See fuller discussion at Emptywheel's blog.
UPDATE, (March 16): As most reading this or viewing the video by now must know, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was fired by the Obama administration for telling a group of MIT students that the military's treatment of Pvt. Manning was "ridiculous and counter-productive and stupid."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. I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety as well. [my emphasis]So not only won’t Obama close Gitmo, then, but he’s willing to rubber stamp the standards introduced there for use on American soil.
Crowley subsequently backtracked his statement, saying "I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning." He also added some criticisms regarding the "strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership,” he wrote. “The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”
For a diplomat, this is rough criticism. But from the standpoint of those of us who are sick and tired of the U.S. government's brutality, it amounts to a lot of sound and fury, signifying very little, as the Pentagon and their enabler in the White House continue to arrogantly flout law and convention in their belief that they are masters of the universe who cannot be gainsaid.
Still, the Crowley imbroglio hit a nerve and made Manning's case more prominent in the news, with a number of major editorials at U.S. newspapers, petitions from academics, etc. We'll see what kind of effect that has over the next weeks and months. I'm not holding my breath. Without social struggle of the sort that began in Wisconsin, but is being demonstration-wearied-out by do-nothing labor leaders who refuse to actually harness the power of labor through the strike, the U.S. will pretty much do whatever it wants, until such time as their economic house of cards collapses. After that, it will be a new ballgame.