To my State Department colleagues: Did you really sign up to help restrict the rights of an American to speak freely and to seek asylum?
This will make us all proud to implement: Lindsey Graham demanded the State Department coordinate with lawmakers on setting penalties against nations that seek to help Edward Snowden avoid extradition to the United States. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the proposal unanimously by voice vote as an amendment to next year’s $50.6 billion diplomacy and international aid bill.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “[Russia] still has the opportunity to do the right thing and return Mr. Snowden to the United States.” The Department made similar statements to China and Hong Kong, as well as several European and Latin American nations. You know; you delivered the demarches and the place-holder extradition requests to forty-some countries recently.
The White House and the State Department complained that the Russian government permitted Snowden to meet with human rights groups at the Moscow airport. “Providing a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of neutrality,” Jay Carney said.
Obama has pressured Russia privately, and publically seeks “clarity” about Snowden’s request for asylum. Ever seen that before?
The U.S. criticized Snowden for speaking to internationally-respected groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In fact, the Obama administration urged human rights groups not to help Snowden. In response, the Human Rights Watch General Counsel said Snowden “should be allowed at least to make that claim and have it heard.” Has that ever happened before in your careers? Lifetimes?
Here’s a link to what some in the old USSR might have considered a propaganda platform, a speech by dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn after he was granted refuge in the United States. We facilitated the U.S. giving such “propaganda platforms” to prisoners and fugitives and enemies of (other) states such as Nelson Mandela and Aung Su Kyi.
I understand we all were hired to represent the views of the U.S. government overseas, and that part of the deal is of course we may not always agree with those views. I publically supported the USG’s position under multiple presidents, Reagan, through to Obama, for 24 years, though I blew the whistle on State mismanagement of the Iraq reconstruction at the end as an act of conscience, and gave up my career in return.
We also were hired to protect American citizens abroad, even though we may not always agree with their views. Some of those Amcits we helped were criminals in jail, and not very nice people and we all did it, proud that our country cared about all its citizens without prejudice, simply because they were American. That to me always represented the best of us. I am still proud of that despite all the ugliness that passed between the Department and me.
About a year ago the U.S. gave Chinese dissident Chen Guang Cheng refuge in our embassy in Beijing before allowing him to enter the United States. Chen had escaped from Chinese government house arrest and was a fugitive upon reaching the U.S. embassy. You know better than most pundits the agreements the U.S. has signed on asylum, and you have cited them to foreign governments on the behalf of the United States. Are some fugitives more equal than others? Some governments? When threats are the only you wield, is that still called diplomacy?
We are sworn under oath to support and defend the Constitution. Violations of the Constitution are not a policy or view of the United States that we are bound to support and defend.
The key question is: Are we Americans or just employees?
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