Posted: 1:39 am ET
We’ve covered Ambassador Robin Raphel’s story in this blog since it broke in November 2014. In March 2016, the Justice Department’s case fizzled and it declined to file charges against the former ambassador.
- Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who’s Gonna Say Sorry? Mar 2016
- Spying Case Against Robin Raphel Fizzles; AG Lynch’s “Houston, We Have a Problem” Moment Oct 2015
- The Murky Robin Raphel Case 10 Months On, Remains Murky … Why? Sept 2015
- Robin Raphel, Presumption of Innocence and Tin Can Phones for Pak Officials Nov 2014
- Former Ambassador and Pakistan Expert Under Federal Investigation as Part of CounterIntel Probe Nov 2014
Previously, in the case of Xiaoxing Xi, the Temple university professor and head of the school’s physics department, federal authorities handling the case were said to have also misunderstood key parts of the science behind the professor’s work. Mr. Xi’s lawyer said, “We found what appeared to be some fundamental mistakes and misunderstandings about the science and technology involved here.” The federal officials handling the Xi case did not know the science but went ahead and indicted him anyway.
They misunderstood science and technology, and now, we can add misunderstanding of the diplomatic tradecraft to the list of serious mistakes made by AG Loretta Lynch investigators. When investigators don’t know what they don’t know, 40 years of service doesn’t mean anything. And for every hammer, everything is nothing but a nail.
WaPo’s David Ignatius writes a piece on when diplomats get punished for doing their jobs.
The case leaves behind some disturbing questions about how a diplomat with nearly 40 years’ experience became the focus of a career-shattering investigation — apparently without anyone seeking clarification from knowledgeable State Department officials about her assignment to open alternative channels to repair the badly strained relationship with Pakistan.
“If the Bureau had talked to senior people at State who were knowledgeable about her work, I believe they would never have launched this investigation,” argues Jeff Smith, a former CIA general counsel who was one of Raphel’s attorneys.
The case had a “chilling effect” on other diplomats, who feared they might be next, a half-dozen State Department officials told me. But Raphel’s colleagues stood behind her, even when the investigation was still active. Beth Jones, another former assistant secretary of state, organized a legal defense fund last summer. The fund raised nearly $90,000 from 96 colleagues and friends, many of whom, recalls Jones, voiced the fear: “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Diplomats often go last in our national-security parade. People cheer at ballparks when they see soldiers and sailors. They stand in line to watch movies about snipers and special-forces operators. But a diplomat’s reward for years in danger sometimes seems to be a congressional or FBI investigation for security lapses. That’s wrong. Raphel and many hundreds of colleagues deserve better support.