It’s hard to believe that the State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, not exactly one to shoot from the hip, would come out with a statement like this. But the Guardian is reporting that during a lecture an MIT, Crowley had some surprisingly harsh words about the Pentagon’s treatment of accused WikiLeaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning:
Hillary Clinton’s spokesman has launched a public attack on the Pentagon for the way it is treating military prisoner Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of handing the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks.
PJ Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the US state department, has said Manning is being “mistreated” in the military brig at Quantico, Virginia. “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”
But how accurate is this report? There were no recordings of the event, and Crowley’s statement was written up by blogger Philippa Thomas, a former BBC correspondent who is now a Neiman Journalism Fellow at Harvard.
While there’s no reason to doubt Thomas’s account, it’s unclear what the context of Crowley’s statement was. He said that “[w]hat is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the Department of Defense” — but what exactly was he referring to? Was Crowley unhappy about the treatment of Manning, or about how that treatment was handled from a public-relations perspective? It’s hard to tell from that sentence alone.
Either way, the “Free Manning” movement is continuing to gain traction. Yesterday, Amnesty International slammed the Obama administration over Manning’s alleged mistreatment in prison. This Manning issue, along with President Obama’s recent continuation of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, already seems to be driving a wedge between the administration and the antiwar left.