P.J. Crowley's Downfall

P.J. Crowley's Downfall

P.J. Crowley's Downfall

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 14 2011 1:31 PM

P.J. Crowley's Downfall

It sounds even stranger when you type it out: the spokesman for the Secretary of State resigned over comments he made at a seminar of around 20 people at MIT. It sounds so strange that the Guardian muddled it a bit in one of the first stories on the matter.

Hillary Clinton 's spokesman has launched a public attack on the Pentagon for the way it is treating military prisoner Bradley Manning , the US soldier suspected of handing the US embassy cables to WikiLeaks .

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Not really; it was a non-reported, non-televised talk to a small group that happened to be blogged. He wasn't saying he spoke for the administration, much less that he knew the facts of the case. It was a comment in confidence; that was enough to embarrass the administration and boost him out. Josh Gerstein has the group's response.

In the context of an open and honest discussion in an academic institution, we were eager to hear Mr. Crowley’s views and willing to give him our opinions and advice. It is this type of openness to dissenting opinions, frankness of assessments, and honesty of discourse that leads to both the advancement of human knowledge and the healthy function of an open, democratic society. We are discouraged to find such dialogue prompting the resignation of a public official. If public officials are made to fear expressing their truthful opinions, we have laid the groundwork for ineffective, dishonest, and unresponsive governance

This seems like a smaller issue than that of whether Bradley Manning is being treated unfairly, but it's an issue.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.