Stupid Commentary

The big administration news over the weekend was the resignation of State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. At MIT on Thursday, Crowley called the Defense Department’s treatment of Bradley Manning, accused of being the source of the loads of classified information that made it to WikiLeaks and currently held at Quantico, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Oops. Crowley did say that Manning should be custody, but in a statement on Sunday, he explained why he felt he needed to comment on the accused's treatment: “My recent 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.” Amnesty International has reported on Manning’s mistreatment, saying that he’s been kept in a windowless cell and forced to sleep nearly naked at night, without pillows or blankets.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she appreciated Crowley’s “deep devotion” to public service. In line to replace him is Mike Hammer, the former NSC spokesman who has been waiting in the wings. Even before the Manning incident, Crowley had reportedly fallen out of favor with the department. Hopefully Hammer will settle in as quickly as Jay Carney has in the White House pressroom.

The Japan crisis continues. In a statement, Carney said that Washington has sent search and rescue teams—144 people and 12 dogs—to Japan to help in the search for survivors. The administration has pledged to give Tokyo “whatever assistance is needed.” The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived in the area yesterday to help refuel Japan’s helicopters and transport troops.

Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton was in Paris today to meet with the G8 and discuss Libya. Whether or not to impose a no-fly zone over the country was expected to be near the top of the agenda. Next she’ll head to Egypt and Tunisia to be a physical reminder that Washington supports democratic change in the region.