Top State Dept. official resigns over impact of remarks on gay soldier’s WikiLeaks

The White House allegedly pressured the State Department’s top spokesperson to resign Sunday, over comments he made suggesting that the gay soldier arrested in the WikiLeaks scandal is being mistreated.

P.J. Crowley was the Assistant Secretary of State, in charge of media relations, until Sunday, March 13. That’s when he resigned and speculation began that he had been forced out.

Why? Because Crowley told a university seminar in Boston last Thursday that the Defense Department’s treatment of WikiLeaks alleged informer Bradley Manning was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” He didn’t say much more than that and, in fact, added that he felt it was appropriate that Manning is still being detained. But his remarks were, nonetheless, seen as a harsh criticism of the Defense Department. When Crowley resigned Sunday, he acknowledged it was because of the “impact of my remarks.”

Manning, a 23-year-old Army private assigned to military intelligence analysis, has been in solitary confinement in a military jail in Virginia since July when he was charged with having turned over more than 250,000 internal State Department cables to WikiLeaks, an Internet site which has made them public. WikiLeaks claims that fewer than 16,000 of those documents were classified secret, but numerous officials in the Obama administration have said they could have significant consequences.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton characterized the leaks as tantamount to “an attack on America’s foreign policy interests.” But they were also clearly an embarrassment, with the cables characterizing some heads of state as “thin-skinned” or using Botox, and with directives that State officials gather very personal information about various diplomats.

Manning, who identified himself as gay in a Facebook posting, has been charged with “aiding the enemy,” a charge suggesting the government is inclined to treat his activities as spying. He has also been charged with theft of public records and with causing intelligence data to be published on the Internet, among other charges.

During a press conference Friday, President Obama was asked about the Defense Department’s treatment of Manning.

“I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate, and are meeting out basic standards,” said Obama. “And they assure me they are.”

Manning’s attorneys say he has been made to strip down to his underwear or naked every night. Obama did not confirm any particulars but hinted that some actions were being taken are for Manning’s own safety.

“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,” said Obama.

Manning’s attorneys say he is also being denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial. Some reports suggest a pre-trial hearing isn’t likely until May at the earliest.

2 Responses to Top State Dept. official resigns over impact of remarks on gay soldier’s WikiLeaks

  1. ldfrmc says:

    What does the soldier’s sexual orientation have to do with anything?

  2. John says:

    Obama asked the Pentagon and the Pentagon assured him?! Gee I guess that gets Obama off the hook yes? “Gee… we asked the accused if they were guilty and they said “No” so investigation closed. It appears our ‘civil rights’ watch dog has become just one more toothless lap dog for the barbarians at the gate.

    While I do not agree with what Manning has done, I despise torture. Manning is being tortured, even the UN has raised concerns as has Amnesty International. Crowley, a 30-year veteran at the highest level of U.S. Government has himself somewhat blown the infamous whistle and rather than allow Obama to censor him, he has resigned. This took a great deal of courage and put Obama in the same disgraceful camp as Bush at Abu Garab.

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