Pan Am Flight 103: We Remember Them

At the rising of the sun and at its going down,
We remember them.
At the Blowing of the wind and the chill of the winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of the Buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of Autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live,
for they are now part of us as we remember them. When lost and sick at heart,
We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share,
We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make,
We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs,
We remember them.
As long as we live they too will live,
For they are now a part of us as we remember them.

We Remember was written by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens in the 1960’s and published in 1970 in “New Prayers For The High Holy Days”.

Thank you TSB for reminding us. The list of the victims is here.

Meanwhile, the alleged former Libyan intelligence officer and convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds by the Scottish government on 20 August 2009 because he was expected to have about three months to live.  Since then, he has apparently been living in a luxury villa after being at “death’s door” … that is, until December 9 when he was reported to be in a coma and not expected to recover.  Exactly two days after the cables leaked out. All under coincidental circumstances under an unforgetful universe.

Fair Warning:

This is the part where I put up a WikiLeaks Do Not Click warning if you’re reading this from work. Below may contain links to the “alleged” cables that could ruin your brain or future career, or could make your IT folks defriend you — so be warned.

Among the cables leaked by WikiLeaks are about eight cables on the Al Megrahi case originating from US Embassies in Tripoli, London and Doha.  For the first time ever, the diplomatic cables actually gets its own search engine via CableSearch (Beta), an initiative of the European Centre for Computer Assisted Research and the Dutch-Flemish association for investigative journalists.  Not updated in real time but close enough.  Last update: was on 2010-12-21 22:16 with number of cables at 1,877.  The site does not host any of the cables but is a search engine based on publicly available materials.


The Marvelous QDDR quietly forgets about the State Dept’s EFM talent pool

Chapter 5 of the newly rolled out QDDR is titled Working Smarter: Reforming Our Personnel, Procurement, and Planning Capabilities to Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century

This section highlights six areas of reform needed to achieve that vision:

  • 1. Marshalling expertise to address 21st-century challenges
  • 2. Rewarding and better utilizing the civil service
  • 3. Closing the experience gap through mid-level hiring
  • 4. Recruiting and retaining highly skilled locally employed staff
  • 5. Training our people for 21st-century missions
  • 6. Aligning incentives and rewarding performance

The QDDR provides more discussion on its plans for direct hire FS employees, civil servants and foreign service nationals, starting on page 174. Not one mention on expanded employment opportunities for EFMs and partners. Or how to put the language skills of foreign born spouses and those trained at FSI to effective use.  Or how to put to best used their double MAs, Ph.Ds, JDs, etc. as they trail after their employee spouses from one end of the globe to another.  Just one more proof that EFM issues particularly when it comes to employment in nowhere near anyone’s radar screen at the State Department. FLO as an employment advocate has false teeth when it comes to spouse employment . Why?  Because without the employment equalization fund, it cannot provide carrot to posts to hire XYZ above the FSN rates.    

Spouse employment is considered by many decision makers as nothing more than gravy (you already have free housing, why do you need to work? Gooo — find a hobby to keep yourself occupied).  Remember that, the next time you weep over your next Social Security statement. But why should they think of expanding employment opportunities for the spouses and partners? Close to 30,000 folks applied for the FS exam last year.  If State is authorized to hire 745 new employees this year, that’s about 40 applicants for each vacancy.      

Meanwhile, the State Department’s Family Liaison Office has hired 17 Global Employment Advisors in the last couple of years. They are tasked with providing in-country and regional support to 2/3 of some 10,000 EFMS and partners looking for jobs overseas. 

The Global Emloyment Initiative (GEI) is “designed to help family members with career development and identification of employment opportunities. GEI establishes global partnerships with multinational corporations, organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide family members of U.S. direct-hire employees serving abroad with the contacts necessary to develop and sustain their career ambitions.”

Unfortunately, we can no longer locate its flyer that says how wonderful is this State Department talent pool; basically, multinationals should grab each one as soon as they can and come back for more.

Frankly, if we were working as the hiring manager of a multinational corporation overseas, we’d like to know why — if this talent pool is so great — how come the US Government has no real interest in tapping it?

We’ll write about the diplomatic spouse career track one of these days. For now, it is enough to say that it is harder than it looks —  and some days like today — we think it is totally depressing as the news about Norman, Oklahoma, which has the highest level of chromium 6 among 35 cities in the country. At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it likely in the form of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. The last remaining super power in the world, and we can’t drink the tap water!  We are officially depressed now. 




Oh gosh, if you’re reading the Pentagon Papers at work, you could still get in trouble 39 years after it was leaked

Unless of course, the same folks watching the leaky ports where the alleged leaker downloaded gigabytes of data are still on duty, in which case, they probably would not feel the need to fumigate your unclassified computer and unclassified mind asap, given that the original leak happened so long ago. 

1971 — what was that even like? President Richard Nixon declared the U.S. War on Drugs and see we’re still fighting that.  And the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, formally certified by President Richard Nixon also lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.  Cost of a gallon of gas was 40 cents. A house is 25K.  Texas Instruments released the first pocket calculator and the first Internet Chat rooms appeared.

Did you know that the first Cat Scanner was also produced by EMI that year? I had no idea!  In June that year, the New York Times also started publishing the Pentagon Papers.  Apparently, in all the intervening years that the Pentagon Papers have been in the public domain, and in public libraries and later in digital libraries, even in, and online — well, the  past 39 years, the Pentagon Papers are still classified!

Via John Prados of the National Security Archive | Can Government Employees Read the Pentagon Papers? December 14, 2010

Those who have been following the wikileaks affair will have noticed the recent prominence of Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  Ellsberg, in many respects, was a predecessor to wikileaks, and has provided insightful commentary regarding the current situation.  So what has happened to the  43 volumes that  Ellsberg leaked 39 years ago?

You might be dismayed to learn that the Pentagon Papers are still classified as TOP SECRET!

This is despite the fact that The Pentagon Papers have long been in the public domain.
The classification of the Pentagon Papers takes on an even stranger significance when one considers the federal government’s recent pronouncement that “unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on websites) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.”

This is the reason –in the case of Wikileaks– why the Government has been demanding that US government employees refrain from looking at any of these documents, even if doing so hampers their ability to fulfill their mandates.  If this standard holds true, government employees should not be allowed to read (or reference, or cite) the Pentagon papers either.

This classification policy might be more understandable if US declassification efforts were more forthright and better managed.  But the opposite is the case; the Pentagon Papers are an excellent example.  The US government continues to refuse to declassify them—and not for lack of public interest.
So today, 39 years later,  the ultra-secret negotiating material from the “diplomatic volumes” of the Pentagon Papers (which even Ellsberg refused to release) has been declassified, but the well-read 43 volumes that have been available to the public to since 1971 remain Top Secret.  The Archive continues to fight for the official declassification of the bulk of the Pentagon Papers.

Read the whole thing here.

One for the Huh? News — but it is so vexing.  I just do not understand the rationale behind this.  Is there even one?