Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hanging's Too Good for Him

As a long-time consular officer, it takes a lot to reduce Madam to a state of sputtering outrage. But this story did it in record time:

Yesterday the FBI announced charges against Peter Senese, the founding director of the I CARE Foundation (“I CARE”), which advertises itself as a “self-funded non-profit organization dedicated to preventing child abduction and trafficking." He claimed that he and a team of (other) former members of Delta Force could and would recover children from other countries. Once he snagged a desperate parent, he would repeatedly send messages asking for operating funds, claiming to be overseas in various locations and often claiming to be very close to recovering lost children. In fact, according to the (other) feds, he never left the US. And he was never within sniffing distance of any actual Delta Force members, except perhaps in a grocery store queue.

Think you've seen the maximum hubris possible in the persons of certain political officers we won't name? Try this.
 Who me? I'm just a self-proclaimed war hero, liar and scum of the earth snake in the grass.

"The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."
Fair enough. If he's proven guilty, THEN somebody should hang him.

Monday, March 30, 2015

My Card

A consular manager of Madam's acquaintance, who is otherwise strongly averse to personal publicity in public, actually clipped, saved and even considered framing an article from The New York Times that mentioned her by name in the woeful tale of a well-justified NIV refusal. "They summarized the details of the case accurately," she has said admiringly, "and, being the Times, they repeated the lawyer's complaint without stepping, themselves, into the trap of making an incorrect judgement. And they spelled my name right!"
Bravo Times!
 That an NIV case could make a major American newspaper is remarkable. That the newspaper could get the issues right is surprising. That the article's author, who never spoke directly with the officer, could spell a strangely-spelled (although single-syllable) name correctly is no less than eyebrow-raising.

And how did this miracle happen?

This officer, like nearly all FSOs, orders business cards on arrival at every new post. Unlike nearly all FSOs - and especially consular FSOs - she passes those cards out generously to:
local authorities she meets on her official rounds; more important, she says, the staff members of those local authorities, who - flattered and delighted that she notices and respects them - will sometimes call and give her a heads-up about something ugly that's going to happen; local Americans who blithely swear that they'll never have a problem because "these people all love me;" visiting Americans who seem headed for the ditch; disgruntled friends, relatives and lawyers of 214(b)s; and anyone else who asks - either gently or threateningly - for her name, believing that she will back off and refuse, and so lose both face and credibility. Especially to that last category, she accompanies the card with a kind but firm, "When you write your congressperson, please spell my name correctly."

Does the generous dispersal of her name, job title and phone number sometimes result in cut-and-paste forgeries, as local folks try to intimidate other local folks by pretending that they're her friend or confidant, or that she's on their payroll? Yes, of course. But, as she says, "We're US consular officers. We expect and are prepared for this sort of silliness. We are not paid to hide in safe dark places and pass out decisions through the bung hole. And besides, the power of freely giving your name to someone who wants to threaten you can seriously deflate those threats."

How sure is she that this is the right thing to do? Sure enough that when she received a call from a man who told her simply but very firmly, "If you don't (XXX) we're going to kill you," she responded, "Fair enough. Just make sure that you send your bomb or your hired murderer after the right person. My name is spelled (XXXXX)." She never heard from him again, and is still alive.