I wish I could say I am surprised, but I’m not.
P.J. Crowley is abruptly stepping down as State Department spokesman under pressure from the White House, according to senior officials familiar with the matter, because of controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case.
Crowley will step down as early as Sunday afternoon, the officials said, because White House officials are furious about his suggestion that the Obama administration is mistreating Manning, the Army private who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, under suspicion that he leaked highly classified State Department cables to the website Wikileaks.
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But Crowley has told friends that he is deeply concerned that mistreatment of Manning could undermine the legitimate prosecution of the young private. Crowley has also made clear he has the Obama administration’s best interests at heart because he thinks any mistreatment of Manning could be damaging around the world to President Obama, who has tried to end the perception that the U.S. tortures prisoners.
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A little-known factor in Crowley’s comments about Manning was revealed Saturday by April Ryan, a White House correspondent for American Urban Radio who covered Crowley in the Clinton White House.
Ryan wrote on Twitter that Crowley “dislikes treatment of prisoners as his father was a Prisoner of War.”
While it’s true that Crowley’s father was imprisoned during World War II, people close him downplay that as a major factor in his comments about Manning, saying the biggest factor is simply that Crowley believes what he said.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It is possible to object for more than one reason.