Bradley Manning has found yet another unexpected defender.
An editor at the conservative National Review magazine is speaking out on behalf of Manning, the Army private accused of leaking U.S. State Department cables to WikiLeaks.
Robert VerBruggen declared Tuesday that there was "no excuse" for subjecting Manning, who has not been convicted of a crime, to harsh conditions.
Manning attorney David Coombs revealed earlier this month that for at least two nights in row, the Army private had been "stripped naked" for as long as seven hours at a time.
Manning has been held at the Quantico brig since July under a maximum security regimen, which leaves him in his cell for 23 hours a day, because authorities say his escape would pose a risk to national security.
"He has yet to be convicted of a crime -- and, regardless, prisons should avoid inflicting arbitrary and pointless miseries on their charges," VerBruggen wrote.
"On at least two and possibly three occasions, prison officials have used their discretion to subject Manning to harsher procedures than would normally be used under the brig’s policies. Manning’s treatment may well be legal, as the general counsels of the Departments of Defense and of the Navy found — the policies in question are just guidelines — but that doesn’t make it right," he added.
P.J. Crowley, the State Department's top spokesman, was forced to resign over the weekend after he called Manning's treatment "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."
In a statement, Crowley acknowledged his remarks but did not rescind them.
"The exercise of power in today's challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values," he said. "Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation."
"The fact that the State Department's P.J. Crowley spoke out against Manning's treatment, however ill-considered the outburst was, should encourage Americans to demand a better explanation," VerBruggen noted.
"Manning is an American citizen in an American detention facility, and he has not yet been convicted. There is no excuse for subjecting him to harsh conditions, so long as he poses no threat to himself or others. The American people deserve an explanation as to why Manning remains in maximum custody and on prevention-of-injury watch," he concluded.