“Even a military judge recognizes what many progressives denied: Bradley Manning was mistreated
The ruling is but the latest repudiation of claims from Obama supporters that Manning was treated fairly and justly
“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).
The willingness of some of Obama’s most devoted followers to justify all this and lash out at critics surprised even me, and underscored just how blindly supportive they are no matter how extreme and odious the behavior. As Charles Davis detailed in an excellent analysis at Salon last April, these Obama-defending progressives – in order to attack Manning and defend his detention conditions – copied almost verbatim the playbook used by Nixon officials to malign Daniel Ellsberg and anyone else who exposed wrongdoing on the part of the US government. Just as Bush followers did for years with the controversy over torture, these Democratic partisans alternated manically between denying that these oppressive conditions existed, justifying their use, and mocking concerns over them.
Watching self-proclaimed progressives attack and malign a courageous whistleblower, while defending the US military’s patently abusive detention practices and steadfastly defending the government’s extreme secrecy powers, is one of the most potent symbols of the Obama presidency.
An equally potent symbol is that at the very same time that Bradley Manning is prosecuted and threatened with life in prison for exposing serious war crimes, a government official who supported if not participated in those war crimes is being promoted to CIA director. This takes place in the same week when, as FAIR put it on Monday, “the only person to do time for the CIA’s torture policies [John Kiriakou] appears to be a guy who spoke publicly about them, not any of the people who did the actual torturing.
As usual, those who commit serious crimes in government are not punished but rather rewarded. Only those who expose those crimes are punished. That’s the story of Bradley Manning, and what makes it all the more remarkable and telling are the hordes of Democrats who have spent several years justifying and cheering for this.”