Sunday, March 13, 2011

P.J. Crowley Resigns Over Comment About Bradley Manning

The WikiLeaks matter has claimed another victim.

P.J. Crowley made a fairly mild remark (when considered in its entirety) about Manning's detention, but, according to CNN Political Ticker, he was in conflict with a later remark made by President Obama and the White House was greatly displeased.

There can be only one sheet of music in an administration, and the president isn't going to get on Crowley's.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - P.J. Crowley abruptly resigned Sunday as State Department spokesman over controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case.

Sources close to the matter the resignation, first reported by CNN, came under pressure from the White House, where officials were furious about his suggestion that the Obama administration is mistreating Manning, the Army private who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, under suspicion that he leaked highly classified State Department cables to the website Wikileaks.

Speaking to a small group at MIT last week, Crowley was asked about allegations that Manning is being tortured and kicked up a firestorm by answering that what is being done to Manning by Defense Department officials "is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

Crowley did add that "nonetheless, Bradley Manning is in the right place" because of his alleged crimes, according to a blog post by BBC reporter Philippa Thomas, who was present at Crowley's talk.

-- snip --

Crowley has told friends that he is deeply concerned that mistreatment of Manning could undermine the legitimate prosecution of the young private. Crowley has also made clear he has the Obama administration's best interests at heart because he thinks any mistreatment of Manning could be damaging around the world to President Obama, who has tried to end the perception that the U.S. tortures prisoners.

Nevertheless, Crowley's political fate was sealed on Friday when Obama was asked at a White House news conference about his comments regarding Manning.

Obama revealed that he had asked Pentagon officials "whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of (Manning's) confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards."

In a comment that drew howls of protest from liberals, Obama added that Pentagon officials "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."

-- snip --

Crowley is highly respected on foreign policy matters, dating back to his time as National Security Council spokesman under then-President Bill Clinton. He has been the Obama administration's public face on many international stories as the daily briefer at the State Department for Secretary Hillary Clinton.

But he has not had a completely smooth relationship with officials in the Obama White House, and eyebrows were raised several months ago when White House aide Mike Hammer was sent over to the State Department to serve as Crowley's deputy.

Hammer will replace Crowley as the assistant secretary for public affairs, Hillary Clinton said in a statement Sunday.

She said she accepted Crowley's resignation "with regret."


Ando said...

I would completely understand the resignation if P.J.'s comments were subsequent to Obama's opinion; wouldn't a better WH Personnel decision have been to have P.J. walk back his statement and then defer to the President's take on the situation? It seems to me that it would take a lot less time than looking for a new press secretary and would allow for a mention of "the President has personally investigated and found the following to be true..." line of commentary.

TSB said...

I noticed that P.J.'s statement of resignation did not retract his comments about Manning. Maybe the WH did ask him to walk it back and he refused?

Anonymous said...

PJ looked to me as though he was becoming increasingly stressed by having to explain away the WH-State
ineptitude that began with Mubarek.
I think his BS meter hit the red zone
with the Manning matter. GWB