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State Dept should limit self to Twitter communications


Lately I have been concerned about the job security of PJ Crowley, usual emcee of the U.S. State Department daily press briefings.

The bio on his Twitter account reads:

As U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, I carry out the Secretary’s mandate to help people understand the importance of U.S. foreign policy.”

However, recent performances would appear to be in direct contravention of this goal (see here, here and here).

Acting Deputy Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner meanwhile replaced Crowley at yesterday’s briefing, although there have thus far been no reports that Crowley has followed recently deposed U.S. allies into a coma. As the following excerpts demonstrate, Toner’s performance confirms that State Dept. employment in fact hinges upon one’s ability to be vague and self-contradictory:


Toner reports that “we are deeply saddened by the apparent sinking of a tourist boat in Halong Bay in northern Vietnam today.”

QUESTION: Sorry, you said apparently sank?

MR. TONER: It sank, okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, it either did or didn’t.

MR. TONER: It did sink. I’m confirming that it sank.


QUESTION: …so, basically, the United States feels that any – if any of these people in any of these countries feel – if the majority of the people feel that their leader should step down, they should step down?

MR. TONER: That’s not what we’re saying at all. Again, these people do have the right, though, to freedom of assembly, and that the government should allow them to exercise that right.


QUESTION: Do they want a bomb or not? Do they want a bomb?

MR. TONER: Ask Ahmadinejad.


QUESTION: And what kind of consular access have we had to [American contractor aliasRaymond Davis,’ who murdered between two and three Pakistanis last month]?”

MR. TONER: I’m not sure when the last consular access was, but I believe it’s been pretty steady throughout.

Huma Dar has provided a summary of initial consular access to “Davis” following the crime in Lahore:

The [U.S.] Consulate immediately sends an SUV that allegedly proceeds to jump the median on a major road, traveling against the oncoming traffic, running over and killing yet another motorcyclist, Ibad-ur-Rehman — who was getting married in another two months.”

An audience member at the State Dept. press briefing meanwhile encourages the U.S. to make basic distinctions in its endeavor to recuperate “Davis”:

QUESTION: …there’s two different things. I mean, there’s diplomatic immunity… and there’s innocence. I mean, are you trying to get him released based on diplomatic immunity or on his innocence?

MR. TONER: Well, it’s a fair question, Elise. Our fundamental argument here remains the fact that, under the Vienna Conventions, he should have full diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately, and we call on the Pakistani Government to do so. That said, we’re also saying that he was obviously innocent of any criminal action and was simply defending himself in a botched robbery.

QUESTION: And your evidence of that is this police report?

MR. TONER: Obviously, our conversations with him, police report, other evidence. I don’t know exactly what all that – all the evidence is.

Suggestion: the State Dept. might consider conducting its briefings via Twitter, where functionaries have proven more adept at succinctness and clarity:

PJ Crowley, 5:56 PM Feb 16th:

#KimJongIl‘s son attended an #EricClapton concert in Singapore? Actually, the #DearLeader himself would benefit from getting out more often.”



  1. hdar says:

    there’s actually more here, Belén. the state department is not even giving the true name of the “contractor” raymond davis, who murdered 2-3 people in pakistan on jan 27, 2011. so this alleged murderer is caught not only with a carload of military grade weapons and surveillance materials on him, he (“raymond davis”) is also guilty of forgery, and getting a visa under a fraudulent name! obama and kerry are trying their best to save this guy from the rule of law — a “diplomat” who doesn’t travel under his actual name! here’s crowley’s incredible press briefing from jan 27, 2011, at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2011/01/155402.htm

    QUESTION: A new topic?

    MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

    QUESTION: A new topic. What can you tell us about this Raymond Davis, the – who works at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore and who apparently shot and killed two would-be robbers? What’s his position there? Does he have diplomatic immunity?

    MR. CROWLEY: Well, let me say three things. First, I can confirm that an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore was involved in an incident today. It is under investigation. We have not released the identity of our employee at this point. And reports of a particular identity that are circulating through the media are incorrect.

    QUESTION: What does that mean? You mean the name?

    MR. CROWLEY: I mean the name’s wrong.

    QUESTION: The name that – the name that Michele —

    MR. CROWLEY: The name that’s out there is wrong.

    QUESTION: The name that was just mentioned?

    MR. CROWLEY: Including that one.

    QUESTION: The one that I just used —

    MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

    QUESTION: — is wrong?

    QUESTION: Is wrong?

    MR. CROWLEY: Not correct.

    QUESTION: But what – this – the incident involved, you say, an employee of the consulate. But is this someone who has diplomatic immunity? Is this a diplomat?

    MR. CROWLEY: Again, I’m going to leave it there for the moment. As we are able to share greater details with you, we will.

  2. Belén Fernández says:

    thanks for that addition, Huma.

    i checked crowley’s tweets from Jan. 27 to see if there was anything relevant to the mystery character. no, but i did find the following insight:

    “A new #Pew study says #Pakistan will be the most populous #Muslim country by 2030. This underscores yet again why Pakistan is important.”

    • hdar says:

      absolutely. add to the demographic boom, an increasingly younger population fast losing patience with its client regimes, and the crucial geopolitics of afghanistan, kashmir, iran and china as neighbors, and you can see what’s up next…

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