U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama REUTERS

President Barack Obama on Friday defended the military's treatment of a soldier accused of leaking classified State Department cables which have been released by whistleblower site Wikileaks, as a key State Department official resigned on Sunday after criticizing the military.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, 23, had eight charges filed against him in July of 2010 for unauthorized computer access and transmitting classified information to an unauthorized third party.

On March 2, 2011 he was charged with 22 additional crimes, including aiding the enemy, which is considered a capital offense under U.S. military law. Army prosecutors, however have told Manning's lawyers they will not recommend the death penalty.

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, Obama told reporters at a press conference.

Manning is being held about 25 miles southeast of Washington D.C. in Quantico, Virginia at the Marine Corps Base Quantico.

On March 4, Manning's lawyer, David E. Coombs, said the previous night Manning was forced to strip naked in his cell again last night. As with the previous evening quantico Brig guards required him to surrender all his clothing. PFC Manning then walked back to his bed, and spend the next seven hours in humiliation, Coombs in his law office blog post.

This treatment is even more degrading considering that PFC Manning is being monitored -- both by direct observation and by video -- at all times. The defense was informed by Brig officials that the decision to strip PFC Manning of all his clothing was made without consulting any of the Brig's mental health providers, Coombs says.

On Sunday, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley resigned from his post as Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Public Affairs after making a statement on the Department of Defense's treatment of manning.

Crowley said publicly last week at a gathering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that his treatment had been ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.

Crowley said in a statement released by the State Department that his comments on Manning's pre-trial detention were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discrete actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership.

When asked by a reporter if Obama disagreed with Crowley, he said I think I gave you an answer to the substantive issue.