• Seven Important, Non-Partisan Questions about Benghazi That Need Answers

    June 2, 2014 // 9 Comments »

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she won’t “be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans” over the 2012 Benghazi attacks,” though she devotes a full chapter to the incident in her forthcoming book Hard Choices. Politico was given a pre-release excerpt from the book, from which the quotes below are drawn.

    Clinton’s book raises some important points. Here are the questions some reporter should ask her if given the chance, along with a note about “why it matters” for each one to make clear these are things we need to know from the likely-next president of the United States, far apart from any political slugfest.

    The Questions

    1) Where was Clinton?

    The Benghazi attack unfolded from about 4pm in the afternoon until very late at night, Washington time. Clinton said she was first told of the incident as it began. She has refused to be specific about her whereabouts and actions that night. Where was Clinton between 4pm and say midnight? The State Department Operations Center was on the phone live with officials in Benghazi, Tripoli or both locations. Was Clinton in the State Department Operations Center? If not, why not? When did she leave the State Department? Why did she leave? Did she go to the White House Ops Center, who no doubt was monitoring the situation? If not, why not?

    Senator Charles Schumer was called to the White House, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, as the Benghazi attack unfolded. Clinton would be an unlikely source to explain Schumer’s presence, but certainly should be asked to explain her own non-presence.

    For example, the CBS timeline for the attack states that 4 a.m. Washington time Obama was told of Ambassador Stevens’ death. Where was Clinton at that time? If she was asleep, at home or elsewhere, why did she chose that over staying at the State Department?

    Clinton has refused to explain where she was the night of the Benghazi attack. CNN asked her, and here is her response:

    QUESTION: … could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: … I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on… So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting… So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

    Why It Matters: A Commander-in-Chief is responsible for lives and decisions. She has to be present and ready to make the “hard choices” in real time. If Clinton was elsewhere and not directly monitoring Benghazi in real-time (as opposed to getting periodic “briefings” aside some other event), how will she act as president in a similar crisis?

    2) About That Anti-Muslim Video

    In her book Hard Choices Clinton states about Benghazi:

    There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives. It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.

    What evidence can Clinton present that any of the Benghazi attackers were motivated by the video so offensive to Muslims? The attacks appear to have been well-coordinated and goal-oriented, not the faceless mobs content to tear down the American flag as seen in Cairo.

    For example, at 6:07 p.m. Washington time an alert from the State Department Operations Center stated the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack”… on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli. It did not appear that the offensive video was cited.

    The UK’s Independent noted the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who are working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts.

    Why It Matters: If you cite evidence, put up or shut up. The president must speak precisely, both to avoid misunderstandings and to preserve her credibility.

    3) What is Responsibility?

    Clinton writes:

    As Secretary I was the one ultimately responsible for my people’s safety, and I never felt that responsibility more deeply than I did that day.

    Define “responsibility.” Many definitions imply some sort of relationship between being responsible, making decisions and accepting consequences. What decisions did Clinton make as Secretary of State vis-vis security in Benghazi? If delegated, to whom? What controls, management tools or other means did she employ to assure those delegates acted out her intentions?

    Why It Matters: As president, Clinton will need to delegate almost everything. If she is unable to manage that, simply saying she takes “responsibility” while shucking off consequences will undermine her leadership.

    4) More About Responsibility

    In Hard Choices, Clinton writes about the messages from Benghazi before the attack requesting more security:

    The cables were addressed to her as a ‘procedural quirk’ given her position, but didn’t actually land on her desk. “That’s not how it works. It shouldn’t. And it didn’t.”

    Fair enough. Obviously the Secretary cannot read even a fraction of what pours into the State Department. So, who were the highest level people to see those cables? What were their instructions on which issues to elevate to the Secretary and which to deal with themselves? Clearly the need for more security at Benghazi was not addressed. Following Benghazi, did Clinton initiate any internal review, leading to changes? Details are important here.

    Following Benghazi, no one in the State Department lost his/her job. No one was fired. Several people were placed on administrative leave, a kind of purgatory, until media attention focused elsewhere. All were eventually reinstated. The one person who claimed to have resigned actually just changed job titles, “resigning” from one to take on another.

    At the time, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “the discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs. That will in no way change [the] systemic failures of management and leadership in the State Department.”

    Why It Matters: God alone knows how much paper, how many memos and reports, arrive at the White House daily. The president must have staff and a system that filter the right things up and down. The country needs to have confidence that President Clinton will be able to handle that to prevent bad decisions that may lead to more tragedy. And when things go wrong, the president must be willing to shed ineffectual people and replace them with better ones.

    5) Leading

    Clinton writes of her non-appearance on television, with Susan Rice taking the lead:

    [People] fixate on the question of why I didn’t go on TV that morning, as if appearing on a talk show is the equivalent of jury duty, where one has to have a compelling reason to get out of it. I don’t see appearing on Sunday-morning television as any more of a responsibility than appearing on late-night TV. Only in Washington is the definition of talking to Americans confined to 9 A.M. on Sunday mornings.

    At the time, Susan Rice was America’s ambassador to the UN, what many saw as an unusual choice for a spokesperson for such a State Department-specific tragedy with little UN touchpoint.

    Clinton was Secretary of State, the leader of the State Department, which had just had one of its consulates overrun, and two of its employees killed, one an ambassador. Clinton admits she held “responsibility” for this. Why wouldn’t she be the person to speak of this to the American people? Indeed, it was Clinton, not Susan Rice, in the foreground of the serious, patriotic photos taken later at the Dover Air Force base when the remains of the dead were returned to the U.S. in their flag-draped coffins.

    Clinton went on to miss numerous opportunities to speak of her role regarding Benghazi.

    Why It Matters: The buck stops here, said president Harry Truman. The president needs to be the one who speaks to America, explains things that happened to Americans, the one who shows by example her role, her compassion, for those whom she sent into harm’s way. The president, to lead, can’t duck that.

    6) Information and Disinformation

    Clinton writes in her book:

    [There is a] regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media, but new information from a number of reputable sources continues to expand our understanding of these events.

    Can Clinton be specific about what new information she is referring to, and from what sources? Can she explain how she determined these sources are reputable as opposed to those she characterizes as “flat-out deceit”?

    One Democratic talking point opposing additional investigation into Benghazi is that the event has been dissected fully and we know all there is to know, that a new hearing in Congress is simply partisan politics. But if there is new information, as Clinton says, it seems more investigation would be helpful.

    Why It Matters: A president’s word choice is very important. Precision is important and establishes credibility.

    7) Accountability

    Clinton writes that the Accountability Review Board (ARB), State’s after-action process following any tragedy abroad as significant as two employees being killed by terrorists, did not interview her for their report, by their own choice. She does not know why they did not call on her. The report was bland and singled out no one for discipline or sanction despite the deaths and the decisions (by someone) not to increase security as personnel on the ground demanded.

    Given the central role the Secretary of State and her office, delegates and staffers played in Benghazi before, during and after the crisis, how could this possibly be true? Assuming that the ARB truly found no reason whatsoever to speak to the head of an organization about arguably the most significant event of her term as head of that organization, why didn’t Clinton seek them out? Why didn’t she prepare a written statement, ask to add in her recollections? Get her role on record? Make sure history was recorded.

    The Accountability Review Board personnel were hand-selected by Clinton.

    And as John Kerry said (about Edward Snowden) “patriots don’t run away.”

    Why It Matters: Not participating in such a review process, and then dismissing such non-participation simply as “they didn’t ask,” even if true, raises significant credibility questions about the validity of the ARB and the leader who did not participate. Credibility to her own staff, as well as to the American people, is a critical thing for a president.

    If either lose faith in her, she cannot be effective. Leaders lead without excuses.

    Something Important

    OK, let’s get this out of the way. It is impossible to divorce an attempt at serious, dispassionate discourse about Benghazi from the political side promoted by Republicans and Democrats. And yes, of course, it is aimed at Hillary 2016.

    But Hillary 2016 is a big deal. If the election were held today, she’d be the next president. So maybe, albeit with some of the inevitable political mud slung alongside, we should pay attention to how she acted, if she failed to act, and whether she enjoyed some sort of cover-up/soft-sell over what really happened in Benghazi.

    To paraphrase Mrs. Clinton’s own political rhetoric as directed at then-candidate Obama, we need to know how she’ll act when that tragic 3 a.m. phone call comes through. While past performance is no guarantee of future success or failure, it is how the smart money should bet.

    What kind of president would Hillary Clinton be? Let’s ask some real questions, and hold out for real answers.



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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!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Eating Those Words?

    October 12, 2012 // 8 Comments »

    In Gordon & Trainor’s bookabout Iraq, as well as Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s bookabout Afghanistan, a common complaint by America’s diplomats is how their Regional Security Officers were too risk averse. The FSOs whined that Diplomatic Security held them back, that efforts to protect the dips kept them from fully engaging and thus it was Security’s fault that diplomacy failed.

    My own book about the State Department in Iraq did not include any such crap, because it is not true. FSOs like to toss out that macho language to journalists, knowing they will never be called to act on it. You guys got fooled again, sorry.

    State does like to hold on to that myth, that its officers are really rough and ready cowboys, always biting the bit to be allowed to engage freely if only those bad boys in Security did not place so many restrictions on them.

    Indeed, the State Department’s own employees association gave away its “dissent” award this year to a Foreign Service Officer who argued just that point. Dissent award winner Joshua Polacheck stated that “In an attempt at perfect security, we made a series of choices with grave policy implications. These choices send a message of distrust to the people of our host nations… the siege mentality and isolation play into the goals of many terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida and Hezbollah.” He went to propose a policy where “Foreign Service personnel should be allowed to take personal responsibility for their own actions.”

    One wonders in the aftermath of Benghazi how that award looks now in the halls of Foggy Bottom? One hopes that young Joshua is given a chance at a Libyan assignment to try out his theories on the ground.

    Assessing risk is tricky business, and typically involves access to a wider range of information (imagery, intel, electronic intercepts, etc.) than can be widely shared with each and every young gun, even if said gunners had the ability to understand, synthesize and interpret it while doing their regular jobs. Without such knowledge, one is not assuming a risk, one is just acting dumb thinking it is brave, like driving a car blindfolded, or asking a taxi driver to drop you in the most dangerous neighborhood of an unfamiliar city to see what happens.

    Even when an individual may be informed enough to make an intelligent risk assessment for him/herself, that ignores the wider political ramifications. The headline will not be “Dip Killed After Careful Personal Decision” but “Another U.S. Diplomat Slain in War of Terror.” It’s not just about you baby doll. Diplomats abroad are symbols, and a death has international implications.

    It is easy to talk the talk, but takes a lot more than that to really walk the walk. Check with Chris Stevens.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Libya Just Gets Uglier and Sleazier

    October 10, 2012 // 9 Comments »

    The evidence that State knew of the security issues in Benghazi, and ignored them, continues to accumulate.

    Word is that inside Foggy Bottom everyone is rushing around getting their ducks in line so that someone else takes the symbolic fall for the screw-ups. They’ve got time– the Accountability Review Board will certainly not release anything before the election. Look for a news dump maybe the Friday after Thanksgiving? 2015? The truth will be happily buried, but in reality should be something like this: heavy security cost too much, plus it would make the Clinton narrative that limited-scale intervention in Libya worked look really bad right when her boss is struggling in the campaign. Admitting failure in Libya would also limit options in Syria. So, try and blame it on some video, then on al Qaeda (damn, that always used to work, too) and then find some mid-level person at State to hang.

    It Was the Other Guy

    One person not allowing himself to be the sacrificial lamb is the former State security officer for Libya, Eric Nordstrom, who is running around Washington telling pretty much everyone who will listen that it was State Department official Charlene Lamb who wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low,” according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters. Nordstrom has also implicated State Department management robot Pat Kennedy in the bloody decision-making. Such plain speaking will otherwise end Nordstrom’s State Department career, and so we welcome him here into liberated We Meant Well territory. Call us for recommendations for lawyers Eric.

    Kudos no doubt inside State for Susan Rice being willing to take a bullet in the early days to try and save her boss. Bot now even State is doing a little pointless damage control saying there never was a video-related protest in Benghazi. So Susan, what’s being thrown under the bus feel like?

    Whither Diplomatic Security?

    Meanwhile, attention once again focuses on State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the bully boys who seem much better at hassling diplomats for extra-marital sex than protecting them from terror.

    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.


    And Hillary?

    On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing “The Security Failures of Benghazi,” featuring Pat “Blood on his Hands” Kennedy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Programs Charlene “It Wasn’t Me” Lamb, Eric Nordstrom and Lt. Col. Andrew Wood, who lead the security team in Libya until August. Be sure to set your bullshit detectors to stun.

    Expect Kennedy to say something like “who could have anticipated this?” Well, Pat old chum, in a country where you are paying staff 30% additional danger pay, it seems real to expect things.

    But where is Hillary? Turns out her last public statement on the Libya fiasco was October 3, a week ago, another empty promise that “the men and women who serve this country as diplomats deserve no less than a full, accurate accounting.”

    Despite her usual lofty rhetoric, Hillary has had nothing more to say and won’t testify before the House. As soon as the real scrutiny begins, Hillary dummies up.

    Looking ahead to the Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, opposition researchers, please bookmark this page.

    BONUS Editorial

    State needs to make a decision. If State wishes to populate diplomatic establishments in active war zones, it must a) wait to create a permanent secure facility; b) pay for what is needed to create an appropriate temporary facility; or c) simply accept that diplomats will die for these political decisions.

    State instead wants to fulfill the short-term political suck up goal of staffing hot spots without paying the cost of proper security. As such, it is just a matter of time and chance that more places are not overrun.

    State is trying to treat Benghazi as some grand exception/accident when in fact it is just the first of many possibles. Post 9/11 very little has changed in the internal architecture of Diplomatic Security. They are still using the pre-9/11 model of relatively low-key civilian security, host country support and on-the-cheap local guard hires.

    Instead, the nasty truth is that the new model is Baghdad– an armed camp inside hostile territory wholly independent of host government assistance, ’cause there ain’t gonna be none.

    Of course the other idea would be to abandon the wet dream that State needs to staff active war zones. What’s the point anyway? Prior to the Iraq war porn fantasy, diplomats were withdrawn until a country stabilized.




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Hillary Yucks it Up Over Iran War (Libya Redux)

    October 5, 2012 // 9 Comments »

    We all still have nightmares remembering America’s diplomat, Hillary Clinton, laughing it up over the death of Libya’s Qaddafi last year. If not, here’s the clip:



    But now, what could be funnier than war in Libya? How about war in Iran? Hillary again, yucking it up with James Baker over the U.S. setting fire to the Middle East:



    Does this woman have any shame left? (Trick question: No). What manner of psychotropic drug is she taking? What level of war porn pleasures her in the dark post-Monica nights? Has she not the decency to at least pretend in public to take serious things seriously?



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    You Die, She Lies (Libya Edition)

    October 4, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    Hillary must be tipping the diplomatic sherry again, because she seems to be just making this stuff up as she (burp) goes along. Let’s start with her ever-so-earnest Tweets, showing her grave concern over the deaths of her foreign service colleagues in Libya:



    If any of that was true, she’d turn into a pumpkin for Halloween. Instead of the blah blah concern for everyone garbage, let’s look at the facts:

    –The attack was September 11. The investigatory accountability review board has not yet started to meet, almost a month later. Clinton took a leisurely nine days after the attack to even announce forming the group.


    The board’s existence was just announced on October 4 in the Federal Register, along with a note that “Anyone with information relevant to the Board’s examination of the Benghazi incidents should contact the Board promptly at (202) 647-6246 or send a fax to the Board at (202) 647-6640.” So, all you terrorists and random Libyans with info, please be sure to phone in during business hours, preferably in English, or dig out an old fax machine.

    P.S. The point is to ensure the report comes out after the election.



    –The compound in Benghazi, which spokesdrone Nuland refers to as a crime scene, is still unsecured and sensitive documents, including names of Libyans working for and with the U.S., are scattered on the ground.

    You can see these sensitive documents online, and not Wikileaks this time!

    Since State’s Nuland had a kitten when CNN found the Ambassador’s diary, she must had laid a whole litter over this.



    –No one has interviewed many Libyans with first-hand knowledge of what happened.



    –The FBI can’t get to the crime scene apparently, but the Washington Post can.


    –For all the babble about how well the Consulate was protected, it turns out that the British contract guard company (Blue Mountain) which is all SAS Who-Dares-Wins on their web site, just hired some local thugs to do the work for $28 a day.

    Hell, you can even see their contract, left on the ground in Libya. (page 7)

    –Even when Blue Mountain felt the security provided was “substandard and the situation was unworkable” and the Libyans tried to bring in a third party — an American contractor — to improve security, a State Department contract officer declined to get involved. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the department’s investigation “likely” would address the issue.

    –White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on an assertion by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that requests from diplomats in Libya for added security prior to the September 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, were denied. However, Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, who was stationed in Libya from September 2011 to June 2012, confirmed for the House Committee the security incidents cited in the letter, and confirmed that the mission in Libya made security requests.



    –The Consulate’s backup plan in case of attack was to contact a local “friendly” militia. So much for the Libyan government. You can even see the formal diplomatic note to the militia (page 8).



    Of course this isn’t the first time that Hillary has said one thing and done another, so it is really no big deal.

    Sleep tight America’s diplomats around the world, mama’s got your back.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Ambassador Stevens in Libya: Just Wrong (CIA) Place, Wrong Time?

    September 26, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    A blind man in the dark with ear muffs on knows that something happened in Benghazi, Libya more than a spontaneous angry mob pissed off over a Grade Z video attacked an American Consulate and killed the US Ambassador to Libya.

    I hate internet conspiracy theories, and loathe slinging a new one into the mix, but the evidence available adds up one way: the attack, well-planned, was surgical payback for CIA activity in the area. Stevens wasn’t the target at all, he was just a celebrity in the wrong place at the wrong time. The guff about the dumb Prophet movie was the first cover story for the US Government and when that fell apart like cardboard in the rain, the State Department shifted the meme to flag waving over Stevens’ death.

    Let’s see what we know:

    — The attack was not spontaneous. It involved a large number of men, perhaps as many as 125, fighting in a coordinated fashion, using weapons such as RPGs and mortars on multiple targets. Yes, yes, lots of people carry guns around Libya, but not RPGs and certainly not crew served weapons like mortars. It appears also that the so-called Libyan security forces assigned to protect the Consulate either conveniently disappeared on cue or saw the smack coming down and ran to save themselves. This information is widely available from media outside the US, but scare in US media sources for some reason.

    — The attack did not target Stevens. Indeed, famously, his body was only pulled from the ruins of the Consulate by a secondary crowd. Whether the crowd abused the body or dragged it to a hospital, it clearly had no idea or concern for who it held. The Consulate attackers went for documents, and ignored the Ambassador. Stevens just happened to be there, wrong place, wrong time.

    Half the US personnel evacuated out of Benghazi were CIA. While it is common knowledge that the CIA stations personnel abroad, it seems very unusual to have half a mission’s complement to be Agency. The New York Times reports that though the Agency has been cooperating with the new post-Qaddafi Libyan intelligence service, the size of the CIA’s presence in Benghazi apparently surprised some Libyan leaders. The deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abushagour, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal last week saying that he learned about some of the delicate American operations in Benghazi only after the attack on the mission, in large part because a surprisingly large number of Americans showed up at the Benghazi airport to be evacuated.

    — In its reporting on the large number of CIA personnel in Benghazi, the New York Times agreed to withhold locations and details of Agency operations at the request of Obama administration officials, who said that disclosing such information could jeopardize future sensitive government activities and put at risk American personnel working in dangerous settings.

    — The UK’s Independent noted that the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who were working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts. This strongly suggests the attack itself may have been a diversion to steal these documents and the Ambassador’s death, in U.S. terms, merely collateral damage. The organized attacking mob did not seem to be primarily interested in looting or stealing computer stuff.

    — Many wondered why the media was reporting from early on the deaths of four Americans at the Benghazi Consulate, while Clinton continuously only mentioned two (Ambassador Stevens and computer person Sean Smith). Well, that’s because she did not want to tell us that the other two who lost their lives were “former” Navy SEALS now acting as State Department “contractors.” Even when Clinton finally acknowledged the SEALS’ deaths following widespread press reports, she only mentioned that one’s role was as security for the Ambassador.

    Clinton pointedly did not mention what the other SEAL was doing in Libya. That is because the other deceased man was in Libya on an intel mission. The SEAL told ABC News that he was in Libya in the field tracking down and blowing up MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The US saw its way to allowing those weapons to be used against Qaddafi and now wants to take them back so they are not used against us. Such ops are not State Department work and fall cleanly into CIA territory.

    — The State Department’s curious mix up over who was providing security at the Benghazi Consulate also may point toward other US government Agencies. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland initially said “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,” while federal procurement records easily Googleable showed a contract for “security guards and patrol services” on May 3 for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient. Was typically fastidious Nuland’s wrong answer simply because she was misbriefed, or was it in fact an honest answer, that the guards were not State Department contractors at all?

    According to Danger Room, the State Department frequently hires security companies to protect diplomats in conflict zones. It usually is done through what’s known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract, in which a handful of approved firms compete to safeguard specific diplomatic installations.

    In 2010, State selected eight firms for the most recent contract. Blue Mountain wasn’t among them, and the State Department did not explain why the Benghazi consulate contract did not go to one of those eight firms. How the State Department could have even hired a foreign firm outside that blanket contract is unclear. State’s Inspector General had criticized State’s management of personnel security firms, so unilaterally expanding the pool just for one Libyan Consulate seems off base.

    — The US government has had a heck of a time getting its story straight over what happened in Benghazi, most famously in sending UN ambassador and attack dog Susan Rice around to claim the attack was purely spontaneous even as the White House backed away from the idea. We’ve already mentioned Clinton’s duplicity over the identities and roles of the two deceased American “ex-” SEALS. Even long-time State drone Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said at one point he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

    BuzzFeed sums up by saying:

    The election-year focus on President Barack Obama meant that the White House had at first been catching most of the heat for the tragedy in Benghazi. It’s certainly true the explanations from White House spokesman Jay Carney and UN Ambassador Susan Rice have strained common sense — mainly, the idea that the attack could be blamed solely on an anti-Islamic video, and that there was a protest outside the consulate at 10 p.m. (there reportedly wasn’t,) among other misleading details. That initial story has crumbled, and it took Robert Gibbs to get the Obama administration back on message on the Sunday shows.


    State’s later calling reporter Michael Hastings an “asshole” and telling him to “fuck off” in relation to CNN’s use of Ambassador Steven’s found diary just adds fuel to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along nature of all this.


    — Of course, there is a sort of precedent for this, most famously in 1991 when the KGB used a fire in the US Embassy in Moscow as a cover to roam around the building collecting documents,


    Look, if all you have to do is tell the truth, it is pretty easy. Making up a cover story on the fly requires revisions. It may not be in our lifetimes that we learn what really happened in Libya, but something more than just a protest gone wild did happen.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    One Headline Explains it All

    September 21, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    Yeah, yeah, it’s so complicated. Attacks on US Embassies, defiling the Koran movies, war on terror, blah blah blah.


    One headline explains it all:

    Six Troops Die in Weekend Afghan Insider Attacks as NATO Airstrike Kills Eight Women and Girls

    While the US mourns the deaths of four Americans in Libya, the US killed eight women and girls in Afghanistan “by accident,” and the Afghans we are supposedly freeing and assisting killed six soldiers.

    If that all doesn’t make sense, please re-read it until it does, because it explains everything about why we are losing, why we are wasting our lives and their lives and why the war of terror needs to just stop. Now.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Obama: US ‘Will Not Retreat’ from World (unless we do)

    September 19, 2012 // 8 Comments »

    Your president said just a few days ago, following the deaths in Libya, “the United States of America will never retreat from the world.”



    Now of course since then, the US Embassy in Libya announced its consular services closure through Saturday, September 29. The US Consulate in Benghazi has been burnt out and is thus closed.

    US Mission Pakistan announced the temporary suspension of consular services in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi on September 17-19. U.S. government employees can now undertake essential travel only, including within the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, due to possible demonstrations moving along major routes.

    US Embassy Tunisia announced that the embassy will be closed to public access on September 17, 2012. All dependents and non-essential State Department personnel have been evacuated back to the US.

    US Embassy Sudan announced that the embassy will be closed to public access. All dependents and non-essential State Department personnel have been evacuated back to the US.

    US Mission India announced that due to planned demonstrations in New Delhi and Kolkata on September 18, 2012, the American Center including the library and USIEF in the two cities will be closed. All dependents and non-essential State Department personnel have been evacuated.

    US Embassy Kabul is closed for routine services.

    Even the US Consulate in Amsterdam closed to the public for a day.

    In many other countries, the US Embassy is advising Americans to avoid, well, the US Embassy, as it will be the target of demonstrations that could get dangerously out of hand.

    (Updates on any more closures)



    I don’t doubt the prudence of closing these embassies and consulates to the public, or withdrawing dependents and non-essential personnel. Safety matters and lives are important.

    I just wish the president would stop saying stupid crap like “America will never retreat from the world” when it is butt obvious that we have to.




    BONUS: US bails out GM with a gazillion tax dollars, then files complaint with WTO over China subsidizing its auto parts industry.


    BONUS BONUS: Susan Rice, UN ambassador and lifetime HUBBA recipient, says Libya attacks were unplanned. Two days later the White House says Libya attacks “may” have been planned.

    BONUS BONUS BONUS: If you do a Google search for “Susan Rice Libya” but mistype it as “Susan Rice Labya” and Google auto-corrects that to “Susan Rice Labia”, for the love of God and all things sacred don’t look at the image results.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    We must be clear-eyed, even in our grief.

    September 15, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    Hillary Clinton said regarding the tragic deaths in Libya “We must be clear-eyed, even in our grief” and so even in our sadness over the loss of lives it is important to not stop thinking.

    The anti-US attacks across the Middle East have spread– American School burned in Tunis, violence in Yemen and Egypt, Sudan, maybe more between the time I write this and when you read it. It is at the same time critical that the American government face the reality of its policies in the Middle East (more about that here.)

    It is in this same spirit that it is time for Clinton and others to stop, just please stop, prevaricating and playing with words in the teeth of this tragedy. It does not help and it makes it worse.

    SEAL Team

    Many wondered why the media was reporting from early this week the deaths of four Americans at the Benghazi Consulate, while Clinton continuously only mentioned two (Ambassador Stevens and computer person Sean Smith). Well, that’s because she did not want to tell us that the other two who lost their lives were “former” Navy SEALS now acting as State Department “contractors.” Even Friday, when Clinton finally acknowledged the SEALS’ deaths following widespread press reports, she only mentioned that one’s role was as security for the Ambassador.

    Clinton pointedly did not mention what the other SEAL was doing in Libya.

    That is because the other deceased man was in Libya on an intel mission, search and destroy. The SEAL told ABC News that he was in Libya in the field tracking down and blowing up so-called MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The US saw its way to allowing those weapons to be used against Qaddafi and now wants to take them back so they are not used against us.

    And, with respect to the deceased and Mrs. Clinton, I would look hard at the depiction of the man as a “former” SEAL and thus a “contractor.” Send such a man into Libya as a SEAL and he is a foreign soldier at war with a sovereign nation supposedly our friend. Have him “quit” the Navy and be hired for the same duties as a “contractor” and on paper it is just the same as if he was the Consulate janitor. Just the same I guess if you are a Washington lawyer, but to the people on the ground the cat can’t change stripes that fast.


    Purpose of the Attacks?

    There’s more. The State Department has been quick to say the attacks were carried out by, Clinton’s words, “by a small and savage group– not the people or Government of Libya.” The U.S. quickly promoted the meme that the attackers were terrorists, or angry about 9/11, or about that damn film. They were out to just kill Americans in their jihadi rage and the attack was not planned. The US says no Libyan government collusion.

    However, the UK’s Independent tells a different story, noting that the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who are working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts. This strongly suggests the attack itself may have been a diversion to steal these documents and the Ambassador’s death, in U.S. terms, merely collateral damage.

    (And for those offended by my referring to the death of a US Ambassador as collateral damage, imagine how the families of America’s drone death mistakes might feel, and then shut the hell up.)

    As for the unorganized nature of the attack, the Independent also tells us that concurrent with the Consulate attack, the Consulate safe house, located elsewhere in the city, came under accurate, aimed mortar fire. This was no unplanned attack. The newspaper also said according to “senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert.” CNN confirms the warning to Cairo.

    Why They Hate Us

    Libya closed its air space over Benghazi airport because of heavy anti-aircraft fire by Islamists aiming at U.S. reconnaissance drones flying over the city. US Marines have been sent to Tripoli and Sanna to reinforce the embassies there. US warships have moved closer to the Libyan coast line, and another American president is once again threatening “justice.” We all know that American justice in this regard means killing.

    Meanwhile, ignoring the complexity of the situation in Libya and America’s rough relationship there, the CIA chief quickly wraps it all up by blaming who else, al Qaeda again. Sure, whatever, blame the freaking Joker.

    And what does Clinton say for the United States? She said as part of her eulogy for the deceased:

    I am enormously proud of the men and women who risk their lives every day in the service of our country and our values. They help make the United States the greatest force for peace, progress, and human dignity that the world has ever known.


    At this tragic time, with America prevaricating on what really happened in Libya, with mobs across the world seeking to burn American embassies, really– really, does anyone outside of Clinton’s own staff truly believe that the “United States the greatest force for peace, progress, and human dignity that the world has ever known”?

    And because they don’t, and because they are right not to believe it, the violence will continue unless and until America changes its words and deeds. I am not saying it is right, but I am saying it is what will happen.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    US Ambassador to Libya Killed: Still Laughing Madame Secretary?

    September 12, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    It wasn’t just a movie.

    It was less than a year ago that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was videotaped gleefully laughing at the brutal death of then-Libyan leader Qaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died!” giggled the Secretary of State like a drunk school girl on the sidelines of a national television interview.

    It was, in large part, the military intervention of the US that brought about Qaddafi’s death and the “liberation” of Libya. Qaddafi was a nasty son of a bitch. He had people tortured and had opponents killed. He was a dictator. The common wisdom on the Internet, and inside the State Department, is that while “unfortunate,” a guy like Qaddafi had it coming. The same logic applied to the US’ gunning down of bin Laden and our drone killings of any number of terrorist celebs, including several American Citizens.

    With the tragic news today that US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and several other Americans were killed in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, one wonders if Hillary is still laughing.

    It appears that the Ambassador was in Benghazi for the ribbon-cutting for an “American Corner.” An American Corner is, in State’s own words, a “friendly, accessible space, open to the public, which provides current and reliable information about the United States through bilingual book and magazine collections, films and documentaries, poster exhibitions, and guides for research on the United States.” Ironic of course that Ambassador Stevens and his people died in what is sadly all of a propaganda gesture, a book nook Corner that says happy things about America so that Libyans will love us.

    I mean no disrespect to the dead, and mourn with their loved ones. A few years ago it was my family stationed abroad at an American Consulate, so I know too well the tight feeling in my gut wondering what will happen, will someone die today simply because of where they work. Making light over the death of anyone is disgraceful.

    America’s actions abroad, particularly when we kill people because we do not like what they say or do, have consequences that are long and often tragic. Secondary, tertiary effects. I hate killing. I am not justifying any killing nor am I gleeful over Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues’ deaths.

    I am instead offended by US leaders who find happiness in the death of others for political reasons, and then seem shocked and surprised when it is visited on our own. Drone strikes call forth retaliatory terror acts. Terror acts begat more drone strikes. Eye for an eye. Live by the sword.

    It is not about a movie. The anti-Islam movie was just today’s trigger, the most recent one. Behind the easy, casual “oh, it was our free speech that angered them” we seem to forget what filmmaker James Spione knows, that the invasions of multiple Muslim countries, the killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of civilians to “free them,” the displacement of millions more as refugees, the escalating drone attacks, the torture and rendition, Guantanamo itself as a symbol of all that is wrong with our policies, the propping up of corrupt regimes in Baharain, Saudi and until we changed directions, Libya and Syria, the relentless horrific violence unleashed year after year after year by America’s military. Let’s at least be honest about the miasma of hatred we’ve created that is the true context for this horrible incident.

    It wasn’t just a movie. As if to make the point, Obama is on TV saying “justice will be done” in his serious voice, and CNN reports US drones are being sent to hunt down the killers in Libya.

    Indeed, the US rendered human beings into Qaddafi’s Libya for torture just a few years ago. Some of those who were rendered and tortured under US sponsorship now hold key leadership and political positions in the Libyan government. Payback, revenge, call it what you wish.

    For those who will claim articles such as this are politicizing a tragedy, remember this: the Ambassador was there as a political symbol, and he was killed as a political symbol. He and the Consulate were targeted specifically because they represent America. Our diplomats are abroad for that purpose, and become the closest targets for those who wish to attack America. Expect more, especially when the US and/or Israel strike Iran.

    It wasn’t just a movie. They don’t hate us for our freedoms. They hate us for what we do to them.

    America needs a policy in the Middle East that is not based on killing if we ever want the killing to stop.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Happy 9/11 Day!

    September 11, 2012 // 9 Comments »

    Happy 9/11 day, our eleventh anniversary.

    We’re instituted full background checks, body scanners and cavity searches at my home for all guests, which keeps me pretty busy, so this will be a short post. You can’t be too careful! Because they hate our freedoms, we’ve taken them away for safekeeping.

    Here’s a fun thing for today while we’re all reflecting. I guess the cool political thing to do is ask “Are you better off now?” so let’s just do that:

    State of Things September 11, 2001

    Iraq opposed Iran, helping establish a balance of power in the Middle East. Any danger Saddam was worth was contained by the no-fly zones and had been, successfully, since 1991.

    Iraq had no WMDs.

    Iran’s plans were cooled by an enemy on its western border, Iraq, and one on its eastern border, the Taliban.

    Al Qaeda was active in Afghanistan.

    The Taliban controlled much of Afghanistan.

    The US was not at war, and 4,486 Americans had not died in Iraq and 1,935 had not died in Afghanistan. A bunch o’ brown people were still alive. Suicide was not the most common cause of death in our military.

    The US had a chunky budget surplus and had not spent three trillion dollars on wars. Americans got a tax rebate we had so much cash.

    The US was not well-known among nations as a torturer, a keeper of secret prisons, an assassin with drones.

    America was represented abroad primarily by diplomats.

    Americans at home were secure, protected from abuses by their government by the First and Fourth Amendments.

    Iraq had no WMDs.

    Gas was about $1.50 a gallon in the US.


    State of Things September 11, 2012

    Iran has become a dominant power in the Middle East, with well-established ties into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    China has also made healthy economic inroads in Afghanistan, as well as Africa. They hold a good chunk of America’s debt.

    Al Qaeda is active in Afghanistan. Also Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and many other places the franchise never held ground in before 9/11.

    The Taliban control much of Afghanistan.

    The US national debt is over $16 trillion dollars and growing growing growing growing…

    The US has assets in the fight in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, all over Africa, Guatemala, Yemen, used to in Libya, probaly in Syria, and has suffered drone strikes on all sort of other places, including the Philippines.

    The US government ctively and continuously spies on Americans, particularly through electronic means. Once aimed only abroad, the NSA now devotes a substantial portion of its mighty resources inside the US.

    The US government drone assassinates American Citizen abroad without trial.

    America is represented abroad primarily by soldiers.

    Iraq still has no WMDs. But other new places do or soon will.

    The amount of oil flowing from Iraq is about the same as it was in 2001.

    Gas is about $4.00 a gallon in the US.


    So, are you better off? The traditional anniversary gift for an eleventh anniversary is something made of silk or linen, so for you America, here is a linen hankie to cry into. Can’t afford a silk one.


    For a more sober reflection on how far we have fallen from 9/10/01, have a look at Morris Davis’ latest article.




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    America’s Increasingly Irrelevant Concierge Abroad

    September 3, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    (This article was published on the Huffington Post August 22, 2012)


    A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows that more than one fourth of all U.S. State Department Foreign Service positions are either unfilled or are filled with below-grade employees. What should be staggering news pointing out a crisis in government is in fact barely worth a media mention, in that State’s lack of personnel is silently tracking its increasing irrelevance to the United States. State is sliding into the role of America’s Concierge abroad.

    Numbers are Much Worse Than at First Glance

    In fact, broken down, it is much worse. At the senior levels, the leaders of America’s diplomacy, the number is 36 percent of positions vacant or filled with “stretch” assignments, people of lower rank and experience pressed into service. At the crucial midranks, the number is 26 percent unfilled. Entry level jobs are at 28 percent, though it is unclear how some of those can be filled with stretch assignments since they are already at the bottom.

    In fact though, it is much worse. Within State’s Foreign Service ranks, there exists the Consular Bureau and everyone else. Consular stands quite separate from other Foreign Service Officers in that Consular employees have very specific, worker-bee jobs processing passports and visas and are not involved in “traditional” diplomatic tasks such as maintaining inter-government relations, writing reports, negotiating treaties, rebuilding Afghanistan and all that (Consular operations are also almost 100 percent fee-funded, and thus operate free of the shrinking foreign affairs budget). These Consular jobs are filled because they have to be, cash cow that issuing visas is for increasingly foreign-tourism-dependent America. That means broken down by function, it is likely that there are even larger gaps in vacancies in traditional diplomatic roles than even the sad percentages suggest.

    These vacancies and stretches at State are largely unchanged from the last time the GAO checked, in 2008. The GAO says in its report that “although the State Department is attempting to compensate by hiring retirees and placing current civil service employees in Foreign Service jobs, it “lacks a strategy to fill those gaps.'”

    (State has 10,490 Civil Service employees and was only able to convert four employees into Foreign Service Officers (FSOs). That’s a 0.03813 percent conversion rate to help bridge the gap. Another perspective: why some Civil Servants might pass on the chance to become FSOs.)

    In response to GAO, State only said it agreed that its workforce planning “should be updated” to include a strategy to address staffing gaps and a plan to evaluate the strategy. Yawn.



    So What?

    State’s somnolent response to what should be a crisis call (anyone wish to speculate on what the response might be to a report that the military is understaffed by 36 percent at the senior levels?) tells the tale. It really doesn’t matter, and even State itself knows.

    What vibrant, it-really-matters institution could persist with staffing gaps over time as gaping as State’s? If an organization can continue to mumble along with over one out of four slots un/underfilled, that kinda shows that you don’t matter much.

    And such is now the case with the US Department of State.



    The Militarization of Foreign Policy

    The most obvious sign of State’s irrelevance is the militarization of foreign policy. As I’ve wrote in May 2011, “There really are more military band members than State Department Foreign Service Officers. The whole of the Foreign Service is smaller than the complement aboard one aircraft carrier.” Despite the role that foreign affairs has always played in America’s intercourse abroad, the State Department is now a very small part of the pageant. The Transportation Security Administration has about 58,000 employees; the State Department has 22,000. The Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly 450,000 employees stationed overseas, with 2.5 million more in the U.S.

    “At the same time,” I wrote, “Congress continues to hack away at State’s budget.” The most recent “round of bloodletting saw State lose some $8 billion while DOD gained another $5 billion. The found fiver at DOD will hardly be noticed in their overall budget of $671 billion. The $8 billion loss from State’s total of $47 billion will further cripple the organization. The pattern is familiar and has dogged State-DOD throughout the war of terror years.” No more office supplies for you! “What you do get for your money is the militarization of foreign policy,” I wrote.

    As Stephen Glain wrote in State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire, the U.S. military combatant commands are already the putative epicenters for security, diplomatic, humanitarian and commercial affairs in their regions. Local leaders receive them as powerful heads of state, with motorcades, honor guards and ceremonial feats. Their radiance obscures everything in its midst, including the authority of U.S. ambassadors.

    Glain’s point is worth quoting at length:

    This yawning asymmetry is fueled by more than budgets and resources [though the Pentagon-State spending ration is 12:1], however. Unlike ambassadors, whose responsibility is confined to a single country or city-state, the writ of a combatant commander is hemispheric in scope. His authority covers some of the world’s most strategic resources and waterways and he has some of the most talented people in the federal government working for him.

    While his civilian counterpart is mired in such parochial concerns as bilateral trade disputes and visa matters, a combatant commander’s horizon is unlimited. “When we spoke, we had more clout,” according to Anthony Zinni. “There’s a mismatch in our stature. Ambassadors don’t have regional perspectives. You see the interdependence and interaction in the region when you have regional responsibility. If you’re in a given country, you don’t see beyond its borders because that is not your mission.”



    America’s Concierge Abroad

    The increasing role of the military in America’s foreign relations sidelines State. The most likely American for a foreigner to encounter in most parts of the world now, for better or worse, carries a weapon and drives a tank.

    State’s attempt to stake out a new role as America’s reconstruction agency abroad has failed in Iraq, failed in Afghanistan, and is failing in Haiti.

    Cronyism and lack of tolerance for dissent lead to an almost clumsy lack of thoughtfulness: an ambassador who demands internet access in his bathroom, $200 million wasted on a training program unwanted by its recipients, or the failed attempt to buy Kindles for a whopping $1,320 a piece.

    Among the many disclosures made in the 250,000 alleged State Department documents dumped on to Wikileaks was the uber revelation that most of State’s vaunted reporting on foreign events is boring, trivial and of little practical value (though well-written and punctuated properly). Apart from a few gossipy disclosures about foreign leaders and sleazy U.S. behind-the-scenes-deals with Middle Eastern dictators, there were few dramatic KABOOMs in those cables. Even now, State is struggling in the Bradley Manning trial to demonstrate that actual harm was done to national security by the disclosures.

    That leaves for the understaffed Department of State pretty much only the role of concierge abroad. America’s VIPs and wanna-be VIPs need their hands held, their security arranged, their motorcades organized and their Congressional visits’ hotels and receptions handled, all tasks that fall squarely on the Department of State and its embassies abroad. “Supporting” CODELS (Congressional Delegations’ visits to foreign lands) is a right of passage for State Department employees, and every Foreign Service Officer has his/her war stories to tell. For me, while stationed in the UK, I escorted so many Mrs. Important Somebody’s on semi-official shopping trips that I was snarkily labeled “Ambassador to Harrod’s Department Store” by my colleagues. Others will tell tales of pre-dawn baggage handling, VIP indiscretions that needed smoothing over (including skinny dipping), and demands for this and that by so-called important people that rivaled rock star concert riders — no green M&Ms!

    Best Cappuccino in ‪Tripoli

    Take a look at this photo, of Senator McCain visiting our embassy in Libya. The cut line reads “US Amb. to ‪#Libya‬ Chris Stevens – one of America’s finest diplomats also makes one of the best cappuccinos in ‪#Tripoli‬.”

    McCain no doubt meant the comment as a compliment, and looking at the ambassador’s face, he is quite pleased with himself to be serving coffee to the senator. Can anyone imagine a photo from Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa showing a Marine general in a similar stance?

    Well, no, you can’t. And that tells the story.



    Understaffed, with roughly a quarter of its jobs unfilled and no plan to do anything about it, fits the State Department just fine. It is, sadly, a perfect example of an evolutionary process of government right-sizing, fitting the resources well to the actual job. RIP State, you rest now; it’s almost over.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Here’s a Threat toward Syria from Your Next SecState Susan Rice

    August 31, 2012 // 3 Comments »



    Remember when the State Department, and the United Nations, had something to do with diplomacy and treaties and peaceful resolution of conflicts?

    Susan Rice doesn’t.

    On Der Twitter:




    Rice has a Facebook page, so feel free to leave a bloody hand print or a comment there. She is a bubbly sort. Perky. Why here, on August 8, she Facebooked:

    Tonight, less than a year after the end of Qadhafi’s brutal reign, Libya seats its newly elected Congress. Another step forward.


    Luckily I was able to link her social media ejaculation to her own State Department’s travel advice on Libya:

    The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Libya.

    Libya’s General National Congress replaced the Transitional National Council in August 2012 and will lead the country until elections are held on the basis of a new constitution. Despite this progress, violent crime continues to be a problem in Tripoli, Benghazi, and other parts of the country. In particular, armed carjacking and robbery are on the rise. In addition, political violence, including car bombings in Tripoli and assassinations of military officers and alleged former regime officials in Benghazi, has increased.


    And God help us, Susan Rice wants to replace Hillary as SecState in the maybe next Obama administration. Where’s Brett McGurk when his country needs him?



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    State Department: America’s Increasingly Irrelevant Concierge

    July 18, 2012 // 10 Comments »




    A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released July 16 shows that overall more than one fourth of all State Department Foreign Service positions are either unfilled or are filled with below-grade employees. What should be staggering news pointing out a crisis in government is in fact barely worth a media mention in that State’s lack of personnel is silently tracking its increasing irrelevance to the United States, sliding into the role of America’s Concierge abroad.

    Numbers are Much Worse Than at First Glance

    In fact, broken down, it is much worse. At the senior levels, the alleged leaders of America’s diplomacy, the number is 36 percent vacant or filled with “stretch” assignments, people of lower rank and experience pressed into service. At the crucial midranks, the number is 26 percent. Entry level jobs are at 28 percent, though it is unclear how some of those can be filled with stretch assignments since they are already at the bottom.

    In fact though, it is much worse. Within State’s Foreign Service ranks, there exists the Consular Bureau and everyone else. Consular stands quite separate from the other Foreign Service Officers in that Consular employees have very specific worker bee jobs processing passports and visas and are not involved in the “traditional” diplomatic tasks we know and love such as maintaining inter-government relations, writing reports, negotiating treaties, rebuilding Afghanistan and all that. Many of these jobs are filled because they have to be, cash cow that issuing visas is for increasingly foreign tourism dependent third world America. That means broken down by function, it is likely that there are even larger gaps in vacancies in traditional diplomatic roles than even the sad percentages suggest.

    These vacancies and stretches at State are largely unchanged from the last time the GAO checked in 2008. GAO says in its report that “Although the State Department is attempting to compensate by hiring retirees and placing current civil service employees in Foreign Service jobs, it ‘lacks a strategy to fill those gaps.’”

    (State has 10,490 Civil Service employees and was only able to convert four employees to the Foreign Service. That’s a 0.03813 percent conversion rate to help bridge the gap, so much for that idea. Want another perspective? Here’s why some Civil Servants might pass on the chance to become FSOs.).

    In response to GAO, State said it agreed that its workforce planning should be updated to include a strategy to address staffing gaps and a plan to evaluate the strategy.

    So What?

    State’s somnolent response to what should be a crisis call (anyone wish to speculate on what the response might be to a report that the military is understaffed by 36 percent at the senior levels?) tells the tale. It really doesn’t matter, and even State itself knows.

    What vibrant it-really-matters institution could persist with staffing gaps over time as gaping as State’s? Seriously friends, if your organization can continue to mumble along with over one out of four slots un/underfilled, that kinda shows that you don’t matter much.

    And such is now the case with the US Department of State.

    The Militarization of Foreign Policy
    The most obvious sign of State’s irrelevance is the militarization of foreign policy. There really are more military band members than State Department Foreign Service Officers. The whole of the Foreign Service is smaller than the complement aboard one aircraft carrier. Despite the role that foreign affairs has always played in America’s drunken intercourse abroad, the State Department remains a very small part of the pageant. The Transportation Security Administration has about 58,000 employees; the State Department has about 22,000. The Department of Defense (DOD) has nearly 450,000 employees stationed overseas, with 2.5 million more in the US.

    At the same time, Congress continues to hack away at State’s budget. The most recent round of bloodletting saw State lose some $8 billion while DOD gained another $5 billion. The found fiver at DOD will hardly be noticed in their overall budget of $671 billion. The $8 billion loss from State’s total of $47 billion will further cripple the organization. The pattern is familiar and has dogged State-DOD throughout the war of terror years. No more taxi vouchers and office supplies for you! What you do get for your money is the militarization of foreign policy.

    As Stephen Glain wrote in his book, State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America’s Empire, the combatant commands are already the putative epicenters for security, diplomatic, humanitarian and commercial affairs in their regions. Local leaders receive them as powerful heads of state, with motorcades, honor guards and ceremonial feats. Their radiance obscures everything in its midst, including the authority of US ambassadors.

    Glain’s point is worth quoting at length:

    This yawning asymmetry is fueled by more than budgets and resources [though the Pentagon-State spending ration is 12:1], however. Unlike ambassadors, whose responsibility is confined to a single country or city-state, the writ of a combatant commander is hemispheric in scope. His authority covers some of the world’s most strategic resources and waterways and he has some of the most talented people in the federal government working for him.

    While his civilian counterpart is mired in such parochial concerns as bilateral trade disputes and visa matters, a combatant commander’s horizon is unlimited. “When we spoke, we had more clout,” according to Anthony Zinni. “There’s a mismatch in our stature. Ambassadors don’t have regional perspectives. You see the interdependence and interaction in the region when you have regional responsibility. If you’re in a given country, you don’t see beyond its borders because that is not your mission.”


    America’s Concierge Abroad

    The increasing role of the military in America’s foreign relations sidelines State. The most likely American for a foreigner to encounter in most parts of the world now, for better or worse, carries a weapon and drives a tank.

    Among the many disclosures made in the alleged 250,000 alleged State Department alleged documents dumped on to Wikileaks was the uber revelation that most of State’s vaunted reporting on foreign events is boring, trivial and of little practical value (though well-written and punctuated properly). Apart from a few gossipy disclosures about foreign leaders and sleazy US behind-the-scenes-deals with crappy MidEast dictators, there were few dramatic KABOOMs in those cables. Even now State is struggling in the Bradley Manning trial to demonstrate that actual harm was done to national security by the disclosures.

    Lop off a quarter or so of the Foreign Service for Consular work, which hums by more or less independent of the rest of the State Department.

    That leaves for the understaffed Department of State pretty much only the role of concierge. America’s VIPs and wanna be VIPs need their hands held, their security arranged, their motorcades organized and their Congressional visits’ hotels and receptions handled, all tasks that falls squarely on the Department of State and its embassies abroad. “Supporting” CODELS (Congressional Delegations’ visits to foreign lands) is a right of passage for State Department employees, and every Foreign Service Officer has his/her war stories to tell. For me, while stationed in the UK, I escorted so many Mrs. Important Somebody’s on semi-official shopping trips that I was snarkily labeled “Ambassador to Harrod’s” by my colleagues. Others will tell tales of pre-dawn baggage handling, VIP indiscretions that needed smoothing over, and demands for this and that by so-called important people that rivaled rock star concert riders– no green M&Ms!

    Best Cappuccino in ‪Tripoli

    Take another look at the photo above, of old man McCain visiting our embassy in Libya. The cut line read “US Amb. to ‪#Libya‬ Chris Stevens – one of America’s finest diplomats also makes one of the best cappuccinos in ‪#Tripoli‬.”

    McCain meant the comment as a compliment, and looking at the ambassador’s face, he is quite pleased with himself to be serving coffee to the Senator. Can anyone imagine a similar photo from Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa showing a Marine general in a similar stance?

    No, you can’t.

    Understaffed, with roughly a quarter of its jobs unfilled and no plan to do anything about it, fits the State Department just fine. It is, sadly, a perfect example of an evolutionary process of government right-sizing, fitting the resources well to the actual job. RIP State, you rest now, it’s almost over.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Hillary Running for President: Of North Korea

    July 11, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    Well, she sounds like a candidate. Hillary said this recently, and I could not agree with her more on priorities:


    Rather than spending money on implements of war, feed your people, provide education and health care.

    The problem of course was that Dear Hillary was talking through the media to the Dear Leader in North Korea. While America slides endlessly into its Wiemar state, Clinton is all full of good advice for North Korea.

    The bad news is that she once again coupled her good advice with the same old passive-aggressive crap that the US seems to peddle as a foreign policy. Hils just couldn’t stop herself from adding “Kim Jung Un has a choice to make– become a transformative leader or continue the Communist nation’s existing policies, which would lead to its demise.”

    Yawn. On Syria, Clinton said “Assad’s days are numbered,” and “the sand is running out of the hourglass.” With Iran, it was “We want them to take concrete steps,” and “I am convinced that one of the reasons that Iran came back to the negotiating table was because of the success of our pressure strategy.” On Libya, it was famously “We came, we saw, he died.”

    We keep the old myth alive that America is some special place, but in fact we’re like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself yelling at the kids to get off the lawn. In my town, that was Mr. Voriseky. He’d always be upset about anyone stepping on his grass, or a ball in his yard. Sometimes he’d come out shouting with a baseball bat, or, in some versions, a shotgun (though repeated by generations of high school kids no one ever actually saw a gun, though many older brothers’ friends’ friends did). Nobody respected old man Voriseky, even after we found out he was in the war or was some survivor of something or whatever. We stayed off his lawn because he had that bat, nothing more.

    What’s so surprising is how quickly it all happened. American went from big empty space to king of the world in a handful of generations, rode the wave for only two or three and now this. The generations that lived this dream we keep hearing about could fit into a weekend family reunion but we keep talking about them like they lasted longer than the dinosaurs. People stay away because of the big bat but it isn’t respect and doesn’t last after the old man turns his back, cursing, and goes back inside to Family Feud reruns.

    Hillary, haven’t you heard? No one is listening.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Let’s Watch Qaddafi Get Beaten and (Maybe) Sodomized

    October 26, 2011 // Comments Off

    Though apparently my posting of a video of your Secretary of State gleeful at the death of Qaddafi may not have been to everyone’s taste, NOW we know why everyone was so happy.

    More complete video of Qaddafi’s death shows that he was captured very much alive, beaten, and according to one interpretation of the video, sodomized with a knife. To be clear, this means that while being held by others, one of Libya’s liberators supported by the US tried to force a combat knife into Qaddafi’s anus. This is unclear from the video, at least to an old sodomite like myself, so judge for yourself below.

    Question for Discussion:
    Qaddafi was not the nicest guy. He had people tortured under his order and almost certainly had opponents killed. He was a dictator.

    The common wisdom on the Internet, and inside the State Department, is that while “unfortunate,” a guy like Qaddafi had it coming. The same logic applied to the US’ murder of bin Laden and our drone killings of any number of terrorist celebs, including several American Citizens.

    Here’s the question: In 100 words or less, indicate how bad one has to be to justify a) knife sodomy; b) pistol shot to the head and c) death by Hellfire missile from a drone.

    Extra Credit:
    How bad does one have to be to justify being tortured by US supporters? Just being a dictator? Calling the SecState a bad name? Not returning library books? Sharing NetFlix with your non-subscribing friends?

    Thanks for waiting, and here’s your war porn video:



    No video? Click here.

    And here’s the link to see still frames that purport to document the sodomy.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Oil from Libya: Mission Accomplished

    October 21, 2011 // Comments Off

    With oil from Iraq still flowing more like Grandpa with prostrate trouble, it is good to learn that freedom in Libya is oilier than we thought.

    Associated Press reports the killing of Moammar Gadhafi reduces the chance that violence will get in the way as Libya cranks up production again. The type of crude produced by Libya, known as light, sweet crude, is rare. It is especially valuable because it is easier for refineries to convert into diesel and gasoline. Many refineries can’t switch easily to processing other varieties of crude.

    The price of oil jumped 35 percent between Feb. 15, when protests started in Benghazi, and April 29, when oil hit almost $114 per barrel, the highest since 2008. Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose from $3.12 before the fighting to a three-year high of $3.98 on May 5.

    By Wednesday, oil had returned to its price before Libya’s uprising began. It fell 81 cents Thursday to $85.30 a barrel in New York trading. The average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. was unchanged at $3.47.

    (Note to the easily offended: do not use Google images for the search term “gusher” with Safe Search turned off)




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Qaddafi: Mission Accomplished

    // Comments Off

    It is always sad when friends depart. Qaddafi was hated, then loved, the hated once again by the West. But, for that brief shining moment, we have our… memories.








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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Let’s Watch Qaddafi Get Killed on YouTube

    October 20, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    You earned this America!




    Even more, with extra gore for freedom!




    So many of our wars nowadays never seem to end. Sure, we hung Saddam but that was botched. Nobody was executed in Afghanistan, and those black and white wars like Korea and Vietnam sucked.

    Wouldn’t it be great is everything ended this way? Super Bowl defeated quarterback dragged behind a truck, Presidential debates end with losers beaten to death, bad evaluations at the office finish with execution. Man, that would be so cool. Time to change the channel now, “Situation Room” is on.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Build Your Qaddafi Library Now While You Still Can

    // Comments Off

    Remember how your Mom threw away all your baseball cards and Matchbox cars? Man, you could have sold that stuff on eBay for like a zillion dollars, if only you had held on to it all.

    Well, here’s your chance. With the Qaddafi family headed toward exhile, execution, or worse, a reality show, books by the master will become collector’s items– they ain’t gonna be making any more of ‘em people!

    Luckily Amazon.com has three choices available. Now neither is available for Kindle, but both are eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping.

    If you will only buy one book, go for the classic “little green book” of Qaddafi’s, where he laid out for all his revolutionary theories. The most important one, Jamahiriya (Arabic for “Juche”) has governed the boss’ thinking on Libya for 40 years. Quite a run.











    Qaddafi the revolutionary, Qaddafi the prophet, these themes are addressed in his other works. This book might be considered “Qaddafi unplugged,” where the man explores his sort of essayist side. Entertainment Weekly said it for all of us when it wrote
    “Qaddafi… often reminds one of Dennis Miller, albeit slightly funnier.”











    The product description for the book My Visionalone makes it an obvious winner; this is not a narrative you are gonna hear out of Wolf or Anderson anytime soon:

    In 2004, the international embargo and sanctions that had been imposed on Libya for more than a decade were lifted by the UN Security Council when Colonel Muammar Gadaffi announced that Libya would give up its nuclear weapons. Further, Gadaffi agreed to compensate the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing and the attack on the TWA flight that occurred in the late 1980s. This remarkable gesture showed Gaddafi’s commitment to seeing Libya rejoin the international community. In the sprit of reconciliation, Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to Tripoli, declaring that Libya was now an ally in the fight against global terrorism. How is this reversal explained? Born from conversations between Gaddafi and political expert Edmond Jouve, this book retraces the Libyan leader’s political and ideological journey.



    Don’t worry if the image if the book cover image is not showing up; it’s just Qaddafi’s mug again.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Iraq Offers Advice to Libya on Democracy

    October 7, 2011 // Comments Off

    (This is true)

    Iraq’s prime minister offered to help Libya, a country with a shared history of dictatorship, build its fledgling democracy during a meeting Thursday with Libya’s visiting prime minister. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told his Libyan counterpart, Mahmoud Jibril, who was on a one-day visit to Iraq, that Baghdad is will to ready to lend support on writing a constitution and holding elections.



    (This was intercepted by accident via a misrouted Wikileaks submission)

    Maliki (Iraq): So how much you get from the Americans?

    Jibril (Libya): Freaking billions, dude. Bundles of cash. I got no place to store it.

    Maliki (Iraq): Yeah, that’s not my missing oil money bro, right?

    Jibril (Libya): (laughter)

    Maliki (Iraq): I heard kids in America have to pay for their own democracy. Not like us, eh? Here, watch this. (sound of phone) Hey, Barack. Paypal me $100 million or I’ll appoint al-Sadr governor of Anbar, bitch.

    Jibril (Libya): Ok, I’ll try (sound of phone). Barack, how’s it hanging? Hey, I need $200 million or I can’t promise where that Qaddafi yellowcake is gonna end up. (pause) It’s all about the Benjamins.

    Maliki (Iraq): So about these elections my friend. The Americans will want lots of TV coverage of the purple fingers of “voters.” I don’t know what it is, some kind of fetish thing for them. Nobody cares who wins, as long as it looks fair at the one polling site Jimmy Carter and Sean Penn show up to watch. If those two get out of control, just fire off a few shots and have one of your goons throw a rock at Anderson Cooper and they’ll all run home.

    Jibril (Libya): Got it. By the way, I downloaded the US Constitution off Wikipedia last night like you said, and did search and replace on “America” for “Libya.” Is that enough for the Americans?

    Maliki (Iraq): Close my friend. Stick in some b.s. about giving rights to women, and some bullshit about freedom of religion. They LOVE that stuff. Here’s a number for my man at FOX– email him a copy, plus extras for McCain and Lieberman, they share the same email addy anyway. That’ll be worth a couple of billion in aid next year. If they complain about anything, call Hilary and say they’re messin’ with your Islam. She’ll fix it.

    Jibril (Libya): Hey man, thanks for all this. I thought democracy was gonna be a lot harder.

    Maliki (Iraq): No worries brother. Just one more thing. Watch this (phone sounds). Barack– I just found some al Qaeda guys in my pool house. Get your lazy ass over here and clean my freaking swimming pool.

    Jibril (Libya): Sweet. I love freedom.

    (static)




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Diplopundit Reviews We Meant Well

    September 22, 2011 // Comments Off

    The inside-the-Beltway must-read blog Diplopundit posted a review of We Meant Well.

    The writer had some nice things to say:


    It’s easy to see why the folks in Foggy Bottom will be none to pleased with the stories in this book.

    Learning from one’s mistakes is one of life’s most important skills. And if we are really serious about learning the mistakes of nation building in Iraq, Peter Van Buren’s book should be required reading not just for decision makers but for everyone heading to those PRT gigs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan and where ever else it is we are conducting reconstruction and stabilization efforts these days.

    In addition to being an engaging storyteller, the author was smart enough not to fill his book with too much government jargon and acronyms that you need a dictionary just to read it. People back home, if they’d bother to pick up the book will find it a fast read. It is also a book that will be a helpful addition to our understanding of what is wrong in Iraq, provided that we care and want to know. For the plenty squeezed and suffering American taxpayers, this would be a hard book to read.



    Read the whole review here.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Qaddafi Kept Photo Album of Condi

    August 26, 2011 // Comments Off

    We’ve documented Qaddafi’s weird relationship with the US government in other posts, though now it appears he desired an even weirder relationship with none other than Bush Work Wife and former Secretary of State Condi Rice.

    Qaddafi apparently was smitten, which is creepy given that Condi is, um, an avowed “bachelorette.” Nonetheless, the man kept a scrapbook-photo album of America’s iron lady in his Bond super-villain lair.

    Indeed, it was Qaddafi that once said “I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much.” Eeeeeeew, what’s next? Mubarak kept an album of Hillary Clinton shots? Obama has up skirts of Angela Merkel on his cell?

    The mind just spins on this one. Maybe the US could use Condi as bait, to lure Qaddafi out of hiding? She could send him a few texts, maybe a cellphone snap of her so-sexy gap-toothed smile with a suggestive comment, and ask him to meet her at some Tripoli Starbucks. Qaddafi shows up with flowers and bang! Seal Team Six “consummates” the date. Condi, do it, for America!!!!!!!!



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    US Military Spare Parts went to Qaddafi in 2009

    August 25, 2011 // 57 Comments »

    We recently recapped the weird history of US-Libyan relations, focusing on how, after years of hating on and bombing Qaddafi, soon after the Iraq war commenced we suddenly decided we liked him. The US opened diplomatic relations in 2009 and had all sorts of warm feelings for the once-pariah state. Then somehow in 2011 he started hating on and bombing Qaddafi again.

    New cables, on Wikilks, now give us a hint at how cozy the US-Libyan relationship (briefly) was.

    To start, Libya needed lots of spare parts for its military after years of embargoes. The US was happy to assist. An unclassified cable from 2009 outlined that the US sold “Miscellaneous parts, components, accessories, and attachments for the L100 aircraft and T56 engines belonging to the Libyan Air Force,” conveniently through a Portuguese middleman. Wonder if any of those refitted aircraft played any part in the recent unpleasantness in Libya? The cable asked Embassy Lisbon and Embassy Tripoli to check up on these exports, as they had (duh) military usage and cordially concludes “Department is grateful for Post’s assistance in this matter.”

    The more amusing cable is from August 2009, just two short years ago. It recounts the visit to Libya of Congressional super heroes John McCain,Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. The boys had a nice visit with Qaddafi and his son it seems. The cable notes “Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.” Old Man McCain assured his hosts “that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its security. He stated that he understood Libya’s requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C-130s and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.”

    The cable continued to say that “Qadhafi commented that friendship was better for the people of both countries and expressed his desire to see the relationship flourish. He thanked the Senators for their visit and described America as a race rather than a nationality, explaining that many Libyans are dual citizens because they were born in the United States. Senators McCain and Graham conveyed the U.S. interest in continuing the progress of the bilateral relationship and pledged to try to resolve the C-130 issue with Congress and Defense Secretary Gates.”

    It was no surprise Qaddafi wanted to talk hardware with McCain. The preparatory cable sent to McCain from Embassy Tripoli just before his trip reminded that “Libya has stated its number one priority, in return
    for relinquishing WMD, is a security guarantee by the US against foreign aggression. To that end, Libya has expressed an interest in purchasing lethal weapons from US firms.”

    Ho ho ho, that sure seems ironic now, after six months of a US bombing campaign.

    Qaddafi was always polite. In November 2008, the US Embassy in Tripoli received what it called a “telefax,” (what your grandfather would call a fax) from the man congratulating Obama on his election win. The “telefax” said:


    I have the pleasure to send a congratulation note for the first time to an American president, and on behalf of all Africa, and of Cen-Sad, the base of the African pyramid, and on behalf of the Arab Maghreb Union, and in the name of all Arab leaders as I am their dean. Since relations are resumed between our two countries, we have the right to congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts because you are the son of Africa.

    Blacks were deemed weak and were oppressed, and were taken to the American continent as slaves and indentured servants. The main point is that Blacks shall not have an inferiority complex and imitate the Yankees.

    The Embassy took the “telefax,” retyped it into a cable, and sent it to Washington, which explains what real diplomats do at work for you students reading this and contemplating a foreign service career. Above all, they do not re-send “telefaxes” when retyping one can do.


    Anyone interested in researching the ongoing dump of diplomatic messages should check out cablegatesearch.net, which provides effortless full-text search.

    Another excellent way to keep informed on new cable releases is via Twitter. Use the #wlfind tag.




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    A Short, Weird History of US-Libyan Relations

    August 23, 2011 // 2 Comments »

    BFF Remember kids, the Internet is written in ink.

    W-a-y back in the dark ages of the 1980’s, President Ron “Prune Face” Reagan called Gaddafi the “mad dog of the Middle East,” bombed his compound, “accidentally” killing Gaddafi’s daughter. Gaddafi had blown up a number of Americans in a disco.

    Hijinks ensued. One of Peter’s first jobs at State was working on the Lockerbie bombing from the Washington end in 1988. He worked on Lockerbie again while assigned to our Embassy in London in 1991. America was very, very angry with Gaddafi.

    We fast forward to 2003…

    …the year we liberated Iraq. We’ll skip all that stuff for another day’s posting about how the US supported Saddam while he was fighting the Iranians for us, and that awful picture of a young Don Rumsfeld wearing his 80’s ‘do shaking hands with Saddam. America was in the process of remaking the Middle East in 2003, so we ignored the work the AQ Khan network had done helping Libya (and North Korea, bonus!) move down the road to owning WMDs to welcome Gaddafi back into our Bosom o’ Freedom if he’d turn around and drop those WMDs. For laffs, Gaddafi also handed over one of the Lockerbie bombers to Justice, who was released on a flimsy health excuse by the sissy Brits a few years later and who Mitt Romney wants re-returned to justice, this time in the US, hopefully in time for the election..

    Good job Gaddafi! We rewarded him with a visit in 2008 by SecState Condi Rice. While in Tripoli (ironically at the same compound where we killed Gaddafi’s kid; folks, you just can’t make this stuff up), Condi said: “We did talk about learning from the lessons of the past. We talked about the importance of moving forward. The United States doesn’t have any permanent enemies.”

    Over the next few years the US built up its relationship with Gaddafi, first with a few texts, then friends on Facebook, then some lunch dates. It got serious ya’ll!

    In 2007 on one-day Fox affiliate al-Jazeera TV, Gaddafi said of the US SecState:

    “I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much.”

     

    According to the required report of foreign gifts that State produces, in 2008 one of the most generous gift-givers was Libya’s Gaddafi, who seemed particularly grateful for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Tripoli, giving her gifts worth a total value of $212,225, including a locket with his own picture inside. Completely unrelated but hysterical, that same year Nicolas Sarkozy gave President Bush a brown leather Hermes saddle. Awkward!

    The US went on to open an Embassy in Libya, appointed a real Ambassador (who got tossed out in 2010 after some Wikileaky stuff angered Gaddafi), the UK basically swept Lockerbie under the rug and released (because he had the flu) the terrorist who helped plant the bomb, and Gaddafi’s son was invited on a study tour of the US including a VIP tour of our Air Force Academy in Colorado just days before the uprisings began back home. Old Man McCain got off his Hoverchair to travel to Libya and suck up to Gadaffi. Maybe best of all, US companies started selling good stuff to Libya, including US-made armored trucks now being used to suppress angry mobs (See “Libyan Blood on American Trucks”). Nobody makes freedom-suppressing riot gear like America. We’re like the Forever 21 of the stuff for dictators worldwide.

    I fell asleep then for a couple of days and woke up to find we did not like Gaddafi again.

    By March 2011, former SecState’s Rice and Albright were back on Gaddafi’s ass, calling him a “nut.” “Nut” is an upgrade in diplomatic language from Reagan’s choice of name-calling, “mad dog.” So we’re back bombing the guy, sanctioning his oily butt and going all postal on Libya with our NATO dawgs. Current President of the United States of America Donald Trump brags of ripping off Gaddafi on a land deal, the kiss of death.

    Then some stuff happened in Libya in August 2011, you can see it on CNN or The Twitter.

    Yeah, this diplomatic stuff is complicated. I really have to stop sleeping in.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Libya: Not Iraq 2.0?

    August 22, 2011 // Comments Off

    A lot of high-fives in Washington, as the flaccid American Empire got a shot of geopolitical Viagra over the weekend in Libya. This is no Iraq 2.0.

    The lessons learned are already being compiled in a recipe for future campaigns. Target someone without nukes (North Korea, Iran and Pakistan are very safe, at least from us) and who is not a nuclear threshold state (Saudis, breathe easy). Use as many US and NATO resources as possible except for “boots on the ground.” Boots on the ground these days means troops we’ll need to acknowledge, not special forces, spies and sneaky mercs who can and were deployed in great abundance but in great secrecy. Let the public face of the war be someone, anyone, who is not American. Label them generic rebels, and tone down the rhetoric of past misadventures (no “freedom fighters,” no “Mission Accomplished” photo-ops). Encourage the media-fueled “victory” announcements from Libya. Stir, chill overnight and you’ve deposed another of America’s formerly reliable despots in favor of a bunch of nobodies we hope will keep the oil tap wide open. Repeat.

    Now, my hope will be that the media will keep an eye on Libya long enough to allow us to see what happens next. The rebels will need to shift from breaking things to fixing things, the key transition that screwed up the American adventure in Iraq. Will they be able to very quickly take control of picking up trash, keeping the water and sewage plants running, funding electrical grid upgrades, making sure teachers, cops, toll collectors and tax officials all show up to work and all the rest of the day-to-day stuff of governing? Will they get sidetracking into settling scores and reprisal killings? Security, stabilization and development done sequentially take far too long in a bubbling post-conflict environment, but are very, very hard to do simultaneously (again, see Iraq).

    How conflicts like the Libya campaign will fit into the bigger US geopolitical picture will be able to be judged by the results of such mundane civil tasks. Will the US walk away from Libya in large part, the “tyrant” now gone, uncaring about what happens next as long as the oil flows? It is obvious that the US plans nothing on the scale of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that set out to fix all those problems in Iraq and Afghanistan and failed miserably. But will the US dump “experts” and money into Libya? Doing so may or may not make things work, but will increase ownership of the problems by the US, something America would most dearly like to avoid. Doing close to nothing will likely ease Libya’s transition into a permanent semi-failed state.

    Breaking things is easy, fixing things is hard. The US has mismanaged that problem consistently since 9/11. Let’s see what the play is in Libya to see if anyone in Washington really learned any lessons.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Freedom Bombs for Libya

    June 25, 2011 // Comments Off

    It is always exciting to watch a new democracy form, nurtured along by a benevolent older brother. Instead, we have Libya, where for some reason no one can remember anymore, we are still at war.

    Let’s run down the list: Did they attack us, like Pearl Harbor? No. Are they Nazis enslaving Europe? Nope. Did they steal our women and sell off our children? No. Anyway, just accept that we are at war to free Libya from the people who govern it, who are actually also Libyans.

    It looks like some more freedom bombs were dropped on Libya. CNN reports:


    NATO airstrikes hit a bakery and a restaurant in the Libyan city of al-Brega Saturday, killing 15 civilians, a Libyan government official told CNN. NATO denied the claim and said it had struck key command-and-control centers.

    This kind of thing always makes me angry. In The Dirty Dozen or Private Ryan, whatever they blew up was just crawling with Krauts. Nobody was standing around saying “Hey, was that a bakery or a command center we just blew up?” Where’s Vic Morrow when you need him?

    Vic Morrow also didn’t rape women, and it appears that the earlier claims by US UN diplo drone Susan Rice that sex machine Qaddafi had given his troops Viagra to encourage them to be rapin’ everybody may not be true.

    Allegations that Muammar Qaddafi ordered the mass rape of women and passed out Viagra to his troops to give them more zeal for the task have been widely cited – most recently by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). But independent researchers who have sought to corroborate the claim in Libya now say they have found no evidence to back it whatsoever.

    “We have not spoken to any victims or anybody who has met victims, except for the one doctor who has spoken a lot to the media,” said the researchers. “We approached her to see if there was anything more to learn from her, on this particular issue; she couldn’t put us in touch with any victims.”

    So yeah, we probably just made that shit up. Hey, it’s war you know.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Warrior Pundits and War Pornographers

    May 16, 2011 // Comments Off

    My thanks to the dozens of sites that picked up my article on embedding with the military (“Warrior Pundits and War Pornographers”). If you haven’t read it, please visit one of the sites below and have a look:

    TomDispatch

    Diplopundit

    Salon

    Huffington Post

    The Nation

    American Empire Project

    American Conservative Magazine

    Mother Jones

    Michael Moore

    Jezebel

    Le Monde

    Daily Kos

    Myfiredoglake

    Rethink Afghanistan

    Middle East Online

    Guernica

    …and many more I haven’t been able to catalog yet. My thanks to everyone!



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    NATO: Over 2400 Airstrikes Made Against Libya

    May 12, 2011 // Comments Off

    Dancing with the Stars Good news in today as NATO announced they had conducted over 2400 airstrikes for freedom against Libya since the party began on March 31.

    So far the strikes have killed at least one Gaddafi kid, which furthers the humanitarian mission of the bombings. In addition, according to the Libyan state news agency one of latest sites hit by NATO was the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli which we bombed just because we’re freaking NATO and we could. Suck on That, People We Don’t Like.

    Meanwhile, the Libyan rebels, whose names and backgrounds are still harder to find than an atheist in a foxhole, keep having victories in towns somewhere, until they all die or the West gets bored with this war and switches back to air strikes against the cast of Dancing with the Stars (which I would support on humanitarian grounds).

    Also, UN pussy peace-monger Ban Ki-Moon called for “an immediate, verifiable ceasefire” in Libya and demanded unimpeded access for humanitarian workers there. This might matter because the “intervention” in Libya was originally sponsored by the UN, but, naw, we’ll just ignore them.

    Go watch Dancing with the Stars Ban Ki-Moon and leave our fun war alone!



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Viagra-Rape Bullshit

    April 30, 2011 // Comments Off

    ViagraThe US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice claimed that Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape.

    Rice made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report last month from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers.

    The Guardian reported that a UN diplomat at the closed session on Thursday said: “I was in the room when she mentioned Viagra. The remark did not cause a stir at the time. It was during a discussion about whether there is moral equivalence between the Gaddafi forces and the rebels. She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi’s forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.”

    Susan, Susan, I know it must be lonely as hell at the top, but darling, Viagra is only a helper. The will and the desire still needs to be there first– don’t you watch those TV commercials with the happy older couples in the bath tubs? I know you must get a lot of spam emails, but really, Viagra is not for everyone.

    Plus, rape is a crime of violence and aggression, of hatred toward women. It is not a crime of desire and for the record, women don’t ask for it by their dress or actions. Rape is violence and you don’t need Viagra for that you freaking idiot.

    I hope somehow this report is wrong. If not, we have clearly lost our minds.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya