposing American war crimes a traitor. Until convicted, isn't there a presumption of innocence? If Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hadn't started the war in Iraq, Manning wouldn't be where he is today. To some he may be a traitor, just like all those who questioned the Bush crimes of torture were called traitors. To others, he's a hero. All a matter of perception I guess.

    Do I think McCain would have been worse than Obama? Yes, probably. It's a shame that we're so often forced to decide between two turds hoping to get the one who will stink less. And yes, I have come to hate Obama, because he's turned out to be just another liar and fraud on so many levels. I no longer trust him. I no longer believe anything he says. I supported him, worked for his campaign and voted for him. An error I don't think my conscience will permit me to repeat in 2012.

    Nor do I live in fear. I live in disgust and despair over what my country has become. I served my country in Vietnam and put my life on the line. But saying that, I must admit that if I knew then what I know now, I'd be a citizen of Canada, or France, or Spain, but not the US.

    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." --Carl Schurz.

    Obama was elected with a mandate to set this country right. So far, he has failed miserably. He's shown little leadership and no courage. In almost every instance he has shown he'd rather switch than fight. I have lost hope that he will be anything more than another political hack. I support Bradley Manning.

    Posted by: Bob R | Mar 12, 2011 12:43:40 AM


  14. Bob R thank you for your words, please don't
    dispair.Your words give us curage to carry on. Your loved, at least by me. Together we
    can overcome oppossion. Love of liberty should give us strength. Don't give up ever. Remember when we were young boys? That
    little guy inside us, that pulled us through. I wish we could give us a hug.

    Posted by: terryp | Mar 12, 2011 2:22:13 AM


  15. OH WELL Obama these queens are NOT voting for you after all you didn't anything for them and this has pushed them over the top.

    RE-CAST Hillary Clinton. I wonder how she feels about it and your reaction to that?..
    OH WAIT She can do no wrong!

    Posted by: Chris DaChocolatebearcub | Mar 12, 2011 3:54:10 AM


  16. NOT!

    Posted by: littlebadwolf | Mar 12, 2011 7:59:23 AM


  17. "SurPRISE, surPRISE, surPRISE!" He's sounding more and more like Gomer Pyle, but without the moral standing or human decency.

    And I really do mean that I am NOT surprised.

    Posted by: Kyle Sullivan | Mar 12, 2011 12:29:37 PM


  18. @LincolnLounger
    The real traitors are the people who support slaughter in order to steal natural resources from other peoples. Whistleblowers and the people who help them are to be applauded. This vile and repellant president should stand trial now in World Court for his support of torture and failure to carry out his responsibilities per the Geneva Convention.

    Posted by: Bilitis | Mar 12, 2011 1:04:07 PM


  19. What surprises me is that Obama defends this after his lovely anti-bullying speech.

    While I would rather have Obama as your president than McCain (or—gasp—Sarah Palin), this is a big let down to know that such evil is still going on.

    Posted by: Aethon | Mar 13, 2011 9:14:53 PM


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