State Department Behaving Undiplomatially
As if President Barack Obama didn't have any embarrassing issues to deal with, now come the reports - not proof - of some really ugly allegations. The original reporting came from CBS which came into possession of a memo from the Diplomatic Security Service alleging wrongdoing and possible interference in at least eight investigations.
According CBS among the allegations were:
-- A U.S. Ambassador having "routinely ditched" his security detail to meet up with prostitutes in a public park.
-- Members of Hillary Clinton's security detail procuring prostitutes while overseas; which activity, the report claimed, was "endemic"
-- A State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards.
-- An "underground drug ring" operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.
CBS describes the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) as: "the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide."
The claim is that these and other investigations were halted at the behest of State Department officials at the highest levels -- but no claim of interference by Hillary Clinton has yet been lodged.
The highest level person named is Patrick Kennedy, Undersecretary of State for Management.
Ambassador Kennedy and I briefly overlapped in Baghdad 10 years ago. I doubt that he would remember me, but I do remember him.
He was Ambassador Paul Bremer's chief of staff and was easily accessible to anyone who needed a decision at his level; he would listen to my screwball ideas and say "yes," "no," or something like "flesh this out and bring it back."
I find it very, very difficult to believe that someone with Amb. Kennedy's 40-year history of service would take it upon himself to interfere with official investigations.
Cabinet level Departments are generally organized the same way. At State there is a Secretary; two Deputy Secretaries, five Under Secretaries; then many Assistant Secretaries and dozens of Deputy Assistant Secretaries.
Assistant Secretary is the lowest level requiring Senate confirmation, but many can be directly appointed without the Advice and Consent.
The point is an Under Secretary in any Department is a very, very senior person.
If I don't think the orders to stop investigations are true, that they went as high as Patrick Kennedy, then I certainly don't believe they went as high as Hillary Clinton but the fact is all of these misdeeds happened on her watch and she probably needs to explain how all this could be going on and who (or how) these investigations got short-stopped.
She may have to do that under oath before a Congressional Committee and, knowing that her histrionics over the Benghazi questioning were more stagecraft than statecraft this time she may not have as much political cover from Congressional Democrats as she had before.
The best news for the State Department is there is so much else going on that this story isn't getting the immediate attention it would have had the NSA's massive snooping not been just found out. And, if the IRS misconduct not still been an issue. And if that Benghazi business not pushed back toward the front page because of former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's elevation to National Security Advisor; and … I can't even remember all the scandals that are buzzing around the Oval Office like mosquitoes hatching after a summer rainstorm in Washington, DC.
For its part the State Department through the Office of Inspector General has decided to hire trained, outside investigators to look into all this, but it is unlikely that will satisfy Hill Republicans.
That is not the same thing as hiring a special counsel - a real outside investigator - to look into the charges of not just wrongdoing, but officially covering up that wrongdoing.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the CBS story and to the bio of Patrick Kennedy. Also, a pretty good Mullfoto of a break in yesterday's storms through my office window.