• State Department Diplomatic Security Employee Arrested on Child Porn Charge

    March 21, 2015 // 20 Comments »


    A State Department Diplomatic Security employee with high-level access to government IT and security resources was arrested in Broward County, Florida on a federal charges of possessing child pornography.

    FBI agents took Peter Meyers, 53, pictured, into custody. Law enforcement officials stated they found 50 video files and eight image files depicting child pornography on Meyers’ computers and laptops. Meyers was making the videos and images available to pedophiles worldwide via file-sharing networks.

    Some of the files were named “Bedtime Rape” and “Camping Tent Incest” and showed girls and boys, including toddlers and children as young six and nine years old, being sexually abused. Meyers said the computers were for personal use, agents said.

    Investigators said he came to their attention in February when they identified an Internet address in Broward County that was sharing computer files depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of underage children.

    According to his Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Meyers has worked as a security technical specialist for the U.S. Department of State since 2003. His work duties included testing security systems, assisting in the technical aspects of criminal investigations and traveling to overseas embassies and consulates, according to his online resume.

    A State Department spokesperson said “The employee’s security clearance will be suspended and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds through any judicial process.

    Want more State Department sleaze? Here you go.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Watchlists and the Fourth Amendment

    September 26, 2014 // 10 Comments »

    If you don’t know Ray McGovern yet, you probably should.

    You see, Ray just beat down, in court, Hillary Clinton, the State Department, and a small part of Post-Constitutional America.

    Who is this Guy?

    McGovern is a changed man. He started out in the Army, then he worked for the CIA from the Kennedy administration up through the first Bush presidency, preparing the president’s daily intel brief. He was a hell of a spy. McGovern began to see the evil of much of the government’s work, and has since become an outspoken critic of the intelligence world and an advocate for free speech. He speaks on behalf of people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

    Ray McGovern was put on the State Department’s Diplomatic Security BOLO list– Be On the Look Out– one of a series of proliferating government watch lists. What McGovern did to end up on Diplomatic Security’s dangerous persons list and how he got off the list are a tale of our era, Post-Constitutional America.

    Offending the Queen

    Ray’s offense was to turn his back on Hillary Clinton, literally.

    In 2011, at George Washington University during a public event where Clinton was speaking, McGovern stood up and turned his back to the stage. He did not say a word, or otherwise disrupt anything. University cops grabbed McGovern in a headlock and by his arms and dragged him out of the auditorium by force, their actions directed from the side by a man whose name is redacted from public records. Photos (above) of the then-71 year old McGovern taken at the time of his arrest show the multiple bruises and contusions he suffered while being arrested. He was secured to a metal chair with two sets of handcuffs. McGovern was at first refused medical care for the bleeding caused by the handcuffs. It is easy to invoke the words thug, bully, goon.

    The charges of disorderly conduct were dropped, McGovern was released and it was determined that he committed no crime.

    But because he had spoken back to power, State’s Diplomatic Security printed up an actual wanted poster citing McGovern’s “considerable amount of political activism” and “significant notoriety in the national media.” Diplomatic Security warned agents should USE CAUTION (their emphasis) when stopping McGovern and conducting the required “field interview.” The poster itself was classified as Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU), one of the multitude of pseudo-secret categories created following 9/11.

    Violations of the First and Fourth Amendments by State

    Subjects of BOLO alerts are considered potential threats to the Secretary of State. Their whereabouts are typically tracked to see if they will be in proximity of the Secretary. If Diplomatic Security sees one of the subjects nearby, they detain and question them. Other government agencies and local police are always notified. The alert is a standing directive that the subject be stopped and seized in the absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he is committing an offense. Stop him for being him. These directives slash across the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unwarranted search and seizure, as well as the First Amendment’s right to free speech, as the stops typically occur around protests.

    You Don’t Mess with Ray

    Ray McGovern is not the kind of guy to be stopped and frisked based State Department retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights in Post-Constitution America. He sued, and won.

    The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund took up the case pro bono on Ray’s behalf, suing the State Department. They first had to file a Freedom of Information Act demand to even get ahold of the internal State Department justifications for the BOLO, learning that despite all charges having been dropped against McGovern and despite having determined that he engaged in no criminal activity, the Department of State went on to open an investigation into McGovern, including his political beliefs, activities, statements and associations.

    The investigative report noted “McGovern does seem to have the capacity to capture a national audience – it is possible his former career with the CIA has the potential to make him ‘attractive’ to the media.” It also cited McGovern’s “political activism, primarily anti-war.” The investigation ran nearly seven months, and resulted in the BOLO.

    With the documents that so clearly crossed the First Amendment now in hand, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund went to court. They sought, and won, an injunction against the State Department to stop the Be On the Look-Out alert against McGovern, and to force State to pro-actively advise other law enforcement agencies that it no longer stands.

    McGovern’s constitutional rights lawsuit against George Washington University, where his arrest during the Clinton speech took place, and the officers who assaulted and arrested him, is ongoing.

    Watch Lists in Post-Constitutional America

    McGovern’s case has many touch points to the general state of affairs of post-9/11 government watchlists, such as No-Fly.

    The first is that it is anonymous interests, within a vast array of government agencies, that put you on some list. You may not know what you did to be “nominated,” and you may not even know you are on a list until you are denied boarding or stopped and frisked at a public event. Placement on some watchlist is done without regard to– and often in overt conflict with– your Constitutional rights. Placement on a list rarely has anything to do with having committed any actual crime; it is based on the government’s supposition that you are a potential threat, that you may commit a crime despite there being no evidence that you are planning one.

    Once you are on one watchlist, your name proliferates onto other lists. Getting access to the information you need to fight back is not easy, and typically requires legal help and a Freedom of Information Act struggle just to get the information you need to go forward. The government will fight your efforts, and require you to go through a lengthy and potentially expensive court battle.

    We’ll address the irony that the government uses taxpaying citizens’ money to defend itself when it violates the Constitutional rights of taxpaying citizens another time.

    Donating to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

    Persons wishing to donate to The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund may do so online. I have no affiliation with the organization and do not benefit in any way from donations.

    Full Discloure: I do know and respect Ray McGovern, and was once the subject of a State Department Be On the Lookout Alert myself, following these remarks I made about Hillarly Clinton. I have been unable to ascertain the status of my own BOLO alert but believe it is no longer in force. The State Department refuses to disclose any information to me about my status.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Deedy Mistrial in Hawaii Shooting; Saga Moves into Third Year

    August 27, 2013 // 27 Comments »

    Hawaiian newspapers reported today that the judge declared a mistrial Monday in the Second Degree murder trial of State Department special agent Chris Deedy. Jurors said they couldn’t unanimously decide whether Deedy is guilty of murder in the early-morning shooting of a customer at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waikiki.

    Hawaii 1st Circuit Judge Karen Ahn set a hearing for Friday to determine a date for a new trial, after mentioning next spring as a potential date. The shooting took place almost two years ago.

    The victim’s family also has a civil suit pending against Deedy in connection with the shooting.

    During closing arguments, the prosecutor called Deedy a “bully with a badge,” telling jurors Elderts, of Kailua, was killed because Deedy interjected himself in a situation that wasn’t any of his business and refused to back down. Defense attorney Karl Blanke acknowledged that Deedy shot and killed Elderts but said it wasn’t murder. Deedy’s “intent was to protect life,” Blanke said in his closing argument. The defense painted Elderts as a hothead who had been drinking heavily and doing drugs. Elderts referred to Deedy as a haole — a Hawaiian term for a white person — in a derogatory way, the defense claimed.

    Deedy’s family, including his parents and his wife, were present throughout the trial. They’re “trying to wrap their arms around the notion he’s still a free man,” one of Deedy’s lawyers said. “He’s still an agent of the United States State Department and has a job to do.”

    Before the mistrial was declared Wednesday, Judge Ahn unexpectedly cleared the courtroom’s spectators for a few minutes without providing a reason. Attorneys on both sides declined to say what was discussed.

    The jurors told the judge that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict after twenty days of testimony and more than five full days of deliberations. A hung jury means the state will set a date to retry the federal agent on the murder charge.

    “I think the defense will file a motion under State vs. Moriwake which the judge will have some say in whether there will be a new trial,” said criminal defense attorney Paul Cunney. “I think there will be some informal polling of the jury and find out how the jury stood numerically.”

    “There’s always the possibility that it will be derailed, but we feel strongly that the right thing to do would be to have a new trial,” said Prosecutor Futa.

    BONUS: We reported previously that within days after the Deedy shooting in 2011, the Department State without explanation classified its long-standing unclassified rules governing the armed conduct of Diplomatic Security agents.

    An alert reader, and God bless the internet, found the rules in unclassified form still alive on line. Have a look at what now only select persons are allowed officially to see (p 40 at the link.)

    Note in particular Section 2.6B(5) which prohibits consumption of alcohol within six hours of use of deadly force, though there is the escape clause noting that the booze must impair judgement or ability.

    While we can never know if this unclassified version of DS firearms policy differs or not from the freshly-classified version, as a Concerned Citizen and a Good German, I encourage Diplomatic Security to immediately shut down Google as a threat to national security. Since the document is actually part of the Congressional Record, I suggest they also immediately shut down Congress as a threat to national security. Since the document was provided to Congress by the State Department, I suggest they also immediately shut down State as a threat to national security.

    Instead, they’ll probably just arrest me for providing the link.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Deedy Testifies in Hawaii Murder Trial

    August 9, 2013 // 34 Comments »

    Diplomatic Security Special Agent Chris Deedy, accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of a Hawaiian man, took the stand to testify. I was unable to locate a transcript of the testimony. However, the Associated Press’ report on the trial quoted Deedy. Text from that article appears below.

    Video of some of Deedy’s testimony is here, and also here.

    As a public service, I have tried to match up Deedy’s version of events with the video of the events. The video is linked at the end of this post if you want to watch along. Most of the times mentioned below refer to the video running time so you can compare and decide for yourself. The actual time passed on-the-ground is noted when it was possible to learn it. As always, it is up to the jury to decide, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

    Tale of the Tape

    Deedy said he intervened because Elderts was bothering a customer.

    At 1:58 on the video a person wearing a jacket labeled “Security” is seen standing. That same person is present behind Deedy later in the video. The person does not appear to be actively involved in the incident.

    The person allegedly being bothered enters at around 3:48 on the video. Already at the counter, Elderts, whom Deedy shot, appears to be speaking to the person. Both have their backs to Deedy in a noisy restaurant. They are a step apart and do not appear to physically interact. Deedy is seated talking with friends. The counter workers do not appear to stop service, though one briefly extends her arm toward Elderts. This is the situation Deedy states he interceded in.

    Deedy stands up at 4:39. His female friend stands up and approaches Deedy at around 5:30. Deedy does not appear to speak/engage with anyone until 6:29, after Elderts and the other person have left the counter and taken seats. Deedy has his hands in his pockets and does not appear to have flashed his law enforcement credentials on first encounter.

    It is around 8:57 Deedy first appears to show something in his wallet to the seated Elderts. Deedy’s friend Adam Gutowski, who has not been claimed to be a law enforcement official, is also on his feet in front of Elderts. It is unknown if Elderts as a local Hawaiian was familiar with the role of State Department Diplomatic Security as a law enforcement agency with the authority to use deadly force.

    Deedy originally claimed as his defense he was acting in his capacity as a federal law enforcement official, but dropped that defense in favor of self defense.

    At 10:17 Deedy’s female friend and another person appear to back him away from the seated Elderts. A small crowd has gathered. No one appears to be interceding with Elderts. Elderts stands around 10:24. At 10:33 Deedy reaches behind his back and touches what may be his service weapon.

    Elderts and his friend Shane Medeiros attacked his friend, Adam Gutowski, the agent testified. “The dark blood on his face, the kicks connecting to his head,” Deedy said. “I needed to stop this assault.”

    This alleged assault of Gutowski does not appear to have been captured on the video from either of the two security cameras. Deedy has been knocked onto the floor at 12:28. He is on his back looking upward.

    Deedy said he rose to his feet after being knocked to the floor and stood to face Elderts with his empty hands in front of him. “I was issuing a warning, a command: ‘Stop, I’ll shoot,’” Deedy said. “As I drew my weapon and put my hand forward, I said ‘freeze.’”

    This appears to be at 12:32. At 14:23 the final series of events between Deedy and Elderts that ended in the shooting takes place. 14:35 shows a seated patron covering his ears. Deedy and Elderts are still standing.

    The unidentified people talking over the video discuss the on-the-ground timing between the start of the events and the person covering his ears. They say four tenths of a second passed. It appears the implication is that the ear covering signifies the first of the three shots Deedy fired. This suggests Deedy’s verbal commands, warning and first shot may have taken place in a very short period of time.

    Deedy used footage from a bystander’s cellphone camera to show that he used his knife to help cut Eldert’s shirt and rendered aid.

    What happened after the shots on the floor cannot be seen on the publicly available video. However, Deedy is seen on his feet and across the restaurant at 16:49 on the video. The commentators say the on-the-ground time at this point is 2:43:11.

    This would suggest approximately one minute passed between the first shot, whatever happened on the ground out of sight, and Deedy stepping away.

    At 17:53 on the video Deedy appears to pick one or two things off the floor and may put them in his pants pocket. This seems to take place before any aid was rendered to Elderts. A person in law enforcement who viewed this video suggested that Deedy may be recovering his spent cartridges, the brass part expelled from a weapon when fired. Recovered brass, if available to the police, can potentially be used a evidence from a crime scene.

    Deedy returns to the prone Elderts. This may be the time when Deedy stated he rendered first aid. Deedy testified that “he used his knife to help cut Eldert’s shirt and rendered aid. He’s heard on the video — amid Hawaiian music playing in the restaurant — imploring Elderts to breathe.”

    More from Deedy’s Testimony

    Deedy said he was shocked to hear he was being arrested for murder after fighting for his life.

    In his testimony shown on video, Deedy stated he first learned he was arrested for murder when he overheard a police officer mention it on a cell phone (or the radio, Deedy said he was unsure which device was used) while in the police car. A person in law enforcement who viewed this video told me that police typically state one’s reason for arrest at the time of arrest, though at times charges can be added later. It is unknown how much time passed between Deedy being arrested inside the restaurant and his overhearing the reason for his arrest inside the car.

    Deedy spent most of his testimony during the first two days speaking about moments displayed on frames of security camera footage. At one point Wednesday afternoon, he gave a hint of fatigue, saying he’d been watching the video for hours but didn’t recall the events in frame grabs.

    A prosecutor began cross-examining Deedy in the afternoon. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Futa asked him why he told a nurse at the hospital that he hadn’t been drinking.

    “I don’t recall any of the questions she asked me,” Deedy said. “I just said no to everything.”

    Deedy said in court however he only had about four beers or less over 5 ½ hours that night.

    Comment: I was unable to learn from State’s Diplomatic Security what its regulations are for its agents carrying their service weapon while drinking, or to intervene in things after drinking. Deedy refused to take a sobriety test at the scene and the Hawaiian police did not seek to compel him to do so.

    Hawaii self-defense law contains a provision that outside one’s home one is required to retreat and avoid a confrontation unless in fear of one’s life. At what point the requirement to retreat kicks in and out will likely be a point of law argued in Deedy’s case.

    One source describes the Hawaiian law as:

    You can use deadly force when you believe it is the only viable means necessary to prevent a threat of death, serious bodily harm, kidnapping, rape or forcible sodomy. You have no duty to retreat if these actions take place in your dwelling or place of work. If the threat occurs in a place other than your home or place of work you have a duty to retreat if you are able to do so in “complete safety.”

    The question Hawaiian law seems to demand an answer to is this: Did a Man have to die?

    Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    New Deedy Video Shows More of What Happened Before Shooting

    August 1, 2013 // 25 Comments »

    If you’re not up-to-date on the Hawaiian murder trial of accused State Department Diplomatic Security Agent Chris Deedy, here is the 411.

    New video of the shooting is now online. Watch the whole thing, but things do get interesting around 4:30 in. Let’s have a look:

    Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

    Here’s the link if you can’t see the embedded video above.

    Some observations:

    — I do not know who is speaking on the video. Maybe a cop and the judge?

    — This video, in comparison to previous releases, shows the interaction preceding the shooting more clearly.

    — “Diamond Head side” and “Ewa Side” are Hawaiian terms roughly denoting East and West.

    — At around 4:30 as Deedy gets up he appears to either scratch his back or touch his weapon.

    — At around 16:00 Deedy may leave the scene; some witnesses and one of the 911 calls support this.

    — It appears several people several times try to back Deedy off, which he appears to resist.

    — Look for the guy in the lower right corner of the screen to cover his ears; this may be the moment of the shots.

    –Anybody know who Jessica West in the video is? She does not appear to be Deedy’s spouse based on other photos.

    Everyone is innocent until proven guilty like they on TV so we wait now for the Hawaiian court to issue a verdict.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Today’s Benghazi Hearing: Quick Recap

    May 8, 2013 // 14 Comments »

    The State Department was beaten up pretty bad in today’s Benghazi hearing, with both Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks (second in charge after the ambassador) and RSO (security guy) Ed Nordstrom from Libya contradicting earlier State Department remarks.

    Hicks in particular made it clear that there was absolutely nothing to justify Susan Rice’s September 2012 assertions that the attack had anything to do with an anti-Muslim video demonstration, and that all reporting from Libya, from the first phone call, claimed a terror attack was underway.

    Nordstrom was equally blunt that the State Department willfully understaffed security in Benghazi, and ignored evidence that the Consulate was vulnerable.

    Hicks, Nordstrom and the third witness, Mark Thompson, came off as credible, dispassionate and very serious. Meanwhile, while Republicans were accused going in of playing politics, it was the Democratic members of the committee who were shrill, crude and desperate in trying to degrade (as opposed to rebut) the witnesses.

    Most fingers pointed toward Under Secretary of Management Pat Kennedy and Hillary aid Cheryl Mills as acting as Hillary’s proxies to make the bad, tragic, decisions. Long-term fallout unclear, but a lot of angry people in Foggy Bottom right now. The State Department was portrayed as disorganized, and often far more concerned about political impressions than the safety of its people and informing the American public.

    A decent summary of what was said, from CNN.

    I live-Tweeted most of the hearing. Search Twitter for @wemeantwell or #Benghazi to review.

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    Price of Security at State Department: Really Freaking’ Expensive

    December 29, 2012 // 22 Comments »

    They say you can’t put a price on safety, but the State Department has: $750 million to hire 150 new security agents.

    Wait– that works out to five million per secure person hired. Where do we sign up?

    Baghdad Bonus

    Following the report on State’s security failures in Benghazi, the Department predictably tried to turn tragedy in cash money, asking for $$$ Congress previously assigned to the security needs of the World’s Most Expensive Embassy, the one in Baghdad. In a flurry of Iraq-induced mania, Congress buried State in cash last year to secure the Embassy in the aftermath of America’s victory in Mesopotamia. Because State had neither the personnel nor the programs paid for to need that much security, they haven’t spent it and want to re-purpose the money to the rest of the world, now also officially insecure and dangerous following the decade-long War of Terror.

    Buying What?

    Now before we start adding up dollars and (non)sense for the State Department, let’s take a tiny, tiny peek back at that report from Benghazi. While the report certainly did ask for more money (“The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs”), it seemed that the bulk of the report’s criticisms focused on non-monetary stuff like leadership:

    Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

    The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.

    State Needs Leadership, Not More Money

    Now, it appears that what the State Department really needs is some leaders, people more committed to serving their nation than sucking upward to please their bosses by shaving a few bucks off the security budget in Libya. That kind of thing may be harder to go out and buy, even at five million dollars a head. Indeed, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairm Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) suggested that the State Department might do better to examine its priorities before asking for more money:

    We cannot expect the same bureaucracy at State, whose management failures are now manifest, to objectively review the department’s organization, procedure and performance. Nor can we have any confidence in their assessment of what went wrong and what actions are needed to prevent a repeat.

    Ros-Lehtinen went on to critique Hillary Clinton’s launch this year of a flashy initiative to send American celebrity chefs on goodwill tours abroad, saying it seemed especially misplaced in a time of tight budgets. This blog enjoyed a fine bit of dining out on the stupidity of the chef idea, in a previous posting. Democrats in turn said Ros-Lehtinen was turning tragedy into a political football by turning Ros-Lehtinen’s partisan remark about a partisan remark into a partisan criticism. Whew.

    Where’s Hillary?

    Meanwhile, where’s Slick Hilly?

    Mrs. Clinton, recovering from what must be the World’s Longest Concussion, has not been seen for weeks. With her terrible concussion, she was unable to (again) meet with Congress to discuss her organization’s flop in Benghazi. never mind the uber-flop of Hillary’s blood-thirtsy support for the overthrow of Qaddafi that lead to the deaths in Benghazi that lead, somehow, to the celebrity chefs (I’m not sure of the link but it’s there).

    Hillary had nothing to say about the Benghazi report. Hillary had nothing to say about the Congressional criticism. Hillary had nothing to say about Susan Rice’s self-immolation, Hillary had nothing but a Tweet-length “congrats” to say about John Kerry taking over her job. There remains for Hillary a vague promise to meet with Congress in January.

    Hence, as a public service, here are some questions to ask Hillary if she ever emerges from her concussion, now at three weeks and counting:

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent domestically, on security clearances, admin support, agents with pending murder raps on paid leave, prosecuting State Department employees for extra-marital affairs, domestic staff that never leave DC and the Diplomatic Security sub-offices in places like Miami, Los Angeles and Honolulu?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on protecting the Secretary of State? State Department employees know that Hillary does not even travel inside her own building without a security escort. Overseas she gets the full-meal deal with sniffer dogs and sniper teams.

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on the growing fleet of contractor-operated helicopters and fixed wing planes State now enjoys?

    –What’s left for the other 180-some overseas posts Hillary?

    The Money Shot

    And, oh yeah, Congress, ask about this:

    The State Department 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.

    State doesn’t need more money for security. The State Department urgently needs adult supervision over the money it already has, now, before someone else gets hurt.


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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Deedy: Bar Hopping, Three Shots, One Kill

    December 10, 2012 // 16 Comments »

    The Washington Post, reluctantly getting off the sofa with a grunt to copy ‘n paste a story from the Honolulu newspaper, tells us:

    A State Department special agent charged with murder in the shooting of a man at a fast-food restaurant in Waikiki last year spent the night bar-hopping and drinking before going to the restaurant, prosecutors said.

    Suspect Christopher Deedy appeared intoxicated before firing three shots from his handgun — the first narrowly missed a customer, another lodged in a restaurant wall, and the third fatally wounded 23-year-old Kollin Elderts, prosecutors said in court papers.

    Deedy was not heard identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, but told Elderts he had a gun and would shoot him in the face, prosecutors said in the most detailed account of the shooting released thus far.

    Deedy had been “slurring his words as he argued with Elderts… While defendant was bar-hopping he was in possession of his 9 mm Glock, conduct that the Department of State’s rules clearly prohibit,” the prosecutor said.

    (New to the islands and don’t know about what Deedy done? Background here)

    I’ve been to that actual Waikiki McDonald’s (albeit sober and unarmed), and it is not a large place. Small, in fact, as fast food places go. Given that Deedy and the deceased were close enough that Deedy could kick him, it is very curious that a “Special” Agent could ripple off three shots and only get one hit. That is some pretty lousy shooting, at near point blank range. One is left to wonder if indeed Deedy was just a bad shot (not a bad assumption given that he was trained by the State Department), or perhaps something (too many Shamrock shakes?) might have impaired his aim.

    Well, the whole damn thing is on a surveillance video tape we can’t see, so this is mindless speculation. If Deedy ever goes to trial (I think the case is scheduled now for April 2013, following the Mayan apocalypse) perhaps we the public will see what the refs think of the taped replay.

    (“Special” thanks to the always-prescient Random Thoughts blog for the update on Deedy!)

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    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

    Smell That? Smells Like… Victory

    October 1, 2012 // 14 Comments »

    For those reading this blog from Foggy Bottom, can you smell it? Something different in the air? No, no it’s not napalm from the latest group of grateful Muslims freed from another tyrant’s grip by American truth drones, it’s me.

    I’m done stinking up the place. As of midnight yesterday I officially retired from the State Department. You’re all freed from the chaos and tyranny I was accused of inflicting. From the statement “officially retired” you may safely assume that I in fact retired, which is a different word (check the dictionary) from fired, or arrested, or jailed under the Espionage Act. State failed in all those options, in fact in every judicial and other action not totally within its own control. In other words, no one but State’s own incestuous minders was willing to believe I did anything wrong. State could only lash out, limply as it turns out, with its self-controlled bullies from Diplomatic Security, taking away my security clearance because it was the only punitive thing they could actually get away with that had no outside review, no judicial relief and no appeals process.

    Pride people, pride makes us what we are. People first.

    Along the way, the Department’s blind-leading-the-blind stumbles did help create publicity, which in turn sold books, lots of books that were full of stuff they did not like, a perfect example of how what matters most inside the State Department is what matters inside the State Department.

    The great news is that the tumor has been cut out, the boil lanced, the pus-laden throbbing glob that was me is gone. You should already be seeing the many improvements and new opportunities around the State Department.

    My lawyers and I have filed Freedom of Information Act requests and a request to the Office of Management and Budget, as well as with the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, asking what the cost of this year long, multi-Bureau effort to get rid of me might have been.

    While it may be several hundred years before we get a response, we can do some quick figuring: I was paid a full year’s salary and benefits to stay home, Diplomatic Security ran full field investigations and a phony security clearance “update” charade, an investigator from another office was sent all the way to Iraq to dig for dirt on fake charges even State had to drop for lack of a tether to reality, multiple sub-grievances and appeals were prosecuted by State, audits of everything I did fishing for mud to sling, and of course they probably had to buy at least one copy of my book to use to search for the classified info that wasn’t there (full retail was $25 on the book). Factor in the electronic surveillance costs, the numerous well-written denials of my previous Freedom of Information Act requests, plus the man hours of pain and commuting costs when I was summoned in to get yelled at by my paper tiger boss early on. We’ll wait on the full FOIA response, but until State challenges the number, I’m throwing out about a quarter of a million dollars of tax payer cash spent on… on… trying to take away an American Citizen’s right to free speech.

    Well, they failed.

    I believe more strongly now than I ever have in the importance of freedom of speech, including, no, especially including speech which appears dangerous, offensive and wrong to many people. As a nice way of reminding the State Department of its obligation to support free speech, I proudly wore my “Free Bradley Manning” T-shirt to work on my last day. Here’s a photo.

    Now, a lusty cry of “Hillary in 2016!” from everyone, and we’ll keep moving on.

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    Your Special Agent Deedy Murderous Update

    June 20, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    A story this blog follows closely is the case of very special State Department Diplomatic Security Agent Deedy (pictured in his mug shot), who appears to have shot and killed a man in Hawaii while Deedy was there protecting someone or something else during the last APEC meeting. You can get the backstory here.

    Rather than retype it all, I will redirect you to a much better blog that follows Deedy’s case very closely. That blog is here.

    If you have the attention span of Justin Beiber and just want the shortest version, it is: On June 15 Honolulu judge Karen Ahn has removed from her calendar a hearing on a motion by the attorney for Christopher Deedy to dismiss the murder charge. This means despite the attempts of Deedy’s lawyer to have the charge thrown out, Deedy is still scheduled to stand trial in Ahn’s court on September 10 on charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm.

    There’s a lot more fluff surrounding the case, so better read the full story.

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    Agent Deedy: State Department Says I Can Kill People

    May 22, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    (For those unfamiliar with the case of State Department Diplomatic Security “Special” Agent Chris Deedy, who appears to have shot and killed an unarmed man in Hawaii while there for the APEC Conference, see some previous postings.)

    The latest news out of Hawaii about accused murderer Deedy is that the State Department said it was OK for him to gun down an unarmed man. Sort of.

    After initially claiming he shot the guy in the chest in self-defense at 3am in a Waikiki McDonald’s, Deedy now claims he is immune from prosecution because he was a law enforcement officer on duty at the time just doin’ his job. The State Department had sent the shooter to Hawaii as part of Hillary Clinton’s entourage for the APEC conference no one cares about anymore (Obama isn’t even going this year’s ’cause it’s in bad Russia).

    It is very, very unclear that being in the McDonald’s at 3am had anything to do with Deedy’s assignment in Hawaii, but I’m sure it is OK.

    The Honolulu Star Advertiser also noted that Deedy submitted a report from the doctor who treated him at the Queen’s Medical Center after his arrest. The report from Dr. Kyle Perry says Deedy suffered scrapes and a broken nose from an assault. Deedy’s mug shot is shown above, but I leave it to you readers to detect the scrapes and broken nose. Maybe a little shaving nick under the nose? Maybe the picture was taken from a bad angle? At the time of his arrest Honolulu police officers noted that Deedy had red, glassy eyes and slurred speech, perhaps also not noticeable in the photo? Deedy declined to blow for the cops at the scene and as a cop-to-cop courtesy apparently the HPD never pushed it.

    Want more? How about the opinion of an ex-Diplomatic Security Agent on this case, whose “observations raise far more questions than they address?” Surf on over to Teri Schooley’s blog, where she is following the Deedy case very closely.

    According to Teri, the Judge in Hawaii will rule on the motions to dismiss charges or to delay the trial in July. If she agrees to delay the trial, it will mean that the victim’s family will have waited almost a year and a half to get justice in this case. In the meantime, Deedy will be receiving his full salary as a State Department employee on “admin leave.” And he has had the benefits of being allowed to post bail and leave the jurisdiction after being charged with murder, and has been able to have the trial delayed for months already. The State Department, of course, refuses to discuss the case.

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    Wishful Thinking and Poor Planning: State Department Wastes $80 Million in Afghanistan

    May 6, 2012 // 3 Comments »

    (This article orginally appeared on the
    Huffington Post, and was reprinted on Top News Today and One News.)

    Washington Post informs with a story out of Afghanistan about how the Department of State, after signing a 10-year lease and spending more than $80 million on a site envisioned as the United States’ diplomatic hub in northern Afghanistan, have abandoned their plans, deeming the location for the proposed compound too dangerous. Why does the State Department consistently make poor decisions like this?

    Based on a leaked memo by Martin Kelly, the acting management counselor at the US Embassy in Kabul (we’ll expect to see his name again soon as Diplomatic Security no doubt begins an investigation into the leak, not the wasted $80 million), the story details how in an effort to “send a positive signal” of support to the Afghan people (who no doubt were unable to receive the message sheltering underground from US freedom drones), now-dead Ambassador Richard Holbrooke bullied the plans for the Mazar-e Sharif Consulate through State’s bureaucracy. All sorts of prudent security regulations were ignored because a VIP wanted it done. It is not that security conditions changed in Afghanistan– they remain uniformly poor– but that the State Department simply ignored the reality on the ground in favor of reality as they would prefer it to be.

    The Post characterizes the process and the waste of the $80 million as “a cautionary tale of wishful thinking, poor planning.” Blogger Diplopundit offers more detailed analysis of the affair here. For her part, regarding Holbrooke, Secretary of State Clinton tossed off “Everything that we have accomplished that is working in Afghanistan and Pakistan is largely because of Richard Holbrooke. It may have to wait until I write my memoirs, but that is a fact.”

    How do these things happen at State?

    Reading the Washington Post article, the $80 million’s worth of mistakes are very obvious, things any idiot would notice like a lack of set back from the street, no place to land helicopters and a common wall with some nearby shops, and are not obscure problems that needed to be sleuthed out.

    Why does State so consistently make poor decisions? The US Embassy in Baghdad cost close to $1 billion, and that was before then-Ambassador Hill spent another five million dollars to have sod imported so he might have a green expansive Embassy lawn in the middle of the desert. Other, gratefully less costly examples stand out from my own career– millions spent on live telephone operators in Tokyo because the Ambassador simply did not care for automated systems, Consulate staff who should have been helping American Citizens after a devastating earthquake instead detailed to inventory the Consul General’s chinaware, money for upgrading communications gear re-allotted for fix the boss’ TV reception, hyper-expensive contractors used in place of cheaper, qualified staff, political prisoners smuggled into the Beijing Embassy one day only to be dumped back out onto the street the next and so on. I wrote a whole book, We Meant Well, about a year’s worth of dumb decisions in Iraq. Everyone makes mistakes but what we have here is a long, long litany of obvious bad decisions, so obviously bad one cannot help but wonder how smart people made them so consistently.

    Though not necessarily unique to State, the shut down of dissent and logic in the face of a senior person’s wishes drives far too many decisions at State. Good decision making takes a back seat to bowing to the wishes of people who may have status but not brains. Since dissent is neither sought nor, after the first few slap downs, offered at State, dumb decisions are allowed to proceed to their natural conclusions. This all tracks well in an organization that lacks clear goals and measurable results, and avoids 360 reviews of supervisors like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, meaning that actual success or failure is less relevant than “getting along,” what State Department insiders call their “corridor reputation” and what outsiders might call sucking up. In my own 24 years of managing at the State Department, convincing people I worked with to disagree with me and bring up problems was the hardest task I faced.

    The whole mind set was summed up by a senior State Department official (page eight in the State Department’s in-house magazine) offering serious advice on how to get promoted:

    Support your boss. “But my boss is a jerk!” That may be true, but this is about you getting promoted and the “jerk” is still the boss. If your boss lacks charisma, humility, a sense of humor and table manners, that is not so good. Being a jerk, however, is not a federal offense. You do not have to feign affection for your boss, but you do have to support the mission with vigor, which not incidentally makes the boss look good—perhaps in spite of him or herself.

    Can anyone imagine executives at a well-run company like FedEx or Google encouraging employees not to innovate or save money or improve as the keys to success, but to suck up to their boss, at the same time allowing him to continue being a jerk as if it is a perk of rank?

    How does such an institutional culture– almost a cult of personality– play out in real life? In cases such as the now defunct Mazar-e-Sharif consulate, it means $80 million drips down the drain as no one may declare the Emperor truly and utterly has no clothes on until the reality is so obvious that it appears in the Washington Post.

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    How to Keep/Lose Your Security Clearance at the State Department

    May 5, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    As an aid to all current and future State Department employees, here are examples of how to keep/lose your security clearance. These example are important, because the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), which grants and withdraws clearances, operates as a type of black hole: information goes in and decisions come out, but nothing that happens inside is visible. One never knows why a decision was made, or on what basis.

    With DS, facts can be hidden from Freedom of Information Act requests and even court-ordered discovery in the name of “security,” and thus manipulated to document pre-determined outcomes. What is called an investigation can morph into an indictment, where the goal is to keep fishing until something, anything, comes up. Actions by Diplomatic Security at the State Department occur without any independent review, and are largely not appealable to the Courts. Diplomatic Security, unlike its counterparts at the Department of Defense and other agencies, even refuses to use the “substantial evidence standard” mandated by the Administrative Procedures Act.

    Here is how to keep your security clearance:

    Commit rape. Tracy Barker, who says a State Department employee sexually assaulted her in Iraq in 2005 has won $2.93 million in arbitration from KBR, the military contracting company that employed her. KBR denies a rape occurred while Ms. Barker remains clear that State Department employee Ali Mokhtare assaulted her in Basra, Iraq. Investigators asked that the State Department suspend Mokhtare’s security clearance, but that request was denied. Clearance remains.

    Here is how to lose your security clearance:

    Write a blog. You can read more here. Clearance suspended.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Dead Men Working

    April 22, 2012 // Comments Off on Dead Men Working

    Dead Men Working, the blog of a group called “Concerned Foreign Service Officers” does not always agree with what I write here; in fact, they tend to almost always disagree with me, so it is important to note when our two blogs come to the same conclusion.

    That conclusion is over the role Diplomatic Security is increasingly playing within the Department of State: internal bully boy to be used by HR to weed out troublesome employees. Dead Men stated:

    That freedom from oversight (the quo) is the “plausible deniability factor” that allows the Department, when it wants to, to use every dirty trick imaginable to terminate – with extreme prejudice – anyone, for any reason, deserved or not (the quid). DS leadership gets the kind of absolute power that the corrupt enjoy absolutely, in exchange for using that power, when desired, to eliminate the problem employee of the day. It is, as they say, a win-win situation.

    That is sadly not the kind of statement you’d like to hear about a part of the American government, never mind a part of the American government charged with carrying America’s message of democracy abroad.

    Read the whole article at Dead Men Working.

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    My Latest Interview with Security at State Department

    April 12, 2012 // 20 Comments »

    So we’ll just throw it into the ever-growing stinky coincidence pile that the same day another of my articles appears on TomDispatch (and Salon, Huffington Post, The Nation, etc.), I get called into another interrogation session with the State Department’s Stasi, Diplomatic Security. I say Stasi just to invoke an image; these guys succeed at “security” only in the Alice in Wonderland written by George Orwell land they live in.

    Today’s session lasted two and a half hours and involved two contractor investigators, my lawyer and me. Figure a couple of hundred bucks in Government salaries alone, plus the time for the goons to type it all up. Your tax dollars at work.

    Two key issues emerged right up front, serious accusations that a) I divulged US government “policies and procedures” and b) I failed to report contacts with foreigners. Both accusations where made apparently by some fellows in my telework office, so-called colleagues in Consular Affairs (State Department friends who wrote in last week all over collegiality take note).

    Naked Policy

    The first accusation, divulging US government policy and procedure, was apparently based on this blog post from December 2011, some 13 weeks ago. Take a quick look.

    Not sure where the divulging is in there? Neither was I until it was divined that it must have been this smoking gun paragraph:

    While I don’t know the specifics behind that announcement, the usual play inside any Embassy is a) A threat is identified; b) The Political or Economic section wants to downplay it to keep good relations with the host government; c) The Consular section frets that Americans need to be warned; d) Much dithering is snapped when the security office announces the threat already circulating informally inside the Embassy community in an internal memo which e) Triggers the “no double standard rule” and forces/allows the Consular section to go public. It is not a process that takes place casually, so probably bad stuff is a’ brewin’ in the old Green Zone for it to get to this point. 

    Huh? So is the State Department now admitting that disagreements between the Political Section and the Consular Section at an Embassy are “policy and procedure”? Now back in my day such push and pull was part of the informal process, but I must have missed the memo where it was codified into an actual policy or procedure. I really need to check my work email more often.

    Foreign Affairs

    The second big issue today was those foreign contacts. People with security clearances are supposed to report certain foreign contacts, say if a beautiful Soviet spy named Natasha slides up to you at a bar somewhere and offers to trade ‘licks for some secrets. Fair enough. In my case the evidence was hidden in this blog post. Again, take a peek, and then come back here.

    Find it? Apparently the evidence against me was this statement from that blog post:

    One question from the audience stood out.

    A student asked who in the State Department had spoken to me about the contents of my book, the errors and mismanagement I wrote about. The answer of course was no one. Not a single person in the entire State Department has asked me about what I saw and chronicled. Kind of a poor showing for an organization that purports to represent free speech abroad and dissent within in its own ranks.

    On the other hand, since the publication of this book, my commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Foreign Policy, Rolling Stone, TomDispatch.com and elsewhere. I have been interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered, as well as Democracy Now. I have spoken with with journalists from the UK, Russia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan, and at several major universities, the National Press Center twice and with Army units deploying for Afghanistan. I have appeared on camera in two documentaries and am now working with Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker James Spione (Incident in New Baghdad). My book is also assigned reading in a course taught at George Washington University.

    Now leaving aside the freedom of the press and the freedom of association that does allow Americans to speak with journalists, exactly who said the journalists representing those foreign news sources were foreigners? Does everyone who works for a Dutch newspaper have to be Dutch? How about at CNN, or CBS, are all those employees automatically American? They did not ask me about the “American” news sources but I’ll spill the beans and tell you (shh…) that one of the reporters I talked to from an “American” newspaper was a… Canadian! She talked all American, but broke down under my own questioning and admitted being a foreigner. I knew it right away when she refused a warm Budweiser.

    I am really hoping that Diplomatic Security was not asking me to name all the reporters I’ve talked to under this flimsy excuse.

    The point here is that I have no idea what nationality everyone is that I speak with, swap emails with or interact with on Twitter and Facebook, or in conversation on the bus for that matter. And neither do the colleagues who thought this was the smoking gun and told Security. I do know that I spoke with lots of people about a book available to anyone, approved by the State Department in autumn 2010 and I neither had any classified info to disclose nor did I/could I have disclosed anything. To accuse me of unreported foreign contacts because of that blog post is comical, if it wasn’t seriously what your government did today.

    Now It Is Personal

    Then it got personal. I’ve worked for State for 24 years, been married to the same lovely woman for 25 years. Yet today the fact that that woman was born abroad (in Japan, still a US buddy that we have not bombed in some 70 years) became “Did I ever have a relationship with a foreign national?” Yes, yes I did, for 25 delightful years and counting, including all my overseas assignments where my dear wife joined me on State Department orders.

    Luckily they did not know that my dog is also a foreigner. She was a rescue we saved in Hong Kong. Bitch is 100% Chicom canine.

    So What’s the Big Deal?

    So there went a couple of hours of my life. I’ve wasted more time in line for Space Mountain, so what’s the big deal?

    The deal is this comrades: When an organization such as the State Department wants to deep six an employee for no allowable reason (i.e., rude blogging), they turn the case over to Security. Knowing that their own human resources regulations won’t work, never mind the sticky Constitution, the State Department in the specific and the Government in general are hiding behind security, where even accusations can become fatal, where facts can be hidden from Freedom of Information Act requests and even court-ordered discovery, and thus manipulated to a desired end. What is called an investigation morphs into an indictment, where the goal is to keep fishing until something, anything, comes up.

    Worse than that (the Stasi, and Diplomatic Security, can at least hide behind the old “just doing my job, I don’t make the rules” sissy excuse) is how once the institution labels you a target, people inside turn on you with crazy accusations (see above). Diplomatic Security fanned out into every office I worked in since returning to the US in 2006 and asked for dirt. They did the same with my neighbors. The investigator today had my credit report in front of him. He asked me questions about what medical provider I see and was very interested in the names and dosages of any prescription medications I take.

    Am I a threat to anyone’s security? I guess that’s up to the “experts,” but I don’t think so. I have not had need for and have not accessed the State Department classified network since 2005. My work has been all in the unclassified realm. In Iraq, embedded with the US military, I was entrusted with operational info that, had it been disclosed, could have quite literally killed soldiers, never mind some dumb ass memo from 2006 already on Wikileaks. The Army had no apparent concern with me having that info, so we are left wondering what State is afraid of here.

    Just to remind, the charges against me by the State Department are all related to this blog, nothing more. 100% of the evidence is right here for your viewing pleasure, my crimes conducted in full view.

    I get it, they are afraid. They want me destroyed, and they apparently have no limit to how much money and time can be devoted to just that. Since I lead a boring life, with no international intrigue to speak of, they have their work cut out for them. However, by playing the McCarthy card and turning any accusation into a hammering point, then serving as judge of their own dirty handiwork, State assures itself of the win. It is just a matter of time.

    Nothing New at the State Department

    John Paton Davies in a new autobiography called China Hand tells of his own termination from the State Department. Davies was an acknowledged expert on China, one of a generation of brilliant scholars and diplomats known collectively as the “China Hands” during WWII. Davies predicted that Mao would win the Chinese Civil War and advocated better relations with Communist China to counter Soviet influence. Davies, of course, was prescient in his advice, though being right did not save him. Instead, for his views counter to popular policy that saw all Communist countries as a caliphate, Davies faced nine Diplomatic Security investigations between 1948 and 1954, all of which failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, in 1954, under political pressure from Senator Joe McCarthy, the gutless Secretary of State John Foster Dulles asked Davies to resign. Davies refused, and Dulles terminated him, claiming he had “demonstrated a lack of judgment, discretion and reliability.”

    Out with the Garbage

    I certainly do not place myself anywhere near where men like Davies reside in history so save your emailed rage, and the whistleblowers I have come to know also occupy various niches. What we do share is being thrown away by the government we served because that government was scared of us.

    A government seeking to hide from its own people acts that way, suppressing dissent first to preserve order and good discipline, and then soon down the slope to simply preserve its own power.

    We’re all out of a job and out of government, that is a fact. It is up to you to judge what that means and whether your interests as the people are best served by our terminations.

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    State Department Moves to Fire Me

    March 17, 2012 // 3 Comments »

    The following story appeared in the Washington Post:

    Peter Van Buren, a foreign service officer who wrote an unflattering book about his year leading two reconstruction teams in Iraq, was stripped of his security clearance, banned from State Department headquarters for a time and transferred to a telework job that consists of copying Internet addresses into a file.

    Now the State Department is moving to fire him based on eight charges, ranging from linking on his blog to documents on the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks to disclosing classified information.

    In 24 years as a diplomat, Van Buren was posted around the world and speaks four languages. He called the termination notice he received Friday the coup de grace in a series of blows he received since his book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People was published last fall.

    With his book, based on a year he spent in the Iraqi desert in 2009-2010, and an unauthorized blog he started in 2011 that frequently skewers American foreign policy, Van Buren has tested the First Amendment almost daily.

    He and his attorneys maintain that his right to free speech has been trampled, and they say he is a victim of retaliation for whistleblowing— not only because his account of the reconstruction effort alleges unqualified staff, corruption and billions of dollars in wasted programs.

    A State Department spokesman said the diplomat’s claims of retaliation are “without merit.”

    “There are protections within the government for freedom of expression and for whistleblowers,” spokesman Mark C. Toner said. “The State Department has followed process and acted in accordance with the law.”

    Van Buren’s termination letter came within days of a decision by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that investigates government wrongdoing and complaints of retaliation by those who report it, to look into his case.

    “It’s hard for me to objectively look at this as anything other than revenge and vindictiveness,” Van Buren said from his house in Falls Church.

    Jesselyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights director for the Government Accountability Project, which represents Van Buren, said: “It’s awfully curious timing, given the Office of Special Counsel complaint.”

    He’s one of few federal employees —and maybe the only one at the State Department—who wrote a book about life on the job while still on the job.

    Van Buren can appeal his termination to a five-member grievance board at the agency. “It’s the beginning of a process,” Toner said. “He’ll have ample opportunity to defend himself.”

    He was charged with eight violations of State Department policy. They include linking in his blog to documents on WikiLeaks; failing to clear each blog posting with his bosses; displaying a “lack of candor” during interviews with diplomatic security officers; leaking allegedly sensitive and classified information in his book; and using “bad judgement’ by criticizing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann on his blog.

    Van Buren disputes some of the charges, and says others were within his First Amendment rights.

    Van Buren submitted his book manuscript to State Department officials for review in the fall of 2010. He heard nothing after 30 days, when the rules require reviews to be completed. When he heard nothing, he said, he assumed the book had been approved.

    Shortly before it was due out last fall, the State Department wrote to the publisher and objected to three brief passages in the book officials claimed contained classified information. Van Buren says the information is widely known— such as the Central Intelligence Agency’s financial support for Iraqi intelligence agencies.

    In an Oct. 21 blog post headlined “Hillary Clinton Disgraces America,” Van Buren called a “disgrace” a comment the Secretary of State made to a journalist after the death of Moammar Gaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton tells a CBS News reporter in a video clip he posted on his blog, showing her laughing.

    Van Buren made references to Clinton’s private parts that he later removed from the posting. According to a report by the State Department, the agency put him on a watch list for the Secret Service and identified him to Clinton’s own security details as a potential threat.

    “I’m a chubby 52-year-old,” Van Buren said. “I’ve never threatened anybody in my life. It’s a cheap shot.”

    He called Bachmann a “Republican crazy person” in a blog post three days after the Clinton posting for saying Iraqis should reimburse the American government for its costs to “liberate” them.

    The charges against him are based on a 25-page investigation of Van Buren that the State Department concluded last December. He said he was not aware of the probe until the report was provided to him with his termination notice.

    Last fall, he announced plans to retire next year. He said he plans to challenge his termination.

    (Note: For those interested and/or concerned, I am still technically employed by the State Department, for now, as my lawyers and I fight back against what is crude retaliation and blatant disregard for the First Amendment. For the record, the State Department’s statement that they “followed process and acted in accordance with the law” ranks with the more hilarious things ever said within Foggy Bottom. Also, unicorns fly out of my ears.

    For the record, as the Washington Post claims, I must admit that I am a bit chubby but I am trying to lose some weight, maybe via stress.)

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    Diplomatic Security Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

    February 15, 2012 // Comments Off on Diplomatic Security Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges

    Hey, another job opening at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security as our favorite “Special” Agent and Regional Security Officer from the American Embassy in London pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

    According to the amusingly named web site gangsgoonsandgunz.com, the Department of State Diplomatic Security officer snared in an undercover FBI child pornography investigation pleaded guilty to a single felony count, according to a deal struck with federal prosecutors. By copping to transporting child porn, James Cafferty, 45, now faces a mandatory minimum prison term of five years (though a judge could sentence him to up to 20 years in custody). Cafferty is seen in the mug shot at right, taken from his online arrest record.

    Details revealed say that Cafferty had in his sweaty hand more than 30,000 child porn images. Best of all, during questioning by federal agents, Cafferty “admitted ‘photoshopping’ himself into scenes constituting child pornography.”

    According to one report, Cafferty’s use of his PayPal account to access child porn went back to 2006, leaving open questions about where Diplomatic Security was (answer: getting ready to chase down the Wikileaks of the future) while its employee was helping adjudicate the security clearances of others and having wide-access to personnel and other records in London and elsewhere. You can read parts of the sting email Cafferty responded to and get an even clearer idea of his motivations, or here.

    So, a cop with a child porn conviction… wonder how that prison thing is gonna work out?

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Getting Away with Diplomatic Murder

    December 17, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    (This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post)

    New records released after a four year FOIA fight between the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the web site Gawker show that mercenaries, primarily from Blackwater, shot and sometimes killed a lot of Iraqis in the name of protecting America’s diplomats. The mercs, er, the private security companies, were supposed to be operating under the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s command and control but instead shot up Iraq like outcasts from the Road Warrior.

    History, right? No, because those same administrators in Diplomatic Security that allowed Blackwater to run wild are in charge of 5,500 new private security contractors hired to protect the World’s Largest Embassy now that the US Army has bugged out of Iraq. Here’s what can go wrong.

    The 4500 pages just released are filled with contact/incident reports from 2004-2007. Every time a Blackwater shooter cranked off a few rounds at some Iraqi, he was supposed to file a report. Diplomatic Security would validate the shoot as having taken place under its own rules and that would be that. No attempts were made to seriously investigate anything, no attempts were made to find out what happened to any of the Iraqis popped by American hired guns and certainly no attempts to rein in Blackwater are documented. You can read the full trove, or feast on some highlights Gawker has pulled out.

    Here’s one example:

    In February 2005, a Blackwater team fired hundreds of rounds at two different “aggressive” cars during an operation in Baghdad. Team members subsequently told State Department investigators that 1) one of the cars’ occupants fired on them, striking a vehicle in the motorcade, and 2) one of the cars was on a Be on the Lookout list as a suspected insurgent vehicle. Both were lies.

    State Department investigators came to the conclusion that the Blackwater team was unjustified in firing on the cars, coordinated their stories to avoid suspicion, and lied about it later.

    When investigators briefed [the State Department Regional Security Officer, RSO] on their findings and inquired about what disciplinary actions were to occur, RSO informed the investigators that any disciplinary actions would be deemed as lowering the morale of the entire [personal security detail] entity.” No one knows if the occupants of the targeted cars were injured of killed.

    Or this email from an Embassy staffer:

    When was the last time we looked into all the other contractor PSD elements running around Iraq? I’m hearing stories of quite a few PSD elements moving from Mosul to Irbil firing up to 50 rounds per move and using bullets like we use hand and arm signals, flashers, or a water bottle. [PSD = Personal Security Detachment. PSD Security teams would often toss plastic water bottles at the windshield of a suspicious car to get the driver’s attention—Ed.]

    Nisoor Square

    The public reason for the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq is that Iraq refused to grant them immunity from local law, particularly immunity should they kill any Iraqi. But despite the long legacy of bloodshed which became frighteningly common place for many Iraqis, the refusal of immunity is more likely tied to one horrible, bad day in Nisour Square, where in 2007 Blackwater mercenaries hired by the State Department gunned down 14-17 Iraqis and wounded 20 more. Such killings occurred almost daily in Iraq, but what made this one tragically memorable is that despite almost overwhelming evidence that the victims were innocent, technicalities in U.S. law were used to prevent the shooters from being prosecuted.

    Good news: State’s current 5,500 mercs in Iraq have been granted immunity from local law, under existing diplomatic agreements. They’ll be free to do what the US military could not, kill Iraqis as needed by America.

    Hasn’t State cleaned up its command and control act since 2007?

    A now-defunct watchdog panel, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, has questioned whether the State Department is prepared to continue its work in Iraq once the US military withdraws. “Our concerns remain very much alive,” the commission’s co-chairman, Christopher Shays, said in his opening statement back in June 2011.

    Shays also focused on what he said was State Department refusal to document its rationale for not taking action against contractors officially recommended for suspension or disbarment. “That response approaches the borderline of government negligence,” Shays said.

    The sole witness appearing before the panel was Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. He described how the Department has increased its oversight of contractors. Among other things, State has hired 102 additional people in Washington to administer these contracts.

    In Iraq, basically the already over-worked Regional Security Officer (RSO) will oversee any whacky hijinks of the merc army. In fact, they might even do bed checks: Kennedy stated “Collocation of contractor life-support areas on Embassy, Consulate, or Embassy Branch Office compounds will enhance after-hours oversight of contractor personnel,” so it’s lights out on time guys and no doing vodka shots off each others’ butts like in Afghanistan.

    But what will cause an already busy RSO to really focus on stopping State Department-sponsored murder in Iraq? Kennedy explained “As initial steps, this summer we plan to create a Contracting Officer Representative (COR) Award to highlight contract administration achievements, and publish an article in State Magazine highlighting the importance of contract administration and the valuable role of the COR.” Magazine article, got it, feelin’ safer already.

    But what about stuff like in 2007 when State’s Blackwater mercs gunned down unarmed Iraqis in Nisour Square? Kennedy again: “Improving the image of the security footprint through enhanced cultural sensitivity: Mandatory country-specific cultural awareness training for all security contractors prior to deployment to Iraq; Revised standards of conduct, including a ban on alcohol.”

    Of course allowing the mercs to drink in Iraq (And Christ do they drink. I saw it myself. The wildest, most debauched parties, including public nudity, cross-dressing and group vomiting ever were on the security contractor compounds and I say that having gone to a football-heavy state school) from 2003 until today has worked out, so wonder why the change now Pat?

    “We fully understand that we still have challenges ahead as we carry out our diplomatic missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations where we rely on contingency contracting,”

    Bottom Line

    Perhaps none of this will matter. American Ambassador James Jeffrey, in Baghdad, said that “If we move out into the Iraqi economy, out into the Iraqi society in any significant way, it will be much harder to protect our people.” Perhaps America’s diplomats will remain inside their compound and have little need to call out their guards.

    Absolutely nothing in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s public history of exercising command and control over its large mercenary army would allow one to conclude that the future looks good. Instead, the likelihood of large groups of armed men, hired to kill if necessary on behalf of America’s diplomats, will write the more significant chapters of our continued engagement with Iraq. In Iraq, 2012, God save the Iraqis who cross them.

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    Posted in Embassy/State

    Cost of APEC in Hawaii

    November 20, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    In addition to providing the means, motive and method for a State Department official to shoot and kill a man in a Waikiki McDonalds, as well as video of a nearly-naked man running behind your Secretary of State with the flaming torch, the recently concluded APEC meeting in Hawaii was supposed to be a boon to the local economy. With the world economy depressed, Hawaii, which sees most of its income come from tourism, was supposed to benefit from all the media attention and rich dignitaries in town for the summit.

    It may not have worked out that way. Hawaii blog “Random Thoughts” writes:

    Conditions on the ground ended up being quite different from what was supposed to occur. Normal social and business activities were, in fact, so disrupted that local businesses had to close their doors for the week of the summit and residents stocked up on food so that they would not have to face the hours of sitting in their cars, waiting for their car to be searched, every time they wanted to leave or re-enter residential areas to go grocery shopping.

    Worse yet, local business owners are suing APEC over the loss of business they experienced.

    The Clubhouse Honolulu Restaurant is right across the street from the Hawaii Convention Center. They bought signs welcoming the APEC guests but instead were greeted by barriers. “Sure enough not a single person showed up here,” said Ernie Inada, Clubhouse Honolulu President. “The police actually blocked the entrance to my parking lot. I could not even come into my parking lot.”

    Read more on Random Thoughts. Aloha!

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    DS Hawaiian Murder Update: Bullying and Self Defense?

    November 19, 2011 // 2 Comments »

    As reported here and everywhere, State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security “Special” Agent Chris Deedy is charged with second degree murder in Honolulu. Deedy was in Hawaii to provide security for the APEC conference. Something went down at a Waikiki McDonald’s at 3am and Deedy shot a local guy in the chest, killing him. Deedy is also charged with using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

    The dead man tested positive for alcohol and cocaine. Deedy refused to take an alcohol test, but the press has carried reports that he had been drinking too.

    After a first court appearance in Hawaii, a few more details have come out in the media. The clearest version of the story online now is that the victim was “”aggressively bullying someone else” at the McDonald’s at about 2:30 a.m. November 5. There is nothing to indicate that the victim was armed. Deedy asked “Do you want to get shot?,” then kicked the guy in the chest, before cranking off three rounds from his State Department-issued firearm. The bloody knife mentioned in some reports appears to have been Deedy’s. Deedy claims he pulled the knife to cut open the victim’s shirt before performing cardio pulmonary resuscitation on the victim after he was shot.

    Special Agent Deedy remains in Hawaii, on “admin leave.” His arraignment is set for November 20.

    So a couple of questions for you legally educated folks:

    1) When I learned CPR it was not taught that we had to cut open a victim’s shirt. Anything changed with that?

    2) Is it normal for a law enforcement guy to fire three shots in a crowded fast food restaurant against an unarmed man, even if that man was a bully, even in “self defense”? Deedy’s lawyer says the killing was self-defense. I thought self defense was supposed to meet some sort of proportional test, otherwise cops would just be free to blow away anyone messing with them.

    3) Is it DS’ policy that its officers are allowed to carry their service weapons off hours even when drinking? Asked if Deedy was drinking beforehand, his lawyer said, “We’re investigating to see whether that is so, and if so, if drinking had any impact on Mr. Deedy’s behavior.” The victim’s lawyer said Deedy was drunk. It is usually bad news when your own lawyer won’t say clearly that you weren’t drinking.

    4) Can’t the Hawaiian cops get a warrant to force a murder suspect to take an alcohol test? Cops can do this in alleged drunk driving cases. Why wasn’t Deedy tested? Some kind of cop courtesy thing?

    5) According to Deedy’s lawyer, “The [State Department] want him to come back to work as soon as he’s able.” Does DS have no other criteria other than a stone-cold felony conviction? Can you kill a man in McDonald’s at 3am and just pop back into Rosslyn HQ a month later, no questions asked? Maybe like about judgement and suitability?

    6) Does Deedy still carry a State Department badge, gun and ID card while on admin leave awaiting arraignment for murder? In some cases (er, mine), admin leave is accompanied by State physically taking away my ID card and barring me in writing from entering any State Department facility. For the record, I did not kill anyone, just wrote a book. Does DS apply the rules evenly, even with its own special agents?

    7) (Extra credit) Do cops in Hawaii ever say “Book ’em Danno” just to amuse themselves? Did they say it with Reedy?

    Anyway, we’ll know more come November 20. Stay tuned!

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    Diplomatic Security Five-O: Nearly Naked Guy Nearly Enflames Hillary

    November 16, 2011 // Comments Off on Diplomatic Security Five-O: Nearly Naked Guy Nearly Enflames Hillary

    So your Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Hawaii for the APEC Conference. We all know that because of the great love they spread around the world (delivered 24/7 by drone, right to your home or hovel), big-name American officials need big-time security wherever they go, like with other celebs such as the Jonas Brothers or Gallagher.

    The Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is responsible for protecting the Secretary from Gallagher and other dangers in Hawaii. We know DS is a man short right now, one of their special agents having been arrested for second degree murder in connection with his shooting a local guy to death in a Waikiki McDonalds.

    Maybe that explains this hilarious security gaffe:

    (Follow this link if the video embed does not work on your browser)

    OMG, was that a nearly naked Hawaiian guy with a fiery torch running just a flame’s lick away from your Secretary? It was. Now, she was probably safe, as the nearly naked guy was probably part of some tourist thingy where they light torches on the beach and raise restaurant prices at night.

    Still, what if that nearly naked guy had been… Herman Cain? What if Hilary’s hair scrunchie was flammable? Why didn’t a DS agent leap into the arena and take a flame for the Secretary? Aren’t they trained for that? I saw it in that Clint Eastwood Secret Service movie, so it is true.

    Luckily– this time– the gaffe ended well, and YouTube garnered another billion hits as the only casualty. But the nearly naked guy stands as a reminder of the need for DS to be constantly vigilant.

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    Report: DS Hawaii Special Agent/Shooter was Drunk

    November 9, 2011 // 8 Comments »

    Remember State Department Diplomatic Security Special Agent Chris Deedy? He was the State Department law enforcement professional who shot and killed a local Hawaiian man in a Honolulu McDonalds at 3 am a few days ago.

    KITV in Honolulu is now reporting that Special Agent Deedy may have been drunk at the time of the murder.

    According to Attorney Michael Green, who represents the victim’s family so of course let’s all doubt him, the victim was standing in line when Special Agent Deedy walked in with three friends. “What the witnesses say is that at one point, the agent, who apparently appeared very intoxicated, asked my client if he’d like to get shot. And everybody was stunned,” according to Green.

    Deedy kicked Elderts in the chest, causing Elderts to fall to the ground, Green said. “He got up, they grabbed each other and there were three shots fired.” Green said one bullet hit Elderts in the chest, a second bullet hit the ceiling. It isn’t clear where the third bullet landed. “There were lots of people and I’m sure, terrified. Three shots in a crowded fast food place? And I can’t imagine why he’s out at 3 in the morning with a gun, drinking,” Green said.

    While commentators on this blog are quick to remind us some Americans are innocent until proven guilty, Deedy is charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. It’ll be fun to learn where in the Special Agent’s State Department training he learned to hammer off three shots inside a crowded public place when faced with a man without a firearm himself. Don’t Special Agents still have to learn Kung Fu or something?

    And get this– the State Department put shooter Deedy on admin leave for a second degree murder charge, the same status they put me on for writing a book they dislike. Maybe since we’re both at home, Deedy and I can get together for a few brews, talk over State Department stuff. Email me, Chris, ‘kay, but leave the iron at home if we’re gonna hit the bars together brother.

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    Diplomatic Security Warns on Shooting: “May be subject to Discovery”

    November 8, 2011 // Comments Off on Diplomatic Security Warns on Shooting: “May be subject to Discovery”

    Following the gunning down of a man in Hawaii by an off-duty State Department Diplomatic Security (DS) special agent bully-boy, the director of Diplomatic Security, Scott P. Bultrowicz, sent this message to his entire DS staff, several of whom immediately leaked it (thanks, please stop sending additional copies, and emphasis added):

    Dear Colleagues,

    I regret that my initial message to the organization is about the tragic incident involving Special Agent Christopher Deedy early Saturday morning in Honolulu. Many of you know that Agent Deedy was involved in an altercation that ended in the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old local man. The story has been widely reported.

    I am not at liberty to discuss the investigation. However, I want to let everyone know that DS has been in communication with the Honolulu authorities from the time we were first notified about the shooting. We will do what we can to ensure Agent Deedy’s well-being, and have already provided assistance to his family. We also are mindful of the terrible loss suffered by the deceased’s family and friends.

    I remind everyone that there is an ongoing investigation of this matter by the Honolulu Police Department. Discussion about what happened in Honolulu, Agent Deedy’s state of mind, and/or whether his actions were justified should be limited to the agents investigating the matter.

    Also, please keep in mind that communications over the internet that are publicly available (such as blogs, tweets, and bulletin boards) and are on matters of official concern (which this case is) must be reviewed by the Department. Additionally, all written communications, on either government or private accounts, may be subject to discovery in legal proceedings relating to this incident.

    I look forward to communicating with you on other matters throughout my tenure. Please do not reply to this message.

    Takeaway message:

    When in doubt, begin the cover up immediately. Remind everyone everything they write is gonna end up in court.

    Still no word about whether Agent Deedy’s security clearance has been suspended or not.

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    Another Diplomatic Security Agent Earns His Bones


    Those bad boys in the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) just can’t stop being boys. Whether it is getting arrested for child porn, spying for the Chinese, or needlessly taking away my security clearance for writing this book, they are just always in motion.

    Now add (alleged) murder to the list of things Diplomatic Security agents have been up to lately.

    Authorities in Waikiki say Christopher W. Deedy, 27, (image from NY Daily News) a Special Agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security pulled a gun and shot Kollin Elderts outside the fast food joint at around 2:45 a.m. on Saturday.

    Police did not release many details about the shooting, but the Eldert’s family told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that Deedy followed the victim to the restaurant after the two got into a scuffle at a nearby club.

    “He was in a club and got into a beef with a guy who turned out to be a federal agent,” the family’s lawyer, Michael Green, told the newspaper. “The guy followed him to McDonald’s and shot him once in the chest.”

    Deedy, who was released Monday after posting $250,000 bail, was assigned to help with security at this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) convention, which is set to be attended by delegations from 21 countries, and the US President.

    So, to recap, a Diplomatic Security Agent assigned to provide security for Obama gets into an argument and stone cold guns down some guy.

    No problems there; I wonder if DS has suspended his security clearance? Nah, he just killed a man. Not like he wrote a book or anything really dangerous.

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    Diplomatic Security Child Porn Guy Indicted

    October 24, 2011 // Comments Off on Diplomatic Security Child Porn Guy Indicted

    The Diplomatic Special Agent we reported was arrested back in September for kiddie porn was formally indicted on October 19, 2011 for possession and receipt of child pornography.

    He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison on the charge involving the receipt of child pornography, and up to 10 years in federal prison on the possession of child pornography charge.

    Fan of mug shots? Here’s your guy.

    Read the original story if you’d like more details on this outstanding State Department employee.

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    US Punishes “We Meant Well”

    October 19, 2011 // Comments Off on US Punishes “We Meant Well”

    Before there was Wikileaks, there was Cryptome, online since 1996 publishing government documents from around the world. Stubbornly clinging to a web design that looked old-fashioned in 1996, Cryptome especially features documents about the CIA. It also posts declassified historical documents, and is a great resource for researchers and historians.

    Cryptome proudly asserts:

    Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance — open, secret and classified documents — but not limited to those. Documents are removed from this site only by order served directly by a US court having jurisdiction. No court order has ever been served; any order served will be published here — or elsewhere if gagged by order. Bluffs will be published if comical but otherwise ignored.

    The site has also published a copy of my denouement from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. I do not know where they obtained this, as it has unredacted portions different from the redacted version I have posted on this blog.

    Now that State has suspended my security clearance, I’ll have to rely on sites like Cryptome and Wikileaks to keep up with my reading. It may be a secret– don’t tell anyone– put their search engines are also way better than anything inside the firewall at State when you need to locate something quickly.

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    Here’s How It Works: An Open Appeal for Reason and Free Speech


    When you offend the State Department by exercising free speech, albeit speech that is unkind to the Department, here’s what they do:

    1) State will take a blog link, to something already on the web, and pretend it is a “disclosure.” They will ignore the reality that several media sources already wrote about the link. They will ignore the fact that al Qaeda can read the document online. They alone determine what is a disclosure within their closed world. They won’t care of their accusations actually drive thousands more people to look at the link. It is not about the link, it is about YOU.

    2) State will then accuse you publicly, without giving you a means to defend yourself, of publishing more classified material. Unless some third party shows you the fax, you won’t even know State made the accusations behind your back. You’ll be held responsible for not complying with an order you never received.

    3) State will then take their own self-created accusation(s) and use them as “evidence” to suspend your security clearance, effectively torpedoing your career. They’ll suspend, rather than revoke the clearance, because a suspension can’t be challenged, questioned or appealed. They simply label you a security risk… and you are one.

    4) State then uses the lack of a security clearance to take away your job.

    5) Circle is complete. Sleep well America. You are safe now.

    For those too busy to click on the link in item Number 3, above, here is the money paragraph State is using as justification:

    DS/SI/PSS has been notified that you have shown an unwillingness to comply with Department rules and regulations regarding writing and speaking on matters of official concern, including by publishing articles and blog posts on such matters without submitting them to the Department for review, and that your judgement in the handling of protected information is questionable. This raises serious security concerns…

    Note the word “and” hilighted in the passage. An “and” statement is used traditionally to link two logical operations, A and B make C true. How does blogging and writing about unclassified information logically link to “your judgement in the handling of protected information is questionable.” Trick question– it does not.

    People in the government with access to classified information, like me for the past two decades, routinely process class and unclass info differently. As in “I’m in a secure space with another cleared person, I can talk about XYZ.” Or, “I am at a dinner party with strangers, I will not bring up classified info.” You get used to it in our line of work.

    The usual thing Diplomatic Security does with someone who has had a clearance for two decades is look to their handling of classified material; there is a track record to assess. Any close calls? Any questionable incidents? (Nope, clean record since 1988.) Next, they look to life circumstances that may have changed– a recent divorce (no, happily married for 24 years), huge debts (nope, just a mortgage), sudden interest in hanging around the Chinese Embassy (nah, prefer a good sports bar).

    What is not done is look at someone’s simple expression of free speech, all clearly unclassified, and extrapolate from that to say suddenly that person cannot be trusted. I wrote the book 14 months ago, have been blogging since April, was first interrogated on September 1 and only today those actions added up to insecurity.

    That is what makes this unfair, twisting things around, hiding behind security procedures, to piss on someone you don’t like. Ain’t right, just ain’t right.

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    Insecurity: State Department Suspends My Security Clearance

    October 18, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Feeling safer America? After 23 years of holding a Top Secret security clearance, and without a single security violation in that time, the State Department Stasi, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, suspended my clearance today.

    “Suspension” is another in a long line of government extra-legal actions, in that it cannot be questioned, challenged or appealed. You just suck on it. The best part is that the reason for the suspension is not revealed. Diplomatic Security is not required to tell you in detail why your clearance is suspended, just that it is.

    So why was my security clearance suspended? Let’s try and guess.


    A good friend who works on The Line on the Seventh Floor for Hillary told me that my NY Times profile was not included in Hils’ media summary. Bill called her up to mention it, and she was angry at being kept in the dark and lashed out.

    I Called DS Child Molesters

    Sure, I did help call out Diplomatic Security agents as child molesters and Chinese spies, but do you think they took that personally?

    DS is BS

    I did publicly call out Diplomatic Security as being a bunch of bullies. And that article calling them out was reprinted by CBS News, Huffington Post, Salon, The Guardian (UK), Le Monde Diplomatique, Politico, Mother Jones, Wikileaks Forum, The Nation, Jon Wiener at The Nation, Michael Moore, Guernica, ZNET, The Rebellion,
    Atlantic Wire, American Conservative Magazine, Democratic Underground, Lobelog,
    al-Arab online, War in Context, Gary Null, Open Market, SpyTalk,
    Pacific Free Press, warandpeaceinthemiddleeast.com, Buzzflash.net, Nation of Change. John Brown’s public diplomacy blog, Truthout, Antiwar.com, Oped News, Common Dreams, Daily Kos, Empty Wheel, and American Empire Project


    Diplomatic Security accused me of disclosing classified information when I included a link from this blog to a Wikileaks document already online. The State Department refuses to acknowledge that any Wikileaks documents are actual classified material, but draw your own conclusions America. In a way, I should thank DS for bringing this to America’s attention. When the original blog post ran in late August, it garnered a couple of hundred page views. To date, with all the attention, the post has received over 11,000 page views. A lot more people now know of John McCain’s duplicitous stance toward Libya, and that the US sought to supply Qaddafi with military spare parts.

    Can’t Find Their Ass in Iraq
    I did write a piece on Huffington Post claiming that DS will be unable to oversee the $5 billion Iraqi police training programs now underway in that vast sink hole for taxpayer dollars in Baghdad.

    Failure to Redact

    The State Department demanded redactions from my book, which I refused to make. Here is the State Dept fax 9 20 11 to my publisher. Note the requested redactions, and then turn to the chapter in my book called “A Spooky Dinner,” and read the original text. It could be classified! I continue to receive emails asking to buy an unredacted copy of the book “before it is too late,” so thanks DS for those sales as well.

    I Actually Disclosed Something Classified

    Trick question, as I did not ever disclose anything classified. Not now, not in the book, not in my two decades’ long career. Not to Bradley Manning, not to the New York Times, not to my wife, not to you. This is the only valid reason to suspend my security clearance. It does not apply.

    So which is it? Which of the above horrific infractions deemed me insecure?

    Answer is all of them except the last one, as this is an act of revenge by DS for me pointing out their flaws and writing a book State hates, not much more. The funny thing is, it does not matter.

    I have not had access to the State Department classified system since 2005; I have not needed it, as the jobs I have done have not required access. So the suspension accomplishes nothing.

    In Iraq, my access to classified information was through the Army, the same way Bradley Manning read State’s cables. So the suspension accomplishes nothing. Bradley and I actually used the same system, I know, I know, more irony.

    My current work does not require classified access. I am still doing the same job today, without a clearance, as I did yesterday, with a clearance. So the suspension accomplishes nothing.

    If for some reason I had wanted to purposely disclose classified information at any time over the past 23 years, I could have done it. I never did. The secrets I know today I knew yesterday, and they stay secret with me. So the suspension accomplishes nothing.

    So the suspension accomplishes nothing.

    Nothing of course but a bully’s revenge, a last gasp from a sad group of thugs that feels lashing out is pleasurable, that a symbolic, futile gesture is what Cabinet agencies are left to do when their relevance is questioned, their budgets are in question and their very being is apparently threatened by a book.

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    Your State Department Diplomatic Security Update

    September 29, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    After the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) interrogated me twice over a link on my blog to a Wikileaks document already posted elsewhere on the web, I said some unkind things about the folks at DS. Actually I called them bullies.

    But, the record will show, I did not call them child porn lovers or Chinese spies. In fact, I used the made-up example that while a link to Wikileaks was not the disclosure of classified information, putting a Top Secret document under one’s coat and handing it to the Chinese would be disclosure.

    Anyway, now I don’t have to call anyone at DS a child porn lover. The FBI has done it for me.

    The Smoking Gun discloses that an FBI sting operation last month snared a Department of State diplomatic security officer, according to court records. James Cafferty, 45, who was stationed at the US Embassy in London, was named in an August 29 felony complaint charging him with possession of child pornography. His name and phone are on the Smoking Gun site, so I’m not outing an alleged DS child molester here.

    According to the disclosures by the FBI, Cafferty first came to the attention of federal agents in the course of a probe of a “criminal organization” that operated 18 separate web sites selling access to child pornography. The probe revealed that Cafferty had used his PayPal account to pay for access to five of those web sites. At least two of Cafferty’s PayPal charges date back to October 2006. Cafferty reportedly confessed to using his PayPal account to purchase subscriptions to about 10 child porn web sites. He also admitted to “having approximately 10,000 to 15,000 files of child pornography” and accessing the FBI undercover web site.

    There was no mention of how many State Department employees in London Cafferty hassled over peaks at Wikileaks whilst peaking himself.

    As for spying on behalf of the Chinese, the FBI comes through again.

    Bryan Underwood, a former contract guard working at a US Consulate in China, has been charged with one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government, two counts of making false statements, and one count of failing to appear in court pursuant to his conditions of release.

    Rest easy diplomats. DS has your back. Just watch them around your kids.

    Note: To save you same few people from writing in, I acknowledge that the majority of DS employees are good people, who do their jobs honorably, and, until recently at least, have treated me fairly. It is possible that some of the DS people who have treated me like they were bullies feel bad about being used as tools to beat up on me because the Department does not like my book, Wikileaks or free speech. I get that, you don’t need to write again. If it makes you feel better, I’ll re-read your old emails tonight. And yes, I have tried, as several suggested, to go f*ck myself, but it is just not possible. Maybe when I was younger. For the one writer who has physically threatened me, yes, yes, if we met outside of work I am sure you could show me a thing or two. I am not a good fighter, you’ll win.

    For the person who wrote some very unkind things from a State Department work computer whose IP address resolves to a DS office (don’t they teach you this stuff in security class?), I am sure someone will follow up on my formal complaint sometime this century, but I wouldn’t say you need to clean out your desk this week.

    Thank you.

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