• An Example of Petty Corruption and Cronyism at State

    January 23, 2013

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State

    A bit of “inside baseball” for you State Department enthusiasts, this article also illustrates the type of petty corruption and cronyism that helps render our government so ineffective. When “public servants” are more committed to serving their own needs above the nation’s, we are all in trouble.

    Note: we are all in trouble.



    Get to Know the Score

    Part of the the Department of State, the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA), among other things, issues all U.S. passports. Passports are a huge cash cow, generating enough money alongside visa fees to self-fund the Bureau. Maura Harty was head of CA in 2007 when, after ignoring obvious evidence, the Bureau grossly failed to keep up with demand for passports. Harty tried to cover up the mess she presided over, going as far as (some say) fibbing to Congress, and was fired (er, allowed to retire). More details if you want them, here. I was State’s liaison to Congress during the passport fiasco, and had a ringside seat to it all. I was transferred out of the liaison job for failing to lie adequately to Congressional staffers in accordance with CA’s “talking points,” which I knew to be comically false and purposely misleading.

    Slime

    Many of her former colleagues in CA thought Harty was treated unfairly– after all, the cover-up was designed not only to hide her own incompetence but also to protect the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The vast sums of money generated by passport and visa fees allow CA to function with far less scrutiny than most parts of the Federal government. CA is allowed to control its own budget in large part, semi-autonomously from even its parent organization the Department of State. CA, for example, maintains a huge budget surplus. Cool tip for Congress: Call up CA and ask them how many millions of dollars in surplus fees are being hoarded by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and demand they return the money to the Treasury, for laffs.

    The point was that Harty needed to be taken care of. Step One was to hire her spouse, retired from another U.S. government agency, into a CA position created just for him. Ostensibly having to do with document fraud, Harty’s husband reports directly to senior CA officials instead of through the normal anti-fraud chain. Neat.

    Step Two was to hand Harty a prestigious Foreign Service 2009 Presidential Rank Award. As pointed out here, Harty certainly did not earn the Award, and was technically not even qualified to receive it.

    And Step Three. Harty was rehired this summer by State to work in its Office of the Inspector General, evaluating and making judgment calls on how others perform their jobs.

    What it Means

    All this means very little, except as a neat case study in how petty corruption and cronyism affect the way your government works. Whether one person ends up in or out of State means very little; it is possible that Harty and her spouse do little actual work and simply collect their paychecks as sweet, sweet payback. We will never know. The fuller meaning of it all lies in two areas: the first is that when public institutions are more committed to serving their own needs above the nation’s, we are all in trouble. The second is that most all employees in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and many in State in general, are well-aware of Harty’s story. They see the example, and they get the message that loyalty is valued over competence. Wrought in Latin, that might as well be State’s motto.

    And Back to Benghazi

    We might as well promote Caligula’s horse as the next Secretary of State. Author Patricia Kushlis, writing on this same topic, stated:

    When a human resources system is broken, people without the requisite expertise and judgment occupy positions of authority. When cronyism and worse permeate a system bad things happen. When a security system doesn’t work, people die. When a personnel system fails, incompetent employees make the decisions that result in things like a failed security system.


    Bonus: Lots more damning writing by Kushlis on the State Department personnel system and its Human Resources office.

    Extra Bonus from Free Republic: In the face of harsh criticism by relatives of September 11 victims, Secretary of State Colin Powell said defended the foreign service officer chosen to head the consular service. The relatives’ group accused Maura Harty of incompetence and negligence and demanded that she resign. They said Harty was a top official in Consular Affairs when visa applications were approved in Saudi Arabia for 15 of the 19 hijackers.




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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      “Ostensibly having to do with document fraud, Harty’s husband reports directly to senior CA officials instead of through the normal anti-fraud chain. Neat.”

      Actually, it was a mess. CA during the Ryan reign tried to eliminate the anti-fraud chain but OIG actually investigated a complaint after some buildings in NYC fell down and put an end to the crazy idea.

      01/23/13 11:55 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      2

      Vis a vis issuance of passports, I’m trying to estimate prudently how much I should divulge here. So I’ll posit this question as a hypothetical. Let us suppose:

      1. In the first decade of the 21st century, a child is born “illegitimate” – the parents were not married – in a country with a long history of hostility to the USA. The Father is a born and raised US citizen, the Mother is a national of that foreign and considerably hostile country.

      2. Immediately after the child’s birth abroad, the American father files to claim paternity, to make his child a US citizen, so that the child can have a legal father at least under US law. (The child’s nation of birth does not acknowledge a bastard’s father as a legal father.) Furthermore the American father did so in the hope that one day his child might join him in his own country.

      3. Shortly after filing for the child’s US citizenship and first US passport, the mother begins an adulterous affair with a married US resident (not the father) who assists her (with lots of his and his real wife’s money) in moving to another address without informing the father. A few years later, after the second man’s divorce (prompted by his wife’s discovery of his adultery), he marries the foreign woman and brings her and the child to settle in America. The real father discovers all of this some years later, through the other man’s outraged American ex-wife contacting the real father.

      4. Then when the child turns five and needs a passport renewal, the foreign mother – who then resides with the child in America – waits until almost the exact day of the expiration of the child’s first US passport, then brings the child back to the child’s foreign country of birth, to beg her personal friends at the US Consulate to renew the child’s passport as an emergency. (An “emergency” created by the mother.) This, while the child is outside the USA and can’t get back in unless the passport is renewed.

      5. When the Consular officer asks the child’s foreign mother for the American father’s written consent – or alternatively for his whereabouts – she writes a long statement, totally unresponsive but rather asking the Consulate to do a personal favor for her to avoid the law requring her to contact the American father. Basically she says (in paraphrase) “the American father is a jerk and I don’t want to contact him, so please don’t make me do so.” And in her statement she solicits her friends at that Consulate to do this pesonal favor for her, furthermore soliciting them to make defamatory statements about the American father…whom they have never personally met. Furthermore the mother’s statement in the child’s passport application includes several documentable, outright lies, a slam dunk for any prosecutor.

      6. The child’s passport is issued within days of the above actions at a US Consulate abroad, such issuance being based entirely on documentable fraud (later discovered through FOIA).

      Can any of you explain why that child’s passport was issued – issued based on documentable fraud – within a few days of the foreign mother’s request for a personal favor from her friends at that Consulate? And why the State Department continues strenuously to cover it up?

      All hypothetical of course, because if such a foreign woman and her Consular friends actually existed, certainly they would not publicly acknowledge being the persons indicated above! ;-) Otherwise they’d be publicly admitting committing some felonies.

      01/23/13 2:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      3

      Nail her and her husband to the wall for this…

      01/23/13 2:54 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      4

      quote:”….committing some felonies.”unquote

      Naaaaaaaaaaw?…in the State Department?…really?

      Whudda thunk.

      quote:”All hypothetical of course,”unquote
      oh.. that’s right..I forgot. Hypothetical. Gottcha.

      That must explain Obomination too. I guess he’s just a “hypothetical” murderer. Ok, move on folks, nothing here to see but a hypothesis. Gottcha.

      ..and then

      01/23/13 3:26 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      5

      @ pitchfork: I presume you’re able to surmise that by calling it a “hypothetical” I’m protecting this site from defamation lawsuits. Without giving too much more away about myself (although the Empire knows who I am), I’m a veteran litigator.

      @ Mitch, “Nail her and her husband to the wall for this…”: I’m doing so, in my own long term way. Meanwhile, now I’m wondering if I should post some selected portions of a registered letter I received – in reply to mine – from a former US Consul General? Inter alia he wrote, “While it is true that I knew (the mother of that child)…”

      Or perhaps also this portion of an email sent by the Mother to her adulterous Sugar-Daddy in America in Dec 2002: “Legally, according to Consul General (X), he (the father of the child) is supposed to have lost his (parental) rights, because (because of totally unlawful, invented reasons having nothing to do with any US laws at all, just made up by that woman while she was f-cking the husband of an American woman for money)…”

      …and when I sent a copy of her email to that particular former Consul General, he denied ever having given that woman any such advice. But then the question remains, WHY is State Department STONEWALLING against investigating this long term scandal, UNLESS it’s to cover up that foreign woman’s personal relationships with one or more US Consular staff in a hostile country?

      01/23/13 3:56 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      6

      Here’s the statute applicable to my complaint in my above comments. Its statute of limitations is ten years:

      18 USC § 1542 – False statement in application and use of passport

      “Whoever willfully and knowingly makes any false statement in an application for passport with intent to induce or secure the issuance of a passport under the authority of the United States, either for his own use or the use of another, contrary to the laws regulating the issuance of passports or the rules prescribed pursuant to such laws…
      Shall be…imprisoned not more than…10 years (in the case of the first or second such offense, if the offense was not committed to facilitate such an act of international terrorism or a drug trafficking crime)”

      I know of, and can document, one foreign woman currently residing in the USA, who has committed several counts of the above felony. She deserves to be deported back to her own country, even if she is not imprisoned, although legally she deserves several decades in a US Federal prison too. And so do one or several US Consular officers who have aided and abetted her in committing several counts of this felony. I reiterate, I can document my reasons for writing this, it would be a slam-dunk case for any Federal prosecutor with any spine.

      01/23/13 4:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      I know nothing: In her testimony today to determine who lost Benghazi, Hillary said she was not informed about any problems with the security situation. This Sgt. Schultz excuse was similar to State’s response to the Obama passport snooping scandal, when a State Department official was demoted to another position in the consular affairs bureau followed a review of management practices in the office by Patrick F Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management. Neither Mr. Kennedy nor Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said they were informed that two contractors had been fired and a third was under investigation for improperly looking at passport files of Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain. The two senior officials became aware of the problem after inquiries were made by The Times.

      They might as well skip their daily meetings and just read the paper or this site.

      01/23/13 6:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      8

      quote:” it would be a slam-dunk case for any Federal prosecutor with any spine.”

      It’s not a matter of spine. While the two tiered INjustice system does not normally discriminate within tiers it simply separates politically sensitive criminals from the chaff and then looks the other way. On the other hand..if your name has WHISTLE BLOWER associated with it, shame and costs be damned, full steam ahead.

      01/23/13 8:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      9

      Great work PVB!

      Hopefully, someone will take notice and then we’ll put an end to the Ryan/Harty/Jacobs Axis of Evil.

      From what I know, they gave Mr. Harty a GS-15. IN order to do that, his job description says that he meets with the Assistant Secretary or the Deputy Assistant Secretary to brief these non-august personages on “docment design.”

      01/24/13 1:13 AM | Comment Link

    • El vino vinó said...

      10

      Wow,

      That’s some pretty scary stuff. I’m not with State but the same stuff is going on in the interior as well. Hint hint.

      My guess is it’s going on everywhere. The civil service has become a vehicle for personal enrichment, near as I can tell. So much for “service”.

      Maintain the resistance. This too shall pass because none of this is sustainable and at some point raising the debt ceiling and printing un-backed dollars will collapse and the civil servants will be relegated to once again living within their means, based on their marketable skill sets which, I gauge, are fair to non-existent.

      Thanks!

      01/24/13 6:02 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      11

      Off topic but maybe not:
      News flash: USA 2022 Pentagon lifts ban on using child warriors in front lines……..

      01/24/13 1:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...

      12

      In a previous incarnation part of my job consisted of hosting some of these people from time to time. I always felt the need to wash my hands after meeting them and, in some cases, to take a long, hot shower. Among them was a Bush political appointee/neocon who once stated the following in a speech: one can no longer claim to “hate this government’s policies but love the country.” I thought – welcome to post-9/11 Amerika. Can you guess who that was? A prize to the first correct answer. :-)

      01/25/13 2:33 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      13

      01/25/13 6:53 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      14

      01/25/13 6:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      15

      For Expat – not sure, but i will take a guess and say a certain former ECA DAS who had no qualms undermining even his fellow Republican appointees’ programs??

      For JHoover: The title of the article is spot on but I have to worry about the WSJ which, under the regime that orchestrated the Iraq War, wrote numerous pro-neocon articles and threw their support behind this effort on Iraq even though it undermined what was going on in Afghanistan. I attended a Middle East Institute conference the fall 2002 and a WSJ journalist there spent his entire talk advocating invading Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. It was face palming to endure his talk but then months later, Iraq was invaded

      01/25/13 9:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...

      16

      @ Kyzl Orda – Bingo! And your prize is… a Nebraska Cornhuskers Mascot Knit Beanie. :-)

      01/26/13 7:57 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      17

      Kyzl Orda

      Thanks, I do know WSJ that orchestrated the Iraq War, I read many report during the last 10 years all in support of that war.
      However its really amusing me those US official who voiced against the work moreover predict the aftermath of the war with their supporter did not get attentions and rewarded for their strategically thinking & predictions, in fact most of those against the war were marginalised went to back punches.as an example what happen to former Sen. Chuck Hagel (here aslo)>
      The apposite happen, the promoters of the war— inside and outside the administration of George W. Bush, like the new appointment of the new White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough.

      Where are those Americans who against Iraq war? Where are their voices and support?
      How on earth those who were crucially involved in crafting Iraqi war and invasion get rewarded for their ugly thinking, still hungering for top jobs? ” Daschle said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “It was a real challenge. I had many very serious reservations myself.”

      01/26/13 8:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      18

      Dear Expat: LoL, thank you. i think:) I feel very bad for the staff in the office at Nebraska’s International Programs. i think that’s who finally hired him. If Condileeza Rice and Dina Powell only knew half of what that ECA DaS did to undermine their work. Who needs democrats or independents when the neo cons have each other :)

      There were so many favourite stories of that DaS. And his ambitiously-crazy minions too. I remember being asked to look up on the internet Fulbright grantees who voiced anti-war views while on Fulbright grants. So much for the Constitution. Fortunately for the Fulbrighter, he was working with Nicholas Berg’s father who was in the media alot at the time after his son’s murder, and the DaS’s office was not about to risk bad publicity. But other people havent been so fortunate.

      At JHoover: Sorry i wasnt sure if you had the ‘pleasure’ of reading the WSJ during the time of the prior regime. Those are very good questions. Cream does not always rise to the top, unfortunately. Yes, there are those who were in the US government who know too well but at least kept their integrity. But, give it time. The culture changes slowly

      “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. “One word of truth outweighs the world.”
      ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

      01/28/13 5:07 AM | Comment Link

    • Mr. Guy said...

      19

      What can one do if too poor to repay repatriation loan & CA maintains huge surplus budget to boot? Does one have any rights?

      04/24/13 9:33 PM | Comment Link

    • Black Bull said...

      20

      A number of passports were issued in error and simply pushed out the door to alleviate the back log. My facility did it and I’m sure there were many others. These are the people who are still running things. They should have been fired for malfeasance and cover-up, but they promoted them instead.

      04/29/13 10:33 PM | Comment Link

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