Stripping Bradley Manning naked

I've been meaning to comment on the moral vacuousness of President Barack Obama's comments on the abusive treatment of Bradley Manning, but Marjorie Cohn, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, has said what needs to be said: Manning's treatment amounts to torture.

Cohn's comments, originally posted on the American Constitution Society blog and reposted the other day by, make reference to Obama's position as follows:

Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning’s treatment, saying, “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are.” Obama’s deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who asked “the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government” to review the interrogation techniques. “They assured me they did not constitute torture,” Bush said.

Is it not amazing that someone like Obama, whose demonstration that he had his own moral compass had so much to do with his election, now defers to the Pentagon for "assurances" that solitary confinement and stripping prisoners naked is A-okay? The man who would pretend to lead us now needs to follow the moral compasses of those who have not stripped themselves bare of all principles--people like former State Department official Phillip J. Crowley, who was forced to resign after he commented publicly on Manning's mistreatment.

By the way, how do we explain this penchant among those supposedly charged with protecting our national security--from Abu Ghraib to Quantico--for rendering prisoners nude on the flimsiest excuse? Perhaps this is a job for the psychologists.

Update: Crowley still has no regrets. So he tells the BBC, as reported by the Guardian.

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Kandinsky said…
I share your sentiments in this blog. Was Manning a protagonist or antagonist? Should his actions dictate a punitive reaction or should they be used as an opportunity for change? Focusing animosity on this individual as a means of deflecting attention from the shortcomings of the security state, seems to me, small-minded and conservative.

I don't see it as a particular failing of Obama, but another example of how high ideals consistently fail to transfer into high office.