State Department's Philip J. Crowley Resigns, Citing WikiLeaks Comments

State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley has resigned following comments criticizing the U.S. military for its treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning, a soldier detained on allegations he shared classified documents with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, according to a statement from the agency.

Crowley, known as P.J., said on March 10 the military has mistreated Manning and described the conditions of his detention as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” according to a blog posted by BBC reporter Philippa Thomas.

President Barack Obama said the U.S. Department of Defense assured him that Manning is not being mistreated. Crowley said yesterday the “impact of my remarks” led to his decision to leave the State Department.

“My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre- trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership,” Crowley said in the statement. “The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values,” he said.

Michael Hammer will take on Crowley’s former position as assistant secretary for public affairs on an acting basis, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who praised Crowley.

“P.J. has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian. His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best,” she said.

The Department of Defense responded to Crowley’s reported remarks by insisting it was adhering to U.S. laws and Pentagon policy in its treatment of Manning, which the department said includes keeping him in solitary confinement and a requirement that his underwear be removed during sleeping hours. Manning “has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night,” the statement said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey Young in Washington at jyoung89@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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