US Embassy Beirut Marks 30th Anniversary of Embassy Bombing in Ain El Mraise

Today, the US Embassy in Lebanon gathered at the Embassy in Awkar to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Embassy bombing in Ain El Mraiseh on April 18, 1983.

The incident’s entry in Wikipedia says that the car bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber driving a delivery van packed with about 2,000 pounds (910 kg) of explosives at approximately 1:00 pm (GMT+2) April 18, 1983. The van, originally sold in Texas, bought used and shipped to the Gulf, gained access to the embassy compound and parked under the portico at the very front of the building, where it exploded.

Image from US Embassy Lebanon/FB

Image from US Embassy Lebanon/FB

Excerpt from Ambassador Maura Connelly‘s remarks:

We are here today to remember our colleagues who were taken from us 30 years ago today, in a terrible bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ain el-Mreisseh.  A huge bomb exploded in front of the embassy and sheared off a large part of the building.  52 staff of the U.S. mission died that day; many others were wounded.  For those who lost their lives, the story was finished.  For those who survived, years of loss and grief and trauma and hardship and recovery followed.  Some of you here today are among those survivors.  I remember our destroyed embassy often:  when I pass the site along the Corniche or sometimes when I enter our compound here through the barriers designed to defend against another truck bombing, I remember those whom we lost.  I know the survivors and the families of the victims remember that awful day every day and they always will.
[…]

In 1983, the staff of Embassy Beirut came in peace but a terrorist group chose them as its target and killed 52 people.  But ultimately the terrorists failed.  Because Embassy Beirut re-established itself here, on this compound, and went back to work.  And when terrorists chose to attack us again in 1984, they found it was harder to kill us.  We went back to work again and we have worked hard ever since, day in, day out.  We come in peace every day and we always will.   In the end, the terrorists always fail.

1983 and 1984 were very hard years for us.  We suffered many losses.  And the losses haven’t stopped.

 

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anne Smedinghoff Memorial Fund at Johns Hopkins

Via JHU:

The friends and family of Anne Smedinghoff, a 2009 Johns Hopkins graduate who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month while working as a State Department diplomat, have established a fund in her memory.

The Anne Smedinghoff Memorial Fund at Johns Hopkins University will provide support for students who wish to pursue activities in the area of international development or diplomacy. Those who wish to make a contribution can do so by visiting http://krieger.jhu.edu/giving and selecting the Anne Smedinghoff Memorial Fund in the online donation form, or by contacting Dan Luperchio at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at 410-516-0488.

Smedinghoff, 25, was one of five Americans killed April 7 when the convoy they were traveling in was struck by a suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan. She was among a group of officials traveling to a school to donate books.

 

On April 17, Ms. Smedinghoff was remembered at a funeral in River Forest. The State Department was represented by Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. Below is an except from oakpark.com:

 

At a crowded Mass at St. Luke Parish on Lake Street, with an overflow crowd watching from the nearby gymnasium, Rev. Kenneth Fisher, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy and her father all spoke about the life of the vivacious, thoughtful and bright young woman.
[…]
Kennedy offered the perspective from the State Department, where she’d earned great respect in just her three years of service. He spoke about how Anne was chosen to assist Secretary of State John Kerry on his visit to Afghanistan, which she was specially selected for. She could have chosen anywhere, he said, but chose a tough country where she could make a real difference.

 

“Anne stood out as a superstar in the making,” he said. “Anne loved her work very much. Anne had that real gift of infusing optimism and joy in the work we did. …Anne truly represented the best of us.”

 

Celebrations of life have now been held on three continents, Kennedy said, which he said “speaks volume for (Anne’s) character.” Messages have come from around the world about people touched by Anne’s life.

Read the full coverage here (includes some photos and a short clip of the funeral procession).

 

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Embassy Ganymede – Administrative Notice #04-011300

Been working on a draft of a fictional story set at Earth Embassy Ganymede. It’ll be like any diplomatic mission complete with intrigues, gossip, romance, and all the deadly sins.  Anyway, this is part of the story where the embassy in Ganymede is suffering from some bad press and low morale. So the embassy’s senior management adviser released the following admin notice.

English: Image of Jupiter and Ganymede

English: Image of Jupiter and Ganymede (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earth Embassy Ganymede
Administrative Notice #05-011300: Morale

It has come to management’s attention that there has been a lot of chatter and hyperspace email about morale and safety at this outpost.  This notice serves as a reminder to everyone under Ganymede outpost authority that discussion about morale is an unproductive use of work time. Morale is self-esteem in action; individuals who perceived that morale is lacking may need help in improving their self-esteem. Please make every effort to schedule an appointment to see the quadrant psychiatrist.

Ganymede management fully believes, like the 34th American President Dwight Eisenhower, that the best morale exist when you never hear the word mentioned. In that sprit, management formally informs all departments and employees that morale is not/not an issue and is not/not a subject to be discussed in hypermail, text, video, radio, verbal or any alternate manner of communication within and outside the mission.  Anyone caught peddling these stories will be subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to curtailment of current assignment or a lengthy TDY to the outermost prograde moon of Carpo.

In an effort to be responsive to all concerns, below are some FAQs that the section  had the pleasure of addressing the last 12 moons. We hope that the answers are useful to you and your families and help alleviate persistent concerns.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
EaEmbassy Ganymede

Is Ganymede a family-friendly post?

Absolutely. It is the most family-friendly assignment in the quadrant with excellent schools and some of the best apartments available in the sector. Living conditions are approximated to be similar to the home planet and the quality of life is super-excellent.  Consistent demand for assignments to this outpost has repeatedly resulted in a long wait list at every rotation cycle.

I’ve been thinking of asking for a transfer to Ganymede.  But I heard that life there is a big joke … I don’t get what’s the joke.

Life in Ganymede is not/not a big joke. Once you understand that Ganymede is too big to fail, you’ll find your groove. This is the place where you want to be.  No other outpost will afford you the challenges and opportunities to excel and earn a fast-tracked promotion.

How safe is Ganymede given that riots are breaking out in all parts of the hostplanet:

Safe. Very safe, if you’re careful.

Ganymedeans breached the outpost walls, they can do it again, should I worry?

There’s no reason to worry.  Ganymedeans are not/not anti-Earthlings, anti-humans or what have you.  They were blowing off steam. Period. Now that they have, things should return to normal. If you think things have not returned to normal, give it time; things should return to normal. Soon.

There are assaults reported daily, it sounds like traveling around the hostplanet has become extremely dangerous. Is that perception correct?

Ganymede is the largest moon in this sector. Like any large, densely inhabited city on Earth (e.g. New York City, New Delhi, Bogota, Buenos Aires), crime is ever present. This is not/not unique to this outpost.  Travel in pairs if needed, and bring your stun gun, if necessary.

The Manager for Planetary Services reportedly quit over extreme bureaucratic bullying, is this true?

Absolutely not. The manager quit because the official got too old for the job. Other employers in this sector throw old officials out the airlock. Fortunately, EaEmbassy Ganymede has a generous separation package specifically for older workers traveling back to the home planet.

There are rumors and allegations that some of the top Ganymede officials have, on several occasions, pushed and bossed around subordinates and threatened them with penalties. How accurate are these stories?

Have you ever heard of American poet, Robert Frost?  He said that the reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.  Isn’t that an excellent point?  Stop listening to rumors. Stop worrying. All our top Ganymede officials were handpicked and subjected to a battery of reviews and 360 feedbacks from friends, peers, and colleagues. All with spectacular results. They are all as lovable and huggable as Alaskan polar bears.

I used to have an open mind, then I got to Ganymede and my brains kept falling out. What am I doing wrong?

To keep an open mind, a person needs only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape. This works even in Ganymede.

I am terribly upset that my concerns have not been taken seriously.  How do I set a laser printer to stun?

The management office works hard to address all of your concerns and aims to make every assignment to Ganymede a satisfying one.   Unfortunately, all laser printer at post at this time do not have a stun setting.  However, the procurement section is exploring the possibility of adding a stun setting to all laser printers with end of year funding.

Note that this is from a work in progress.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Morale is self-esteem in action,  is a quote by Avery Weisman; WD-40 and laser printer quips are found items around the net.

I was, by the way, thinking of writing a complete set of Space Affairs Manual (SAM) and Space Affairs Handbook (SAH) for my fictional diplomatic service, but that sounded crazy, even to me.   So I may stick with writing a collection of admin notices and cables that can be interspersed with the story. Hey, if I write a story using admin notices alone, would that fall under an epistolary novel category?

Ugh! Just saw that the Russians are interested on Ganymede, now.  Well, dammit, I am not changing my fictional embassy’s name again, so don’t write to complain about that.

— DS

The Rushford Report on the “Consul General’s Candidacy as the Next Ambassador to Vietnam”

On April 15, Greg Rushford of The Rushford Report published this piece on How (Not) to Become a U.S. Ambassador.  The article refers to the U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, career Foreign Service officer An T. Le. Our U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam is David Shear who arrived at post in August 2011. Under typical appointments,  Ambassador Shear, as a career diplomat appointed to his position by President Obama, is expected to serve until the summer of 2014.

The reporter is citing email exchange concerning this “candidacy” —  this might be the first time a career FSO is shown as allegedly conducting in Rushford’s words “essentially a clandestine political pressure campaign aimed [at] securing a White House nomination.”  If you want to look at this kindly, one might say, the FSO demonstrates long term preparation and foresight for a vacancy that is expected to occur in 15 months.

The report here also includes the list of “Friends & Supporters of Consul General An T. Le in Ho Chi Minh City” that was reportedly presented by California businessman David Duong to President Obama at a Democratic Party fundraiser during the president’s April 3-4, 2013 appearances in the San Francisco Bay area. Quick excerpt:

Le wants to become the next U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Toward that end, the consul general has been working behind the scenes since at least last July with a network of Vietnamese-American allies, some of whom have political and business connections in both Washington and Hanoi. Although Le has urged his supporters to try to drum up congressional support, the main target of the lobbying campaign is the man who would make the nomination: President Barack Obama.
[…]
The e-mails reveal that as he has sought to advance what Le has repeatedly referred to as his “candidacy,” the consul general has not been merely a passive observer. Le has participated in drafting and editing various letters of support and introduction. Before California business Duong presented the letter to Obama on April 3, Le advised his ally to correct a typo. Upon being informed by Duong that the letter had been delivered to Obama, Le expressed his gratitude in another e-mail. Writing on his iPad, the consul general related how “I appreciate” the efforts of such good “friends in advancing my candidacy.”
[…]
It is highly unusual — perhaps unprecedented —  for an active member of the U.S. foreign service to run what is essentially a clandestine political pressure campaign aimed securing a White House nomination for an ambassadorship to an important country.

Oh, dear.  Continue reading How (Not) to Become a U.S. Ambassador.

According to its website, The Rushford Report was launched by veteran Washington investigative reporter Greg Rushford in January 1995.

A February 2012 OIG report on US Mission Vietnam had quite a lot to say about Mr. Le’s work at USCG Ho Chi Minh. See State/OIG: US Mission Vietnam — One Mission, One Team, Well, Sort Of.

— DS