Having complained bitterly about what appears to have been a flagrant attempt to break Pfc. Bradley Manning’s will – if not his mind – at Quantico, I have to regard it as good news that Manning is being moved to Leavenworth, and that his period in solitary confinement appears to be over.
From a distance, it’s hard to say what this means. Did the President, despite his rather callous dismissal of the problem in public, pass the word down the chain of command that torture was a no-no? Was the vicious handling at Quantico actually the decision of a sick-minded commandant, rather than a matter of high policy? (If so, that reflects very badly on Secretary Gates.) Or did the pressure on Manning work, with Manning agreeing to testify against the real target in the case, Julian Assange?
P.J. Crowley, who lost his job at the State Department for speaking out about Manning, thinks the move resulted from heavy pressure on the Pentagon: pressure from both inside and outside the government.
Update Manning’s lawyer reports that he was about to file for a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the conditions of Manning’s confinement.
Footnote: The Guardian story refers to the group that protested about Manning’s treatment at an Obama fundraiser as “supporters of Manning.” That may be true of some of them, but it needn’t be.
It’s possible to disapprove of torture even when applied to people whose conduct you disapprove of. I surely wouldn’t call myself a “supporter” of Manning; modulo the presumption of innocence, the President’s comment that he “broke the law” is almost certainly factually true, and it’s not a law I disapprove of generally. Secrecy is often overdone, and whistleblowing can be an honorable and even heroic action, but just doing a core-dump of classified cables wasn’t really a good idea.