WASHINGTON – Chief State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley quit Sunday after causing a stir by describing the military’s treatment of the suspected WikiLeaks leaker as “ridiculous” and “stupid,” pointed words that forced President Obama to defend the detention as appropriate.

“Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation” to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a department statement attributed to the office of the spokesman.

In a separate statement released simultaneously, Clinton said she had accepted the resignation “with regret.”

Crowley’s comments about the conditions for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., reverberated quickly, from the small audience in Massachusetts where Crowley spoke, to a White House news conference Friday where Obama was asked to weigh in on the treatment of the 23-year-old believed responsible for the largest leak of classified American documents ever.

Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day, and is stripped naked each night and given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed. His attorney calls the treatment degrading. Amnesty International says the treatment may violate Manning’s human rights.

Crowley, who retired as a colonel from the Air Force in 1999 after 26 years in the military, was quoted as telling students at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar Thursday that he didn’t understand why the military was handling Manning’s detention that way, and calling it “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” He also said “Manning is in the right place” in military detention.

A day later, Obama was asked about Crowley’s remarks at the news conference. He replied that he had asked the Pentagon whether the confinement conditions were appropriate and whether they met basic standards.

“They assure me that they are,” the president said. He declined to elaborate when pressed on whether he disagreed with Crowley’s assessment.

Crowley’s resignation statement said that his comments about Bradley’s pre-trial detention “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. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”

In her statement, Clinton said Crowley, 59, who was a spokesman for the National Security Council in President Clinton’s White House, “has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian.” She said his service was “motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy.”

Although Clinton had warm words upon Crowley’s departure, he never got along with the secretary’s inner circle. He was well-liked by the press corps, but his often unusually blunt remarks from the State Department podium got him into trouble and he had not traveled with Clinton on overseas trips in more than a year.