The Obama Administration, however, has not treated media organizations as if they are acting recklessly, unprofessionally or in a manner that could be considered helpful to "the enemy." Executive editor of the New York Times Bill Keller has recounted, "[T]he Obama administration's reaction was different. It was, for the most part, sober and professional. The Obama White House, while strongly condemning WikiLeaks for making the documents public, did not seek an injunction to halt publication. There was no Oval Office lecture. On the contrary, in our discussions before publication of our articles, White House officials, while challenging somaterial, thanked us for handling the documents with care."
Keller, instead, has concluded, "The official fury of the US government was directed at the presumed source, Bradley Manning, and, most of all, WikiLeaks. The government was not interested in quarreling with the media organizations involved."
A forthcoming report from the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review written by Yochai Benkler highlights this conclusion. Benkler reacts, "It appears as though the Administration either really did not fear disclosure, as long as it was by organizations it felt were within its comfort zone, or was using the distinction and relative social-cultural weakness of Wikileaks to keep the established media players at the table and, perhaps, more cooperative with the Administration's needs."
It should therefore be said that media organizations have directly benefited from the material that Manning leaked, if he is in fact the one who leaked the information. The New York Times and The Guardian have both had members of the news organization write books now that are being sold for profit. News organizations, including but not limited to those two outlets, have cited cables widely in coverage of current Middle Eastern and North African events. Read any report and chances are somewhere a few paragraphs down a cable is cited to color coverage of the ongoing uprisings and conflicts.
Yet, the media continues to approach Manning's inhumane treatment with cynical disbelief or chooses to keep a distance from the story.
There is no consideration of the fact that how he is being treated is darkly similar to how "enemy combatants" are being treated at Guantanamo (and perhaps that's because many in the US media are not appalled by the US government's treatment of Gitmo detainees or feel that socioculturally the press cannot display rage against a government that has tortured and abused human beings at the prison).
The media never had much use for the war logs as they put journalists and pundits in a position of challenging the Pentagon, Bush and Obama Administration's official narrative on the wars, but the fact that Manning has been denied a speedy trial and has had his due process rights infringed upon and continues to face solitary confinement that is tantamount to torture does not stop the media from using cables as a substitute for not having foreign correspondents available to cover certain stories.
They don't probe allegations from Amnesty International that the military has not provided "formal reasons" for his "maximum security classification or the prevention of injury assignment and that efforts by his counsel to challenge these assignments through administrative procedures have thus far failed to elicit a response." They don't demonstrate any interest in the fact that the UN Office on Torture is investigating the military's treatment of Manning.
They just let press secretaries stand before them and use doublespeak to obscure the truth of what is happening (i.e. Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie on MSNBC talking to Morell yesterday).
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is likely one of the few in Congress who cares about what is happening to Manning, has tried to get a meeting with Manning but that has not been allowed. He reacts to the latest news on Manning being stripped naked:
My request to visit with Pfc. Manning must not be delayed further. Today we have new reports that Manning was stripped naked and left in his cell for seven hours. While refusing to explain the justification for the treatment, a marine spokesman confirmed the actions but claimed they were "not punitive."There's a sickness in America. And it continues to grow as we ignore what is done to human beings by the US government.
Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib? Officials have confirmed the "non-punitive" stripping of an American soldier who has not been found guilty of any crime. This "non-punitive" action would be considered a violation of the Army Field Manual if used in an interrogation overseas. The justification for and purpose of this action certainly raises questions of "cruel and unusual punishment," and could constitute a potential violation of international law.
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