For those not in Washington DC, Al Kamen’s Washington Post column “In the Loop” is a must-read source of local gossip and snark, dishing it out to DC’s finest long before Wonkette and Gawker came on the scene. So it is with great pleasure that Wednesday’s column cited out this blog:
State stretch on blogdom?
Employees getting in trouble at work for their extracurricular blogging are hardly a new story line, but when the blogger in question is a former model fond of posting pictures of herself doing yoga in scant clothing — and she claims to be a “diplomat” — well, the Loop takes notice.
We were directed to the site of one Jennifer Santiago, who says she’s a Foreign Service officer with the State Department, by Peter Van Buren, another State Department employee. State is in the process of firing Van Buren for a variety of reasons, including his own blogging (which does not include provocative pics, but rather more substantive offenses, the State Department says, such as linking to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks and disclosing classified information, among others).
Basically, Van Buren is calling out the State Department for going after his online writings while leaving others’ alone. It seems that Foreign Service officers are governed by a code of conduct that mandates a “high degree . . . of prudence” and bars “conduct demonstrating . . . poor judgment” — anything that might hamper an officer’s reputation and ability to represent the United States abroad. Might Santiago’s racy photos and blog posts about samba-ing through Brazil be considered taboo?
“They’re being very selective about it,” Van Buren claims. “Or else they can’t monitor everything.”
But the State Department takes a broader view of officers who blog about nonwork subjects. A spokesman explains the three levels of blogdom: “Department employees who wish to write about matters of official concern must obtain department clearance,” he says. “When writing on matters of official concern in their private capacity, they must also include a disclaimer. Matters clearly not of official concern are not subject to the clearance process.”
Santiago did not respond by our deadline to an e-mail.
William Randolph Hearst once said “Show me a magazine cover with a pretty girl, a baby and a dog, and I’ll show you a magazine that sells.” We’re looking now for a photo.
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