- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Judging by his appearance on CNN last night, parsing the president’s speech, recently fired State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley is making a transition to media pundit in record time. In an op-ed for the Guardian today, he addresses the reason he was fired, his desription of the treatment of accused WikiLeaker Bradley Manning as "stupid" and "counterproductive" during a speech at MIT.
Crowley starts by arguing that Manning is" rightly facing prosecution" and "if convicted, should spend a long, long time in prison." But, perhaps since he’s already been fired for them, doesn’t walk back his previous comments at all:
Private Manning’s family, joined by a number of human rights organisations, has questioned the extremely restrictive conditions he has experienced at the brig at Marine Corps base Quantico, Virginia. I focused on the fact that he was forced to sleep naked, which led to a circumstance where he stood naked for morning call.
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. The Pentagon was quick to point out that no women were present when he did so, which is completely beside the point.
The issue is a loss of dignity, not modesty.
Our strategic narrative connects our policies to our interests, values and aspirations. While what we do, day in and day out, is broadly consistent with the universal principles we espouse, individual actions can become disconnected. Every once in a while, even a top-notch symphony strikes a discordant note. So it is in this instance.
To put it another way, if your own previously reliable spokesman is calling a government policy "stupid" in public, you probably have a policy in need of urgent review.