• US Diplomat Suspended For Writing Controversial Book, Linking To WikiLeaks

    October 28, 2011

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Other Ideas

    (This article originally appeared on The Talk Radio News Service, and was written by Elianna Mintz)

    Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren claimed Thursday that he was suspended indefinitely from his position at the State Department earlier this week after writing a book that was critical of U.S policy in Iraq and linking to Wikileaks on his blog.

    Van Buren’s book “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” details his experiences in Iraq as a diplomat and the lack of purpose and success in US policy in Iraq.

    “I got off the helicopter at my first operating base and I said the equivalent of ‘so what are we working on?’ and the guy said ‘I thought you were telling us,’” Van Buren told an audience at the National Press Club on Thursday. “It only went downhill from there.”

    “No one was particularly concerned about what we were doing, how much money we were spending, and the results of our endeavors,” Van Buren added.

    And this is exactly what he writes about in his book. Whether detailing a chicken factory built in Iraq from $2 million of U.S taxpayer money that laid dormant or how an Ambassador paid between $2 to $5 million to have seeds and sod imported to grow grass on the Embassy Grounds, Van Buren details what he describes as irresponsible use of billions of dollars in Iraq that brought them no closer to a reconstructed society.

    Upon completing the book, Van Buren submitted the manuscript to the State Department for clearance. Because he received no response, he proceeded with the book publishing and blogged to promote it.

    At the end of August, however, Van Buren’s security clearance was revoked for disclosing classified information by linking to the whistleblowing site wikileaks in one of his blog posts.

    While wikileaks did expose classified information illegal for Van Buren to reveal, Van Buren defends sharing the link by saying the information was already out there and he was merely linking to it.

    On September 20, the State Department requested he remove a chapter in his book disclosing classified material. The chapter, entitled “A Spooky Dinner,” depicts intelligence officials dining in Saddam Hussein’s palace.

    Van Buren refused to remove it from his book.

    On October 21, Van Buren angered the State Department once again when he critically blogged about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughing about Gadaffi’s death in an interview with Diane Sawyer. As a result, Van Buren was suspended indefinitely from his position at the State Department and was escorted from the building on Monday, October 24. His ID badge was confiscated and he is prohibited from entering any state department facility.

    Yet while Van Buren will not be working, he is still receiving full pay.

    When asked by TRNS if all of this was worth writing the book, Van Buren responded that it was.

    “I thought it was a story worth telling but to be honest I never thought I would have to sacrifice my career to tell it, but that’s what happened,” Van Buren remarked. “Was it worth it? I have to say yes. Time will tell.”

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