Mr. PJ Crowley, Obama & Firedoglake


As you know by now, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley was effectively given the Shirley Sherrod pull over to the side of the road and resign order by the Obama White House, and the announcement was made public this morning. As Phoenix Woman noted it was reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre.

Pj Crowley told the truth, and it is now pretty clear, meant it when he said the treatment being occasioned on Bradley Manning is “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid”, and it is NOT hunky dory like Mr. Obama shamefully bleats.

But the best observation was made by Rosalind in comments noting the side splitting non-comedy of the Commander in Chief last night at the annual Gridiron Club Dinner meeting of moldy MOTUs and their press lackeys:

Obama’s whole “act” last night at the Gridiron is now up. While his minions were forcing Crowley out, he was spewing this:

But whatever challenges we face and however history unfolds, we rely on all of you — the press — to tell the story. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be in positions of power may have our gripes about how the media covers us, but that’s only because your job is to hold us accountable. And none of us would want to live in a country without that failsafe — without a free press and freedom of expression. That’s what people all around the world are fighting for as we speak. In some cases, they’re dying for those rights. And that’s what many reporters risk their lives to uphold — from Kandahar to Tripoli.

tee hee, oh my sides! s/

extra bonus: FDL got a shout-out early on:

And while I know I have my share of critics out there, I don’t focus on the negative stuff. I just don’t pay much attention to it. Most days I barely skim through the comment section of Huffington Post — Daily Kos — Fire Dog Lake — The Daily Dish — (Laughter.)

Bald faced craven comedy AND a dedicated shout out to Firedoglake during our membership drive, what else could you ask for from a Torturer-in-Chief? I would like to personally thank Mr. Obama for the plug and endorsement; though, I must say, if he is reading Firedoglake daily, he sure is not learning and retaining much. Please work on that Mr. President; we know you can do better!

Now, back to Mr. Crowley. Turns out Ozzy Osbourne, of all people, presciently wrote an ode for this exact occasion. I kid you not, it is scarily spot on for for what happened to Mr. Crowley, who indeed “uncovered things that were sacred”. The video is above, the prophetic lyrics below. Come, sit with us PJ, you will find kindred spirits here at Firedoglake; you are one of us now, trying to speak truth to obstreperous power.

Mr. Crowley, what went wrong in your head?

Oh, Mr. Crowley, did you talk with the dead?

Your life style to me seemed so tragic

With the thrill of it all

You fooled all the people with magic

You waited on Satan’s call

Mr. Charming, did you think you were pure

Mr. Alarming, in nocturnal rapport

Uncovering things that were sacred manifest on this Earth

Conceived in the eye of a secret

And they scattered the afterbirth

Mr. Crowley, won’t you ride my white horse

Oh, Mr. Crowley, it’s symbolic of course

Approaching a time that is classic

I hear maidens call

Approaching a time that is drastic

Standing with their backs to the wall

Was it polemically sent

I wanna know what you meant

I wanna know

I wanna know what you meant

Not Only Won’t Obama Close Gitmo, He’s Now Relying on Gitmo’s SOPs

As I have repeatedly pointed out, stripping detainees to “demonstrate the omnipotence of the captor” was introduced as a Standard Operating Procedure at Gitmo back in 2002 when they were preparing to torture Mohammed al-Qahtani. Abu Zubaydah’s torturers, like Bradley Manning’s jailers, call it being “God.”

That must be the standard procedure that President Obama was talking about when he gave this explanation when Jake Tapper asked him about PJ Crowley’s condemnation of Manning’s treatment.

With respect to Private Manning, 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. [my emphasis]

So not only won’t Obama close Gitmo, then, but he’s willing to rubber stamp the standards introduced there for use on American soil.

Update: Corrected the transcription.

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.

State Department’s Crowley Condemns Treatment of Bradley Manning: “Counterproductive and Stupid”

Crowley (via wikipedia)

When PJ Crowley tweeted this the other day:

These are not #Twitter or #Wikileaks revolutions. They belong to the people, but technology can expand and accelerate the pace of change.

I was going to tweet back that he had to say that, given the necessity of maintaining the Administration party line on WikiLeaks. I’ve pointed out the difficult position our government’s crackdown on WikiLeaks has put Crowley in before, after all.

But sometimes the truth has a way of slipping out:

I just heard an extraordinary remark from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. He was speaking to a small audience at MIT on “the benefits of new media as it relates to foreign policy”, an event organised by the Center for Future Civic Media.

Around twenty of us were sitting around the table listening to his views on social media, the impact of the Twittersphere, the Arab uprisings, and so on, in a vast space-age conference room overlooking the Charles River and the Boston skyline. And then, inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address “the elephant in the room”. What did Crowley think, he asked, about Wikileaks? About the United States, in his words, “torturing a prisoner in a military brig”? Crowley didn’t stop to think. What’s being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Wow. Crowley has spent the last several months condemning the abuse of Middle Eastern dictators against their citizens. And now, in a room of twenty people, Crowley has condemned the abuse our own country commits.

I’ll be curious to see whether Crowley even disputed the assertion that Manning was being tortured.

NYT: All the News That’s Fit to Authoritatively Quash

There are a couple of funny things about NYT’s public editor Arthur Brisbane’s article approving the NYT’s decision to sit on news of Raymond Davis’ CIA affiliation. Check out whom he consults for guidelines on what the NYT should or shouldn’t publish.

Bob Woodward, who wrote about secret operations in Pakistan in his recent book “Obama’s Wars,” described for me the competing priorities in play in this situation. On one hand, he said, the Davis affair is just the “tip of the iceberg” of intensive secret warfare the United States is waging in the region. “I think the aggressive nature of the way all that is covered is good because you are only seeing part of the activity, ” said Mr. Woodward, who also is associate editor of The Washington Post.

“But you just don’t want to get someone killed,” he added. “I learned a long time ago, humanitarian considerations first, journalism second.” [my emphasis]

If you’re asking Woodward–the guy who withholds everything until he can package it into a semi-official narrative, the guy whose reporting is all officially sanctioned at this point–whether to withhold news or not, you might as well be asking State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley himself for guidelines.

They’re both government flacks, after all.

But what I find really amusing is the logic that went into NYT’s decision to withhold Davis’ affiliation. Brisbane reveals the content of Crowley’s call to Keller.

Mr. Davis was charged with murder after shooting two Pakistani men in Lahore on Jan. 27. The Times jumped on the story, but on Feb. 8, the State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, contacted the executive editor, Bill Keller, with a request. “He was asking us not to speculate, or to recycle charges in the Pakistani press,” Mr. Keller said. “His concern was that the letters C-I-A in an article in the NYT, even as speculation, would be taken as authoritative and would be a red flag in Pakistan.”

In other words, Crowley called Keller and told him that if the NYT published what newspapers in Pakistan were already publishing, it would be regarded as “authoritative.”

Note, NYT’s crack public editor didn’t bother to explain who would regard it as authoritative. Nor did he explain how that would add to the considerable danger to Davis’ life. Crowley apparently just said someone might die, and the NYT decided not to report without, apparently, thinking through the logical problem with Crowley’s claim (though if they were so worried about people dying, maybe they shouldn’t have ginned up a war against Iraq?).

Now, I fully acknowledge that a great number of people here in the US have ignored the last decade of the NYT’s coverage and thus still regard it as “authoritative.”

But those people are here in the US.

Furthermore, an entire group of people who pose a threat to Davis–the people protesting–would only even see the NYT article if they happen to have InterToobz access and reasonably good English. (And it doesn’t matter anyway, given that they already fully believed Davis was CIA or Blackwater. Hell, many of them probably believe the NYT is CIA too.)

The other people who pose a threat to Davis–his jailers–already had all the confirmation they needed he was a spook in the equipment he had when they arrested him.

So basically, Crowley’s request represented a big handjob to the NYT’s inflated self of its own “authoritativeness,” and because the NYT found it credible or at least flattering that their alleged authoritativeness would endanger Davis in a way that all the reporting in Pakistan didn’t already, they withheld publication.

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Hillary Can’t Decide Whether to Impose Democracy or Not

On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told attendees at a security conference that our torturer, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, should manage the transition to democracy in Egypt.

She backed off that stance yesterday.

CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller:

On flight home from Germany, Secy of State Clinton says “we cannot and would not try to dictate any outcome” in Egypt.

Clinton says “I am no expert on the Egyptian constitution,” but if Mubarak resigns, presidential elections would have to be held in 60 days.

State Department Spokesperson PJ Crowley:

#SecClinton today: The transition to #democracy (in #Egypt and elsewhere) will only work if it is deliberate, inclusive and transparent.

Secretary #Clinton today: There needs to be an orderly, expeditious transition. The people of #Egypt will be the arbiters of this process.

Meanwhile, Robert Fisk lays out in detail the same thing I raised to explain Frank Wisner’s apparent flip-flop on whether Mubarak should go or not. Here’s what I said:

Wisner is a lobbyist for Patton Boggs, representing the Government of Egypt.

PJ [Crowley] would have been better served to say somsething like, “having utterly failed in his mission for his country, Wisner has gone back to his day job pushing whatever policy his clients think, regardless of its benefit to America.”

Here’s Fisk’s explanation.

The US State Department and Mr Wisner himself have now both claimed that his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”. But there is nothing “personal” about Mr Wisner’s connections with the litigation firm Patton Boggs, which openly boasts that it advises “the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government’s behalf in Europe and the US”. Oddly, not a single journalist raised this extraordinary connection with US government officials – nor the blatant conflict of interest it appears to represent.


Patton Boggs states that its attorneys “represent some of the leading Egyptian commercial families and their companies” and “have been involved in oil and gas and telecommunications infrastructure projects on their behalf”. One of its partners served as chairman of the US-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce promoting foreign investment in the Egyptian economy. The company has also managed contractor disputes in military-sales agreements arising under the US Foreign Military Sales Act. Washington gives around $1.3bn (£800m) a year to the Egyptian military.

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