March 14, 2011, 4:29 PM — The Gitmo Moment of President Obama's presidency may not end up being Guantanamo Bay itself -- or his decision to keep it open more than two years after taking office, despite a promise to close it within 12 months.
His real Gitmo Moment may be the solitary imprisonment of alleged WikiLeaker Bradley Manning, who is accused of having improperly downloaded and released hundreds of documents and videos from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and more than a quarter-million secret cables between State Department functionaries gossiping about the foreign dignitaries with whom they negotiated, but didn't respect.
There is a thin excuse for uber-super-max security for the prisoners at Guantanamo, who are accused of often horrific violence (but can't be brought to trial mostly for lack of evidence, which would normally indicate they're probably not guilty and should be released).
Even assuming Manning did everything the government charges him with, and did it with malice and treason in his heart, just keeping him away from a computer would effectively end his reign of terror.
There's no real reason to keep him in solitary confinement in the brig at the Marine base at Quantico, Va., let him out of his cage one hour out of 23, and take away his sandals and clothes at night to further reduce his opportunity to strangle himself in the dark.
Aggressive criticism of the treatment comes from some of the usual sources -- Watergate icon Daniel Ellsberg for example.
It also comes from surprising sources -- among them the father of a wounded Marine who is proud of his family's military service, but wrote a column for his local newspaper summarizing his and his wounded son's belief that the treatment of Manning a disgrace.