"With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are." -- Barack Obama, White House Press Conference, March 10, 2011.
Few if any articles that I've written produced as much backlash as my 15 December 2010 column reporting on the oppressive and inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, the first time that story was reported. The anger at my article primarily came not from right-wing venues but from the hardest-core Obama supporters, who (as they always do since 20 January 2009) reflexively defended the US government. Led by former Obama campaign press aide and now MSNBC contributor (the ultimate redundancy) Joy Reid, these particularly fanatical Democratic partisans literally adopted the anti-Manning rhetoric from the further right-wing precincts and repudiated the liberal tradition of defending whistleblowers and opposing oppressive detention conditions -- all in order to insist that Manning was being treated exactly how he should be (this warped reaction was far from unanimous, as many progressives protested Manning's treatment).
Since then, an internal investigation by the Marine Corps -- which operates the brig in which he was held -- found that Manning's jailers violated their own policies in imposing oppressive conditions. The Obama administration's own State Department spokesman, PJ Crowley, denounced the detention conditions as "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid" and was then fired as a result. Amnesty International called for protests over Manning's treatment. The UN's highest torture official formally concluded after an investigation that the US government was guilty "of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning" and "that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment in keeping Manning locked up alone for 23 hours a day over an 11-month period in conditions that he also found might have constituted torture" -- exactly what I reported at the end of 2010.