Posted: 9:35 pm PT
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In fact, today, April 6th, marks the third anniversary of the death of Anne Smedinghoff, a bright, rising star in the Foreign Service who was taken away from her family, her friends, and the department in an attack that took place three years ago in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. Anne was 25 years old and on her second tour as an FSO, Foreign Service officer, serving as a press officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. In Secretary Kerry’s words at the time, Anne was a, quote, “vivacious, smart, and capable individual,” end quote. And as he wrote in a note that went out to all State Department employees at the time – well, shortly after that tragic event he wrote, “that no one anywhere should forget for a minute that the work of our diplomats is hard and hazardous or that as you serve” – you being the diplomats – “serve on the frontlines in the world’s most dangerous places, you put the interest of our country and those of our allies and partners ahead of your own safety,” end quote.
We would also pay tribute, obviously, to the memories of the three U.S. soldiers as well as an Afghan American translator and an Afghan doctor who were also lost on that tragic day, as well as to those who were injured in that incident. We honor their memories and their service to the United States and Afghanistan.
Last year, there was this:
Then a couple of weeks ago:
“It is also unfortunate that the knowledge we gained while working in Qalat left apparently left with us. Before going any further, my partner, Dr. Ledet and I conducted research into improving education in the province. Specifically, we were tasked with learning how the US should distribute learning materials to Afghans, and we did so by working with tribal, religious, and political leaders in the area. Our report was distributed to the PRT, US military and the DoS working in the areas, and briefed to higher authorities. The senior Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) representative for the province, and multiple leaders we consulted, provided us with the solution regarding how the US could help improve education. Our Afghan partners clearly and forcefully stated, US elements were not, under any circumstances, to provide books directly to Afghan children. Yet, Anne and the others died on a book delivery operation. WTF?…”
Since the State Department is remembering publicly the death of Anne Smedinghoff, we’d like to — once more — call on the State Department to declassify its internal report of the Zabul attack. The State Department spokesperson at that time said that no State rules were broken. If so, there should not be a problem with releasing that internal review. It would be in the public interest to see how the agency’s internal review stack up against that scathing Army report.
There’s also nothing that precludes Secretary Kerry from declassifying the internal review and voluntarily releasing it considering that the U.S. Army had already released its own report.
But we know as we write this that the State Department is not going to release this report or it would have done so already following the Army report.
So the State Department will continue marking death anniversaries, and saying solemn words of remembrance for the dead. And all the while, keeping under wraps its purported review of the incident that no one gets to see but for a few officials with “need to know.”
The question is — why?
- Army Report: Poor planning led to FSO Anne Smedinghoff and troops’ death in Afghanistan (April 24, 2014)
- Zabul Attack: Spox Says State Dept Did Its Own Review, It’s Classified, and There’s Now a Checklist! (April 29, 2014)
- Wednesday InBox: Anne Smedinghoff – Department Memorial Service (April 11, 2013)
- State Dept Holds Memorial Service for Anne Smedinghoff (May 2, 2013)