Rationalizations: Standard Operating Procedure

When he was asked this morning about the conditions of Bradley Manning's confinement at Quantico, President Obama said that he had queried the Defense Department about Manning's detention and had been assured that the handling of the whistleblower -- you know, months of solitary confinement, forced nudity, and other abuses -- followed standard operating procedure and fell within the norms of humane incarceration.

Well, sure, Manning's treatment meets DOD's standards. Using nudity to impose a sense of helplessness, for example, that is, stripping detainees to "demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor," is standard operating procedure for the U.S. military now; but it has been only since being introduced in 2002 at the prison at Guantanamo by President George W. Bush to encourage cooperation from persons who were, nominally at least, enemy combatants. Not only will President Change not be closing Gitmo as he promised to do during his campaign, not only has he embraced as his own the illegal and immoral procedures introduced there by the Bush administration, but now he's gone the extra step of rationalizing abuse of an American citizen detained on U.S. soil by citing as standard operating procedure practices that were confined heretofore and only recently to military lockups.

The president's disingenuousness is almost touching. President Bush queried his people, too, on whether torture was legal and within standard operating procedure, and got thumbs-up. In claiming to accept DOD's assurances that Manning procedures meet basic standards, Obama either seeks plausible deniability or lacks a moral compass. Neither option is reassuring and both reinforce the new immorality that has become standard operating procedure under Bush-Obama.

Wait til Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio figures out how much more humiliation he can get per Maricopa County tax dollar by stripping off those pink jumpsuits and tenting his charges in the nude.

Forgetting for a moment that the obligation to treat the accused as "innocent until proven guilty" precludes any punishment before conviction, the ugly way the Marine Corps has handled Manning would be inhumane (and unconstitutional) even if he had been convicted on all counts.

How far we've come just in the two years of Obama's presidency. It was, after all, pictures of naked prisoners that inspired the outrage over Abu Ghraib. Now torture techniques that were offensive under Bush are justified as standard operating procedure. That's change, all right.

See, also: This shameful abuse of Bradley Manning by Daniel Ellsberg (Guardian UK 2011-03-11)
Manning’s Father Condemns Treatment of Imprisoned Son by Kim Zetter (Wired Threat Level 2011-03-10)
WikiLeaks suspect's treatment 'stupid,' U.S. official says by Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post 2011-03-12)
Crowley resigns as State Department Spokesman by Ed Henry (CNN PoliticalTicker 2011-03-13)
Comments on Prisoner Treatment Cause State Department Spokesman to Lose His Job by Jack Tapper (ABC News Political Punch 2011-03-13)


Jeff Norman said...

Manning is being so egregiously abused in so many ways that even people who are outraged by it, often don't mention that he's regularly deprived of bedding and sleep. Also, he's asked by his captors if he's okay EVERY 5 MINUTES, and required to answer in the affirmative.

Anonymous said...

You guys can't think seriously that a spy and traitor is entitled to special treatment.

Anonymous said...

Torture is okay. Blowing the whistle on torture is abhorrent.

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