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Consul-At-Arms
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"U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in financial transactions which a U.S. person knows or has reasonable cause to believe pose a risk of furthering terrorist acts in the United States.": http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/syria.html If something can be prosecuted, that's because something is illegal. If it's illegal, that's because Congress passed a law making it illegal. If you don't like this law, write your congressional representative.
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Ah, and The Road to Gandolfo was by Robert Ludlum.
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Thanks for this post. I read Hazardous Duty over the weekend (in essentially one sitting) and thought it had rather a The Road to Gandolfo flavor to it, where the author essentially parodies his own earlier (and very popular) works. I too have been reading W.E.B. Griffin since I found The Lieutenants in paperback at the Giessen PX, back around 1982-3. I still have that (very beaten up) copy, along with at least two shelves of his other books. I'm always eager to buy a new one when it comes out, although the occasional continuity error can be a little maddening. There are also the occasional inaccuracies with regards to my own agency (Dept. of State); given the meticulous research or background apparent when it comes to other agencies, those mistakes really stand out when I see them. But then I'm probably holding Griffin to a higher standard due to his previous body of work. Cheers!
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"Exceptional Civilian Service Award"? Talk about Damning-with-faint praise: notice what award(s) this ain't, like f'rinstance, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Toggle Commented Feb 19, 2013 on Department of Epic Douchebaggery... at BLACKFIVE
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"Another controversy was that Stemple denied interrogators in the brigade permission to strip their uniforms of identifying patches when conducting interviews, a common practice for intelligence soldiers. Subordinates said Stemple sat on requests for exceptions from his soldiers. This sparked fears among interrogators that subjects with insurgent ties might identify them and target their families in the U.S. The controversy ultimately triggered another congressional inquiry. Stemple, in response to the inquiry, said his stance was consistent with policy in place since 2009 and claimed he never received the requests — which Garrett, in his report, concluded was just short of a lie. “I find these responses were not outright lies, but I do find them to be intentional misrepresentations of the facts,” Garrett wrote. On Nov. 10, 2010, Stemple held a meeting with the heads of the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion to explain why the uniform guidance of higher commands was improper or did not apply to unit members. Stemple’s subordinates said at the end of the brief that he gave them an ultimatum. He looked each commander, first sergeant and command sergeant major in the eye and asked whether they would support the uniform policy or prefer to resign — a charge Stemple denied. “The result of the seminar was that my command team believed [Stemple] would relieve anyone who questioned his policy,” the battalion commander said in his statement." This alone tells me that this "officer" should never have had command of MI soldiers, especially interrogators or CI/HUMINT soldiers. He just doesn't get it, not the war, not the battlespace, nor what it takes to win the intelligence fight. Dumbass.
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Some inside baseball here: an intelligence service collects, analyzes, and disseminates intelligence; turning raw data and information from a variety of overt and covert sources into contextualized and/or actionable intelligence then putting it in the hands of those who should have it. There's a bit more to it than that, i.e., the intelligence cycle, but that's the gist of it. A secret service may do all that, may also include security and counter-intelligence functions, and may go beyond covert and overt collection into the realm of covert action. Covert action is not, strictly speaking, part of the intelligence cycle any more than, say, dropping bombs is part of the intelligence cycle. This function, if you will, of a secret service puts me in mind of Soviet battle doctrine regarding how to jam radio transmitters: with artillery. Of course, even assassins sometimes hit the wrong target or cause collateral damage, even when they're using the up-close-and-personal approach. It's an approach. And I don't mean that sarcastically. There's nothing in the Constitution that forbids it, after all, just an executive order and, perhaps, some legislation that makes getting approval a non-trivial exercise, IIRC. When phrases like "all options remain on the table" are used, that includes the option of "direct action" as well. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/11/re-wet-work-is-better.html
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2011 on Wet Work is Better at BLACKFIVE
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David Petraeus is not secdef. Retired Gen. Petraeus is DCI.
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Wake me up when someone at State Dept. actually has to receive a Directed Assignment to either Iraq or Afghanistan (or Pakistan). It _still_ hasn't happened yet. All FSO positions have been filled by volunteers. Every single one. Every single year.
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All FSO positions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have been, and continue to be filled, with volunteers. No FSO position has had to be filled by a "directed assignment." The NYT and WP were delighted to make a big stink (which a lot of milbloggers fell into line with) about the one guy who stood up in an internal "town hall meeting" with Sec. Clinton and made whining noises. One guy. (And maybe one woman too.) This kerfuffle was essentially hand-crafted by the legacy print media to further its own agenda. Do. The. Math.
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One thought-provoking fact is that more U.S. ambassadors have, since WW2, been killed in the line of duty, than U.S. generals (or admirals).
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I should also mention that there are only about 10,000 FS employees. Fewer than the number of DoD's uniformed lawyers, fewer than the number of Army bandsmen, &tc.
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Oddly, Foreign Service and Civil Service are not the same thing, although they are more similar to each other than either is to the military services. Most Civil Service positions are domestic ones, as is right and proper. It really would not be too much of an outrage for an American flag to be presented at the funeral of such CS employees as lose their lives in the line of duty. Foreign Service employees come in two broad categories: generalists and specialists. The pay scale is essentially the same, but generalists are commissioned officers of the U.S. Foreign Service and are, essentialy, America's diplomats. Specialists include a range of career fields whose services are considered essential to the carrying out of U.S. diplomatic missions abroad. Specialist career fields include diplomatic security special agents, diplomatic couriers, security engineers, information managers (formerly "communicators"), office managers (formerly "secretaries"), &tc. They also have diplomatic status abroad. FS employees have been getting themselves dead abroad in the service of the United States for two centuries, whether from disease, natural disaster, pirates (not kidding), terrorism, or being "lost at sea." FS officers no longer wear uniforms while carrying out their duties. Much is occasionally made of the pay disparity between FS and military personnel. If salaries and benefits between FS officers (and specialists holding the same grades) and military personnel without including enlisted members, the pay disparity goes away. The equivalent in the FS to enlisted positions are those performed by local staff, who are paid salaries based on comparable pay scales in their individual countries and cities. Those vary greatly.
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"When fighting an enemy that thinks in centuries and millenniums, announcing that you only have the vision and fortitude to manage a year and a half to oppose them is nearly criminal. Afghanistan and the larger war against Islamist extremists is one we are quite poorly suited to fight. They have a long war mentality and know this is a clash of civilizations" The Huntington question is one I'm still undecided about. One of the reasons is that it's difficult, frankly, to credit tribal Afghanis with being part of any civilization to speak of, at least in other than the most broad and general of definitions. "(E)very weakness that al Qaeda and the rest have properly stated about us; we don't have the will or intestinal fortitude as a nation to fight them as they do to fight us. They don't have to beat us to win; they simply have to outlast us" The flip side to this is that all we have to do is not lose. "They were slaughtered in the thousands by the Soviets, and yet they simply cringed away, licked their wounds and returned. They were toppled by us in one of the most amazing uses of Special Operations force multiplication in 2001, and yet they simply cringed away, licked their wounds and returned. Now we have again dealt them crippling blows and even finally killed their head goat-raper, does anyone doubt they will again cringe away, lick their wounds and return? Who will stop them, the kleptocracy of the Karzais, the Afghan Security forces, the international community? Hell no!" One of the advantages of being part of an only nominally literate culture is that your institutional memory has a very short shelf life. Usually that's a disadvantage, but if keeping up your tribe's will to fight requires that you have a fairly short memory for the times you got your butts kicked, it can work in your favor. "If we had left in 2002, we could have claimed a victory and then proclaimed that we will bomb the living hell out of any Islamist bastards who pop their heads up. We didn't and in staying we planted a flag in the ground." The "Pottery Barn" rule is so much horseshit. The West, collectively, has forgotten the merits of the punitive raid or action. After all, it's hardly "reconstruction" if you're building something they never had to begin with. "(W)e did fight them and killed them in bunches, but that was a tactical victory for the prowess of American fighters. This battle in the greater war? That we will watch al Qaeda and their allies claim for a win." The demographic reality of high birthrate cultures mean our enemies have some advantages in the long run. Doesn't mean they're guaranteed a win in the end, but that's how they're betting at any rate. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/07/re-obama-to-give-re-election-speech-on.html
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"(I)t is entirely fair to note that the plan for the post-invasion phase was mind-numbingly foolish. And yes that blame lies squarely at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld. I skipped meeting him when he was pimping his book at the recent Milblog conference and I think he has failed to properly accept the fact that his idea of a central government in a tribal and honor culture was beyond naive absent a tyrant like Saddam to crush any dissent. That plus staffing the effort with a collection of country club wankers and the dumbass cousins of big Republican donors apporoaches criminality. And yes I am calling most of the folks who ran the immediate aftermath incompetent. If you happened to be one of them and don't think that describes you, then think of the two people on either side of you when you were there. Two of the three of you ought to have stayed home to entertain Buffy and Muffy and Tad." Two points: The first: I never did get the feeling that "Phase IV" was ever fleshed out beyond the initial PowerPoint (TM) slide that mentioned it. It was underwear-gnomes on steroids. Hope very definitely was the plan, with a side order of wishful thinking. The second: even the language qualified folks whom State lent to the CPA ("Can't Produce Anything") really weren't the ones who should have been sent. Great guys, generally, some of whom I count as friends, but at that point in their careers they were simply too junior, and too inexperienced, to accomplish much more than not getting killed. A decade on, and these same officers probably, knowing now what they didn't yet know then, would have made a huge difference. Strangely, the qualified and experienced officers then were not the ones who were sent. Odd, that. For some reason, that reminds me of a phrase I had to invent to explain a lot of what I saw during OIF 1, i.e.,: "Resourced to fail." "(W)e have a mission.... now entering its third month without the defining characteristic of a mission.....a freaking goal. We are bombing Libyan warships, its capital and trying to "accidentally" kill the damn tyrant we don't have the stones to publicly call out. All the while Syria slaughters its citizens, Iran builds away on the Islamic bomb and O rewards the Palestinians for forming a unity government that, apparently, still thinks those pesky Jooooos could use a bath in the sea." Many's the time in the course of my military and governmental careers that I've had to perservere onward, and as a leader persuade others to do the same, in the hope that while certain decisions might not make sense at the ground level, the people making the decisions had a lot more information available to them than was available to us, the big picture as it were. Perhaps that was hoping against hope. "I believe that the War Powers Act is likely un-constitutional, but I believed that when Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and even Obama were President. That is a principled stance" So it is. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/05/re-war-powers-hypocrisy-plus.html
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"(E)vidently, the Attorney General of these here United States believes that the best weapon to use against terrorists isn't an M-4 with a SOPMOD package and a rucksack full of ammo in the hands of a skilled operator, it is a Miranda Warning Blaster Cannon, a Search Warrant Launcher and a Legal Discovery Bomb." It's not that the Justice Department doesn't have a role in the GWOT, it's just not that of "lead agency." Nor should it be. Ever. At least not in more than an advisory and assist role, and that only within the U.S. itself. Frankly, given the enemy's proven skills at lawfare, this should be more than enough to keep AG Holder occupied. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/07/re-like-watching-car-wreck.html
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2011 on Like Watching a Car Wreck.... at BLACKFIVE
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Just like consular officers don't get to pick and choose about implementing citizenship and immigration laws, so is the president similarly constrained. However..... There are such things as co-equal branches of the federal government, presidential authorities, and the like. There's a balance of power. The president has powers and authority as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but not unlimited power in that regard. Just where the line gets crossed is a bit blurry, particularly the last few decades, and the War Powers Act may actually have made things worse, even as it attempted to both bind the president and to delegate some power back over to him. I'm not sure if some of this is even Constitutional. Can Congress (or the president, or the supreme court) go ahead and attempt to define or refine Constitutional provisions by statute rather than through the amendment process? It seems to me that the War Powers Act tries (and fails) to do that already. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/07/re-obama-and-war-powers-deadline.html'
Toggle Commented Jul 18, 2011 on Obama and the War Powers deadline at BLACKFIVE
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As Sara Roy noted above, FAM = Foreign Affairs Manual. These are the regulations by which the Department of State functions. There are also FAH (Foreign Affairs Handbooks); these further explicate various FAMs. Good luck!
Congratulations! Which scout camp? Goshen?
You get this exactly right. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/06/re-lawfare-v-warfare-bin-laden-family.html
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Since Amb. Crocker has also served as ambassador to Pakistan and had a tour in Iran earlier in his career, I suspect he'll know that Afghanistan is not Iraq.
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Everybody loves a little snarkiness, it seems. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/06/re-girl-power-ds-and-otherwise.html
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2011 on Girl POWER! (DS and Otherwise) at A Daring Adventure
This is an aspect of "what's mine is mine; what's yours is negotiable" diplomacy. Old heads will recognize this from Soviet times; new heads are constantly astonished to learn that Putin's Russians still do this. For many Americans, world history begins in 1776. Or 1624 (or 1607). Or 1492. 1492 was also the year that the Spanish completed (in January) the Reconquista, finally taking back the last of Spanish territory (Granada) that remained a Moorish possession. Of course, if you're of a "Moorish" disposition, you view that from a somewhat different perspective. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/06/re-video-muslims-demand-to-use-catholic.html
U.S. participation in the Libyan action has been troubling me as well, but I'm of a somewhat literalist turn of mind when it comes to things like the powers of government, including the presidency. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/06/re-lawmakers-sue-president-obama-over.html
The Libyan rebels are, almost by definition, a "rag tag band." In other words, they're a "pick-up" team. No hard winter at Valley Forge drilling under Von Steuben for them. To their detriment. The enemy gets a vote in how a plan (assuming there's a plan developed somewhat beyond the "Underpants Gnome" stage) and will be doing whatever they can manage to foul up and interfere with its successful implementation. (That why the call them "the enemy.") In political terms, this is why the odds favor the Muslim Brotherhood coming out on top of the tweeters and Facebookers in Egypt: the Ilkwan are organized and prepared for violence, just like the Bolsheviks and Khomeini's "revolutionaries" were. I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/04/re-libya-military-science-101-at-work.html
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2011 on Libya: Military Science 101 at work at BLACKFIVE
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This puts me in mind of a recent online discussion I had the good sense to quickly withdraw from, particularly since it was under my right name. Sometimes diplomats (not so often as politicians or journalists, but still) are called upon to utter the untrue. Not for fun, not for personal gain, but because sometimes the diplomatic thing to do is fudge (or even fabricate) the truth a bit (or a boatload). I've quoted you and linnked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2011/03/re-dept-of-skullduggery-open-for.html
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