PJ Crowley on Manning’s “Ridiculous, Counterproductive, and Stupid” Treatment

As I noted earlier today, State Department Spokesperson PJ Crowley described Bradley Manning’s abuse as counterproductive and stupid at an event at MIT yesterday.

Ethan Zuckerman has a transcript of Crowley’s remarks.

Charlie deTar: There’s an elephant in the room during this discussion: Wikileaks. The US government is torturing a whistleblower in prison right now. How do we resolve a conversation about the future of new media in diplomacy with the government’s actions regarding Wikileaks?

PJC: “I spent 26 years in the air force. What is happening to Manning is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don’t know why the DoD is doing it. Nevertheless, Manning is in the right place.” There are leaks everywhere in Washington – it’s a town that can’t keep a secret. But the scale is different. It was a colossal failure by the DoD to allow this mass of documents to be transported outside the network. Historically, someone has picked up a file of papers and passed it around – the information exposed is on one country or one subject. But this is a scale we’ve never seen before. If Julian Assange is right and we’re in an era where there are no secrets, do we expect that people will release Google’s search engine algorithms? The formula for Coca Cola? Some things are best kept secret. If we’re negotiating between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there will be compromises that are hard for each side to sell to their people – there’s a need for secrets.

Hey PJ? Your invocation of peace in Israel is admirable (though note Crowley appears to be confusing his damning leaks, since the exposure of the unreasonable concessions the Palestianian Authority gave Israel came from al-Jazeera, not WikiLeaks). But don’t you think we also have a right to know that our long-term intelligence partner in Egypt was offering up ways to cancel democratic elections in the same part of the world?

Since that report, Josh Rogin has gotten confirmation from Crowley that the reports are accurate.

Reached by The Cable, Crowley confirmed that he did in fact make the remarks.

“What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official USG policy position. I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning,” Crowley told The Cable.

Finally, Jake Tapper asked Obama about Crowley’s comment. And the Commander in Chief’s response to being asked about abuse? Apparently DOD says abuse  is cool now.

Obama: “I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not procedures on Manning meet basic standards, they assure me that they are.”

Of course they meet basic standards! The “God” standard that has been part of our torture regime for 9 years now.

Update: Fixed my reference to the Palestine Papers.

  1. bittersweet says:

    As I just said at Dday:
    So now we understand that the Commander in Chief on the Armed Services has asked about Bradley Manning’s treatment, and he approves of it. I hope that all of the signatories of the Geneva Convention take note of this. I believe that all of the signatories are jointly and individually responsible for its enforcement.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      And how many signatories to Geneva Convention do NOT torture whenever it’s convenient?

      Accountability is for losers & only losers.

  2. Auduboner says:

    Another US president who won’t be able to travel abroad after he leaves office, for fear of arrest…

    • kipchuk says:

      I am very hopeful on this point for such a wuss as Obama. Hopefully that will even include Canada.

  3. radiofreewill says:

    Anything untoward that happens to Manning from this point on is owned by the President.

  4. bell says:

    obama as cog in the wheel as opposed to commander in chief… in this context it all makes sense…

    • kipchuk says:

      After expertly pulling the wool over our eyes in the 2008 election, he never wanted to be anything other than a willing cog in the wheel of the Wall Street-Intelligence-Military Junta that rules US.

  5. radiofreewill says:

    PJ – If you’re reading this, thank-you for speaking-up for common sense and human decency.

    Imvho, you did the ‘right’ thing, regardless of politics.

    No matter what Manning’s ultimate fate ends up being, may you sleep well for the rest of your life!

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Seems somehow appropriate for this admin. O thy name is FUBAR.

        At least leaks in W admin seemed better orchestrated.

      • frmrirprsn says:

        I offer you two other possibilities:

        1. Crowley is genuinely disgusted by what is happening and spoke out on his own.
        2. Crowley’s comments are an accurate reflection of what Hillary Clinton and many others in the State Dept. believe about what is happening to Manning.

        In any case, Crowley’s comment forced the MSM to cover the subject and even forced Obama to take a question on it. It’s a start.

        • 4cdave says:

          My impression, for what little it’s worth, was that during the Cheney administration, the power shifted to DoD from State and CIA. I imagine that left some residual hard feelings in those agencies, and Cheney-esque crap like this probably really ticks off the career diplomats and intel people.

          • bobschacht says:

            My impression, for what little it’s worth, was that during the Cheney administration, the power shifted to DoD from State and CIA.

            I think your impression is pretty well documented, and it was no accident.

            Bob in AZ

    • bobschacht says:

      Well, I may be wrong about Hillary’s direct involvement regarding Manning. A few headlines, by omission, assume Crowley was speaking for Clinton. But most refer to “Hillary Clinton’s Spokesman” or words to that effect, so I withdraw my comment @7. I only regret that I had to wade through the pissing contest, just trying to make sure someone had not provided a link to document my erroneous allegation.

      Bob in AZ

  6. Billy Glad says:

    Why wouldn’t Manning kill himself? He’s probably brave enough. People burned themselves to death, trying to stop the Vietnam war, first monks in Vietnam, then people here. Wasn’t it a man who set himself on fire outside the Pentagon that got through to McNamara? Manning has already shown he’s willing to throw his body into the machine to stop it. Why shouldn’t the DoD and the entire Obama administration be afraid Manning would kill himself if he gets the chance. Psychiatrists understand mental illness, and they would naturally assume Manning is not a suicide risk, because they know he’s not crazy. Politicians understand the impact a Manning suicide (or apparent suicide) would have on public opinion and the administration. They have to fear that he would kill himself as a perfectly rational act. Maybe we should be asking if they are treating him differently than others who have been on POI. And maybe we should be asking who would benefit if Manning did kill himself. Certainly not the Obama administration.

      • Billy Glad says:

        Sorry. I don’t get your point. Manning isn’t a stat. He’s an individual who has shown himself capable of extraordinary things. My point is there is enough precedent for the administration to be worried and overcautious even. Probably the jailers are taking advantage of that situation.

        • frmrirprsn says:

          If you were concerned that someone was going to commit suicide, would your response be to have him stand naked at parade rest? If they were in fact worried about suicide they’d have him in front of a real psychiatrist, if only to provide themselves with cover.

          • Billy Glad says:

            I think my original comment addressed the psychiatrist v. politician issue. Politicians aren’t going to trust psychiatrists to tell them what a sane man might do or what some guard might do to Manning if no one was watching. They are going to deal with the worst case, which is that Manning gets hurt while he’s in custody. And I’m sure the guards enjoy fucking with him. Probably because they heard he’s gay. That’s probably what that “smock” shit is about.

        • PeasantParty says:

          I don’t think the jailers realiized that the entire world is watching. They do now, but until the Commander Wanker tells them to stop they will dig into him just for spite!

        • eCAHNomics says:

          My point is that almost no one ever commits suicide no matter what. Do you know something specific about Manning’s extraordinariness that would leave you to think it would run in that particular direction? Or do you have some specific insight into admin’s motives for them to have reason to believe that is a possible outcome Manning is considering?

          When stats are so definitively contrary to hypothesized outcome, making the contrary case for an individual typically would require some specific information or evidence. What is it wrt Manning?

          • Billy Glad says:

            Maybe they saw fog of war or remember the monks in Saigon. Maybe they are just working a worst case scenario, figuring how devastating it would be no matter how unlikely.

    • Kitt says:

      And maybe we should be asking who would benefit if Manning did kill himself. Certainly not the Obama administration.

      I don’t know who would “benefit”, but whomever won’t benefit would do well to stop trying to drive him to it.

      • Billy Glad says:

        So if he kills himself we’ll just naturally know somebody drove him to it? I guess I’m having more trouble thinking of Manning as a pitiful victim than you are.

        • frmrirprsn says:

          You seem to be having more trouble thinking of the impact on any human being of being in solitary for that period of time, with 1 hour per day out side for walking. No jogging aloud.

          • Billy Glad says:

            I’m not keeping anybody in solitary. I think the effects must be devastating. That’s why I suggested we compare Manning’s treatment to other POI prisoners. If he is being treated worse than others on POI have been treated, that would be the case to make.

            • frmrirprsn says:

              I believe I understand your point. Mine is that people, including military people, are not treated in this manner for months at a time before trial. If they believe he’s that sick, he belongs in a psychiatric ward of a prison hospital. (A trial would still be nice some day.)

              • Billy Glad says:

                That would make sense. But I don’t think they think he’s sick at all. I think they think he’s determined to bring them down, and that makes him very dangerous.

                • frmrirprsn says:

                  But if he’s personally very dangerous, they’d like to get him convicted and in some obscure cell in a military prison. Some one wants to make a very public example of him. I think the danger they see is that others will follow. He’s done, from their perspective, the harm he can do.

                  • Billy Glad says:

                    They probably can’t think that far ahead. All they know is that if he kills himself they are up to their eyeballs in drama, conspiracy, investigations, the whole ball of wax. That’s why he is never coming off of POI. Nobody wants that on their head. I can’t figure where the progressive blogosphere is coming from sometimes. If Manning gets off of POI and offs himself, what do we say? Oooops?

              • Twain says:

                For what? Letting us know the truth when the PTB won’t. We have a secret gov’t and it’s destroying us.

              • Billy Glad says:

                You don’t think he could have been framed? Set up in some way? Mentally ill? I can think of reasons why he wouldn’t be convicted of anything. His biggest crime is just showing what fuck ups they are. I don’t even think they resent that. They know they’re fuck ups. But that he could be being tortured is the whole point. People around here figure he is, even if his old man doesn’t — as a matter of fact, they think his old man is some kind of creep. I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the tear-proof blanket Manning’s lawyer says he has. One minute he’s sleeping under a tear-proof blanket, the next he’s sleeping naked in a cold cell. We should pin that blanket thing down.

                  • Billy Glad says:

                    See? That’s why they have trials and he has a lawyer and all. Maybe he only thinks he gave those tapes to somebody. Maybe there wasn’t anything on his tapes, and the real tapes came from somebody else. But you know all that. You’re just mad at him. Why is that. And no huffing and puffing and coming off all patriotic either.

                    • becomingjohngalt says:

                      Am I mad at him? Yes. But see that Wired article. He admitted that he took a bunch of Lady Gaga CDRs and erased them, copied the files and sent them to Assange. Bragged about it and about how bad the US InfoSec was.

                      So if he is deranged enough to only THINK he did this, then while he is investigated he should be treated like a psych case, no? POI seems perfectly appropriate in that case.

                      BTW, when did patriotism become a bad thing?

                    • Billy Glad says:

                      Worst case in my opinion, Manning is a kid with a dumb idea, just like the rest of us now and then. I doubt he did much harm, certainly not as much as some people hope he did. POI could be appropriate for sure. As long as it’s not abusive. I’m still waiting for somebody to tell me who benefits if Manning gets hurt, killed or commits suicide while he’s in the brig. And for you to tell me why you’re mad at Manning.

                    • becomingjohngalt says:

                      He put lives at risk. He took sensitive information and released it. I’m as mad at him as I am at any other anarchist.

                      And at what age does youth stop being a reason to be let off the hook? He was old enough to enlist, carry a rifle and protect this country.

                      Why do you defend what he (allegedly) did?

                    • becomingjohngalt says:

                      Thanks for your honesty.

                      Look, Manning is a traitor. There were other ways to bring attention to the existence of this information and his opinions that crimes were committed. He chose the illegal way.

                      I hope they treat him well while they bring him to trial. Then I hope they convict him and put him away.

                      Now for my own honesty – I would have no problem if someone “accidentally” left a box of belts and razor blades within reach of his cell one night.

  7. papau says:

    My take away is that P J tells the truth – and I like that.

    Also that Hillary is breaking a bit from Obama – and I like that.

    And that the left (EU and USA) has a really hard time accepting that the TABA near agreement – and the private Geneva negotiations – were and are the only path to peace. Israel with Clinton pushing offered TABA, Arafat rejected, and then said he had made an error in rejecting. Now we find BiBi is not trying to get back to TABA – but the PA is. So we get the comment on FDL “the exposure of the unreasonable concessions the Palestinian Authority gave Israel” – crazy, a site full of people who want peace reject it if it means peace for a Jewish State – seems like I am on an EU left site rather than a US left site. I applaud the PA – it totally changes their image from politicians that use buzz word control of their voters to leaders that are actually trying for peace – at least with me.

    As always – your mileage may vary –

  8. PeasantParty says:

    You know our very own Extreme Court that ruled on Citizens United also ruled against AT&T for their personal privacy.

    Maybe it’s time we use the laws they make for themselves to our advantage.

  9. becomingjohngalt says:

    “Nevertheless, Manning is in the right place. …. Some things are best kept secret. There’s a need for secrets.”

    Thank you, PJ. I agree 100%. It’s not up to some disiilusioned traitor to decide what classified information should and should not see the light of day.

    • PeasantParty says:

      I disagree. All military sign ups are required to take an oath to protect this country from harm. Foreign or Domestic harm is no different. For hundreds of years our military has been brainwashed into protecting our freedoms from some small country, where the real reason they were fighting was for a Corporation to set up shop and extract resources.

      • becomingjohngalt says:

        You’re entilted to that opinion. But Traitor (see, sadlyyes, I got it right this time) Manning has no right to release this information IMHO, especially when it risks innocent lives.

        There is a chain of command for a reason. If every PRIVATE decides to release CLASSIFIED information just because he or she has some warped view of what is in the public interest, it leads to anarchy. What’s next, releasing nuclear launch codes or the vulnerabilities of our latest weapons systems?

        • PeasantParty says:

          Excuse me, but you have missed a few items in your review of the cables. No lives were risked. Even the publishers of the papers asked for permission from OUR GOVERNMENT before they published them!

          The lives lost were the ones that were shown on the videos from the military ops.

          Again, you may think it is fine to do this but I don’t. I think Manning should be jailed until a fair trial. I do not think ANYBODY should undergo sleep deprivation, removal of clothing, etc. while awaiting trial or proof of guilt!

          • becomingjohngalt says:

            Excuse me, but YOU have missed a few items in your review of the cables. He released information that included the names of people in Afghanistan who are cooperating with the US against the Taliban. Wikileaks PUBLISHED those names and the Taliban is on the hunt for those people.

                • Kelly Canfield says:

                  Also, SecDef Gates:

                  Gates wrote to Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that a preliminary Pentagon review “has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised” by WikiLeaks’ July release of 77,000 “tactical” military reports from Afghanistan. Gates penned his August 16 letter a few weeks after Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the anti-secrecy organization of endangering the lives of U.S. troops and the Afghan civilians who work with them. You can read Gates’ full letter, first reported by the Associated Press on Friday — with Reuters and the New York Times soon after.

                  Your claim of deaths is bogus.

                  • becomingjohngalt says:

                    Kelly, you are taking one memo from Gates very EARLY in the investigation and focused ONLY on DOD sources and methods. There is WAY more than that at stake.

                    I never claimed deaths. I claimed innocent lives at risk.

                    I’m still bunked, I guess…..

                    • dakine01 says:

                      Just for shits and grins, what was your response when members of the Bush Admin outed an active, undercover CIA agent and blew the network she had established for tracking and dealing with nuclear proliferation?

                      Seems to me they did far more damage to US interests than anything Manning may have released, which appears to have mainly been classified as Secret (not Top Secret as an undercover CIA agent would have been) and was mainly confirming what people knew all over the world (except in the US which was why it was classified int he first place – to keep the secrets from US citizens. Rather reminds me of the “secret” bombing of Cambodia in Vietnam days – bombing that was known to those bombed and everyone but the US itself.

                    • becomingjohngalt says:

                      How did you know I just took a sh*t while grinning?

                      I think that the Plame incident was bad for her, but it was in the end limited to HER. I’m not aware that her outing jeopardized other lives, but please enlighten. People should have (and did) go to jail.

                    • frmrirprsn says:

                      You aren’t ever going to know about the people who were tortured and died because her cover was blown. Anyone from another country who had a cup of coffee with her at a conference would have been in trouble. It wouldn’t be hard, if a security agency knew she was an agent, to come up with a list of suspected collaborators in its country.

                      I don’t think you are able to imagine what she was; the years it took to build her cover; or the harm done to the U.S. when her cover was blown for political reasons. She was in a unique, and in the short run irreplaceable position to acquire some kinds of information on nuclear proliferation.

                    • becomingjohngalt says:

                      You aren’t ever going to know about the Afghani people who were tortured and died because their cover was blown by Manning. It wouldn’t be hard for the Taliban to access the Wikileaks site to come up with a list of suspected collaborators.

                    • frmrirprsn says:

                      Feel free to review all of my posts. I’ve suggested nothing more than Manning is entitled to a trial and the presumption of innocence.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      The administration has already declared that the releases caused no major problems; it’s just scared to death of the precedent and of the threat of how many other potential whistleblowers there may be, after 8 years of Bush and 2 of Obama.

                      Of course, the administration could be lying. But then, again, it could be lying about a lot of things, from its assertion of ties between Manning and Assange, that WikiLeaks actively conspired with Manning, about our great progress in Afghanistan, the reasons we went to war in Iraq….

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      That shuts up whistleblowers marvelously. It’s cynicism – destroying the lives of public servants because they prize democracy and transparency in government over the careers of individual politicians – is spectacular.

        • spanishinquisition says:

          “There is a chain of command for a reason. If every PRIVATE decides to release CLASSIFIED information just because he or she has some warped view of what is in the public interest, it leads to anarchy. What’s next, releasing nuclear launch codes or the vulnerabilities of our latest weapons systems?”

          So you want soldiers to just mindlessly follow orders, like in My Lai? You feel that it should remain secret if a group of soldiers is ordered to commit mass murder on unarmed civilians – or if a soldier objects to the killing a unarmed civilians, that that soldier is the one who is warped and should be punished for bringing mass murder of civilians to light?

          • hotdog says:

            The problem that bjg refuses to acknowledge is the one where what is claimed to be classified, has no business BEING classified. That’s the issue at hand.

  10. DonS says:

    Here’s and interesting thought for creative imaginations. What do you think would be Obama’s response to someone confronting him with the plausibility that he, like Bush, Cheney and a bunch of others are potentially subject to human rights violations that could lead to prosecution? Love to see him get his best obfuscating mind and tongue around that.

  11. waynec says:

    Reply to becomingjohngalt @ 31

    Are you aware that PFC Manning has not been convicted of anything?

    Usually, a person is punished AFTER they are convicted of a crime.

    In case you aren’t aware, that’s how it should work in the USA.

    Usually, people are tortured BEFORE they are convicted so a “confession” can be extracted. Then the confession is used to convict them.

    Can’t put it any simpler…

  12. waynec says:

    becomingjohngalt @47

    The gov’t has said it can’t prove that Manning gave Wikileaks anything.

    Can you?

  13. waynec says:

    becomingjohngalt @47

    The gov’t has said it can’t prove that Manning gave Wikileaks anything.

    Can you?

    That’s why he is being tortured.

  14. PeasantParty says:

    Glad and Gault have voiced their opinions. Please allow them to walk away with them. They do not wish to review all the facts, they are only here to see if we turn hostile as they do.

  15. larrythedirtyhippy says:

    The State Department Rubber is going to hit the c.i.a. Road. We know which wide our Business, Inc. president is on.

    • Billy Glad says:

      Now you see, that’s what creates an echo chamber. You start with the premise something or someone is fucked, then everybody adds their little comment to make sure they get on the record and keep the echo bouncing off the walls about how fucked this or that is, and anybody interjects a contrary opinion or a little info doesn’t fit into the school yell, they get labeled a troll. Truth is, I bought my ticket just like you did, assuming you bought one and aren’t riding on my dime.

  16. becomingjohngalt says:

    Well, this has been fun. But I am sure there are other threads on this board that can use a little bit of my debating skills. Remember that it’s not all bad to listen to the other side of the story – that’s why I come here from time to time. It keeps you from believing you are all that. Otherwise, you end up drinking the Kool-aid just because your messiah gave it to you.

  17. dakine01 says:

    You’re assuming that Plame was the only person damaged when her cover was blown. I would wager that in fact there were far more than just her damaged when the name of her cover firm was blown along with her identity, most likely numerous people. And the ones overseas are most likely dead.

    And in fact, there was only person who went to jail and that was Judy Judy Judy Miller who refused to disclose who had leaked the Plame identity to “protect her source” (i.e., she was protecting the law breaker, not the whistle blower). While Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury, he never served a day in jail thanks to Bush commuting his sentence

  18. CTuttle says:

    If we’re negotiating between the Israelis and the Palestinians, there will be compromises that are hard for each side to sell to their people – there’s a need for secrets.

    Why the need for secrecy anyways…? The Palestinians damn sure know they weren’t being served by their leaders, and, the Israelis haven’t, and, won’t offer any ‘concessions’ anyways…!

    From today’s JP…

    Poll finds 83% of Likud members oppose(any) concessions…


  19. becomingjohngalt says:

    Now I really do need to jet.

    Kelly, missed your last retort. Kinda was hoping you’d try again. You never got to deride me for not contributing to FDL. Not a single name-calling post either – guess you’re off your game tonight.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, hey there Bubba; did ya just come out of the woodwork for this post?? You are welcome, but don’t try to dominate the thread. Oh, and we support innocent until proven guilty and due process here.

        • becomingjohngalt says:

          Kelly, I’m proud of the jobs my company brings to India – I have been there and seen the rise in living standards that this work brings to them.

          Frankly, when everyone starts buying American, I’ll be out of that job. But that won’t ever happen – people are happy to keep crying about how American jobs are being lost, while they shop for clothes and electronics made in places like China, Thailand and Vietnam. And drive around in their Hyundais and Priuses.

          • frmrirprsn says:

            No, you’ll be out of a job when there’s no one left in America to buy what your workers in India make.

            • becomingjohngalt says:

              That’s cool with me – I’ll take that risk. Let the market decide. When YOU and others like you start buying American only, then jobs will return to our shores.

              Don’t be such a hypocrite. Jobs move because the products and services they deliver demand them to do so. If you were willing to pay $100 for American-made shoes that are the same in every respect as the $20 China-made shoes you see in the stores, then the stores will start stocking the American ones.

              Send the market your signals by exercising your wallet. And your vote. But don’t expect things to turn around just because you wish them to.

  20. burnt says:

    Okay, becomingjohngalt, which of the quarter-million or so cable/transmissions/etc (of course, not that many have been released) have resulted in a US intelligence asset being exposed? Just asking. I’m sure you can point to a specific one or multiples. After all, that’s how computers work.