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State Deptartment Spokesman Criticizes DOD Treatment of Bradley Manning

3:28 PM, Mar 11, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley was asked for his thoughts on Bradley Manning's imprisonment. Here's the exchange, reportedly:

[O]ne 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.” He paused. “None the less Bradley Manning is in the right place”. And he went on lengthening his answer, explaining why in Washington’s view, “there is sometimes a need for secrets… for diplomatic progress to be made”.

Manning is, of course, the man who is accused of leaking a mass of documents to WikiLeaks, which embarrassed and hurt the State Department, and put troops in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

It doesn't seem to matter to Crowley that, as John McCormack reported, Manning actually seems to be getting rather good treatment. "Manning only gets access to basic local TV for one to three hours on weekdays and three to six hours on weekends; only gets two hours and twenty minutes a day to write correspondence; only has access to one magazine or book at a time; only gets one hour of exercise a day; only gets to meet with visitors for three hours a day on weekends and holidays," McCormack reported.

But it does seem to matter to the rest of the State Department, which moved today, after Crowley's comments surfaced, to distance themselves from their spokesman. CBS reports:

A State Department official told CBS News that Crowley's comments reflected his personal opinion and do not reflect the official policy of the U.S. government.

In other Crowley news today, the State Department spokesman apparently thought it would be wise to use Twitter to say this, earlier this morning:

"We've been watching hopeful #tsunami sweep across #MiddleEast. Now seeing a tsunami of a different kind sweep across Japan."

As Josh Rogin reports, Crowley later realized that maybe that Tweet wasn't such a good idea -- and deleted it from his account.

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