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I'm Proud of P.J. Crowley

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BRADLEY MANNING DETENTION TREATMENT

I'm proud of Philip J. Crowley. As Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Crowley had the guts to denounce the sustained (mis)treatment of Private Bradley Manning as "ridiculous" and "counterproductive" and "stupid." For this burst of principled honesty, the Obama administration cashiered him. Never has the moral obtuseness of the Obama/Hillary Clinton duumvirate been more clearly displayed.

Crowley and I have two things in common: We're from the same hometown, and we made our first careers in the Air Force (I served for 20 years; Crowley for 26). Our hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts is a working-class town, proud of its reputation as the "City of Champions" (especially the heavyweight boxer Rocky Marciano and the middleweight boxer "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler), and prouder still of its pragmatic patriotism based on a sense of decency and fair play. By any standard, the treatment of Manning (solitary confinement, forced nudity, constant harassment) has been indecent and unfair. I have no evidence for this, but I'd like to think Crowley's hard-hitting jabs against the Pentagon hailed in part from his roots as a Brockton Boxer.

But, more than anything, I suspect Crowley's stance came from his twenty-six year career in the U.S. Air Force. Like him, I swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. The U.S. Constitution protects us all from cruel and unusual punishment: an apt description of the military's treatment of Private Manning.

Indeed, anyone who respects the U.S. Constitution can't help but be appalled by the military's treatment of Manning. It's worse than ridiculous or counterproductive or stupid: it's patently inconsistent with our nation's ideals as expressed in our Bill of Rights.

Again, I commend P.J. Crowley for being a man in the arena, for standing up for what he believed in, for taking some hard swings before a milquetoast establishment forced him out of the ring. Pick yourself up, P.J., and hold your head high. For those who fired you, they deserve only to hang their heads in shame.

Professor Astore writes regularly for TomDispatch.com and can be reached at wjastore@gmail.com.