An otherwise desultory press conference Friday morning featured the first public questioning of President Obama about the abusive treatment of Bradley Manning, the Army private who faces 34 criminal charges, some bearing the death penalty, for allegedly leaking to WikiLeaks evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as State Department cables revealing US diplomatic intrigues.
Manning is jailed at the Quantico Marine Corps base near Washington DC, under conditions that have been denounced by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as tantamount to torture. He has been held in solitary confinement there for more than seven months. In the last week he has been deprived of all clothing during sleeping hours, then compelled to stand naked for inspection every morning.
If another country were meting out similarly sadistic treatment to a captured American POW, the Pentagon and the American media would be howling about war crimes. But Manning’s treatment has been largely blacked out of the corporate-controlled mass media. Friday’s question was the first time the subject has been raised by the White House press corps.