Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid": State Dept.'s P.J. Crowley, prior to forced resignation, on Pentagon's treatment of PFC Bradley Manning

On Sunday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned, just days after his remarks to a BBC journalist--at an informal lecture--about the abusive treatment of long-detained whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning:

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.” 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”.

But still, he’d said it. And the fact he felt strongly enough to say it seems to me an extraordinary insight into the tensions within the administration over Wikileaks.

A few minutes later, I had a chance to ask a question. “Are you on the record?” I would not be writing this if he’d said no. There was an uncomfortable pause. “Sure.” So there we are.

The next day, a group of residents and activists, including Code Pink, mounted an impromptu protest march that began at the State Department and concluded outside the White House. They applauded P.J. Crowley's candor and urged President Obama to put a stop to the unconstitutional pre-trial treatment of Manning.

Former C.I.A. analyst and present-day peace activist Ray McGovern--who last month attended a speech by Secretary Clinton and was bound and physically dragged from the room after merely standing and turning his back in silent protest--was among those who gathered peaceably in protest of the Obama administration's amplification of Bush-era detention and torture policies.

And so was Lisa Simeone (between the 1:20 and 1:30 minute mark, in black coat and sunglasses). Lisa reports that the group included both ordinarily-dressed citizens and some prison-garb-wearing activists and that, despite having been organized at the last minute, the mood among (and surrounding) the protesters was upbeat and positive, with onlookers saying things like "God bless you".


Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

-- Hermann Goering

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