The abusive treatment of Bradley Manning in pre-trial detention is an outrage. Forcing out a spokesman who recognizes that outrage is an implicit concession that Manning's treatment is an outrage. This is the decadent phase of executive arrogance: the enforcement of euphemism to avoid responsibility for the injustices the executive commits.
Notice that no one besides Manning from within the Obama administration or the military has been held accountable for the actual leak itself. But P.J. Crowley gets fired for the secondary issue of exercising common sense, candor and consistency about Manning. My old FDL colleague Michael Whitney is completely correct: Obama owns Manning's torture. He owned it before, but Crowley's firing underscores it.
Stripping a man presumed to be innocent in front of other people has nothing to do with protecting him from himself or others. Neither does prolongued isolation. It has everything to do with breaking Manning, assuredly to get him to implicate Julian Assange. This is an American citizen who has been convicted of no crime. You don't have to have any sympathy for WikiLeaks or for Manning to recognize that he's being tortured. It's as if the Obama administration is doing whatever it can to generate international sympathy for WikiLeaks. Of course, P.J. Crowley just proved that if you say that inside the administration, you'll soon find yourself outside of it.
Last summer, I had a one-star general named Mark Martins walk me through what used to be called the Bagram detention facility (now the "Detention Facility at Parwan") and explain how prolonged isolation -- familiar from Appendix M, you'll recall -- required special (if unspecified) safeguards for use on an Afghan detainee. But it can be employed for the pre-trial detention of an American citizen. If only Bradley Manning was a suspected terrorist. Then Obama's January 2009 executive order banning torture would forbid what the Obama administration is doing to him.