Black Comedy Central: Catch and Release in Afghanistan …let’s now show some balls

Via Reuters: (rant follows)

Afghan security forces are freeing captured senior Taliban for payment or political motives, with President Hamid Karzai and his powerful brother among those authorizing and requesting releases.
[…]
The Defense Ministry and National Directorate of Security, President Karzai’s office and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force all declined to respond to questions on Ghulam Haidar’s case or the wider issue of Taliban releases.

Read: Exclusive: Afghan officials free top Taliban fighters

Our troops catch ’em, and they release them? Just great! 

How much more firking nutty should that place be before we finally say — ENOUGH! and bring the troops home?

Yes, that’s my uppercase voice and I am screaming at my screen.  I find this deeply disturbing. How much longer are we allowing these jokers to spin us silly in the name of security? How many more deaths and injury among our troops? How much more money down that mucky drain that no Drano Max can cure?   

We already have the freaking nutty distinction of being longer in that place than the Soviets were in the 80’s. Are we really going to put up with this until 2014? Really?     

  


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State Dept bans employees from WikiLeaks?

A special heads up for those waiting to get the call …

Via CSM by Ben Arnoldy / December 1, 2010

New Delhi

The US State Department has directed its staff around the world not to surf the WikiLeaks website, according to employees.

The ban is in response to WikiLeaks’ decision to published classified material, including US diplomatic cables. It’s not clear when the policy first began but it joins a similar order by the US Department of Defense put in place since the leaking of Iraq and Afghanistan war documents earlier this year.

Analysts suggest the State Department is temporarily falling back on traditional bureaucratic protocols in the face of a crisis that is emblematic of the shift to an online world. As the dust settles, the WikiLeaks upheaval may push to the fore tensions between new “digital diplomacy” efforts that use Twitter and smart-phone apps, and an older culture of classified cables.
[…]
But the embrace of modern communications has not necessarily included the underlying philosophy of information openness. Much diplomatic work still depends upon confidential conversations, and the WikiLeaks crisis has, so far, moved the agency toward more information restrictions.
[…]
One diplomat says the ban has no impact on the ability to follow what’s going on since the cables can be accessed elsewhere online and read about in news reports. The ban, the diplomat says, is more about standing on principle that the cables should still be treated as classified documents.

“The idea of it being based on principle is strange,” says Mr. DuPont. “We don’t keep things classified [just] on principle.”

Digital diplomacy experts appear nonplussed that the State Department went from iCow to a ban on a website with content that comes from the State Department, and seem to doubt the directive came from its technology squad.

Continue reading here.

Is that rumor or is there an official directive?

Update: See comment by TSB below.

On the same subject, James Fallows of The Atlantic asks “Why Not Just Stamp ‘Secret’ Across the Front Page of the NY Times?” 

“A government contractor forwards an email he received today from the Commerce Department. Its gist: just because State Department memos had been posted by Wikileaks and published in the press, that didn’t mean they weren’t “classified” any more, or that there wouldn’t still be penalties for quoting them. Eg: “There has been a rumor that the information is no longer classified since it resides in the public domain. This is NOT true.” Click here to read the full memo from DOC.
[…]
It’s not just the Department of Commerce. After the jump, a memo to students and alumni of Boston University law school, warning that they could be considered unfit for security clearances, in future applications for federal jobs, if they quote or comment any of the still “classified” material from an online site.” Read the law school’s memo here.

Fallows writes “This is nuts — not the note, but the mentality that makes it seem necessary.”

Don’t know if what the law school says is true, probably is – a special heads up especially if you’re waiting to get a job with the Feds.  Perhaps one of our blog friends in the know or readers here would wade in on this issue?


What we find here is often first rate …. almost worthy of Evelyn Waugh

Via the Guardian | Timothy Garton Ash:

[F]rom what I have seen, the professional members of the US foreign service have very little to be ashamed of. Yes, there are echoes of skulduggery at the margins, especially in relation to the conduct of “the war on terror” in the Bush years. Specific questions must be asked and answered. For the most part, however, what we see here is diplomats doing their proper job: finding out what is happening in the places to which they are posted, working to advance their nation’s interests and their government’s policies.

In fact, my personal opinion of the state department has gone up several notches. In recent years, I have found the American foreign service to be somewhat underwhelming, reach-me-down, dandruffy, especially when compared with other, more confident arms of US government, such as the Pentagon and the treasury. But what we find here is often first rate.

As readers will discover, the man who is now America’s top-ranking professional diplomat, William Burns, contributed from Russia a highly entertaining account – almost worthy of Evelyn Waugh – of a wild Dagestani wedding attended by the gangsterish president of Chechnya, who danced clumsily “with his gold-plated automatic stuck down the back of his jeans”.

Burns’s analyses of Russian politics are astute. So are his colleagues’ reports from Berlin, Paris and London. In a 2008 dispatch from Berlin, the then grand coalition government of Christian and Social democrats in Germany is compared to “the proverbial couple that hated each other but stay together for the sake of the children”. From Paris, there is a hilarious pen portrait of the antics of Nicolas (and Carla) Sarkozy. And we the British would do well to take a look at our neurotic obsession with our so-called “special relationship” with Washington, as it appears in the unsentimental mirror of confidential dispatches from the US embassy in London.

Continue reading here.

Insider Quote: "deeply personal"

NDS from FS blog, Muttering Behind the Hardline:

[Y]ou feel like a political officer who, with the news of the Wikileaks dump, saw flash through his mind at lightning speed every confidential interview he ever did with every human rights or social activist he ever quietly met with working in a country governed by a totalitarian regime.  And with 250,000+ documents out there, it’s not just possible but likely that those brave men and women he considered friends may be facing a very rough time ahead.  And chances are now that he’s long gone, he will likely never know whatever became of them.

Julian Assange and Bradley Manning apparently don’t have to worry about walking around with that sense of guilt.  They don’t personally know the people who trusted us with their inner thoughts and secrets, hoping we might be able to help bring light to their very dark place.

This is more than treason.  It’s more than a leak or an information dump.

For many of us, this is deeply personal.

Read the whole thing here.


Blog Index | November 2010

Chicago politics diplomatic reporting? “Don’t write.if you can talk, don’t talk if you can nod….

Ambassador Philip Murphy: “I’m a big boy ….the buck stops…


Hillary Clinton on cable leak: American diplomats …


The downside to better information-sharing: the human factor…


New FS Blog: Former FS Brat writes about FS Brat 2…


251,287 Embassy Cables: Spill at C Street’s Cable …


Social Media: The Real Life Social Network


Thanksgiving Roundup: Around the Foreign Service


WikiLeaks/Manning’s aspiration for “open-diplomacy…


We give thanks for all our Sal Guintas …


Fox v. Clinton: Court grants motion to dismiss citizenship renunciation…


No exemptions from TSA full body scanners or enhanced pat downs…


Peer Review Points to Quality Control Deficiencies…


Want an iPod Touch? Get Touched by TSA on 11/24


Al-Qaeda’s Explosive Parcels Plot Has a Name, and …


POGO writes Pres Obama about State’s Inspector General…


US Embassy Beijing: Air quality goes ‘crazy bad’


US Embassy Africa Bombings: ONE guilty verdict out of…


We have a winner! QDDR beats Global Operation DSS…


New FSN advocacy group connects and speaks out online……


The Debt Commission: Goodbye to Locality Pay, and Hello Post Closures. Again …


The TSA, the terrorists who succeed even when they fail…


SFRC Hearings: Thomas R. Nides to be Deputy Secretary…


Quickie: The Stimulus Package in Kabul


Quickie: U.S. Diplomats to Take On New Iraq Security…


Officially In: David L. Carden to ASEAN


Officially In: Sue K. Brown to Podgorica


Officially In: Pamela L. Spratlen to Bishkek


Video of the Week: Ross and Cohen talk 21st Century…


David Willson’s Diary of Dying and Bureaucratic Complexity…


US Embassy Jakarta Facebook – the new top dog in State…


Miller v. Clinton: Amcit FSN takes State Dept to Court …


You gotta love HRC’s sense of humor


US Mission Pakistan: Our diplomats in action … do they even sleep…


Scare the kids: You will die as a midlevel Washington bureaucrat…


AFSA Election 2011: This is what happens after a food fight…


@america Center opens in Jakarta as President Obama Visits…


Which State Department attrition rate do you like best…


Insider Quote: Every bureau has its pets


Just you wait… depositions will soon be in fashion again…


National Geographic: Inside HRC’s State Department…


Z Blog: Friday Ramen and Coconut Ice Cream in Tokyo…


An HR Officer’s not so youthful indiscretion and …


Parlor Game Time: Who Gets Issa’s First Subpoena Contest…


US Embassy Almaty: Being John Malkovich in Kazakhstan…


US Embassy Baghdad: The “civilianization” of the…


The morning after: the new “boss” of you at HFAC …


Quickie: Forget Karzai’s House, Go Small and Stay Home …


US Embassy Sri Lanka: The Experience Deficit Challenge…


Blog Index | October 2010

 

Interpol issues Red Notice for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Interpol, the international police organization, has issued a global arrest warrant Red Notice for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. Interpol’s Red Notice “seek the arrest or provisional arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition.”

It looks like the 39-year-old Australian who is known as the founder of WL was added to Interpol’s “wanted” list for alleged “sex crimes” committed in Sweden this year on 1 December 2010.

See the screen capture of the notice below:

Follow link for original Red Notice

Meanwhile, BBC  reports that Ecuador has offered the WikiLeaks founder residency in that country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said his country’s government wanted to invite Mr Assange to Ecuador to give him the opportunity to speak publicly, saying “We are open to giving him residency in Ecuador, without any problem and without any conditions.”

Read more here.

Mr. Assange could do worse.  Ecuador has beaches and mountains and used the US dollars for its currency. If he should accept the offer, he should beware of the “secuestro express” or at least has money put aside for taxi kidnapping ransom money. Crime is a severe problem, nonetheless since he is the government’s guest, he probably will be provided a guard or two. But unfortunately, no protection against its 19 potentially active volcanoes, half already showing signs of activity.


Update on the Red Notice:

Mark Leon Goldberg at the UN Dispatch (probably the only full time blogger to ever have worked at Interpol he says),   explains What An “Interpol Red Notice” Actually Means”:

A Red Notice is NOT an international arrest warrant.  Likewise, there are no such thing as globe trotting Interpol police officers who can execute arrest warrants.  Rather, the Red Notice is simply a request for the arrest and extradition of an individual for whom an arrest warrant has been issued in the requesting country.

Some countries routinely ignore notices; some countries treat the Red Notice as good as an arrest warrant itself; some countries require further action before arrest and extradition.  It is really up to national authorities to decide how they treat the Red Notice.  But from a law enforcement perspective, it does have the advantage of the quick and reliable global distribution of the basic fact that an individual is wanted for arrest in an Interpol member state.  (And it should be noted that Interpol does turn down requests for Red Notices in cases that seem overtly political, though Assange has claimed this prosecution is politically driven.)

In addition to the potential for wide police cooperation, it is also my understanding that there is some diplomatic advantage to issuing a Red Notice.  That is because some countries have Red Notices built into extradition treaties, so having a Red Notice may help to expedite the extradition of wanted persons.

Sweden presumably has these kinds of extradition treaties with a number of countries. And if Assange is arrested by police in any country with this kind of treaty with Sweden, his extradition may be expedited in some way.

Read his entire post here.

We stand corrected. Corrections appended above.