by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, March 25, 2011
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.
The order for Manning’s nudity apparently followed what he described as a sarcastic comment he made to guards after their repeated harassment of him regarding how he was to salute them. Manning said that if he were intent on strangling himself, he could use his underwear or flip-flops.
“In my 40 years of hospital psychiatric practice, I’ve never heard of something like this,” said Dr. Steven Sharfstein, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association. “In some very unusual circumstances, when people are intensely suicidal, you might put them in a hospital gown. … But it’s very, very unusual to be in that kind of suicide watch for this long a period of time.”Sharfstein also was concerned that military officials appeared to defy the recommendations of mental health professionals. “He’s been examined by psychiatrists who said he’s not suicidal. … They are making medical judgments in the face of medical evaluations to the contrary,” Sharfstein noted.