Great essay by Glenn on how social media had an effect on the case of Bradley Manning.
A Pentagon official yesterday leaked word to the Associated Press that accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning was being transferred out of the Quantico Marine brig where he has been held under inhumane conditions for 10 months, and moved to the Army's prison facility in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. The Pentagon did not even bother to notify Manning's lawyer of the transfer; he had to learn of it through the media leak. As most media reports on this transfer note, the move takes place "in the wake of international criticism about his treatment." In particular, the AP story explains:
Manning's move to a new detention center comes about a week after a U.N. torture investigator complained that he was denied a request to make an unmonitored visit to Manning. . . . Two days later, a committee of Germany's parliament protested about Manning's treatment to the White House. And Amnesty International has said Manning's treatment may violate his human rights [ed.: actually, the Amnesty condemnation was far more emphatic than that].Additionally, the British government formally raised concerns with the U.S. over the treatment of Manning (whose mother is a British citizen). State Department reporters had begun aggressively questioning officials about their refusal to allow unmonitored U.N. access to Manning (after all, even the Bush administration allowed unmonitored visits by human rights organizations to accused top Al Qaeda Terrorists held at Guantanamo).
Combine all that with the compelled "resignation" of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley for his public denunciation of Manning's treatment -- and the forced defense by President Obama of this treatment when he was asked about it in a Press Conference by ABC News' Jake Tapper -- and it's obvious that this has exploded into a serious political and international scandal for the Obama administration. Add on to all that the fact that Manning's counsel was preparing to file a habeas corpus petition after brig officials just ruled that they would indefinitely continue Manning's oppressive treatment against the advice of the brig's psychiatric experts, and it's not difficult to see why this transfer was politically necessary...
For multiple reasons, the treatment of Manning has been a profound stain on the Obama administration. It isn't merely that the treatment is inherently inhumane, although that's true. It isn't merely that oppressive detention conditions are such a glaring betrayal of Obama's repeated signature vow to end detainee abuse, though that's also true. And it isn't merely that Manning has never been convicted of anything, rendering this obvious punishment (masquerading as protective detention) offensive on multiple Constitutional and ethical levels (not to mention a violation of the UCMJ), though that, too, is true. What makes it most odious are the purposes that likely drove it: a desire to break Manning in order to extract incriminating statements to be used against WikiLeaks and, worst of all, a thuggishly threatening message to future would-be whistleblowers about the unconstrained punishment they'd face if they, too, exposed government deceit, wrongdoing and illegality.
...But there is one positive aspect of all of this worth highlighting: namely, the mechanisms used to catapult this story into such prominence. Had this been 10 or even 5 years ago, I'm convinced that Bradley Manning's oppressive detention conditions would never have received any substantial attention and he'd wither away indefinitely in Quantico. Major media outlets would evince little interest in the conditions of an accused Army leaker. Republicans have long made clear their support for detainee abuse, and given that it's being carried out by a Democratic President, very few officials in the President's party would care either. It's long been the case that the only stories capable of generating any real media interest are ones raised by the leadership of one of the two parties, and Bradley Manning's detention conditions is of interest to neither.... (more to read, above)