There are few times when I’m impressed by the actions or words of politicians and government officials. But when former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley came out and criticized the treatment and imprisonment of Bradley Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” it rekindled my faith in such people, if only a little bit.
Manning was arrested after allegedly leaking massive amounts of classified information to WikiLeaks while a soldier in the U.S. Army. He has been detained in a military brig at a Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. since July 29 of last year and is being treated as a high profile terrorist.
He sits in a 6×12 foot, windowless cell for 23 hours of the day and is in shackles during his one hour outside. He is not allowed to wear his glasses, leaving him practically blind because apparently there are fears he will use them to injure himself. The list continues, stopping just short of physical abuse.
What strikes me about Crowley is that he is in full support of prosecuting Manning and considers his alleged actions to be criminal but can still see that the treatment of Manning is “stupid.”
Most people get so caught up on one side of an argument that they don’t see anything else. Many on the left demand the immediate release of Manning, while many on the right turn a blind eye to his treatment and expect full prosecution and punishment for his suspected crimes.
Crowley criticized Manning’s imprisonment because he saw it as counterproductive to what he considers a very legitimate prosecutorial process.
It’s heartwarming to see people put aside staunch ideology in favor of some degree of reason in the midst of rampant ignorance on both sides of the political spectrum.
Crowley resigned shortly after making his statement (reportedly under pressure from the White House, although he denies this), as is the norm for government officials who decide to speak their mind for a change. But he made an important statement in doing so. He claims to have no regrets in saying what he said, and while I may disagree with Crowley on various points, I can certainly respect him for standing up for his principles in an environment that is often quite hostile to such actions.
Braden Smith/Managing editor
Braden Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.