This was so obviously predictable that I didn’t bother to predict it, but now we have it: “PJ Crowley resigns over Bradley Manning remarks.” Crowley, as you recall, was the official spokesman at the State Department who dared utter a fragment of the truth last week when he said that the Obama Administration’s torture of Bradley Manning is “counterproductive and stupid.”
To be sure, Crowley hastened to assure his audience — an MIT seminar — that he thought Manning belonged behind bars for throwing some light on the violent, witless and criminal grindings of the American war machine. But his remarks did drag the Obama Administration’s torture regimen into the light of day. Even the sainted Nobel Peace Prize Laureate his own self was forced to address the issue when he was asked in a press conference about Crowley’s statement. Obama then issued his now-notorious defense of his torture of Manning, say that he had checked with the people who were torturing Manning and they said that their torture of Manning was OK. And that, said the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was good enough for him.
After this, it was obvious that Crowley’s days were numbered — or rather, his hours were numbered, for he scarcely lasted more than a day before the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate forced him from office for the high crime of causing the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to face the momentary discomfort of having to publicly address his torture of an Amerian soldier.
To his credit, Crowley did not go quietly, saying that he stood by his criticism of Manning’s treatment — which includes forced, public nakedness — and adding that his MIT remarks “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.”
Of course, one should not now turn Crowley into some kind of moral exemplar. For the fact remains that he has faithfully and willingly served the Obama Administration as it has perpetrated a series of war crimes, eviscerations of constitutional liberties and abuses of human rights at home and around the world — while protecting its predecessor from the slightest hint of investigation or prosecution for doing the same.
Crowley was proud to serve in an administration that is brazenly carrying out an illegal war of “extrajudicial killing” in the non-belligerent state of Pakistan — a brutal blunderbuss of a campaign that has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians.
Crowley was proud to serve a president who sent his own national security honcho to Congress to affirm, under oath, that the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has the power — and the right — to kill any human being on earth, at home or abroad, if he arbitrarily declares that his target is a “terrorist threat.”
Crowley was proud to serve as a top spokesman for a government which has now far outstripped all of its predecessors as a money-grubbing merchant of death to some of the most odious regimes on the planet.
None of this prompted any resignation, or outcry, or pointed remarks to MIT seminars from Crowley. It was only when the torture of a white American soldier became so blatant that it could no longer be ignored that Crowley felt outraged enough to speak out. Manning’s case is indeed outrageous, but as wise man Arthur Silber noted recently, “the horrifying case of Bradley Manning is an especially high profile one, but he is hardly the only victim of even this particular form of the U.S. government’s monstrousness.” Crowley was happy to ignore all the other victims while facilitating the monstrousness of American foreign policy by serving as its official spokesman.
Still, any little sliver of light that gets through the slagheap of lies that power heaps on our heads day after day, hour after hours, is welcome. And if the minor controversy over Crowley’s resignation (which the NY Times and Washington Post buried deep in blog posts — although people in the UK were allowed to read it on the front page of the Guardian site) results even in some minor mitigation of Manning’s conditions, that will be all to the good.