Category Archives: Spectacular

State Dept Wants To Protect Labor Rights in the Global Market Place – Smart Power in Action, Really …

– By Domani Spero


To mark Labor Day, Barbara Shailor, the State Department’s Special Representative for International Labor Affairs blogged on September 2 over at DipNote about “Protecting Labor Rights in the Global Market Place.”  We also marked labor day with a blog post on the State Department’s refusal to talk about granting labor rights to its local embassy employees worldwide (see State Dept on Embassy Workers Unionization: Yo! Could Put U.S. National Security at Risk).

We should admit upfront that Ms. Sailor’s blog post is definitely the most worthwhile read of the two.  After all, who can argue against “protecting the dignity of workers everywhere” as “the right investment?” Or fault the “history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — [... ] the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work?”  This American value is a laudable export to the  global market place. Last year, Ms. Shailor also had a labor day message for everyone.

This year, we again applaud the State Department’s commitment  “to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.” We are republishing Ms. Shailor’s blog post in full in appreciation of smart-power pretense affectation.

For over a century, we’ve set aside a day to honor the contributions of workers. The cookouts, shopping sales, and parades are end of summer American rituals.  But the significance of Labor Day – advocating for the dignity of work — is, and always will be an American value.

Promoting labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment — essential to driving growth, ensuring its benefits are broadly shared, and delivering decent jobs for the American people.

Protecting the dignity of workers everywhere is also the right investment.  The goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth.  That means ensuring all workers enjoy certain universal labor rights, including the freedom to associate and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, and prohibitions against the worst forms of child labor and forced labor, and employment discrimination.

Much of the world is still experiencing high unemployment, a lack of opportunities for youths, discrimination towards women, disabled persons, and LGBT individuals, and the growth of disenfranchised migrant workers and refugees.  This exacerbates already volatile situations in many countries.

By combating the root causes of poverty and helping countries provide a prospect for decent work we can better hope to achieve our foreign policy goals: stability, security, democracy, and prosperity for all.  We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization.

Secretary Kerry captured the importance of protecting rights in the global market place in his address at the University of Virginia, where he said:

“I’m here because our lives as Americans are more intertwined than ever before with the lives of people in parts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challenges of diplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you will feel our success or failure just as strongly as those people in those other countries that you’ll never meet…it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs and opportunities for their own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimes forgets morality and values.”

The history of the labor movement in the United States — and of workers everywhere — is the story of courageous men and women who persevered and risked their lives to bring dignity to their work.

Today, we celebrate the sacrifices and successes of workers everywhere, and commit to doing everything we can to advance labor rights in the global economy.


Excellent example of talking the walk but not walking the talk.  Brava! Can we have more, please? File under the “hypocrasy” tag. And no, that’s not a misspelling.







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Filed under DipNote, Foreign Service, Funnies, John F. Kerry, Leadership and Management, Locally Employed Staff, Special Envoys and Reps, Spectacular, State Department

US Embassy Bangkok’s Irrestibly Charming Happy 2013 Greeting

Below is US Embassy Thailand’s charming and totally cute video greeting for the new year. With Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, and her DCM Judith B. Cefkin joined by various sections of the embassy, other embassy officers (watch out for the embassy spokesperson), the U.S. Marines, the chauffeurs, the cafeteria staff (with their ladles), USCG Chiang Mai and USAID, the video notes that 2013 celebrates 180 years of friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand.  Don’t miss the bloopers!

Music: Ruen Rerng Ta-lerng Sok by Soontaraporn
[Lyrics below]

วันนี้วันดี ปีใหม่
Today is the New Year’s Day
(Wannee wan dee pee mai)

The blue sky makes us joyous
(Thong fah fam sai pah jai sook san)

Give each other a smile to welcome the New Year
(Yim hai gun nai wan pee mai)

And forgive each other, don’t hold any grudges
(Grode kueng rueng dai chong ah pai hai gun)

หมดสิ้นกันที ปีเก่า
Enough with the old year
(Mode sin gun tee pee khao)

Stop thinking about all the sadness and sorrow
(Rueng took rueng sao yah klao kid mun)

Let’s start anew together
(Tang ton chee wit gun mai)

With days full of happiness
(Hai mun sod sai sook pai tua gun)

เฮ เฮ เฮเฮ้เฮเฮเห่ สุขไปทั่วกัน
Hey hey hey hey…. Happiness is all around
(Hey hey hey… Sook pai tua gun)

รื่นเริง เถลิงศกใหม่
Let’s celebrate the New Year!
(Ruen rerng ta lerng sok mai)

ช่า รื่นเริง เถลิงศกใหม่
Cha! Let’s celebrate the New Year!
(Cha! Ruen rerng ta lerng sok mai)

รวมจิตร่วมใจ ทำบุญร่วมกัน
Put our minds together and do some good
(Ruam chit Ruam chai thum boon ruam gun)

Honor our tradition and make merits
(Tham boon gun tam pra pay nee)

And the best will come our way
(Ku son ra see bun cherd ched chan)

พี่น้อง ร่วมชาติเดียวกัน
Our brothers and sisters
(Pee nong ruam chad diew gun)

พี่น้อง ร่วมชาติเดียวกัน
Our brothers and sisters
(Pee nong ruam chad diew gun)

ขอให้สุขสันต์ ทั่วกัน เอย
We wish you all a Happy New Year.
(Kor hai sook san tua gun ei)

นอย ทิงนองนอย น้อยหน่อยนอยน้อย หน่อยทิงนองนอย
La la la la la la ….
(Noi noi noi noi noi…)

You guys are spectacular! Cha! Ruen rerng ta lerng sok mai! And may 2013 be a better year for us all!

domani spero sig




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Filed under Ambassadors, DCM, Foreign Service, Holidays and Celebrations, Social Media, Spectacular, U.S. Missions

State Dept’s Blog Roll Fail: The Nipples Have Landed and They’re Not Shy

Yesterday, we blogged about this — Breaking News: State Dept Does Not/Not Like Nipples Nor Damn ACLU Letter.

We can’t find anyone willing to talk on or off the record on what went on behind the blog roll snafu over there. So, below is how we imagined it went down during the brainstorming of some unnamed characters, obviously too smart to handle (adapted from  Behind ‘Charlie’s Angels’ 2004 TV Movie):

The issue is nipples.


Actually breasts and nipples.  She’s writing about nipples. Nipples come with breasts.  

We’re reading nipples. We can’t put a blog with nipple blog posts in our blog roll. Too personal.

You think? We counted seven blog posts and nineteen instances in which nipples were mentioned. Also, word association? Nipples = Protrude. Not good.

We must stop nipple talk and protrusion on FS blogs. Godsakes, our readers are future diplomats!

Yeah, who cares about nipples in a Foreign Service blog, anyway?

Just to be clear, we were not hiding behind the desk eavesdropping, this is just imagination not hard at work.  But we’re wondering if something similar transpired over there, and if we can now use this incident as an example of “groupthink.

Today, WaPo picked up the story: Foreign Service spouse finds her blog no longer has a home on State Department Web site.  Here is an excerpt:

Yesterday she received an e-mail explanation from a recruiting and marketing consultant for the agency.

“Hopefully, you can understand that some topics covered in your blog are very personal in nature, e.g. nipple cozies,” the employee wrote, “and wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the majority of potential candidates who are interested in learning about the FS [Foreign Service] life overseas.”

“Through our years of recruitment experience, we found that FS prospects want to learn more about the work that’s conducted, the people and cultures with whom they will interact, the travel experiences, and the individual stories our employees have to share.”
“It really shook me to the core,” she said in an interview from her home in Annandale, where her husband, Peter, is getting ready to move to Afghanistan for a year on an unaccompanied tour.

A State Department spokesman said Wednesday night he is looking into the issue but did not have enough information yet to comment.

Read the whole thing here.

Pleaasssee! Somebody please bring this up in the Daily Press Briefing!

Because they’ve done it now.  They’ve put it in black and white — only happy talk blogs are welcome!  They’re looking for the mini-versions of State Magazine’s Happy Post of the Month and mini-versions of DipNote.

Perhaps they should hire Foreign Service spouses and pay them to blog about their happy lives overseas instead of using them as “bait” for free. Then, State at least, can improve the job opportunities of diplomatic spouses, and the spouses will be too preoccupied with happy write ups, they won’t have time to think or blog about their real lives.

Yes, you may post this suggestion to the Secretary’s Sounding Board.

As I was posting this, one of our regular readers saw that Jen’s WaPo story is now in the Drudge Report. And there it is with the N-word.

Also these:

Jezebel | U.S. State Dept. Takes Issue With ‘Nipple Cozies’

The Raw Story | State Dept. boots breast cancer survivor from blogroll over ‘nipple cozies’

Folks will be on strategery meetings for the rest of the day.

In the meantime — it turns out a lot cares about nipples and much more in the Foreign Service, most especially the bloggers.

Blog pal Kolbi of  A Daring Adventure writes Too Little and Too Much (Regarding Blogging, the ACLU, and NIPPLES). She deserves special mention; she is the only FS blogger who had been clubbed twice by the Serial Blog Killer and survived to tell about it:

Being on The Official Blog List actually painted an even bigger bulls eye on my back. And not just on my back, but on the backs of other State bloggers on The List. To date, to my knowledge, at least three State bloggers (and perhaps even up to five) on The List have since been shut down. And there were probably, oh, I don’t know, only about a dozen or so blogs on that List when it began. So, you know, not the best odds of bloggy survival.

So, basically, to recap: The pro-blogging side of State puts The Official List together and encourages bloggers to write tons and tons of State-themed blog posts, and then the anti-blogging side of State goes and… shuts those blogs down because they’re writing about State-themed stuff.

And here are some more of them –

Tuk & Tam | What the Nipple?

Wanderings of a Cheerful Stoic | Nipples, Censorship, and Other Matters

Cyberbones | Nipples! Boobs!

Spectrummy Mummy | N is also for Nipples

We Meant Well | Mrs. Clinton, you have a problem.

Noble Glomads | Don’t tell us who is relevant to us

The Wandering Drays | “Nipped” in the Blog

Mom2Nomads | Nipplegate 2012

Four Globetrotters | Nipples, Nipples, Everywhere

We Meant Well | State Department Does Not Care for Breast Cancer Talk

Whale Ears and Other Wonderings | Not FS Enough

Sadie Abroad | Nippletastic: A Rant For FS Bloggers

Well That Was Different | It’s the Little Things

dp’s Blog | I Guess I’m Not As Important As I Once Assumed

Mom2Nomads | You’re Just Not Quite FS Enough…

Life After Jerusalem | What Makes a Blog an FS Blog?

Dinoia Family | Wanted: Stories of the ‘Real’ Foreign Service

Dinoia Family | Did you know?

And we hear that somebody is now trying to organize a “kick me off your official list” movement … and if successful, there won’t be anyone for show and tell on State’s “inclusive atmosphere and collaborative environment,” except maybe …. well, one of our alert readers write with a simple enough question:

…. and yet it’s okay to blog about strip clubs and how your nickname on the consular line is Visa Molester? somehow this one is still linked to the official blog roll. go figure.

Oh dear!  There are official standards employed here, but obviously it’s hard to figure out.

Domani Spero


Filed under Foreign Service, FS Blogs, Social Media, Spectacular, Spouses/Partners, State Department

A Tanka for Our Times: War Zone Rooftop Sexcapade

Most of us following the news presumably remember that the video footage now called  Collateral Murder by WikiLeaks was taken by a military helicopter. While we are not aware of a video footage of a particular rooftop escapade ((h/t to Publius) which occurred in one of our war zones, we would not be shocked out of our gray cells if one exist.

Anyway, April is also our National Poetry Month. So you’ll have to make do with this, our faithful contribution to war zone literature in honor of poetry month. Below in one of our favorite Japanese poetry forms,  is a tanka following the 5-7-5-7-7 pattern (well, almost); and our poor attempt at adhering to the form.

Painting from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful An...

Painting from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve. From Maragh in Mongolian Iran. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One spring day, in an
Ultra-sober, foreign space
Lone wolf Adam X
Was caught shagging Ms. Eve on
A rooftop in a war zone

Caught in broad daylight
On roof of Building Alpha
By an Apache
Damn military helo
Called it in to HQ Stop

Thus tryst disrupted
In rooftop heaven, get off
They were told, and back
To earth, word spread like wildfire
Licking hootches, offices

Adam X and Ms
Followed by weeks on fire
Should have been Breaking
News, except — that spring there was
Even Bigger Breaking News

In broad war zone light
Dying and shagging, excused
Why not, life is short!
In dark foreign spaces, men
In full waits, ready to pounce

It’s not our business what goes on inside the bedrooms, but by golly, on the rooftop?  As our favorite Captain Reynolds would say, “Holy testicle Tuesday!”

We do not consider ourselves prudish, but we’d feel more comfortable if our higher office candidates are better vetted, zippered up outside the bedrooms, and what is it they used to say in the old days? — do not dip their pens in the company’s inkwell.

Frankly, shagging a co-worker on the rooftop  of the “mothership” in broad daylight, in the middle of a shooting war,  where work is 24/7, with the helicopter’s camera possibly rolling does not really reflect good judgment, discretion or self-control.  Not even if/when it happens during coffee break — because you gotta be nuts!?!!  That coffee is boiling hot and the Ministry of Whatever in Planet Pluto will have your — well, some precious part of you in a wringer … sometime sooner, sometime later ….

Domani Spero

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Filed under Huh? News, Leaks|Controversies, People, Poetry, Spectacular

Alec Ross on the “Dark Arts” of Social Media, and Yo! No Clearances!

Alec Ross, the Senior Advisor for Innovation at the Office of Secretary of State was featured last week in a piece over at The Next Web and has, of course, some innovative things to say about social media at the State Department:

“We set up the program overnight, with no meeting no clearances and no budget,” he explains. “We thought it was a good idea that might raise a few hundred thousand dollars but, after using the ‘dark arts’ of social media, we raised $35 million in just two weeks.”

Best of all, no clearances!

Alec Ross Photo by State Department

Then over at The Hill, they had a strange conception that social media is becoming ‘mainstream’ at the State Department.

Wu de tyen aaah!* Whoever gave them that idea?

Domani Spero

* Dear God in heaven


Filed under Quotes, Social Media, Spectacular, State Department, Technology and Work

Nando’s "Last Dictator Standing" Pokes Fun at Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe

About time, too! A cute reminder to a dictator who has been in power since February 1980.

“The brand new entertaining spot directed by Dean Blumberg hits a funny nerve by tapping into the spirit of our times. Dean delivers a spot that surprises the viewer with unexpected twists by cleverly capturing the world’s most notorious dictators and making the viewer want to watch the ad again and again to see if they have actually seen and heard right.”

The ad opens with a Robert Mugabe lookalike picking up a Muammar Gaddafi place card from an empty dinner table. In a dream sequence the Mugabe actor is seen sitting mournfully in a garden when the deceased Libyan dictator covered his eyes with white-gloved hands, then starts a waterfight with a golden AK-47. Next, he sings karaoke with the late Mao Tse-Tung of China, makes sand angels with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, pushes the swing with South African apartheid leader, Pieter Willem Botha, and in a scene parodying Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio from the Titanic film, he is seen riding on a tank with Uganda’s Idi Amin, also deceased. Then the tagline — “no one should ever have to eat alone so get a Nando 6-pack meal….”  The song in the video is “Those Were The Days” sung by Mary Hopkins.

As you can imagine, this was not received well in Zimbabwe.  BBC reports that Nando’s South Africa has pulled the ad due to threats to its staff. Excerpts:

“We’ve noted with concern the political reaction emanating out of Zimbabwe, including perceived threats against Nando’s Zimbabwe’s management, staff and customers,” Nando’s South Africa said in a statement.

“We feel strongly that this is the prudent step to take in a volatile climate and believe that no TV commercial is worth risking the safety of Nando’s staff and customers.”

Nando’s South Africa decided to axe its commercial after Mugabe loyalists from the Chipangano group had called for a boycott and other unspecified punitive action against the company.

“We condemn such adverts because it reduces our president to be someone without values,” Chipangano leader Jimmy Kunaka told the BBC’s Brian Hungwe earlier this week.

I learn something new everyday. Robert Mugabe has values. LOL!

Related posts:

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Filed under Africa, Funnies, Spectacular, Video of the Week, Zimbabwe

US Embassy Laos: Ambassador Karen Stewart Raps at StreetWave05, I dare you to look away

Video via The Vientiane Times:

See, it’s hard to look away; stuck in my head forever now.  A blog pal worried, “Imagine her corridor rap….I mean rep…. now.”  A longer and more more fuzzy clip from the US Embassy is here. Can’t tell what she is rapping about, unfortunately, as the video in the embassy’s YouTube channel contains no description of what this is about.

Ambassador Karen B. Stewart is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service.  In July, 2010, President Obama nominated her to be U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, she was confirmed by the Senate on September 29, and presented her credentials to the President of the Lao P.D.R. on November 16.

A native of Florida, Ambassador Stewart joined the Foreign Service as an economics officer in 1977. Her last overseas posting prior to  Vientiane  was as Ambassador to Belarus where she was apparently disliked by Europe’s last dictator, and had to return to the U.S. even before the mission in Minsk was shrunk to a skeleton crew.

No, I don’t think she performed this rap in Belarus.

And yes, I am extremely worried that some other American ambassador elsewhere is going to try and top this.

Thanks to Kelly (see comments) for posting the translation of Ambassador Stewart’s rap from the embassy’s FB page:

“I am really happy and excited. I love music and singing. I rap all the
time at the embassy. I’ve got a pen in my right hand, a mic in my left.
Who would believe the Ambassador can rap? I’m the Ambassador, my name is
Karen Stewart. My raps are all clean, so the police don’t have to
check. Who would believe I’m 59 years old? I’ve got mad rapping skills
like a 14 year old!”

I understand that the video uploaded to the QDDR site is actually titled “u-s-ambassador-to-laos-raps-to-teens-about-counterfeit-medicines.”

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Filed under Ambassadors, Foreign Service, FSOs, Huh? News, Spectacular

First Ever Byte vs. Brain Jeopardy! Competition

To air February 14, 15 and 16

After seven years of research and planning, thousands of hours of testing and over fifty champion-level sparring matches, IBM’s Watson is finally ready to face the two greatest Jeopardy! champions in history – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.  The first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition will air today and the next two days. The grand prize for this competition will be $1 million with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity, and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity. 

IBM’s Watson page says that preparing Watson for the Jeopardy! stage posed a unique challenge to the team: how to represent a system of 90 servers and hundreds of custom algorithms for the viewing public.

The result? A dynamic visual avatar based on the smarter planet icon. A speaking voice that clearly pronounces a vast vocabulary. And an answer panel that reveals the system’s top responses and confidence levels. Watch the video IBM – The Face of Watson to find out more about each of these elements.

Last week, PBSNewsHour’s science correspondent Miles O’Brien   challenged the machine to a JEOPARDY! duel. Watch Miles, Watson and David Gondek, one of Watson’s many creators, face off over unusual animal phobias, presidential tongue twisters and … laundry detergent … here.

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Filed under Current Stuff, Spectacular, Technology and Work, Video of the Week

US Embassy Africa Bombings: ONE guilty verdict out of 286 counts spectacularly sucks!

A case from 12 years ago.  224 murder counts. One guilty verdict. Not for murder. Not for destruction of US property.  The conviction was for “one relatively minor charge of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property by means of an explosive device,” according to Reuters.

US Embassy Nairobi Memorial
(used with permission)
Photo Copyright © 2010 Derek Brown

“After deliberating for five days, a jury of six men and six women found Ahmed Ghailani, 36, guilty of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but acquitted him of multiple murder and attempted-murder charges for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa,” according to WaPo.

ABC news has a push back from a senior Administration official saying:

“So, we tried a guy (who the Bush Admin tortured and then held at GTMO for 4-plus years with no end game whatsoever) in a federal court before a NY jury with full transparency and international legitimacy and — despite all of the legacy problems of the case (i.e., evidence getting thrown out because of Bush-Admin torture, etc,) we were STILL able to convict him and INCAPACITATE him for essentially the rest of his natural life, AND there was not one — not one — security problem associated with the trial.”  

One guilty verdict is better than none, thank you. But it sucks! DOJ says Ahmed Ghailani faces “a possible life sentence,” but heck, with 20 years minimum mandatory sentence, he could also like — walk in 2030 when he’s 56. Or sooner. How does that “incapacitate” him?  He’ll be middle age and would still be able to, pardon the bad cliché,  smell the roses. Unlike the 224 folks whose names are carved in marble slabs.

How is it possible to get away with 224 murders? Some days justice just sucks, and spectacularly so.

DOJ’s New York Office is out with a press release that must have been hard to write:

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani Found Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court of Conspiring in the 1998 Destruction of United States Embassies in East Africa Resulting in Death

Al Qaeda Terrorist and First Guantanamo Detainee to be Tried In Civilian Court Faces Possible Life Sentence In January

NEW YORK—U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced that Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was found guilty today for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that took the lives of 224 people, including 12 Americans. Ghailani, 36, a Tanzanian national, and the first detainee held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba to be tried in a civilian court, was found guilty of conspiring to destroy property and buildings of the United States, following a five-week trial before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. Ghailani faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life on this count. Ghailani was acquitted of the remaining counts against him.

“Ahmed Ghailani was today convicted of conspiring in the 1998 destruction of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, causing death as a result,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “He will face, and we will seek, the maximum sentence of life without parole when he is sentenced in January. I want to express my deep appreciation for the unflagging commitment, dedication and talent of the agents who so thoroughly investigated this case and the prosecutors who so ably tried it.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, previous court proceedings in this case, and documents filed in Manhattan federal court:

Ghailani was first indicted on Dec.16, 1998, by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York. In that indictment and subsequent superseding indictments, Ghailani was charged with conspiring with Usama Bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill American nationals and with several related crimes in connection with the twin bombings of Aug. 7, 1998, that destroyed the American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Ghailani was also charged with 224 individual murder counts for each of the victims of the two embassy bombings.

The evidence at trial showed, among other things, that each of the embassies was attacked by suicide bombers driving large truck bombs packed with approximately 1,000 pounds of TNT. Ghailani purchased the truck as well as tanks of oxygen and acetylene gas that were used in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. He also stored explosive detonators that were used in the bomb at his residence.

The evidence also showed that the day before the bombings, using a fake passport in an assumed name, Ghailani flew from Nairobi, Kenya to Pakistan in a coordinated escape from Africa. Two other al Qaeda operatives, a senior operations leader and an explosives expert who had traveled between Kenya and Tanzania in the weeks before the bombings departed Africa for Pakistan on the same flight as Ghailani. Those operatives were also involved with the bombings.

Ghailani is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 25, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Mr. Bharara praised the FBI and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice for their extraordinary work in the investigation of this case. He also thanked the Tanzanian Police for their assistance in the case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit with assistance from the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Farbiarz, Harry A. Chernoff, Nicholas Lewin and Sean S. Buckley are in charge of the prosecution.

Active links added above. The original press release is here.



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Filed under Court Cases, Memorial, Spectacular, Terrorism, U.S. Missions

Our favorite "Senator from France" Chuck Hagel: still telling it like it is

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) arrives at Camp Rama...Image via WikipediaIt’s not everyday that we find a politician who is able to keep his/her reputation of candor in office or out.  Hard to keep in office, because politicians pander to their constituents and are afraid to lose their votes; and outside, because they may be after a position here or there and presumably does not want to compromise their appointment prospects with the administration of the day.  But we are happy to see that Chuck Hagel still wear the same stripes, still own the same spots, and have not exchanged his views for political convenience.  And god bless the guy, he still makes sense.

Michael Coleman did an interview with the former Senator for The Washington Diplomat. Quotable quotes below:

“I think we’re in a mess in Afghanistan and I think we’re in a mess in Iraq,” said Hagel, who voted in support of the war in Iraq based on the intelligence assessments and later admitted he regretted his vote.

“Our military has been more valiant and done a better job than we could have ever hoped. But we have put the military in an impossible situation.”

“Look at the facts: No government, less electricity and people want us out,” Hagel pointed out. “Anyway you measure Iraq today I think you’re pretty hard pressed to find how people are better off than they were before we invaded. I think history is going to be very harsh in its judgment — very, very harsh. And I think we’re headed for a similar outcome in Afghanistan if we don’t do some things differently.”

“We are where we are today — going into our 10th year in Afghanistan, our longest war — because we did take our eye of the ball,” he said. “It’s becoming clearer and clearer. We really made some big mistakes during that time. I have never believed you can go into any country and nation build, and unfortunately I think that’s what we’ve gotten ourselves bogged down in.

“You can dance around that issue any way you like, but the fact is that there are billions and billions of dollars we’ve spent and are still spending, over 100,000 troops, and all the assistance we’ve got going in there,” Hagel continued. “It’s nation building. We should not nation build. It will always end in disaster.”

“We became completely disoriented from our original focus,” Hagel charged. “That problem in Afghanistan isn’t going to be solved with 100,000 American troops.”

“We’re sinking down further and further into the bog,” he lamented. “We’re going to have to unwind this because politically it’s not sustainable in the United States.”

“It’s the most combustible area of the world,” Hagel, a former senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained. “You’ve got three nuclear powers [China, India and Pakistan] that all come together at the same border and on the other side you’ve got Afghanistan and Iran. The worst thing we can do is continue to stay bogged down in those areas where we continue to undermine our own objectives.”

“I’ve been called the senator from France and all this stuff,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “But I’ve never thought that engagement was appeasement.

 “I’ve always found that engagement is critically important to statecraft,” he added. “That doesn’t mean that engagement is giving things away or appeasement. Engagement is a long way away from negotiation. But it will allow you some time and give you some high ground, some optics, some support worldwide and a dimension to try to assess things from as close to the scene as you can.

 “We say, ‘We’ll show you — we’re not going to talk to you. We’ll penalize you,’” he continued. “Well, it really doesn’t penalize anybody but us because we can’t make good judgments on just what we think. We have to engage.”

“The consequences of the blunder we made and the extenuation of the disaster in Afghanistan is going to play out in a number of ways that will affect our country,” he said. “Start with the Pentagon. Does anybody not think that these two wars have ground our people down? Our generals are saying it — record divorces, record suicides, not to mention the equipment — anyway you calibrate it. Quite frankly, I think there has been so much damage done to the infrastructure of our military and our force structure that it’s going to take a generation to build back.”

He pointedly added: “You can’t run people like machines  — even machines break down.”

Some quarters have actually cited his candor as “biden-nisque” that could cost him a possible position in DOD or DOS.  We don’t mind it if he’d suffer from occassional foot in mouth disease — somebody’s gotta tell it like it is. 

Keep going, Chuck! Maybe one day, the somebodies will listen.

Read the whole thing here.

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