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Bradley Manning comment costs State Department spokesman his job

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned over controversial comments he made about the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

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US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley briefs reporters in July, 2010. He resigned following critical remarks he made about the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.

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Debate over the controversial treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning apparently has cost State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley his job.

Manning is the US Army private first class being held in solitary confinement at the US Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia. Crowley has been the assistant secretary for public affairs – the main briefer on behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A retired Air Force colonel, he served on the National Security Council staff under former President Bill Clinton.

Crowley’s exodus – reported in several news sources Sunday – probably was inevitable.

Speaking at a seminar at M.I.T. last week, he described Manning’s treatment as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” although he added “nonetheless, Bradley Manning is in the right place.”

Manning’s treatment since being arrested last May and charged with providing thousands of classified documents – many of them diplomatically embarrassing – has been the subject of considerable debate.

He’s being held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in a windowless 6-by-12-foot cell, and for a time he was stripped naked at night – due to concerns about the possibility of suicide, according to defense officials.

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