By Mark Benjamin
ABC News’ Jake Tapper put president Obama on the spot during a White House press conference Friday about the treatment of suspected WikiLeaker Private First Class Bradley Manning.
Tapper pressed Obama about a reported quote from State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, who recently was recently overheard calling Manning’s pre-trial confinement conditions “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”
Manning is currently being held alone on his cell 23 hours a day, stripped naked at night at the Marine brig in Quantico, Va. Free speech advocates are alarmed at his treatment, and, as I wrote in a story today for Time.com, they have grown increasingly wary as the Obama administration has established itself as the most aggressive prosecutor of alleged government leakers in U.S. history.
Tapper asked Obama if he agreed with Crowley’s quote. Obama responded that if Manning’s treatment is good enough for the Pentagon, it is good enough for him. “I’ve 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,” Obama said, suggesting some of those procedures were to protect Manning’s safety. “They have assured me that they are.”