Friday, May 28, 2010
It's Not Over 'Til ...
A well-known American woman was released from a foreign prison earlier this week. In a few days, some sources say, ministers will meet to decide if she must stay in her host country for the remainder of her sentence, or if she will be deported back to the US.
Guilty or innocent, freedom fighter or terrorist, she is no longer on the list of prisoners to be visited four times a year. If you Google her name and "consular" you will enjoy a veritable feast of conflicting opinions about the visits that consular officers have made to her over the years, and who in the rest of the world was impressed or not impressed by those officers' performance of their duties.
We don't do our jobs for thanks. We do our jobs because they are our jobs. We visit the guilty, the innocent, the lost, the confused, the defiant, the terrified, the truly evil all equally, and share our attention and compassion equally with them.
To all those officers over the years who visited this American, delivered her mail, and treated her as decently as they would treat any other incarcerated individual who happens to be American, and never made the newspapers - not even the local ones - and never mind whether or not she or any of them was as patient, tolerant and kind to you as you were to her, we all owe you our thanks. The headlines are already fading. Close the file. Your job is done.
Or maybe not. She now might need a passport, an OCS trust account, a repat loan, a CRBA for her child... Whatever she needs, a consular officer will provide it if possible. It won't be over until it's over.