IAmA Special Agent With Diplomatic Security AMA: Agent Gets on Reddit 3 Days Ago, Then Poof — It’s Gone!

Posted: 3:26 pm ET
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But not really.

In February 2014, we posted about an anonymous Foreign Service officer who got on Reddit, the “front page of the Internet” and did an AMAA  (Ask Me Almost Anything) see IamA United States Diplomat: Anonymous FSO Gets on Reddit and He’s a Riot! Three days ago, a Diplomatic Security Service Agent got on Reddit and did an AMA (Ask Me Anything). The thread is not quite as popular as Anonymous FSO’s, nor as funny, but informative nonetheless though the discreetness maybe debatable. It includes Q&As about risks, donuts, Hillary Clinton, indirect fire, USSS, James Bond, training, the best/worst part of the job, and um…folks, “badge bunnies.” It does not look like anyone among the Reddit users tried to scare the DSS agent with the FAM but perhaps one doesn’t need scaring anymore given that the FAM is not regulations.

While we discovered that Anonymous FSO’s AMA disappeared from Reddit last year (Whoa! What happened to the Anonymous FSO on Reddit?), the DSS Agent’s AMA only lasted three days before it went poof!  A photo of the DSS badge, with a scrawled 6/30/16 and handle is still up on Imgur.

All answers to the questions posted on Reddit have now been deleted, as well. The permalinks are provided below but the links to the answers will direct to the deleted page. The DSS Agent is using the handle Not_in_Benghazi and his answers in the snippets below are highlighted in blue font. Here’s the deleted introduction from Reddit:

deleted intro from Reddit

deleted intro from Reddit

[–]mrdenver 2 points 4 hours ago

Last week I was supposed to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a business trip. I been to Riyadh a few times. Two days before I flew out the state dept. Issued a warning to all Americans in Jeddah about imminent threat of a terrorist attacks. This was the only trip, I have ever backed out of. Do you think I made the right choice? I got some heat for not going. I am engineer and was suppose to help with the kings tower on building it. I just want to know what a person Like you would advise? Sorry for typos on a phone. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/21/saudi-arabia-us-embassy-security-threat-jeddah

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

Risk tolerance is a very personal decision. I can tell you that the State Department does not issue those type of notices lightly, as they have obvious repercussions with the Host Nation, and the public.

When in doubt, do what you feel comfortable with.

[–]Tacoboutnachos 2 points 3 hours ago

Do you guys do donuts?

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago

I love doughnuts. Who doesn’t? They are damn delicious!

–]RellenD 2 points 4 hours ago

Do you think attacks on Hillary Clinton over what happened in Benghazi are fair? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 6 points 4 hours ago

I think being at the top is tough. I’m not going to defend or slam Clinton, but to assume she operated in a vacuum is absurd. Decisions are made with input from multiple sources, to include the National Security Council and the White House. Someone always has to bear the brunt of the blame in the public eye, however. permalink

[–]innextremis 1 point 4 hours ago

What was the most dangerous situation you have been in while working for the DSS? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 3 points 4 hours ago

Hmmm. Indirect Fire is arguably the most terrifying thing IMO. Service Members can feel free to agree or disagree, but something about hearing the alarms and not knowing when/where it will hit is a surreal experience. permalink

[–]MacCop 1 point 4 hours ago

Do you find that people confuse you for the USSS a lot, especially on protective details? Also, in terms of protection, besides who the protectee is (SOS or other foreign dignitary vs POTUS, etc), is there any real difference between the work you do and what the USSS does?permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 4 hours ago

Ha ha ha. Absolutely. Nobody knew who the hell we were before Benghazi, and I’d argue very few do now. Sometimes it can work to our advantage ;).

I’d say we go about protection a bit differently, largely in-part because there are about 2000 of us (half of which are overseas at any given time), and nearly double that in the USSS. permalink

[–]DarthBall 1 point 4 hours ago

How did you come into this job?
What is the best/worst part of the job? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

I always wanted to be in Federal Law Enforcement and to live/travel abroad. I found out about DS in college and years later was hired.

Best – I’ve been paid to hang out with olympic athletes and visited approximately 30 countries, some of which most people have never even heard of.

Worst – The job is hard on a family. The joke amongst agents is that DSS really stands for “Divorced Separated or Single.” permalink

[–]littlenative 1 point 3 hours ago

Is it easy to pick up women/men when you tell them what you so for a living or harder?

I imagine office dating must be pretty popular for you guys right? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago

There are “badge bunnies” all over, so yes.

Eh, surprisingly I don’t think it as common as people think. I mean it definitely happens, but in general I think agents kind of stay away from other agents. It could be far too disastrous when things go south. permalink

[–]lichorat 1 point 2 hours ago

Is there a better way of assessing authenticity? Also what makes you special as in special agent? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 2 hours ago

As every federal, state, and local organization has different credentials, I can’t think of a better way other than calling “911” and inquiring.

The “special” is a legal term and indicates that our authority is limited in some way, shape, or form. We don’t have unlimited authority as agents of the government, instead, we have special authority to investigate specific statutes. That said, many states grant federal agents peace officer status within their jurisdiction.  permalink

[–]Yoyoma_2 1 point 2 hours ago

The event I was discussing was a long time ago. To be honnest, from what i’ve seen, no one is doing this “Crowd Diving” anymore.

What was the funnyest/oddest unscheduled stop or plan deviation that you have had to deal with? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 2 hours ago

I’ve gone to a strip club with a group of foreign dignitaries and I’ve been “clubbing” on numerous occasions.  permalink

[–]Yoyoma_2 1 point 3 hours ago

How long was your training and hiring process? From the time you got your letter of offer to when you were deployed in the field?

Are you initially deployed with “less important, important protectees?” How do they work you in for you to get experience? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago 

Our hiring process is significantly faster than many other Federal agencies IMO. I applied and was made an offer approximately six months later. Our training consists of:

1) 3 weeks of foreign service specialist orientation; 2) 56 days of the Criminal Investigator Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; followed by 3) Approximately 3 months of DS specific training.

Then we get our creds, firearm, and badge.

Then later we go on to complete a 10 week high threat course (most agents do anyway), 3 month Basic Regional Security Officer Course, Basic Firearms Officer Course, and other firearms, language training.

There is a LOT of training out there and much of it is front loaded.

Almost every agent will start their tour in a field office and you protect whoever comes through town. You may be in a support role such as driving, early on, however, it doesn’t take long before you are thrown to the wolves. We are small and therefore are asked to take on higher levels of responsibility early on. It’s one of the things I love about the job. permalink

[–]KeysAnimations 1 point 4 hours ago

Do you find there is a lot of misinformation out there about ‘big brothers’ capabilities, in terms of gathering information and preparing for tragic events? I feel like everyone thinks it is all knowing and all powerful, but it can only be as human as the humans that run it right? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

While I cannot get into the specifics of the Whiz Bang behind what keeps us safe as anything worth discussing is sensitive and/or classified, I will say that this isn’t 24, Fast and Furious, or CSI. The dedicated work of thousands of government employees working together (sometimes) is what keeps the world (and the United States) safe IMO.permalink

[–]derick_ferelli -1 points 4 hours ago

Do you know James Bond? And by any chance do you have a shoe with a cellphone on it? Thanks permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 4 hours ago

No and No. permalink


US Ambassador Gets on Reddit, Not/Not Nearly as Funny as Anonymous FSO

— Domani Spero
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In February this year, we had an anonymous Foreign Service Officer who did an AMA on Reddit (see IamA United States Diplomat: Anonymous FSO Gets on Reddit and He’s a Riot!).  Last June, USCG Toronto also did an AMA on consular issues (see U.S. Consulate General Toronto Joins ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Reddit). Yesterday, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Suzi LeVine joined Reddit for what we think is the first “Ask Me Anything” session conducted by a chief of mission.  Unlike the anonymous FSO’s AMA, this one is official and done on your dime; no need to report her to the FBI or Diplomatic Security.

You might also remember her as the first U.S. ambassador to be sworn-in on a Kindle this past June. Below is her intro on Reddit:

Hi Reddit! I’m Suzi LeVine, the American Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I am also a former technology exec and a mom to two amazing kids. It’s an honor to serve the American people as an Ambassador and I can personally attest to the critical role Ambassadors play in U.S. foreign policy making. Right now there are 60 Ambassadorial nominees who are still awaiting confirmation by Congress – that’s 60 countries where the U.S. isn’t representing its foreign policy interests as well as it could. Fun fact: My first trip to Switzerland was when I kicked off a solo 6 week backpacking trip from Zurich. I was 18 and, after buying my first Swiss Army knife, promptly learned how sharp they are when I cut straight through an apple into my hand. Let’s just say that I learned how excellent the Swiss healthcare system is. Verification: https://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/15302277727/

UPDATE: Merci viel mal. What terrific questions! Let’s do this again sometime! And, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @AmbSuzi.

photo via state.gov

photo via state.gov


Here are some of the questions Ambassador LeVine answered:

Reddit user: Do you think your background which lacks diplomatic experience prior to your appointment as ambassador is a handicap or do you see it as a positive thing to bring another perspective? Or something totally different?  Where do you see issues in the relations between the USA and Switzerland? Where do the countries work well together?
AmbSuzi:  Diplomatic experience does not just derive from work in the Foreign Service. Let me tell you about team oasys from Jordan or team onebuzz from New Zealand. These were two teams and two groups of students with whom I had the honor of working in my capacity at Microsoft to shine a spotlight on innovators using technology to change the world. That’s diplomacy.

Reddit user: It’s always been a dream of mine to work for an embassy–or in the foreign service. I’m fluent in French, 24 years old, and I love America. How do I go about making this dream a reality? EDIT: I forgot to say I am an American…and of course I love it.
AmbSuzi: First off, go for it! http://careers.state.gov (In fact, I think the deadline for summer internships is next week, and that’s a great way to get a taste of this career. Stop wasting time on Reddit and go apply. 🙂

Reddit user: Do you have to deal with a lot of people revoking their US citizenship nowadays? Because it isn’t exactly easy being a dual citizen these days ever since FATCA came around.
AmbSuzi:  I have deep empathy for those who are wrestling with this decision and situation right now. My team and I are actively working to alleviate some of the concerns.

Reddit user: What do you think of the common criticism that too many ambassadors are appointed because they were fundraisers for the President & the Democratic/Republican party? You can look up individual donations here and it appears that you’ve donated quite a bit to the President & the Democratic Party? Do you think that more ambassadors should be career diplomats or is there value in having individuals close to the President serve as ambassadors?
AmbSuzi:  Fair question. I believe that there is tremendous value in a blend. The answer is not “or.” It is “and.” Different skill sets are appropriate in different situations and places around the globe. For example, my professional and volunteer experience as someone who has created partnerships, organized communities, led teams, initiated start-ups, etc., is a terrific match for Switzerland where I work with the likes of Nestle, Novartis, and ABB. Alternatively, someone like my friend, Michael Hoza, the new U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon, brings decades of foreign service experience and is equipped to take on the likes of Boko Haram.

Reddit user: What is the most challenging moment of your Career thus far, and how did you overcome it
AmbSuzi:  I tend to approach challenges as opportunities. What can I learn? How can I grow? With whom can I learn from their mistakes? The hardest element of this ambassadorial job so far was frankly, waiting to get confirmed. In my overall very nonlinear career, the hardest moment was going back to work in 2009 after four and a half years home with my kids and hearing people say that I was no longer qualified.

Reddit user: Ambassador, you were the first in such a position to be sworn in with your hand on an e-reader instead of a book. That made the news on some tech sites, but the news reports lacked some kind of background. Whose idea was it, and what was the thought behind it?
AmbSuzi:  Great question! (By the way, what is the plural of octopus?) As for the e-reader, I wrote about this in my blog post here: http://go.usa.gov/wnBz. After reading, let me know if you have any additional questions.

Reddit user:  How regularly do you speak with State Department officials back in Washington DC? Who is your immediate superior? Wendy Sherman? How much of the day to day operations of an embassy come from officials in DC?
AmbSuzi:  We have regular communications, and it’s important to share what’s happening in Switzerland with D.C. My technical, immediate superior is the President. That said, we do a lot of coordination within the European and Eurasian Bureau, which is run by the awesome Toria Nuland.

Here are the some other interesting questions from Reddit users that the ambassador did not respond to:

  • Do you think that presidents should continue to appoint plush state dept posts to their highest donors? I do realize this goes both ways, and both parties are involved in this practice.
  • Do you have a Swiss bank account, and are they all they’re cracked up to be?
  • Do you get paid double?
  • Among the other ambassadors in Switzerland, who are the best to party with?
  • Can I move in with you? I’m tired of this shit country!
  • How many push ups can you do?
  • Anyway to hook me up with a trip?
  • How did you get the gig? Did you have to go to a special college, was it more about who you knew than what you knew?
  • How much did you have to “donate” to get the Ambassador position????
  • What advice would you give somebody interested in becoming an Ambassador (or at least working abroad for the State Department)?
  • Does it get boring being the ambassador to a neutral country while we are on the brink of WW3?

We were sorely disappointed there were no questions about Jason Bourne, TP, prostitutes, crashed UFOs, Argo, or Benghazi.  Maybe next time?

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