Manning, Obama and U.S. Moral Leadership
On December 15, when I first reported the inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, I did not assign any blame to -- or even mention -- Barack Obama. Although, as Commander-in-Chief, Obama was technically responsible for Manning's treatment, there was no evidence that he even knew about it, let alone planned it. But since then, the Manning controversy exploded into national prominence and Obama has explicitly defended the treatment, leaving no doubt that it directly reflects on who he is as a leader and a person.
For that reason, as The Guardian reports this morning, a letter signed by "more than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars" that "includes leading figures from all the top US law schools, as well as prominent names from other academic fields" -- featuring "Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law"; who "taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign"; and "joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago" -- not only denounces Manning's detention but also the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner's personal responsibility for it:
[Tribe] told the Guardian he signed the letter because Manning appeared to have been treated in a way that "is not only shameful but unconstitutional" as he awaits court martial in Quantico marine base in Virginia. . . . Tribe said the treatment was objectionable "in the way it violates his person and his liberty without due process of law and in the way it administers cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offences, not to mention someone merely accused of such offences".
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