Evgeny Morozov Explains Why Secretary Clinton Should Join Anonymous

Evgeny  Morozov writes in slate.com that the State Department and the online mob are both destroying “Internet freedom.” Excerpt:

The diplomats’ problems are quite well-known by now. While Hillary Clinton likes to give speeches in which she fashions herself the world’s greatest defender of “Internet freedom,” the harsh reality is that her own government is its greatest enemy. Given the never-ending flow of draconian copyright and cybersecurity laws coming from Washington, this fact is getting harder and harder to conceal from the global public, who starts to wonder why American diplomats keep criticizing Russia or China but don’t say anything about the impressive online spying operation that the National Security Agency is building in Utah. Nor does the State Department object when America’s allies push for harsh surveillance laws; Britain, with its proposed surveillance legislation, is a case in point. America’s “Internet freedom agenda” is at best toothless and at worst counterproductive. While focusing on (and overselling) the liberating promise of social media in authoritarian regimes, it conceals a number of emerging domestic threats that have nothing to do with dictators—and everything to do with aggressive surveillance, disappearing privacy, and the astonishing greed of Silicon Valley.

Continue reading, Why Hillary Clinton Should Join Anonymous.

Evgeny  Morozov, one of the few out there who refused to jumped on the Internet Freedom bandwagon is a Foreign Policy and Boston Review contributing editor and the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Last year, he poured scalding water over Foggy Bottom’s well, net delusion:

“The State Department’s online democratizing efforts have fallen prey to the same problems that plagued Bush’s Freedom Agenda. By aligning themselves with Internet companies and organizations, Clinton’s digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroad that Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism.”

That burns, doesn’t it? Let’s see if Alec Ross will pick up the conversation on why HRC should not join Anonymous.

Domani Spero

A ‘Rocking Affair’ and Finally Watching the Terror Attack on U.S. Consulate Jeddah

On April 19, WaPo reported that the State Department ceremony for the US ambassador to Malta was a ‘rocking’ affair:

The typical swearing-in of an ambassador is usually a somewhat dry affair. Not so with the ceremony Wednesday to formally install Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley as the United States’ woman in Malta.

We hear the ornate Benjamin Franklin Room on the State Department’s eighth floor was, and we quote an attendee, “rocking.” The event featured unusual entertainment: the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Men and Women of the Gospel choir performed traditional gospel tunes that had even a few of the most buttoned-up guests tapping their toes.

Not much to read, but go here if you’re interested. We knew that this affair occurred at 4:15 p.m. on April 18 with Deputy Secretary Burns officiating the swearing-in ceremony. No photo of the ceremony had been released by the State Department.

So we were looking for photos of this ‘rocking affair’ when we stumbled on a video showing the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah on December 2004. This is old but we have not seen this video before although its been online since it was aired by ABC News on December 2005.

Notable mention in the video – Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, formerl Consul General at USCG Jeddah and newly sworn-in US Ambassador to Malta. Also, Joseph Adam Ereli,  then Deputy Spokesman of the State Department (from 2003-2006) and currently Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

If you did not watch the video, the ABC News investigation has this item:

The secret State Department review concluded that no one breached his or her duty, but noted, “leadership problems in Jeddah,” and found that the officials in charge of security “received little support” from the consul general.

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the consul general, is no longer posted in Saudi Arabia and declined to comment on the incident in an appearance in Cleveland last week.

The secret review found “a widespread negative perception among the consulate staff of the consul general’s degree for security,” which did not surprise Diebler, a former State Department security officer.

Her state.gov bio says:

Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley is the recipient of Senior Performance Pay, Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, including “For acts of courage during an attack on the U.S. Consulate General, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 6, 2004 by al-Qa’ida terrorists.”

Her US Embassy Malta bio appears to have missed that.

Anyway, if you watch the video, you will see the Saudi guards running away, although they did take their weapons with them.  During the on-the-record briefing following the attack, here is part of what then Ambassador James C. Oberwetter said:

“There are many other stories of heroism about the events of yesterday. Heroism by our locally employed staff. Heroism by the marines, and by other American citizens, and heroism by the Saudis who were guarding our gates and took casualties in doing so. Our investigation is now under way. As President Bush said in comments yesterday, “The war on terrorism goes on. It will take time but the efforts are succeeding. It will take time.”

On the question: What are the benefits that will be provided to the families of those killed in this attack? then Consul General Abercrombie –Winstanley responded:

“There are very specific benefits that are available to any employee of the U.S. Government. I am happy to say that I am not extremely familiar with all of them, because, I hope never to have this happen to anyone that works for me again. But the staff is working very hard right now to figure everything out. We’ve obviously done condolence calls to all the next of kin of all those who have passed, and we will be doing visits to those who are injured. So as I said, there’s a very specific set of benefits, but I cannot get into details right now.”

The five Foreign Service National employees who died during the terrorist attack were Ali Yaslem Bin Talib, Imad e-Deen Musa Ali, Romeo de la Rosa, Mohammed Baheer Uddin and Jaufar Sadik. The casualties whose embassy service range from 18 months to 26 years came from Yemen, Sudan, Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. Click here to read Survivors Detail Attack on U.S. Consulate Dec. 8, 2004.

There were two reports related to the Jeddah attack: an OIG report, “Review of the Management of Compound Physical Security Upgrades,” Report Number AUD/PPA-04-37, August 2004 and the Accountability Review Board report, “Jeddah Terrorist Attack, December 6, 2004.”  In State/OIG’s convoluted archiving system, it’s hard going hunting for old reports. We have emailed the OIG but have not heard any response. The eight-year old ARB report does not appear to be available anywhere online.

Why bother looking them up now? We were named the most curious student in school and we haven’t gotten over that — plus there was that rocking affair that started this off.

Also  on March 4, 2012,   AP says that Saudi Arabia’s  official news agency reported that it has begun trials of 55 suspected Al Qaeda members, some charged in a deadly attack on a U.S. Consulate in 2004. Apparently, six men came before the court on March 4, and the trial of another three began a day earlier. “The report did not say when the rest of the 55 would be tried, or how many of them were accused in connection with the consulate attack.”

Domani Spero