Bad News Round-up

Tell me there will be some good news tomorrow …

On January 27: Fox News reports that “U.S. Consulate Mistakenly Sells Secret Files in Jerusalem”

Three years ago, in December 2005, a woman reportedly purchased a file cabinet from the American Consulate in Jerusalem during its regular furniture auction. Fox News reports last Tuesday (January 27, 2009) that “hundreds of files — with social security numbers, bank account numbers and other sensitive U.S. government information — were found in a filing cabinet.”

“We thought of calling the American consulate right away, and then we thought, you know they’ll just hide it and say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake.” The buyer, a woman named Paula was quoted as saying.

According to the report, Paula decided to come forward with the file after hearing about a Sept. 22, 2008 incident in which a Palestinian teenager crashed a BMW into a group of Israeli soldiers (her son’s unit); and she was angered when she heard that the car was purchased from an auction held by the consulate. The report includes a statement about U.S. officials denying any connection to the car. Fox News investigation also found there was no connection. Paula, an Israeli who also holds U.S. citizenship, says she wanted to expose the incident because her loyalty is to the state of Israel.”

I just want to point out that a U.S. Consulate is normally a much smaller presence than an embassy. Whereas an embassy would have a senior General Services Officer (GSO) who may directly supervises auctions like this (reporting to a Management Officer), in smaller posts, auctions and other management and administrative duties become collateral duties for Consular, Political, or Econ/Pol Officers. So one becomes post management officer or post security officer in addition to one’s primary gig. But in this case, it looks like Jerusalem has its own Management Officer, GSO and its own Regional Security Officer.

Read more about this here.

The Department’s Acting Spokesman, Robert Wood confirmed to the press yesterday that there is an investigation underway and that “the file – the components of the file cabinets have been returned,” but could not say when.

TSB at the Skeptical Bureaucrat has written about this here.

On January 28: Third State Department worker pleads guilty to passport snooping

A third former employee of the U.S. Department of State has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing the electronic passport application files of Barack Obama and dozens of other politicians and celebrities in a snooping case that came to light last March.

Gerald Lueders, 65, of Woodbridge, Va., entered the guilty plea yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington, admitting to a single count of unauthorized computer access, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

In his guilty plea, Lueders acknowledged that between July 2005 and last February, he logged into the State Department’s Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS) and viewed the passport applications of more than 50 politicians, actors, musicians, athletes, members of the media and other people.

Since all the three incidents appear to be all out of idle curiosity, makes one wonder why they had time to be idle in the first place. Once I worked with somebody who often pretends she was doing work while reading magazines as the rest of the office scrambles to attend to customers. Nobody ever said anything about it. Until a new supervisor arrived. The supervisor, a lovely, grouchy old lady marched up to this woman’s desk and simply growled, “Doris (not a real name) what are you doing?” I loved that lady! And that was the end of “Doris’s” hobby work during office hours.

Read the whole thing here.

One January 28: An ABC News Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes

The CIA’s station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

The suspect in the case is identified as ***** in an affidavit for a search warrant filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by Scott Banker, Special Agent with the United States Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). The allegations against the suspect were for committing aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2241(b)(2) and 2242. Officials say the 41-year old *****, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.

Greg Miller reporting for the LA Times quotes an unnamed government official speaking of the suspect: “He is exactly the guy we need out in the field,” said a senior U.S. government official who had met with the accused officer in Algiers last summer before the scandal emerged. “He’s African American. He’s Muslim. He speaks the language. He seemed well put together, sharp and experienced.”

More on this here, here and here. And one more from CQ. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more coverage on this as the story develops. However this turns out, his cover is blown now.

Click here to read the affidavit (graphic details).

Excuse me, I need to go to the vomitorium now.