From Abu Muqawama: Putting Matthew Hoh in Context and Asking Hard Questions of the Washington Post
I particularly like this part:
"Matt Hoh is NOT a Foreign Service Officer. This basic fact, central to the article and its headline, is wrong, despite the wording in his letter.
Matt is a "3161" State Department employee, a special category of temporary appointments brought on for 12 month assignments in certain areas of expertise-- engineering, ag, business, rule of law, etc. Some may sign on for a second 12-month tour.
This is a very different thing than being an FSO-- a commissioned, career diplomat who is a generalist and is appointed not as a result of an online job application and single interview (sometimes over the phone), but after a series of competitive oral, written, and physical exams.
Referring to Matt as a "U.S. Official" is about as accurate as referring to a postal employee as a U.S. official."