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Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 03/30/2011

Ex-State Dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley has ‘no regrets’


Then-U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley speaks at the daily briefing at the State Department in Washingto,DC on Feb. 22. (NICHOLAS KAMM - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
P.J. Crowley, the now-ex State Department spokesman who resigned after he called the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source, Pfc. Bradley Manning, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” is speaking out.

Crowley has not been shy about standing by his previous statements, even though they cost him his job. In an interview with the BBC’s HardTalk, Crowley said he had “no regrets” regarding his remarks, and that Manning’s treatment was detrimental to the United States. “I thought the treatment of Bradley Manning was undermining what I considered to be a very legitimate prosecution of an individual who has profoundly affected US national security.”

Asked whether he expected the blow-back that resulted, Crowley said, “Quite honestly, I didn’t necessarily think the controversy would go as far as it did but I don’t regret saying what I said.” And pressed as to whether the White House asked him to step down, Crowley refused to speak as to internal deliberations within the executive mansion, saying, “I’ll leave it to the White House to describe their reaction.”

“When it became public,” explained Crowley, “I clarified that the comments were my own personal views and did not reflect U.S. policy, but as the day went on and eventually the matter became one for the president, I felt that my actions had put the president in a difficult position, and I felt that the only appropriate thing for me to do was to resign.”

Crowley’s refusal to speak ill of his past employer did not prevent him from delivering his own assessment as to Manning’s treatment. Asked how he felt about the president’s having said he was assured that Manning’s treatment was being handled legally and ethically, Crowley said, “I can only offer you my view. It is one thing that actions can be legal, it’s another thing that actions can be smart.” He went on to call Manning’s detention “legitimate and necessary” — a position he has maintained since leaving his State Department post.

The BBC interview is merely part of a media tour of sorts that Crowley has been undertaking since his resignation. In an op-ed for the Guardian, Crowley explained why he called Manning’s treatment “stupid,” writing:

Based on 30 years of government experience, if you have to explain why a guy is standing naked in the middle of a jail cell, you have a policy in need of urgent review. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point.

And Crowley’s writings don’t end with the Guardian op-ed. Most recently, he took to the Huffington Post to blog about the effect the ongoing budget impasse and a potential government shutdown could have on the United States’ ability to influence the outcome in a changing Middle East landscape:

...where decisive and timely action can be critical in such a fluid and unpredictable period, the federal government, solely responsible for execution of the foreign policy of the United States, may shut down because of the FY2011 budget impasse. Even if paralysis is somehow averted, the needed resources may not be available if the final budget resolution resembles the framework advanced by the House of Representatives under HR-1.

Crowley has also remained vocal on social media, maintaining a Twitter account where he speaks openly about U.S. foreign policy issues, defense and national security. Some of his tweets would, if he were still spokesman for the State Department, be considered a bucking of the administration’s message. For example, in a March 25 tweet, Crowley said, point blank, that the U.S. goal for Libya was the “departure of [Gaddafi],” contrary to the administration’s position that the goal was to successfully maintain the no-fly zone and stop Gaddafi from killing his own people:

#HASC Chairman @BuckMcKeon asks in @washingtonpost http://wapo.st/eb0jHP what the U.S. goal is for #Libya? It is the departure of #Qaddafi.less than a minute ago via web

Crowley may have left the State Department podium, but has not done so quietly. It remains to be seen whether his blogging, op-ed writing, and social media presence combine to create a long-term headache for the White House and eventually the Obama 2012 campaign.

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