Here is an eyebrow raiser. The Associated Press is reporting that suspected Wikileaker Pfc. Bradley Manning will be transferred from the Marine Brig at Quantico, Va. to the Army prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. According to the AP, an announcement is likely Wednesday and the transfer comes “in the wake of international criticism about his treatment during his detention at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va.”
The language “in the wake of” makes it unclear if Manning is being transferred because of mistreatment, because of international criticism of his alleged mistreatment, or just chronologically following international criticism of his alleged mistreatment.
A Marine Corps Spokesman at Quantico said that at least for now, he is unaware of any plan to move Manning and could not comment on why it might be taking place.
Eugene Fidell, a military law expert now teaching at Yale, speculated that the White House was exasperated with bad press about Manning at Quantico. “Everybody has a breaking point,” he said. “Why put up with one more story when with one phone call you can move him?”
Still, if the AP is correct it would be an awkward maneuver, since the military has been insisting for months that Manning’s pre-trial confinement conditions, which have included effectively keeping him in solitary confinement and forced nudity were par for the course given Manning’s behavior, nothing unusual for the brig in Virginia. What’s more, President Obama has said that he’s fine with assurances from the Pentagon that everything is kosher at Quantico.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has argued vociferously that all is well at Quantico. This then goes to the White House for explanation. It will be interesting to hear Jay Carney try to uncoil both the circumstances behind this transfer and how it squares with all the public chatter to date, including statements from the president.