• Archive for December, 2012

    Slick Hilly Now Sick in Hospital

    December 31, 2012 // 15 Comments »

    Lingering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has not been seen in public and who has not commented substantively about the report blaming State Department leadership failures for the deaths of four Americas in Benghazi (below) since early December, was hospitalized Sunday after doctors discovered a blood clot during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month, her spokesman said.

    Clinton, who missed several opportunities to speak publicly about Benghazi, including most recently due to a leisurely three week recovery from a self-inflicted concussion, is now off-line once again. Her hospitalization raises new doubts that she will ever testify before Congress.

    C’mon you guys, she’s in the hospital and all now, this is serious for realz! You could make fun when she was just recovering at home but now it’s mean and inappropriate!111!

    OK, OK, while of course we all wish a swift recovery for America’s Sweetheart, we can’t help but wonder, coincidences being what they are, about the future. Too sick to testify? Sure, of course, get well soon. But questions about an older person’s ability to serve as president four accident-prone years in the future? Naw, no problem.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Price of Security at State Department: Really Freaking’ Expensive

    December 29, 2012 // 22 Comments »

    They say you can’t put a price on safety, but the State Department has: $750 million to hire 150 new security agents.

    Wait– that works out to five million per secure person hired. Where do we sign up?

    Baghdad Bonus

    Following the report on State’s security failures in Benghazi, the Department predictably tried to turn tragedy in cash money, asking for $$$ Congress previously assigned to the security needs of the World’s Most Expensive Embassy, the one in Baghdad. In a flurry of Iraq-induced mania, Congress buried State in cash last year to secure the Embassy in the aftermath of America’s victory in Mesopotamia. Because State had neither the personnel nor the programs paid for to need that much security, they haven’t spent it and want to re-purpose the money to the rest of the world, now also officially insecure and dangerous following the decade-long War of Terror.

    Buying What?

    Now before we start adding up dollars and (non)sense for the State Department, let’s take a tiny, tiny peek back at that report from Benghazi. While the report certainly did ask for more money (“The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs”), it seemed that the bulk of the report’s criticisms focused on non-monetary stuff like leadership:

    Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

    The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.


    State Needs Leadership, Not More Money

    Now, it appears that what the State Department really needs is some leaders, people more committed to serving their nation than sucking upward to please their bosses by shaving a few bucks off the security budget in Libya. That kind of thing may be harder to go out and buy, even at five million dollars a head. Indeed, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairm Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) suggested that the State Department might do better to examine its priorities before asking for more money:

    We cannot expect the same bureaucracy at State, whose management failures are now manifest, to objectively review the department’s organization, procedure and performance. Nor can we have any confidence in their assessment of what went wrong and what actions are needed to prevent a repeat.


    Ros-Lehtinen went on to critique Hillary Clinton’s launch this year of a flashy initiative to send American celebrity chefs on goodwill tours abroad, saying it seemed especially misplaced in a time of tight budgets. This blog enjoyed a fine bit of dining out on the stupidity of the chef idea, in a previous posting. Democrats in turn said Ros-Lehtinen was turning tragedy into a political football by turning Ros-Lehtinen’s partisan remark about a partisan remark into a partisan criticism. Whew.

    Where’s Hillary?

    Meanwhile, where’s Slick Hilly?

    Mrs. Clinton, recovering from what must be the World’s Longest Concussion, has not been seen for weeks. With her terrible concussion, she was unable to (again) meet with Congress to discuss her organization’s flop in Benghazi. never mind the uber-flop of Hillary’s blood-thirtsy support for the overthrow of Qaddafi that lead to the deaths in Benghazi that lead, somehow, to the celebrity chefs (I’m not sure of the link but it’s there).

    Hillary had nothing to say about the Benghazi report. Hillary had nothing to say about the Congressional criticism. Hillary had nothing to say about Susan Rice’s self-immolation, Hillary had nothing but a Tweet-length “congrats” to say about John Kerry taking over her job. There remains for Hillary a vague promise to meet with Congress in January.

    Hence, as a public service, here are some questions to ask Hillary if she ever emerges from her concussion, now at three weeks and counting:

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent domestically, on security clearances, admin support, agents with pending murder raps on paid leave, prosecuting State Department employees for extra-marital affairs, domestic staff that never leave DC and the Diplomatic Security sub-offices in places like Miami, Los Angeles and Honolulu?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on protecting the Secretary of State? State Department employees know that Hillary does not even travel inside her own building without a security escort. Overseas she gets the full-meal deal with sniffer dogs and sniper teams.

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on the growing fleet of contractor-operated helicopters and fixed wing planes State now enjoys?


    –What’s left for the other 180-some overseas posts Hillary?


    The Money Shot

    And, oh yeah, Congress, ask about this:

    The State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security saw its budget expand about tenfold in the decade after the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Contributing to that growth were the U.S.-launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11 attacks. So where’d all that money go to if not into protecting places like Benghazi? Former FSO Bill answers:

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the increased budget went to increased personnel and better security. Most of the increased funding is dedicated to Special Agent pensions under Public Law 105-382, which establishes age 57 as the mandatory retirement age for Special Agents, and computes their annuity at 2.5% of high 3 average salary times number of years. This is far more generous, and far more expensive than pension benefits for other State employees. In the late 90s, both State and ICE scrambled to get their officers designated as Special Agents, a designation previously limited to fewer agencies. While it was a prestige and morale issue for both agencies, it has had a major impact on budget expenditures. Those who complain that military pensions are too generous should note that DS uses the same formula as the military, but DS average salaries are much higher than military salaries. Once they retire with a really good pension, they can come right back as contractors, who don’t have any requirement to retire at age 57. That’s where the money goes.


    State doesn’t need more money for security. The State Department urgently needs adult supervision over the money it already has, now, before someone else gets hurt.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    “Conduct Unbecoming a Federal Officer”

    December 27, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    Sorry to interrupt your holidays, but the Federal government has found yet another new low, apparently disciplining a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee for farting. Yes, these are your tax dollars!

    Sorry to slide this blog into the realm of fart jokes, but it appears to be no joke. The time documenting the employee’s flatulence and conducted a formal disciplinary process resulted in a five page letter of reprimand even now being studied for grievance potential by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that represents the SSA worker. The letter documents not just a single instance of bad gas, but a pattern of such over a period of several months, interrupted by the “counseling sessions” required by supervisors seeking to discipline a civil servant.

    For example, it is noted that “The following dates show the time of your flatulence.” What followed was a log listing 17 separate dates (and 60 specific times) on which the employee passed gas. For example, the man’s September 19 output included nine instances of flatulence, beginning at 9:45 AM and concluding at 4:30 PM.

    The formal result was a charge of “Conduct Unbecoming a Federal Officer.” Here’s the letter.

    There remains of course the possibility that this is all a hoax, but, having received my share of letters of reprimand (none for farting, just for blogging), the letter reads real. As a supervisor myself at the State Department, I was forced to go through such a process with a civil servant who, for her own mental reasons, stopped bathing and switched to an all-vinegar diet, the combination of which created a very difficult office environment.

    Americans– taxpayers– you can stop saying now that the government in general and Social Security in particular “do nothing” and are full of lazy, incompetent boneheads. We now have written proof that the government in general and Social Security in particular have managers who know how to document a personnel issue and are full of lazy, incompetent gasbags.

    Update: There is no truth to the rumor that the gassy employee has been offered a political appointee job as an ambassador. Stop saying mean things like that!



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    For Christmas, Help Your Kids Learn the Tools of Fascism

    December 24, 2012 // 17 Comments »

    Still not sure what to buy for Christmas? Well, why not kill two birds with one stone and close out your Christmas list while helping your children get better acquainted with the tools of a fascist society. I am not making this up, though I wish to God I was.




    To begin, why not dive deep into the bowels of our control society with an actual airport security checkpoint toy, the Playmobil Security Check Point. Look at that hippie in the magnometer! He looks suspicious, maybe an actual terrorist. Better conduct a mini-body cavity search on him to ensure a peaceful and free Yuletide for proper citizens. (Be sure to read the readers’ reviews on Amazon for each item, proof that not everyone is a robot just yet).






    Next, why not a Playmobil Police Checkpoint? You can have drunk Barbie stripped and searched. As a bonus, kids can practice ratting out their parents to the law enforcement officials. Look in the ash tray Officer Good, mommy sometimes smokes extra-smelly cigarettes in the car when Daddy is out at his NRA meetings!







    Finally, no law enforcement official wants to go into a “situation” without backup, so be sure to also purchase Playmobil Police Officers, including the smiling Aryan guy with the assault rifle.



    But why screw around with toys and games when you can take a real step towards a happy Christmas with body armor sized for children. The body armor comes in eight colors and, for $200 extra, you can upgrade the protection to Level IIIA just in case that assault rifle ban doesn’t catch on in Congress. While the vest is thin enough to wear under clothing, all the cool kids this year are wearing theirs on the outside. The same online store sells the vests fitted for men and women, so the whole family can have coordinated body armor under the tree. I hereby offer a bounty of $1 cash for the first person to send in a family photo showing Mom, Dad and the kiddies in coordinated armor around the fireplace.






    But armored vests are not for everyone, which is why parents should consider a ballistic backpack for their kids this holiday shooting season. As the ad copy for this product says, “You can always be confident that the armor hasn’t been accidentally left at home. The backpack can be quickly brought to the front as a shield while fleeing the scene of the shooting.”









    It’s a Christmas miracle! Merry Christmas to all, and of course, stay low and watch your backs this festive season!



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Your State Department Douche of the Week

    December 22, 2012 // 15 Comments »

    Fun Fact: Close to half of America’s ambassadors overseas are “political appointees,” meaning they are friends of the president who typically donated large sums of money to his reelection campaign and are rewarded for this by being named ambassador somewhere. This tradition, pretty much unique to the U.S. and most third world crap nations, crosses all party lines and is warmly embraced by both Democrats and Republicans.

    These political appointees range from mildly competent to complete idiots, with a heavy lean toward the latter. And that allows me to introduce America to its ambassador to Finland, Bruce Oreck. Bruce’s official Christmas card is shown above. Oreck earned his lifetime title of ambassador and job by being the son of famed vacuum cleaner manufacturer David Oreck, and by being a major Obama bundler and Democratic contributor before getting the appointment to Helsinki. In addition to his private legal practice, ambassador Oreck served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President for his privately held family business, the Oreck Corporation. Oreck’s most important contribution to diplomacy was to bundle more than $500,000 in donations for the 2008 election.

    Not that Oreck is into himself or anything. Just if you look at the embassy homepage there’s his photo, and of course his official bio and list of really important official things he did in 2012. And then his Facebook page, and a video he made for the embassy Christmas thingee. If you watch the video you can see the mansion Oreck gets to live in that you pay for with your tax dollars.

    The good news is that your taxpayer dollars did not pay for the douchey Christmas card, that was on Oreck’s own dime. Your taxpayer dollars instead paid for Oreck’s “official” Christmas card, below, which still shows he is a douche.



    But there is good news about political ambassadors to come. Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief of US Vogue, was announced as a possible candidate for the post of US ambassador to the UK or France. Wintour co-hosted a $40,000 a head event in June at actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s home, and in August hosted a Connecticut dinner that cost $35,800 per person at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s house. By the end of the campaign she was one of Obama’s top ten fundraisers.


    We can hope that at a minimum she will have classier Christmas cards.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Privacy and Santa’s No-Fly List: Naughty or Nice?

    December 21, 2012 // 12 Comments »

    The greatest civil rights challenge of our times is playing out in real time around us, the question of whether our rights of privacy will be forever taken away. The Constitution enshrines these rights in the Fourth Amendment, but in reality the Founders found them inalienable, rights that simply are and truly need not be specifically called out. That said, being practical men, they jotted down some things in the Bill of Rights just to be sure.

    The Fourth Amendment was in fact adopted as a response to the British abuse of writs of assistance, a type of broad search order, during the American Revolution. Instead, per the Fourth, search and seizure should be limited in scope according to specific information agreed to by the issuing court. The concept goes deep into our collective Western history; Sir Edward Coke, in Semayne’s Case in 1604, famously stated “The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defense against injury and violence as for his repose.” Semayne’s Case acknowledged that even the King did not have unbridled authority to intrude on his subjects’ dwellings.

    Yet a mere two hundred some years later the whole thing is in shambles as evil men and women, people now in government who wouldn’t qualify as product in the Founder’s bed pans, seek to manipulate technology to blow away our rights. The Founders declared that we were free from the government searching our homes without a court-issued warrant, itself requiring the government to prove that such a search was necessary and limiting its scope. Various Court challenges along the way progressively interpreted the physical searches of the Founders’ days to include “searches” of mail, phone conversations and the like. Now, claiming as all tyrants do, that new rules are necessary to protect us (How does destroying our rights protect our rights?), the amazing ease of searching people electronically is being used to squash the concept of privacy. With snooping tools, packet sniffing, telecom cooperation and supercomputing, the government invades our privacy at will.

    But so what? Doesn’t Santa himself keep a close eye on us, relegating every boy and girl to his own no-fly list, naughty or nice? If you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding?

    The obvious first response is that in an era of paranoia, with “terrorists” lurking in every airport line and behind every Tweet, one does not wish to test his/her ideas of what to say or what to possess against secret government standards (if standards exist at all). For example, the New World Order agency TSA handcuffed and body searched a college student at the Philadelphia International Airport for several hours over the possession of Arabic language flashcards. The kid was returning from his home in a Philly suburb to Pomona College in California, where he was studying Arabic. Though he has used his language skills to work in Egypt through a State Department program, TSA cited as justification “his passport, with travel stamps from several Mideast countries.” TSA also noted the kid carried “a book critical of U.S. foreign policy.” In such a twisty-turney world of paranoid officials, only a fool would claim that she has nothing to hide and thus unrestrained search is not a threat.

    But the more serious and far-reaching reason the Founders worried about unfettered search by the government is that protection of privacy underlies many of the other rights we cherish, most obviously those of the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech. Free speech includes the right to write something as well as the right to own and read something. Thought is expressed via “speech” (emails, conversations, Facebook) and searches of those media strike directly at the very notion of free speech. The Fourth Amendment is necessary to protect the First Amendment. It is no surprise that 24/7 surveillance was a key component of Orwell’s nightmare future in 1984.

    So spare a thought (but don’t write it down for God’s sake!) this holiday season for those less fortunate than you, those without the right to privacy, those whose rights to free speech are being challenged by a government whose electronic ticklers reach deeper and deeper into their lives.

    Wait, that’s us, isn’t it? Better watch out, better not cry Citizens. And watch your back.




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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Benghazi Deaths: Gosh Darn, No One Really at Fault

    December 19, 2012 // 25 Comments »

    The State Department’s own version of reality in Benghazi, the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report, is ever so predictable. The report took close to three months to complete, conveniently bypassing the election to come out in the news doldrums of Christmas time. As could have been predicted, the report finds no one at State to blame really, at least not in an actionable way, and requests more money for the State Department.

    UPDATED: Only the head of State’s Diplomatic Security Bureau “resigned” (i.e., retire earlier than planned with full benefits and no official blot on his record), showing he has a micron more sense of responsibility than the people who drafted the report and, of course, the concussive-but-missing-in-action Secretary of State.

    The other three State Department officials who supposedly “resigned” over the Benghazi incident have merely been given different jobs within the State Department. The three are all relatively low-ranking employees; their names were withheld from the released version of the report and are only reported in the classified version, even though none of the three works undercover or anything like it. The classification is just to avoid embarrassing anyone.

    Money

    As always, State misses no chance to repurpose failure and tragedy (as with Iraq) into a request for more funding. The ARB report says:

    The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs, which, in total, constitute a small percentage both of the full national budget and that spent for national security. One overall conclusion in this report is that Congress must do its part to meet this challenge and provide necessary resources to the State Department to address security risks and meet mission imperatives.


    Who’s in Charge?

    The report has a few comments on leadership at State:

    Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

    The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.


    Pretty damning stuff, right? Heads will roll? After all, four Americans were killed. But wait for the conclusion:

    However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.


    Though the ARB report does sort of, maybe a little, touch on the real issue here:

    The Board recognizes that poor performance does not ordinarily constitute a breach of duty that would serve as a basis for disciplinary action but is instead addressed through the performance management system. However, the Board is of the view that findings of unsatisfactory leadership performance by senior officials in relation to the security incident under review should be a potential basis for discipline recommendations by future ARBs, and would recommend a revision of Department regulations or amendment to the relevant statute to this end.


    The Money Shot

    Your State Department in a nutshell: A report that concludes “poor performance” alone is grounds for, well, not much, even when that level of poor performance falls to lethal levels. Best thing to do is revise some internal rules. Meanwhile, four people are dead, leadership in disarray but really, no one will officially take any fall for any of this. Senior leadership problems point to a failure to lead even higher up (the buck stops where?) but the only person who said she would take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, the Secretary of State herself, is not mentioned in the report and won’t even appear before Congress to talk about it because she is in bed after “falling down” at home. Add in a couple of symbolic resignations without penalty and stick a fork in it, ’cause this one’s done babies. Now, about Hillary’s Nobel prize… too early?

    Seriously, about Hillary. Let’s assume it is true she fell down and hit her head a few days ago. Why can’t she make a public statement? Is she tied to a bed? On life support? Will it all magically be OK in a couple of days (after the hearings and news cycle?) She’s working from home we’re told, not in a hospital, so it is not that serious. NFL players get concussions and are back in the game. Really really really Hillary just can’t say ANYTHING? I am not a conspiracy monger but c’mon, this s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s disbelief just a bit much.

    Representative Allen West from Florida christened Hillary’s headache as the “Benghazi Flu,” and said “I don’t think that this should become the new normal and next thing you know four years from now we have Hillary Clinton running for president when we had this death of the ambassador” and others.



    Now, let’s watch Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body get dragged out of the Benghazi office and remember how no one will suffer, except him, for all this:




    You can read the entire steaming pile of self-cover up here if you’re having trouble sleeping for some reason, such as, perhaps Mrs. Clinton, guilt?




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    Posted in Embassy/State

    SILENCED: Documentary to Watch for in 2013

    // 5 Comments »

    Keep an eye out in 2013 for a new documentary film, SILENCED: Washington’s War on Whistleblowers.

    In addition to appearing in the film, I had the privilege of observing some of the other interviews. This is some pretty powerful stuff coming.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Hillary Calls in Sick on Benghazi

    December 17, 2012 // 15 Comments »

    Or will she go all-out and claim total amnesia?

    Hillary, now suffering from a self-inflicted concussion, dodges for the fifth time publicly testifying about the disaster in Benghazi. 2016 baby!

    Here is the piece-de-resistance de Clinton:

    Hillary Ducks Once

    Right after the attacks in Benghazi, when the US Government was still trying to sell the lie that it was all because of that dumb anti-Islam movie, Clinton did not go on the Sunday talk shows, Unter Fuhrer Susan Rice did it. And hey, Susan, how’d that work out for ya?

    Hillary Ducks Twice

    Then, just prior to the re-election of Barack Obama, lickspittle Hillary proudly proclaimed that she would assume full responsibility for what happened in Benghazi without actually saying or doing anything.

    Hillary Ducks a Third Time

    But, then she didn’t show up for the first round of Congressional hearings in November. Because she was “traveling.”

    MS. NULAND: Matt, they’ve asked for closed hearings, closed briefings; that’s what we’re complying with.

    QUESTION: The Secretary won’t appear before any of these committees?

    MS. NULAND: The Secretary has not been asked to appear. They’ve asked for the individuals that are coming.

    QUESTION: Would she be willing to fly back from Australia to appear?

    MS. NULAND: Again, she has not been asked to appear. She was asked to appear at House Foreign Affairs next week, and we have written back to the Chairman to say that she’ll be on travel next week.


    Hillary Ducks a Fourth Time

    So with the election now history, Congress scheduled some more hearings on Benghazi for December 20. Clinton was scheduled to appear and testify. But then we learned that State’s own internal report on the death of one of its ambassador’s abroad would be delayed and well, maybe Hillary would not be available. She is also listed as sole witness on the 9:00 am, December 20, hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Benghazi: The Attack and the Lessons Learned.

    But then, maybe Hillary would not be available to testify. Here’s the exchange:

    MS. NULAND: Again, the Hill has talked about a planning date on the calendar. That presumes that the ARB is finished. I don’t have any dates – any schedule of the Secretary’s to announce here. It’s dependent upon events between now and then.

    QUESTION: She hasn’t committed to testify?

    MS. NULAND: Again, it’s dependent on the work being finished. Okay?

    QUESTION: Are you aware that Senator Kerry announced that she will testify next Thursday?

    MS. NULAND: She has made clear that when the work is ready, she will go consult with Congress on it. And that’s a commitment she’s made, and she intends to keep it.


    Hillary Ducks a Fifth Time

    Well, because that lame prevarication was not enough, just the other day Hillary announced that she had the flu, and would need to cancel some travel and work from home for a full week (government employees get great sick leave benefits). And since that excuse did not seem, um, sympathetic enough when most Americans are forced to go to work no matter how sick they are, we learned that Hils got dehydrated, passed out, hit her head and got a concussion!

    One More Time?

    Update: “She looks forward to continuing to engage with them in January and she will be open to whatever they consider appropriate in that regard,” Spokesdrone Nuland said following the concussion.



    And We’re Spent

    She will thus not be able to testify before the Senate on December 20. Of course we then plunge into Christmas, New Years and poof! before you know it Hillary’s time is up, John Kerry is sworn in as Secretary of State and we are all told we are looking forward, not backward.

    The upshot of all this is that Hillary ends her term as SecState without any naughty video of her fibbing about Benghazi to follow her into the history books.

    Or into 2016.



    Note: Of course I am not implying that Hillary is faking her concussion for personal political gain. All of us here at We Meant Well wish her a quick recovery, and a joyous holiday. We join in thanking her for her tireless service to America and hope she and her staff are feeling well soon.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Nothing

    December 14, 2012 // 29 Comments »

    I normally in this space have a lot to say. Sometimes it is a lot to say about important things, sometimes it is a lot about nothing.

    I am at a loss at the deaths of children and their caretakers in Connecticut. Another crazed gunman. Another mentally ill man whose solution was murdering innocents, using the weapons of war we sell on the Internet to literally anybody in America. How many this year? The Aurora Batman guy, the Oregon guy, who can keep track?

    Obama is, pardon, dead wrong. Today is the day to talk about gun control, though yesterday would have been better. Gun control won’t solve all problems, no law can. But when faced with horror like this you start, you do something goddammit, you don’t shed a tear and cluck your tongue and change the channel. For God’s sake– for our children’s’ sake– we have thrown out most of the Bill of Rights in the name of a phony war on terror, why can’t we interpret the Second Amendment in light of our present day?

    You can love your children, or you can love your guns more. We as a nation have gone, quite simply, insane. May God help us, because we obviously have no interest or desire to help ourselves.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    State Department Lost in Cyberspace Over New Social Media

    December 13, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    Foreign Policy features an article, Lost in Cyberspace, commenting on the silly, stupid, restrictive, likely even unconstitutional new rules under review at the State Department to regulate the social media and online activities of its own employees. The majority of these changes are sort of my fault, given my year-long run of writing, blogging and Tweeting about the lump of coal that our State Department has become. One part of the new rules has even been christened informally as the “Van Buren clause.”

    Nick Kristoff of the New York Times joined the battle, stating on Twitter that “@NickKristof If the State Dept is really thinking about two-day vetting of tweets, that’s the dumbest idea ever.”

    That prompted State Department social media “guru” Alec Ross to respond “@AlecJRoss My team involved in drafting/approving. Not even close to what has been blogged.”

    Ross further stated “Updating our social-media guidelines will help make the State Dept MORE open and social media-centric, not less open. It will also make us faster.”

    Oh Really?

    Is Alec Ross’ claim is true or false? I have seen a draft copy of the new rules for diplomats’ social media regulation. Here’s a diagram from that draft. Please take a look and decide for yourself whether State’s new rules will make the organization more open, faster and social media-centric:






    As for the question of State taking five days for blog posts and two days to review diplo-Tweets, here is the relevant section of the draft rules:





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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Iraq: Worth Dying For

    December 12, 2012 // 11 Comments »

    Hey, anybody remember we had a war in Iraq that turned out kinda poorly? I know everyone is all caught up in Christmas shopping and planning intervention in Syria, but once in awhile it’s also cool to look back. In this case, about a month ago.

    Thumbnail history: U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 to free it from the evil dictator. Iraq was to be a democratic ally of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism. Fast forward to November 2012, and Iraq has freed Musa Ali Daqduq, the senior Hezbollah commander who was tasked by Iran’s Qods Force in Iraq to mold Shia terror groups into a Hezbollah-like entity. Daqduq was directly involved in the murder of five American soldiers in 2007. The U.S. government moved Daqduq to Iraqi custody in December 2011.

    Daqduq was freed by Iraqi authorities and transferred to Lebanon where there is no chance whatsoever that he will rejoin Qods or have anything to do with Hezbollah.

    The release is seen as a barometer of U.S. versus Iranian influence in Iraq. In June, the U.S. requested that Iraq extradite Daqduq so he could be tried in an American federal court. In August, an Iraqi court blocked his extradition to the U.S. Iraqi officials had previously assured the U.S. they would prosecute Daqduq. Instead, under pressure from Iran, Daqdug was sprung.

    So, in summation: U.S. invasion fails to achieve our national goals at the cost of some 4900 American lives, ally Iraq releases a known killer under Iranian pressure and the U.S. is left with the grisly option of droning his ass to death because that’s all we really can do anymore, lash out like some giant of a kid frustrated at his own failings.

    It’s a Christmas story!



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Deedy Supporters Speak Out

    December 11, 2012 // 14 Comments »

    Well, to be honest, it was just one email, but it says much about the quality of law-abiding American who thinks it is perfectly righteous to gun down some smart-mouthed punk in a McDonald’s. Out of pity more than anything else, I’ll omit the sender’s email address, though quite appropriately it was sent from an AOL.com account and no doubt typed on an aging Windows 95 system. Here’s the email in its entirety:


    Gee you are certainly an objective source of information.

    It appears that you are so full of fecal material that it is flowing out of your auditory canals.

    Translation: You are so full of Sh*t that it’s coming out of your ears.

    You obviously have some sort of axe to grind.



    This is poetry. Note the attempt at sarcasm to lead off– “Gee you are certainly an objective source of information” which is hilarious because see, it isn’t really true.

    Then the body, using repetition signaled by the clever transitional device of employing the word Translation. Symbolically, this could stand in for the gap between the rough-and-tumble world of law enforcement, where gun fights in fast food restaurants are necessary, and the soft-handed world of the blogger, where the only violence visited is the occasional incorrect punctuation,

    And finally, as a jarring conclusion, the zinger of a cliche dropping some knowledge on you. See, it all meant something.

    Thank you, dear reader, for this holiday season gift. And hey officer, time to back away from the word processor. Those donuts aren’t going to eat themselves you know!



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Deedy: Bar Hopping, Three Shots, One Kill

    December 10, 2012 // 16 Comments »

    The Washington Post, reluctantly getting off the sofa with a grunt to copy ‘n paste a story from the Honolulu newspaper, tells us:

    A State Department special agent charged with murder in the shooting of a man at a fast-food restaurant in Waikiki last year spent the night bar-hopping and drinking before going to the restaurant, prosecutors said.

    Suspect Christopher Deedy appeared intoxicated before firing three shots from his handgun — the first narrowly missed a customer, another lodged in a restaurant wall, and the third fatally wounded 23-year-old Kollin Elderts, prosecutors said in court papers.

    Deedy was not heard identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, but told Elderts he had a gun and would shoot him in the face, prosecutors said in the most detailed account of the shooting released thus far.

    Deedy had been “slurring his words as he argued with Elderts… While defendant was bar-hopping he was in possession of his 9 mm Glock, conduct that the Department of State’s rules clearly prohibit,” the prosecutor said.

    (New to the islands and don’t know about what Deedy done? Background here)

    I’ve been to that actual Waikiki McDonald’s (albeit sober and unarmed), and it is not a large place. Small, in fact, as fast food places go. Given that Deedy and the deceased were close enough that Deedy could kick him, it is very curious that a “Special” Agent could ripple off three shots and only get one hit. That is some pretty lousy shooting, at near point blank range. One is left to wonder if indeed Deedy was just a bad shot (not a bad assumption given that he was trained by the State Department), or perhaps something (too many Shamrock shakes?) might have impaired his aim.

    Well, the whole damn thing is on a surveillance video tape we can’t see, so this is mindless speculation. If Deedy ever goes to trial (I think the case is scheduled now for April 2013, following the Mayan apocalypse) perhaps we the public will see what the refs think of the taped replay.

    (“Special” thanks to the always-prescient Random Thoughts blog for the update on Deedy!)




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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Iraq: Land of Contrasts

    December 8, 2012 // Comments Off

    US State Department PRT staff outside of Baghdad horsing around in make-do wheelchairs destined for Iraqi children (Iraq is free!)








    Iraqi boy outside of Baghdad (Iraq is free!)











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    Posted in Embassy/State

    State Department to Have USG’s Most Restrictive Social Media Rules

    December 6, 2012 // 5 Comments »

    Diplopundit has a copy of the (leaked) revised rules for the use of social media by State Department employees. The rules have not been formalized, so let’s hope some smidgen of change is still possible, but my own sources confirm that what you can read about here are authentic. These rules are horrible and childish, a pathetic over-reactive lashing-out over how poorly State handled the media swirl around my book We Meant Well.

    For example, there are some wonderful catch-all “standards” that would not pass legal review at a junior high student council but which will control America’s diplomats. Here’s one:

    Employees at all levels are expected to exhibit at all times the highest standards of character, integrity, and conduct, and to maintain a high level of efficiency and productivity.

    Leaving aside the yucks so obvious even I won’t crack jokes about them concerning efficiency and productivity, what definitions and details will define and explain what the hell the “highest standards” of character, integrity, and conduct are? For example, is lying about what happened in Benghazi a highest standard? What about making a sex tape on the roof of the Baghdad embassy? Shooting an unarmed man in a McDonald’s? Wasting billions on faux reconstruction projects in Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan? I guess all that is OK just as long as you don’t Tweet about it.

    The new standards also seek to codify that what can’t be disclosed is “protected information.” In addition to the legally-based actual USG-wide standard classifications of Top Secret, Secret and Confidential, the State Department created its own unique category called Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU). State then declared that everything it does on its Unclassified network is actually SBU, meaning under the new rules “disclosing” an email from Diplomat A to Diplomat B asking when lunch is will be a violation. FYI, State is also seeking desperately to invoke the SBU rule against Bradley Manning to make his alleged Wikileaks leaks seem more horrible. State also cited my own release of SBU information (in my case, a Diplomatic Security memo written to me about me) as justification for suspending my security clearance. Of course such nonsense makes no sense in that outside of the State Department possession of such documents is not a crime, and of course as unclassified documents they should be all available under the Freedom of Information Act.

    State’s new Brazil-like rules stand in sharp contrast to the military’s. Of course the military also trusts its people with guns and sharp instruments, so maybe that does make sense.

    The State Department will have the most restrictive social media rules of any Federal agency under these new standards, proposing, among other amazing things, that all Department employee Facebook posts and Tweets of “matters of official concern” (whatever your boss chooses to define that as) undergo a two-day review process. Such rules will either require hundreds of full-time reviewers, or, most likely, be ignored in most instances and hauled out selectively when needed to punish an individual. Such selective application begs for a lawsuit.

    These changes show clearly that the State Department fears what its own employees will say about it, what truths they will reveal. Like the corrupt Communist bureaucracies of the old Eastern Europe, more and more resources will be devoted to monitoring one’s own workers, with snitches no doubt favored and promoted for “outing” social media deviants. Perhaps next Foreign Service children, no doubt more computer-savvy than their diplo-parents, will be schooled in spying on what Mommy and Daddy do online. One can only see this as positive, the bureaucracy at State consuming itself, with no one in the organization willing to trust anyone else. Whatever shreds of free speech credibility abroad are left will clearly dissipate. One can hear laughter in Beijing. 21st Century Diplomacy indeed.

    Really, these people are pathetic. Very sad, very paranoid, for a once-distinguished organization that purports speak for free speech around the globe. We’ll keep all this at hand for 2016 as a further example of how Hillary Clinton really rolls. And when are we going to stop saying “1984-like” and start saying “State Department-like”?

    The Washington Post is also covering this story. It quotes State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner as saying with a straight face the changes are merely updates “to recognize the dynamic and decentralized nature of the 21st century information environment.”



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Agreeing with Hillary: Citing Iraq Failures, Clinton Avoids Endorsing Syrian Rebels

    December 5, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    Better check the weather report to see if it is below freezing in hell, because a) Hillary just said some things that are intelligent and to the benefit of the U.S. and b) no matter how many beers I have cannon-balled this afternoon, I still agree with her and c) OMG.

    Madame Clinton, no doubt under the influence of some freakishly diabolical inhaled hallucination agent, said in actual human words:


    The U.S. must adopt a sophisticated approach in choosing who to support within Syria for fear of repeating mistakes the U.S. made after invading Iraq in 2003. Supporting the opposition must be paired with endorsing local councils committed to “continuity” and “Syrian governmental institutions,” to ensure these institutional forces don’t collapse. We know from our Iraq experience that can be extremely dangerous.

    Clinton went on to add that U.S. hesitancy to get more involved militarily and politically is at least partially because “there are so many interests by all the players, many of which are contradictory.”

    OMG. This almost suggests that Clinton has “learned a lesson from history,” that looking at the horrific nightmare created in Iraq has somehow informed her as to how to proceed in a future endeavor. “Learning from one’s mistakes” is commonly held to be a sign of sentient intelligence, an indication of higher brain functionality.

    Now, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We know that shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles have magically appeared in Syria this month, a possible game-changer in the same way that U.S.-supplied shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles significantly influenced the outcomes in Libya and 1980’s Afghanistan, not that the U.S. had anything to do with supplying said shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles to Syrian fighters. No, no, that would be wrong. Old Blood ‘n Guts Hils also joined in the chorus of threats if Assad uses chemical weapons, telling us all that “Suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur.”

    We’ll stick to the bright side of life for today, hoping that Clinton’s thoughts are somewhat sincere and representative of the White House’s broader position on Syria (she did drop another sad hint that she is running for president in 2016). Tearing apart the fiber of the Middle East certainly seemed like a good idea when we invaded Iraq in 2003, and when Hillary lustily celebrated the sodomizing of Qaddafi in 2009, and so on, so it is such a nice thing that she wishes to avoid the same scenario today. Yea for progress!



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Please Not Susan Rice for Secretary of State

    December 3, 2012 // 26 Comments »

    Obama, please do not nominate Susan Rice for Secretary of State. It has nothing to do with her being a woman, or a sort-of African-American, or even the Benghazi mess (though that’s a symptom of the broader problem). It has nothing to do with John Kerry’s Senate seat. Susan Rice is all appetite, all in for only herself and the Department of State, and America, needs a leader in the job, not another person primping her resume for what comes next.

    A Biography Fit for a Queen

    Look at Rice’s biography: She was raised in a well-to-do Washington DC neighborhood by elite parents. Emmett Rice, was an economist who in 1979 became the second African American appointed to the Federal Reserve Board. Her mother, Lois Dickson Rice, was a corporate executive and a longtime member of the College Board. Rice attended fancy schools — Beauvoir and the National Cathedral School. Her parents’ friends were people such as Madeleine Albright, the future secretary of state, who served on school boards with Rice’s mother, and whose former husband played tennis with Rice’s father. Albright became a mentor, helping to elevate Rice to assistant secretary of state for African Affairs when Rice was 32. They have been so close that people assumed Rice was her godchild, Albright said in an interview. Peggy Cooper Cafritz, a wealthy D.C. art patron, was a kind of surrogate godmother. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton took Rice to lunch when she was deciding whether to attend law school. Inheritances from husband Cameron’s and Rice’s families are largely responsible for her $20 million-plus net worth.

    Rice finished her schooling in 1990, and started work as an international management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Rice took a job with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., under Clinton in 1993. She became special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs in 1995. Only two years later, in 1997, Madeleine Albright made Rice assistant secretary of state for African Affairs when Rice was 32. It was unclear if Rice had ever been to Africa absent a short trip or two or done anything significant related to Africa outside of academia, or what the hell she knew about Africa at age 32 only seven years in the job market. Rice moved into a think tank during the Bush years and then the Obama campaign in 2008+. She has never worked outside of Washington since a brief job stint right out of school.

    The Buck Stops Elsewhere

    She was one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state ever. Among her accomplishments in the position was to be the top diplomat for African issues during the 1998 terrorist embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.

    In a 2002 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, former Ambassador to Sudan Timothy M. Carney and news contributor Mansoor Ijaz implicated Rice in missing an opportunity to neutralize Osama bin Laden while he was still in Sudan in 1996. They wrote that Sudan and Secretary of State Albright were ready to cooperate on intelligence potentially leading to Bin Laden, but that Rice persuaded National Security Adviser Sandy Berger to overrule Albright. Similar allegations were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden, in a November 2003 interview with World.

    Rice, as assistant secretary for African Affairs, also contributed to the bloodshed on the Continent, saying at one point “Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we [i.e., the United States] have to do is look the other way.”

    Rice also famously said about the horrific genocide then unfolding in Rwanda “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional midterm] election?”

    Oh, and yes, Rice’s misstatements about Benghazi, when she claimed that the attack was based on that silly anti-Islam film no one knew about until she honked about it on the Sunday teevee talk shows. According to Obama:


    If Senators McCain and Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me… but for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi? And was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received? To besmirch her reputation is outrageous.



    Not Rice’s Fault

    But none of that was her fault and she had nothing to do with any of that in any way whatsoever. The buck always stopped somewhere else for Susan Rice.

    “She always reminds me of someone who’s had every drop of Kool-Aid, always espousing 1,000 percent of whatever point of view the administration is putting forward,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    So here’s the money shot: Susan Rice is not qualified to be Secretary of State. Susan Rice would have (Spoiler Alert) told six year olds on the Sunday talk shows that Santa Claus isn’t real if Obama asked her to say that. Susan Rice for all her life has been about promoting Susan Rice, about hitching herself to a powerful person (Albright, Clinton, Obama) and then doing exactly what she was told to do in return for favorable promotions and bureaucratic protection. Susan Rice is always the handmaiden of failure without ever being tainted by accepting responsibility. Susan Rice is 100 percent a product of the slimy sad way Washington works nowadays, people who ignore the “service” portion of “public service” simply for self-advancement. Susan Rice cares not a jot for the Department of State as as organization, and little for the United States as a concept. Both exist only to serve the needs of Susan Rice. Her self-serving nature has left enough collateral damage blood on her hands for two lifetimes.

    There are some seven billion people on earth, and almost any one of them would be a better choice for Secretary of State than Susan Rice. We need better. Please?




    Bonus: Additional blah blah blah on Rice from the New York Times and a significant contribution to hagiography by the Washington Post, polishing Hillary’s reputation.



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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Another Voice from the PRT Diaspora

    December 2, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    As a former BDE ops officer and former MiTT team leader, I can say I know Iraq. Your book was dead on. We were there at the same time. I especially liked you comparing the KBR guys to the dudes that won’t stop hanging around high school. Yep, that is what we all thought of those ass clowns. My brothers fought in Iraq and I lost my best friend to an IED in 2004. Anyways, thanks for the fast read and the laugh-out-loud moments.




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    Posted in Embassy/State