• Competence v. Loyalty at State: The Return of McGurk

    March 11, 2013

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    Posted in: * Most Popular, Embassy/State

    They say one definition of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

    McGurk Gets a Job?

    Such is the story of the State Department and Brett McGurk. Having failed to appoint him U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (due to McGurk’s overall incompetence and sexual dalliance), the State Department simply gave him a sequester-proof salary and a made-up desk job and waited a bit before, now, apparently anointing him as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) of State for both Iraq and Iran. The DAS job does not require Senate confirmation, the thing that tripped up McGurk the last time around.

    The Back Channel tells us that McGurk will likely be tapped as the next State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. The State Department plans to combine the two offices because, well, McGurk likely can’t tell the difference between the two countries anyway, damn foreigners, and because there isn’t anything really that important going on in either place to justify its own DAS. The blog calls the appointment a “done deal.”

    Where to Begin?

    McGurk spent a good portion of the last ten years working for the U.S. Government in Iraq, advising several ambassadors and leading the failed negotiations to secure permanent U.S. bases there. You’d kinda think having that on your resume– I am partially responsible for everything that happened in Iraq for the last ten years, including America’s tail-between-its-legs retreat— might make it hard to get another job running Iraq policy. Who goes out of their way to hire the coach that lost most of his games?

    The other side of McGurk’s failed attempt at being ambassador was his questionable personal life, which in turn raised issues of judgement, decorum, discretion, and class. Like with Petraeus, it was sexual misconduct that brought the real questions of competence and ability to light.

    Six members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time called on Obama to withdraw McGurk’s nomination, meaning that as DAS McGurk already enjoys a warm relationship with his key committee on the Hill. His appointment after the Senate nixed him will also no doubt enhance the State Department’s overall reputation during the budget process. And of course being the DAS and having everyone in your office know your sleazy backstory ensures you will be taken seriously.

    As well-documented across the internet, in addition to emails trading sex for access (a two way deal between McGurk and the then-Wall Street Journal’s Gina Chon [she resigned), we add another item, accusations of a McGurk sex tape from Iraq. The giver of the taped sex was a State Department Foreign Service Officer, gratefully female, inevitably Public Diplomacy.

    Elsewhere, the Washington Post reported that McGurk invited his then-mistress Gina Chon to be a guest lecturer at a Harvard course he taught in 2009. Harvard students attending the class had no idea that their teacher was romantically involved with Chon, who spoke to them about her experience reporting getting inside info by sleeping with her sources in Iraq, according to a student who attended.

    State Department at Work

    Only the Department of State today stands proudly alone declaring that no one else in the entire U.S. government, or the entire United States for that matter, is qualified to serve as ambassador to Iraq Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for both Iraq and Iran but a guy who has done nothing in his 39 years of life but be politically appointed to Iraq jobs (none earned, elected or competitively chosen, just appointed), making a selfish hash out of even that.

    McGurk is Not the Exception But the Rule

    McGurk’s supporters cite his years of experience in Iraq. But would you choose a heart surgeon who lost most of his patients on the operating table simply because he had been doing it for ten years? Experience is merely time served; competence requires judgement to be exercised.

    The issue of McGurk, however, is sadly not one in isolation at Foggy Bottom. While it is clear, ten years after, that the U.S. efforts in Iraq in general and the State Department-led reconstruction in the specific were almost complete failures, let’s look at (as an example) the chain of command that oversaw my own Provincial Reconstruction Teams’ efforts and see what happened to them all since:

    Me: Blacklisted by State

    My Boss: Now an Army contractor advising on reconstruction in Afghanistan

    His Boss (Not McGurk): A Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

    That Guy’s Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

    Her Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

    Ambassador to Iraq at the Time: Dean of the Korbel School of Diplomacy in Colorado

    His boss, Secretary Clinton: Waiting to become president in 2016.


    And that’s the saddest news of all: while the McGurk saga is perhaps a more extreme instance, and certainly more fun with its tawdry sex aspect than mere bureaucratic failure, the upward movement of failed people at the State Department exists almost as a policy. That policy, spelled out in a few words, is simple: people are rewarded for longevity at best, for keeping their mouths shut at worst, and competence is never really part of the calculus. While there are certainly competent people in senior positions within the State Department, they all had to primarily pass the tests of loyalty and time-served first.

    John Kerry? Yes, it’s your legacy calling, saying it has gone into hiding for its own protection…




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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      PVB – even though you were nudged off the drawbridge and have maybe one leg now on dry land after treading in the moat – many fine people still work at State. I know of a few non appointed types dedicated to doing the best at their jobs out of loyalty to a motto while fighting off overwhelming anger and disbelief at how this empire is imploding. They keep on knowing they won’t get their preferred postings because they haven’t volunteered to serve empire in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. But then again- look at where your volunteerism lead. You’re probably living life quite differently and in a positive way.

      03/11/13 1:49 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      2

      PVB,
      This essay is a indictment of State as well as the entire US system of governing.
      Let’s remember that not one US General lost his career,nor were any elected by the people.
      They too were selected for institutional loyalty and longevity.
      John Kerry sure has come a long way since WINTER SOLDIER days.
      jim hruska

      03/11/13 2:17 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      Jim- Kerry to me always seemed a doofus. To sign on as Sec of State while the empire is imploding proves my suspicion. His type never gleans that rewards for loyalty can often end in ruin.

      03/11/13 3:02 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      4

      Hm, and then there’s as far as discretion and decorum go, here’s a photo of a recent US Consul General in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Scott Rauland, in his Halloween costume at a Halloween party in Russia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scott_Rauland_at_Halloween_Party_Ekaterinburg_20041030.jpg

      03/11/13 3:09 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      5

      MLCLT: Will Rauland be able to remove the “burked” photo on Wikipedia? Let’s hope not.

      03/11/13 3:31 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      6

      More info re the above Rauland, who is now the State Department’s “Counselor for Public Affairs” in the Muslim nation of Malaysia:

      “In his presentation, Mr. Rauland focused on the contributions that civilians are making to build strategic partnerships that address security, stabilization and development for a safer, more prosperous Afghanistan and how the U.S. strategy involves the international community.”

      http://malaysia.usembassy.gov/program_pao_lcswk-080310.html

      I just wonder how that squares up with him publicly mocking Islam by wearing a Muslim woman’s garb as a Halloween joke in Russia.

      03/11/13 3:45 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      7

      And now a shout out to Scott Rauland:

      Hey, Scott, when you were Consul General in Yekaterinburg in 2003 to 2005 – when a Russian woman who was especially friendly with your Consulate was carrying on a secret adulterous affair with the German husband of an American woman – did YOU PERSONALLY enable that Russian woman to emigrate to America as an “employee” of her adulterous lover, further enabling her to destroy the family of an American woman as well as enabling her later to commit the international child-kidnapping of an American citizen’s child?

      Just asking. And there will be a lot more questions in the future.

      03/11/13 3:50 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      8

      PS to my above two comments re Scott Rauland, US Consul General in Yekaterinburg Russia 2003-2005:

      (Sarcasm on and amplified) Oh but WHY could anyone ever doubt the total sexual integrity of any Consular staff of any major Western powers (USA, UK), posted in Yekaterinburg, Russia?

      OOPS! Just a few years ago, Russia’s FSB caught one of Britain’s consular officers with his pants down with Russian prostitutes. Oh dear, MIGHT it be possible for AMERICAN consular officers to have done SIMILAR THINGS?

      Video of the UK Consular officer with his pants down in Yekaterinburg, Russia:

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=926_1247145041

      03/11/13 4:52 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      9

      PPS to my above comment: In Yekaterinburg Russia, the US and UK Consulates are in the same small building.

      03/11/13 4:55 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      10

      quote:”While there are certainly competent people in senior positions within the State Department, they all had to primarily pass the tests of loyalty and time-served first.”unquote

      Vs janitors who must pass drug, mental and competency tests, while Presidents who are not given so much as an IQ test, oversee the largest nuclear weapon force in the universe and presides over a murder program with a kill list. Priceless.

      Cockamamie notwithstanding, I’d submit the entire elected portion of the Federal Government couldn’t pass a test for a septic tank pumpers job.

      03/11/13 4:56 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      11

      I trust PVB will allow me license to say that all of my above comments pertaining to reasonably based speculations about US Consul General Scott Rauland, deserve to be re-posted along with a final video reminder of what really goes on with diplomats in Yekaterinburg Russia:

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=926_1247145041

      And now a shout out to Scott Rauland:

      Hey, Scott, when you were Consul General in Yekaterinburg in 2003 to 2005 – when a Russian woman who was especially friendly with your Consulate was carrying on a secret adulterous affair with the German husband of an American woman – did YOU PERSONALLY enable that Russian woman to emigrate to America as an “employee” of her adulterous lover, further enabling her to destroy the family of an American woman as well as enabling her later to commit the international child-kidnapping of an American citizen’s child?

      Just asking. And there will be a lot more questions in the future.

      meloveconsullongtime said…

      PS to my above two comments re Scott Rauland, US Consul General in Yekaterinburg Russia 2003-2005:

      (Sarcasm on and amplified) Oh but WHY could anyone ever doubt the total sexual integrity of any Consular staff of any major Western powers (USA, UK), posted in Yekaterinburg, Russia?

      OOPS! Just a few years ago, Russia’s FSB caught one of Britain’s consular officers with his pants down with Russian prostitutes. Oh dear, MIGHT it be possible for AMERICAN consular officers to have done SIMILAR THINGS?

      Video of the UK Consular officer with his pants down in Yekaterinburg, Russia:

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=926_1247145041

      meloveconsullongtime said…

      PPS to my above comment: In Yekaterinburg Russia, the US and UK Consulates are in the same small building.

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=926_1247145041

      03/11/13 5:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      PVB,

      Your experience would make a great question on the Foreign Service Exam. Which of these don’t belong in the State Dept?

      Me: Blacklisted by State

      My Boss: Now an Army contractor advising on reconstruction in Afghanistan

      His Boss (Not McGurk): A Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

      That Guy’s Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

      Her Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

      Ambassador to Iraq at the Time: Dean of the Korbel School of Diplomacy in Colorado

      His boss, Secretary Clinton: Waiting to become president in 2016.

      03/11/13 6:45 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      13

      Bauer- you wouldn’t want to join PVB in my bet that she will not run for the POTUS in 2016? The bet is a beverage of one’s choice. I happen to like Lost Abbey’s Judgement Day Imperial Stout so we are talking $20 not $1.50 for a can of Bud light.

      03/11/13 7:29 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      14

      I’m hoping that John has not forgotten the “rider” to our bet– if we are both in Clinton labor camps in 2016, instead of his prized ale he’ll have to give me his day’s ration of gruel.

      03/11/13 8:54 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      15

      …and still no one cares (other than me) about how several US Consular Generals in Russia collaborated with a Russian woman to commit the felonies of international child kidnapping and US Passport Fraud, with a Russian woman who was enabled to commit those felonies because she seduced several US Consul Generals to collude with her.

      03/11/13 8:32 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      16

      MLCLT- some of us care but feel helpless aiding you in your quest to rectify grievous wrong out of many monstrous unchecked or unpunished cases of misbehavior which happen yearly within the State Department. I

      03/11/13 8:54 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      17

      PVB- yes I will honor our agreement. I hope to binge eat for a week before being hauled off to the SUSAN McDOUGAL WORK CAMP that Hillary will have set up somewhere in the Poconos. That way I won’t be so resentful in having to share my gruel.

      03/11/13 9:12 PM | Comment Link

    • RagerAgainstBS said...

      18

      @PVB: “That policy, spelled out in a few words, is simple: people are rewarded for longevity at best, for keeping their mouths shut at worst, and competence is never really part of the calculus. While there are certainly competent people in senior positions within the State Department, they all had to primarily pass the tests of loyalty and time-served first.”

      And yet there are so many incompetent people who are blessed with political connections or are part of incestuous factions that protect each other at all cost. Just how many good people are in administrative hell because of DS investigative brilliance? How many more are in that position waiting for the elite thinkers of HR to flaunt their sheer lack of competency by willy-nilly throwing destructive disciplinary proposals in the hope that the employees will quit or drain their savings to fight back? Move along, NOTHING to see here just watch you don’t trip and slip on all the b.s. on the way back to your desk comrade.

      03/11/13 9:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      19

      Everybody out of the Poole pool

      PVB,

      I will take action on that “rider,” as I don’t think you or I will make it to the Clinton labor camp. More likely we will face this scenario:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mliHCLVcCqg

      03/12/13 12:01 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      20

      03/12/13 7:49 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      21

      MLCLT: I’m afraid of and will pass on opening up the link you offered. What I do know is while in the SUSAN McDOUGAL WORK CAMP one will have the option of checking out at any time. You are handed a revolver and directed to the nearest river bank within the VINCE FOSTER ESTUARY. Your family isn’t charged for that single round of ammunition which shows that Hag Hillary isn’t all bad.

      03/12/13 2:44 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      22

      yer killin me guys.

      03/13/13 3:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      23

      If McGurk is house-hunting, Virginia is for lovers again: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/virginia-anti-sodomy-law-_n_2865965.html

      03/13/13 8:14 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      24

      Bauer- are you implying McGurk is gay? I don’t get it.
      My feelings are that any male who wants to ass pound a female has major major gender issues. Was the above case about ass pounding or just a garden variety BJ?

      03/13/13 9:22 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      25

      Addendum,- and who is this “nature” guy or is it a female?

      03/13/13 9:24 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      26

      “Bauer- are you implying McGurk is gay?”

      Clinton’s State Department didn’t make homosexuality a job requirement, but it did make ass-pounding a major policy objective both foreign and domestic.

      03/14/13 6:37 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      27

      03/14/13 7:10 AM | Comment Link

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