State Dept's PJ Crowley talks sense, loses job

US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley has lost his job after making comments about the treatment of the man accused of leaking secret cables to WikiLeaks.

Crowley was asked last week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about "torturing a prisoner in a military brig". In replying he said he'd spent 26 years in the US Air Force and he thought that, "What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence."

He also said, "I don't know why the Department of Defense is doing it", before adding, "Nonetheless, Bradley Manning is in the right place."

The remarks led to Crowley's resignation in circumstances which remain unclear. We suspect someone had a quiet word in his shell-like.

In his resignation letter Crowley said his comments, "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. The exercise of power in today's challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values."

Crowley said he took full responsibility for his remarks and wrote that he agreed that leaking classified information was "a serious crime under US law", but did not backtrack on his criticisms.

Manning has been held in solitary confinement for the past 10 months in conditions that have been likened to torture. He is kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and stripped naked at night.

President Obama was forced, following Crowleys' outburst, to defend the way Manning is being treated. He said he had been informed by the Pentagon that Manning's treatment was 'appropriate'.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she accepted Crowley's resignation "with regret", saying he had served his nation "with distinction", and was "motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy".