Bradley Manning: WikiLeaker, Part 3
Comments from the State Department and a Resignation
By spring 2011, Manning's name was almost as well-known as Assange's. Even though it was Manning who was arrested and imprisoned and who faced serious charges, for the most part, the press had fixated on the far more charismatic leader of WikiLeaks. Part of the attraction to Assange, also had to do with sex: Assange had slept with two women in Sweden in August 2010, but the women later claimed that they had not consented; and there was an international manhunt for Assange, who became something of a nerd celebrity. The case against Assange in Sweden has not yet gone to trial,
But when Bradley Manning's treatment in prison became publicized, everyone knew his name. It was, if the chat logs were to be believed, the very thing he didn't want. He wanted the information "out there," but he didn't want the press attention that he was now getting.
The crescendo of Manning attention reached the highest levels of the U.S. government. On March 13, 2011, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley gave a speech at M.I.T. Blogger Philippa Thomas was among the crowd and reported the speech, which quickly became national news. "I just heard an extraordinary remark from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley," she wrote:
"Inevitably, one young man said he wanted to address 'the elephant in the room.' What did Crowley think, he asked, about WikiLeaks? About the United States, in his words, ‘torturing a prisoner in a military brig?’ Crowley didn't stop to think. What's being done to Bradley Manning by my colleagues at the Department of Defense ‘is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.’ He paused. "Nonetheless Bradley Manning is in the right place."
His comments caused a firestorm, with a State Department spokesman directly criticizing the actions of the U.S. Army. Crowley tried to explain that his statements were his own personal opinion, but he was still caught between a rock and a hard place.
The next week he resigned, releasing a statement: "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. Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State."