Sunday, February 17, 2008

Considering the Source

Avuncular American discussed the Miranda Memo today:

Dissing The Diplomats: Consider The Source

Yahoo users today had this little item on their "Yahoo News" homepage: "Is US Diplomacy Being Shortchanged?" - originally in Time Magazine on Valentine's Day. But it's no love letter to the American Foreign Service. Author Brian Bennett's description of "tweedy diplomats" plying the "genteel diplomatic circuits" of the State Department or in the "separately-funded fiefdom of USAID" betrays his view of Foreign Service Officers. So does his choice of sources: Manuel Miranda, described as a "former top congressional aide." Writing of Miranda's departure from Iraq, Bennett says Miranda

"blasted the State Department's performance there in a valedictory memo. "The Foreign Service is not competent to do the job that they have undertaken in Iraq," wrote Manuel Miranda, citing "an excuse-making culture," "willfully negligent if not criminal" management, a "built-in attention deficit disorder," and "information hoarding." "

"Former top congressional aide" is one way to put it. Here's another: disgraced former top congressional aide and hit man for Republican causes. From the Washington Post of February 6, 2004 ("Frist Staffer Quits Over Judiciary Probe"):

"The counsel on judicial nominations for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has resigned in response to a probe of how Republican staff members gained access to Democratic computer files on President Bush's most controversial choices for the federal judiciary. Aides to Frist said the resignation of Manuel Miranda, who has been on leave pending outcome of the inquiry, was accepted last week and takes effect today.Miranda's resignation comes in the midst of an investigation by the Senate sergeant-at-arms, with help from the Secret Service and forensic experts, into whether GOP staffers improperly or perhaps illegally tapped into Democratic strategy memos on a computer server shared by Judiciary Committee members of both parties. "

But since loyal Republicans can do no wrong (see: Scooter Libby; Donald Rumsfeld; etc. etc.), there's always useful work to be done. In Iraq. This is from Jeffrey Toobin in the December 3, 2007 New Yorker ("Where's Manny?") The answer ...

"... a couple of weeks ago, Miranda sent a group message to his old e-mail list that closed with his current title: “Director, Office of Legislative Statecraft, State Department, U.S. Embassy, Baghdad.” Say what? "

“In August of 2005, I got an e-mail saying that the embassy had a need for someone with private-practice and government experience to work with the Iraqi Prime Minister’s legal office in developing its process for legislation,” Miranda said over the telephone the other day. It took a couple of months for the political appointment to come through, and Miranda needed additional time to receive security clearances and training, but he moved to Baghdad in January of last year and since then has been living in a trailer inside the Green Zone and working in Saddam Hussein’s old Republican palace. He is reluctant to say much about his precise duties in Iraq, but it seems that he advises the staff of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on how to prepare legislation for submission to parliament.

Guess Miranda got those "security clearances" (how does that happen, if you're being hunted by the Senate's Sergeant-at-Arms?). So if you're ever wondering where the Iraqi PM's legal office got its ethical training, now you know.

Next time "Manny" complains about the Foreign Service and its "excuse-making culture," ask him what his excuse was for stealing Democratic staffers' emails. When he complains about the State Department's "willfully negligent if not criminal" management, check with the Secret Service on its investigation into his questionable activities. Check your sources, Yahoo and Time Magazine.

Digger comments:
My initial comment on this memo was commented about on another blog, which blasted me for discussing Miranda's background before discussing the memo. But just as I put out there were I work (and hence, what my biases are and, I hope, what things I won't allow in the blog), like Avucular American, I think it is important to consider the source.

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