Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Former State Department Spokesman Stands By Criticism Of Bradley Manning Treatment

By Jerry Smith Mar 30 2011

Former U.S. state department’s chief spokesperson Philip “P.J.” Crowley said he has no regrets about resigning or about making the remarks he did about U.S. soldier Bradley Manning's treatment saying the investigation into Manning's role as the source for WikiLeaks has been weakened.

Crowley was forced to resigned Sunday Mar 13 after he made comments to a small audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday Mar 11 condemning the conditions Manning is being kept in.

When Crowley resigned he said:
"Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation."
While Crowley was speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he was asked about torturing Manning and he said:
"What is happening to Manning is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don't know why the DoD (Department of Defence) is doing it. Nevertheless, Manning is in the right place."
Click here to read more about Crowley's forced resignation.

Manning is being held at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in a windowless 6-by-12-foot cell, shackled and forced to sleep either naked or in a suicide-proof smock due to supposed fears that he may commit suicide.

Manning has been accused of leaking the embarrassing diplomatic cables, the classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the 'Collateral Murder' video to WikiLeaks.

Of the 24 charges Manning is currently facing, 'aiding the enemy' is the most serious. If he is found guilty of 'aiding the enemy', Manning could spend the rest of his life behind bars or get the death penalty.

When asked about Crowley's comments about Manning's treatment, U.S. President Barack Obama said:
“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.”

Crowley wrote an article for The Guardian titled 'Why I called Bradley Manning's treatment stupid'. Here are some quotes from the article:
"To be clear, Private Manning is rightly facing prosecution and, if convicted, should spend a long, long time in prison."

"I know that the 251,000 diplomatic cables included properly classified information directly connected to our national interest. The release placed the lives of activists around the world at risk."

"Julian Assange and others have suggested that the release of the cables was to expose wrongdoing. Nonsense."

"Based on 30 years of government experience, if you have to explain why a guy is standing naked in the middle of a jail cell, you have a policy in need of urgent review. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point. The issue is a loss of dignity, not modesty."

"While everyone can point to an isolated cable, taken as a whole, the cables tell a compelling story of 'rightdoing', of US diplomats engaged in 189 countries around the world, working on behalf of the American people, and serving broader interests as well. As a nation, we are proud of the story the cables tell, even as we decry their release."

"When the United States leads by example, we are not trying to win a popularity contest. Rather, we are pursuing our long-term strategic interest. The United States cannot expect others to meet international standards if we are seen as falling short. Differences become strategic when magnified through the lens of today's relentless 24/7 global media environment."
Click here to read Crowley's full article.

On the BBC program Hardtalk, Crowley spoke about being asked about Manning being tortured and said:
"The United States is doing no such thing, but I understand why the question was asked. I thought the treatment of Bradley Manning, the fact that he had to sleep naked and stand in a jail cell naked, was counter-productive to our broader effort of appropriately prosecuting someone who has violated his oath of office."
Crowley said about the U.S.:
"I'm a believer in something like strategic narratives, that the United States, as an exceptional country in the world, has to be seen as practicing what we preach."

"The United States should set the global standard for treatment of its citizens, and then exceed it. It is what the world expects of us. It is what we should expect of ourselves.”

"Part of our strength comes from international recognition that the United States practises what we preach. Most of the time, we do. This strategic narrative has made us, broadly speaking, the most admired country in the world."
When asked if he realized the impact his comments about Manning's treatment would have, Crowley said:
"Well, I realised that I was challenging another agency of government. Quite honestly I didn't necessarily think the controversy would go as far as it did. But I don't regret saying what I said."
Crowley said about President Obama's comments and Manning:
"Again, I can only offer you my view, which is that it is one thing that actions can be legal and it is another thing that actions can be smart. I do think that the prosecution of Bradley Manning is legitimate and necessary."

"The release of 251,000 cables has damaged US interests around the world and more importantly has put the lives of activists who help us understand what's going on around the world in jeopardy. But I felt his treatment undermines the credibility of the ongoing investigation and prosecution. I spoke my mind and I haven't changed my view."

"Private Manning's overly restrictive and even petty treatment undermines what is otherwise a strong legal and ethical position,"
Crowley was on MSNBC where he refused to identify himself as a Manning defender and called the case against Manning:
“A very necessary and legitimate prosecution of someone who’s done damage to our national interest.”
Martin Smith, a correspondent on the PBS show Frontline who is making a profile about Manning said he's:
"something of a legend, and people are taking sides about whether he's a hero or a villain."

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