State Dept. spokesman: Manning treatment ‘counterproductive and stupid’

By David Edwards
Friday, March 11, 2011 11:08 EDT
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Even the U.S. State Department spokesman is slamming the Pentagon for their treatment of the U.S. soldier accused of leaking State Department cables to secrets outlet WikiLeaks.

British television journalist Philippa Thomas recently joined State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley and several others for a talk at MIT.

“And then, inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address ‘the elephant in the room,’” Thomas recalled.

“What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, ‘torturing a prisoner in a military brig’?”

Without pausing, Crowley said that the way his colleagues at the Department of Defense were treating Pfc. Bradley Manning “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

“None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place,” he added. “[T]here is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made.”

Manning attorney David Coombs revealed last week that for at least two nights in row, the Army private had been “stripped naked” for as long as seven hours at a time.

In the mornings, he was left without clothes and forced to stand at attention.

“There can be no conceivable justification for requiring a soldier to surrender all his clothing, remain naked in his cell for seven hours, and then stand at attention the subsequent morning,” Coombs wrote. “This treatment is even more degrading considering that PFC Manning is being monitored — both by direct observation and by video — at all times.”

“This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated,” he added. “No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) suggested Monday that there could even be legal consequences for Defense Secretary Robert Gates if he allowed the harsh treatment of Manning to continue.

“I just want to say one thing if I had a chance to talk directly to Secretary Gates,” Kucinich told MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer during a Monday interview. “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.”

Update: Crowley confirms remarks

State Dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed to Foreign Policy magazine that he did call the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

“What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning,” Crowley said.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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