Ex-State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley stands by criticism of Bradley Manning's treatment

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning
AP/Graphics Bank
Bradley Manning
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning
AP/Grpahics Bank

Former State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley resigned two weeks ago after breaking from official U.S. policy by criticizing the treatment of accused Wikileaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning, but Crowley said today that he stands by his controversial comments.

"The United States should set the global standard for treatment of its citizens - and then exceed it," Crowley wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian today. "It is what the world expects of us. It is what we should expect of ourselves."

Crowley came under fire earlier this month after he called the conditions of Manning's detainment "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

Crowley was speaking at an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when a student asked him why the U.S. is "torturing" Manning. Manning is currently detained at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. on multiple charges, including aiding the enemy.

In his op-ed today, Crowley flatly rejected the notion that Manning is being "tortured." However, he pointed out that questions about his treatment have prompted a review by the United Nations. Recently, defenders of Manning's civil rights have complained about the fact that Manning was forced to sleep in his cell without clothes.

"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," Crowley wrote. "The issue is a loss of dignity, not modesty."

Crowley emphasized the enormity of the charges against Manning, asserting that the Wikileaks release of U.S. cables "placed the lives of activists around the world at risk." With such an intense focus on the Wikileaks case -- and now particularly Manning's treatment -- the conditions of Manning's detention must be better than just technically legal, he said.

"Private Manning's overly restrictive and even petty treatment undermines what is otherwise a strong legal and ethical position," Crowley wrote.

According to Martin Smith, a PBS Frontline correspondent with a new, extensive profile of the jailed soldier, Manning's detainment has made him "something of a legend, and people are taking sides about whether he's a hero or a villain."

Crowley wrote today that Crowley's treatment has implications for the United States' long-term, strategic interests.

"Part of our strength comes from international recognition that the United States practises what we preach," he wrote. "Most of the time, we do. This strategic narrative has made us, broadly speaking, the most admired country in the world."