Administration Forces PJ Crowley Out Of The State Dept. After He Admits That Manning Is Being Mistreated

from the what-happened-to-dissent? dept

When President Obama was campaigning and elected, one of the things he frequently talked about was how he was influenced by Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, and how President Lincoln brought together may dissenting voices into his cabinet. There were, clearly, political reasons for doing so, but part of the benefit was that it allowed voices of dissent to be heard. However, in practice, it’s appearing that President Obama has no real interest in allowing the same thing to occur in his administration, and that’s really unfortunate.

On Friday, we wrote about the quite surprising news that State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley had admitted that he felt Bradley Manning was being mistreated in prison. Crowley specifically called it “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” despite also saying he believed that Manning clearly belonged in jail, and that the leaks were harmful. When President Obama was asked about this later, he gave a very weak answer about how he had asked the Defense Department, and they assured him everything was fine:

“I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are.”

Of course, that might just raise serious questions about what the DoD thinks is “appropriate” and what those basic standards are.

But, even more troubling is the report that Crowley has resigned from the State Department, with lots of folks saying this was due to direct pressure from the administration for him to fall on his sword.

Whether or not you believe that Manning’s treatment is reasonable, this should trouble you. For a President who claimed he wanted to hear dissent from the people around him, to then force someone out for offering just that kind of dissent suggests someone focusing on remaining in their own bubble, rather than actually listening to concerns of people.

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Comments on “Administration Forces PJ Crowley Out Of The State Dept. After He Admits That Manning Is Being Mistreated”

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76 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well

“It appears that you replaced Bush with some kind of sentient AI. Well, either that or a Chicagoan. Can’t tell which from over the pond.”

Chicago politicians ARE especially adept at saying one thing and doing another. Doubly so with regard to pretending to want multiple viewpoints.

And now Rahm Emanuel is going to be mayor. Sigh….

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: Well

This is different. Under Bush, it would have been a national security issue and Bush would have fired the guy openly. Today, it’s an image security issue and so they won’t even admit to firing the guy.

Welcome to Obama’s administration. We’re just as bad as Bush, but we feel bad about it. We’ll also feel bad about lying to you. But it’s for the greater good of getting reelected.

daefwan says:

the difference

between having dissenting voices in a cabinet and presenting a unified administration or far between. his comments appear to damage the administration in public, which is something different from being a dissenting voice. whatever the administration chooses as the voice after hearing all the voices, that voice should be respected. if you disagree enough, you should leave and speak to your heart’s content. but part of working in ANY organization is that once the decision is made, you are behind the decision.

Major says:

Leave...

Leave manning alone !
Wait, no, that does not sound right…

Leave manning in solitary confinement !
Mhhh, still missing something…

Leave obama’s administration in solitary confinement !
There you go ! That will teach them to accept rampant lobbying and stupid IP protectionnism, Which is the closer you can get of “aiding the enemy” !

Oh and dont forget to put Obama on “suicide watch” the guy won’t survive it otherwise…

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s a difference between presenting a dissenting view in private and badmouthing your boss in public. Only an intellectually void person would pretend that those are the same thing. Ahem.
There is a difference between what Crowley said and “badmouthing your boss”. Only an integrity-challenged person would attempt to conflate the two.

CoCo Was Screwed says:

Let see, this is different than any corporate job because why?

I encourage any of my team to disagree with me on any decision that I have made, however, it is only appropriate to discuss that differing viewpoint in a closed door meeting. the last thing I need to do is create a conflict within the overall team. If anyone feels the need to call me to the carpet in front of others on my team, they had better prepare for the same.

Especially if it is one of my senior people, they have an obligation to the organization and to the team to present a consistent message even if they disagree. If they disagree at a substantial level, they are free to find another situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

The wording is all key.

“admits” is the problem. He didn’t admit anything, he expressed his opinion. He stated his own opinion as fact, which is not the case.

I notice you also left out his opinion that Manning was “in the right place”.

Mike, can you learn the difference between fact and opinion please?

Matt Bennett (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike, I’ve noticed this pattern of yours a few times. SOmeone calls you out on something, you do sometimes respond…..but only to mock them, never really address the concern.

Like me, this AC questioned the use of “admit” rather than say “said”. You didn’t address that.

Now you did say that Crowley mentioned he should clearly be in jail, indirectly referencing the “in the right place” comment, and so the AC was wrong. But don’t you think it would have been better to just point that out, rather being snide, and ignoring his legitimate complaint about “admit”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mike just enjoys being a dick about things, and at the same time ignoring the obvious error in his own post. See, we can be wrong (and apparently we always are), but he can never be wrong.

Mike reworded the guys statement, which in turn minimized it’s impact. He said that Manning is “in the right place”. Not only does that suggest he should be in jail, but that he should be in the jail and conditions he is being held under.

Mike just really doesn’t seem to want to address this, I feel he doesn’t want to accept that he once again shaded the truth for the benefit of making the story “better”.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“SOmeone calls you out on something, you do sometimes respond…..but only to mock them, never really address the concern.”

Since when is pointing out that someone’s wrong ‘only mocking’ them? Plus, how is it that you call Mike out for being snide, when the original commenter asked Mike to learn the difference between fact and opinion; did you need the extra irony?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Because in Mike’s “mock”, he sort of missed the point. He made a vague reference “should be in jail”, but the guys actual words “in the right place” are much clearer and more direct: in solitary confinement in jail. Mike got all upset without realizing that even in his mock, he missed the point.

He didn’t answer the other issue either. Crowley expressed his opinion, he didn’t “admit” to anything. Mike is trying to paint it like some sort of official statement, which it was not. Why can’t Mike address that point? Oh, wait, then he would have to mock himself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Why do even bother to read anything on this site?

You clearly live in an echo chamber of your own delusions. Why not stick to something like Fox News which will say exactly what you want to hear?

Also, since Crowley had previously stated that Bradley Manning’s treatment was appropriate (an opinion) and is now stating otherwise (the opposite opinion), use of the word admit is correct if one assumes that the previous claim was false or not actually his opinion at the time the statement was made. But English can be a difficult language, so I’ll forgive your inability to comprehend it.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Because in Mike’s “mock”, he sort of missed the point. He made a vague reference “should be in jail”, but the guys actual words “in the right place” are much clearer and more direct”

Where was that point in the post he replied to? All the original post said was that Mike left out his opinion, not that he didn’t use the exact same wording.

I also notice that you haven’t addressed either of my points: you’ve not explained how he was ‘only mocking’, but have provided evidence that he was actually making a point (even if you didn’t agree with it); and you’ve not explained why you objected to him being snide despite the original comment being snide.

I guess we’ll have to add another one: why do you require Mike to address every point in a post he replies to, but won’t address one point in a post you reply to?

Matt Bennett (profile) says:

Mike, you’re Liberal, just “admit” it.

‘Cuz you see, there’s a mile of difference between a guy “admitting” something, “admitting” something implies there was a fact there, versus that guy stating his opinion about what a series of facts constitute.

“Admitting” is also Pejorative, and implies something was done wrong. Now that,, right there, is in dispute.

Cuz the facts here are not in dispute. The military is really pretty open about the exact treatment Manning has received, it’s been reported on widely. What’s in dispute is what that amounts to. Some people have called it “torture”(Hah!), to others it seems not all that different than normal military prison, which, btw, freaking sucks.

To me, eh, it looks a little unnecessarily heavy handed, but frankly the military tends to do that. (I got put on “restriction” once…..I might have preferred to sit in a jail cell.)

Point is, there’s nothing to “admit”, the facts are neither secret nor in dispute, but the interpretation of those facts is still in debate. By using the pejorative “admit” you saddle the issue with all these accusations–that there are secrets being kept and that military has done wrong–without actually having to say them.

It’s a not so subtle slander attempt, and it really ruins the illusion of non-partisanship you try to convey.

Matt Bennett (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, first of all, you once again refuse to defend the action or comment in question.

And all sorts of default positions and attitudes have a political spectrum to them…..and two of the clearest is attitude for and against the military, and wikileaks.

There quite a few issues that pit Liberals against Obama….wikileaks is one of them.

As far as a “liberal” being someone who disagrees with me……it doesn’t hurt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I do know myself, and that is how I know I do not fall into the easy labels you wish everyone to fall to. You do realize there are more than two sides to every issue, right? Your two parties aren’t mirror images, they’re differently named duplicates. They do not differ so far on the issues as you pretend, and that is making our country weak.

The Original Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

What did Crowley "admit"?

Mike – Please don’t turn your excellent blog into another grocery store checkout line newspaper by using outrageous headlines.

P.J. Crowley didn’t “admit” anything. He stated his opinion about Manning’s situation and nothing that he said in that story should lead anyone to believe that he has first hand knowledge of how Manning is housed/confined/tortured/etc…

I agree with you about how the current administration has not lived up to it’s earlier promises concerning openness, transparency, diverse views, and so on, so please keep up the good reporting and analysis but don’t screw it up with National Enquirer type headlines.

ps. Check out the latest Charlie Sheen story at the Enquirer. It’s a hoot.

JMT says:

Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

“P.J. Crowley didn’t “admit” anything.”

The dictionary defines “admit” as allowing or conceding as valid, to acknowledge, to grant in argument. Sounds close enough to me, so I think quibbling over the post’s title is maybe missing the big picture.

“He stated his opinion about Manning’s situation and nothing that he said in that story should lead anyone to believe that he has first hand knowledge of how Manning is housed/confined/tortured/etc…”

Given his (former) position, we might well know exactly what Manning’s conditions are, or he might’ve just read about it in the Washington Post like lots of other people. Does it really matter? Do you think “ridiculous and counter-productive and stupid” is an inaccurate description of Manning’s treatment?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

Really, he admitted nothing. He “opined”. He expressed his personal opinion, nothing more. An admission would be something that would come officially, as in “The State Department Admits That…”

Mike once again gets caught shading the truth, and doesn’t want to address it.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

Mike once again gets caught shading the truth, and doesn’t want to address it.

Only one “shading the truth” is you, buddy. But you do it so poorly no one’s buying it, other than the few others here who are so desperate to attack me. Fun to watch, but amusing to see how everyone else knows its bunk.

My post was accurate and I stand by it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What did Crowley "admit"?

Mike, how come you don’t address any of the other issues?

You don’t want to admit you made a couple of good errors on this one?

I am not “desperate to attack you”, it’s damn easy to spot when you decide to move the line a little, shade the truth, or downright try to put words in other people’s mouths.

I mean, if you can’t accept that the guy expressed his personal opinion (no different from yours), instead of “admitting” something, it’s pretty hard to see how anyone can take you seriously.

The Original Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

I AM quibbling over the post’s title because it distracts from the point of the article. From what I understand, Mike wanted to write about a guy who expressed his opinion on a topic and was fired for it. Because of the post’s title a good number of people have gone off on tangents about all sorts of other things.

It bothers me a bit that many writers these days use all sorts of “shocking” headlines to get people to read their articles. I wish that Mike wouldn’t do that. I agree with his analysis about 75% of the time but I sometimes have to fight my way past some kind of tabloid headline to get the gist of the article.

Concerning Mr. Crowley’s knowledge of Manning’s situation, I seriously doubt that he’s been to the military brig and observed the suspect himself. If he had actual first person eyewitness knowledge, I would have thought that he would have stated that in the interview.

Since I have not been to the brig either, I have no way of knowing if Manning’s treatment is “ridiculous and counter-productive and stupid” and I would also be very surprised if anyone who has posted comments to this blog has been there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

I would also be very surprised if anyone who has posted comments to this blog has been there

Including Mike.

That is why “admitted” is a reach here. It distracts from the reality of the whole deal:

This guy, who has a significant official capacity, expressed his opinion in public, and his opinion is the opposite of the “official line” as part of his job. He didn’t admit anything, but he did an amazingly good job of undermining his own credibility and as a result, no longer has that job in that official capacity.

Mike (and many of the other Manning apologists) have been trying to play this as some official statement from the administration, which it is not. There is no “admission”, just opinion.

I do wish Mike would be man enough to admit his error (without attacking me personally to avoid it).

Matt Bennett (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What did Crowley "admit"?

No, mike it isn’t. “Admitted” denotes primarily two things. That there was a secret, and that he was revealing a fact. Are you trying to say those two things are true? Cuz I will knock down that assertion quite soundly, if you are.

I have yet to see you ever admit (no quotes) that you might have shown an inappropriate bias. Just own up to your mistakes, you arrogant bastard, it’s not that big a deal, but refusing to either realize it or “admit” it is.

greg.fenton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 What did Crowley "admit"?

“Admitted” denotes primarily two things. That there was a secret, and that he was revealing a fact.

Sorry, I don’t see any such requirements when I review the definition of the word “admit”. One valid definition is

to grant in argument; concede: The fact is admitted.

which neither requires secrecy nor revelation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 What did Crowley "admit"?

to grant in argument; concede: The fact is admitted

What is funny is you typed it and didn’t even understand it.

The fact is admitted. But it isn’t fact, it’s his opinion. He admits nothing (because he has no facts to admit), he only has an opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 What did Crowley "admit"?

Have you tried looking up the definition of fact?

Your whole bitchy argument rests on that word and you don’t seem to know its many meanings. It isn’t an opinion that Bradley Manning is being mistreated; it is a fact. Your lack of objectivity in the matter makes your assertion opinion, whereas, the statements of multiple doctors who have visited him and military personnel who have overseen past prisoners in similar circumstances can be considered an objective fact.

By your reasoning, there can be no facts except those which you decide based on your own experiences.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: What did Crowley "admit"?

“I AM quibbling over the post’s title because it distracts from the point of the article.”

Then you must be easily distracted because I didn’t have that problem and neither did most of the other commenters.

“Concerning Mr. Crowley’s knowledge of Manning’s situation, I seriously doubt that he’s been to the military brig and observed the suspect himself.”

So? Do you think if he had any doubts about the reports of Manning’s conditions that he would’ve stated his “opinion” so vehemently? He’s in a much better position than you or I to know the truth. He wasn’t pressured to resign because he got the story wrong, it was because he got it right.

Benjamin (profile) says:

Disappointing

I very proudly pulled the lever for President Obama, but in doing so, I assumed that I was casting my vote for someone who understood that telling the truth, and doing the moral thing might have consequences, but that those consequences would never be worse than doing the easy-but-unethical thing in secret.

It seems that I may have gotten the wrong impression. I only wish there were a candidate who wouldn’t send us down a vortex of mendacity that could provide a viable alternative. I’ve never heard a Republican candidate for anything who wouldn’t have subjected Manning to the same treatment.

BBT says:

Generally it's a safe bet with Obama...

“For a President who claimed he wanted to hear dissent from the people around him, to then force someone out for offering just that kind of dissent suggests someone focusing on remaining in their own bubble, rather than actually listening to concerns of people. “

If Candidate Obama said he was going to do do something, it’s a safe bet that President Obama will do the opposite.

We traded a President who promised he would do terrible things, and then did them, to a President who said he would do good things and then did terrible things anyway. I guess that’s progress?

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