SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton’s chief spokesman has resigned three days after publicly criticising the treatment of WikiLeaks suspect, Army private Bradley Manning, as “counterproductive and stupid”.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley slammed the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning, who is suspected of leaking thousands of diplomatic cables and military documents.

“Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State,” Crowley said in a statement released by the State Department on Sunday.   On Friday, Crowley was asked about the US “torturing” Private First Class Manning, who is in military detention.

Crowley said Manning’s treatment by the Defence Department, which includes solitary confinement and being forced to sleep naked, “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid,” BBC reporter Philippa Thomas wrote on her blog.

“Nonetheless Bradley Manning is in the right place,” Crowley said, adding “there is sometimes a need for secrets” to advance US diplomatic interests.  Later on Friday President Barack Obama insisted the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning was appropriate.  Manning, 23, was arrested in June while he was deployed in Iraq, amid suspicions he had passed a trove of secret US government documents to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website.

Last week the US military unveiled 22 additional charges against him including the serious offence of “aiding the enemy”, which carries a potential death sentence.  But the army said he would face possible life in prison.

In his statement on Sunday, Crowley said his remarks “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.”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted Crowley’s long service to the US in accepting his resignation.

“(Crowley) has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian,” she said.

“His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.”

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