Numerous civil rights groups and even members of Congress have criticized the Defense Department for its alleged treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is being detained on charges of leaking classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks. Manning has reportedly been kept in solitary confinement without access to bedding and been forced to strip naked every night.
Last week, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized DOD for its treatment of Manning, calling it “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” CNN reported today that the White House has now forced Crowley to resign. But in his resignation statement, Crowley did not back down from his criticism:
The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law. My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.
Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret.” “PJ has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian,” she said. “His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.” He previously served as a spokesman for the National Security Council and the Defense Department during the Clinton administration.
“Manning is alleged to have committed serious crimes,” Matt Yglesias writes, referring to Crowley’s abrupt resignation, adding, “The correct response would be to put him on trial. To hold a person without trial in solitary confinement under degrading conditions is a perversion of justice.”
While he worked at the Center for American Progress, Crowley authored a homeland security strategy in 2008, which stated the following criticism of the Bush administration:
[W]e have policies, including harsh interrogation techniques, detention without charge, government surveillance, and immigration that are inconsistent with our values and our long-term interest. All this in the name of something called the “war on terror.”