Truth Is Not an Option: The Manning/Crowley Affair

Cross-posted from Merge-Left.

The firing of State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley for speaking honestly about the barbaric treatment of accused WikiLeaker Private Bradley Manning was hardly surprising to those of us who’ve been paying attention to the Obama Adminstration since its earliest self-organization in the weeks following the 2008 election, as all the top slots that mattered were quickly filled by those directly or indirectly responsible for the very policies that Obama himself had campaigned against. Of course there were a few seeming exceptions–but those were only nominations, which quickly ran into obstacles, and were subsequently allowed to die, with Hilda Soliz as Secretary of Labor being almost the only exception that readily comes to mind.

All of which is to say, there has been far more and far deeper continuity between Bush and Obama than there has been any sort of fundamental change. As is to be expected on the national security/state secrets front, Glenn Greenwald has already penned two excellent posts on this matter, “WH forces P.J. Crowley to resign for condemning abuse of Manning” on Sunday and “The clarifying Manning/Crowley controversy” today.

Rather than rehash any of the considerable territory that he has already covered, I want to hone in on an underlying question that I feel he somewhat glosses over due to his own ideological orientation. (Glenn often gives the impression it’s apparently unsurprising hypocrisy ala “both sides do it”.) That is the question of why and how Obama continues to get by with so little criticism and opposition from his activist and voter base. It’s not that people are entirely silent, but that critical voices who do exist have not made a meaningful impact on the broader mass of activists and/or voters. Obama continues to be perceived more as a liberal than a centrist, and liberals continue to support him disproportionately, despite his clearly center-right policies, not just on national security, but across a broad range of policy areas, including such central ones as economic and foreign policy, on both of which he is well to the right of Bush Sr. and relatively close to Bush Jr.

As Greenwald himself reminds us in several instances, there is a particularly striking disonnect between Obama’s campaign rhetoric and his actual governing practice:

It’s long been obvious that the Obama administration’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers “comes from the President himself,” notwithstanding his campaign decree — under the inspiring title “Protect Whistleblowers” — that “such acts of courage and patriotism should be encouraged rather than stifled.” …. Other than Obama’s tolerance for the same detainee abuse against which he campaigned and his ongoing subservience to the military that he supposedly “commands,” it is the way in which this Manning/Crowley behavior bolsters the regime of secrecy and the President’s obsessive attempts to destroy whistleblowing that makes this episode so important and so telling.


Elsewhere, The Philadelphia Daily News‘ progressive columnist Will Bunch accuses Obama of “lying” during the campaign by firing Crowley and endorsing “the bizarre and immoral treatment of the alleged Wikileaks leaker.” In The Guardian, Obama voter Daniel Ellsberg condemns “this shameful abuse of Bradley Manning,” arguing that it “amounts to torture” and “makes me feel ashamed for the [Marine] Corps,” in which Ellsberg served three years, including nine months at Quantico.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page