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Sunday, November 16, 2014

The United States and its Third World State Department

Links: A. Oregon Woman Trapped In Timorese Jail
           B. Contractor Held In Cuban Jail Because he Is American
           C. Marine Locked Up In Mexico
           D. Two Americans Freed In North Korea

If you happen to be anywhere near Foggy Bottom in the District Of Columbia, you might notice the distinct smell of rot.  Granted, the Potomac is just around the corner, and who knows how far Barney Frank's old male whorehouse is, but today the smell of rot comes from the U.S. Department of State.  As usual, the decay is not in any way connected to the performance of the State Department's ground troops: the heroes and heroines who sit behind a desk all day processing visa applications and  conducting interviews.  The rot comes from the top, and the infection began before Hillary Clinton resigned.  The United States Department of State has a myriad of responsibilities.  In addition to processing the foreign nationals trying to get Tourist and Immigrant Visas, The State Department is responsible for helping Americans in foreign countries every single day.  Well-traveled Americans expect the Department to be on hand in case they have trouble with local authorities, and Americans abroad have a tendency to lose things like passports and return tickets.  It's rarely a glamorous job.  From the links I have provided, it should be obvious that I will be addressing the number of Americans who have ended up in foreign prisons and have not received assistance from the State Department.  Of course, when I refer to assistance, I'm not talking about letters from home, a list of local attorneys, or a package of food and dry socks.  Unless the U.S. State Department has advertised against U.S. persons visiting a particular country, then any American citizen unlawfully detained in a foreign country should be assisted by the U.S. Department of State.

For many years, if a U.S. citizen was unjustifiably incarcerated overseas, and the U.S. government was unable to secure their release, it made the news on all three networks and CNN.  The instances of this occurring were so few and far between, it was naturally a big story.  If an American ended up in a foreign jail, the State Department was usually able to obtain their release, even when the person had committed a minor local offense (driving drunk, bar fighting, etc.).  Our government, and by projection the United States Department of State, carried such gravitas that foreign governments welcomed the opportunity to resolve an issue of this type, as part of efforts to build a strong diplomatic relationship with the United States.  If an American committed a serious offense, such as murder or narcotics possession/smuggling, The United States Department of State would assure that the U.S. citizen had adequate counsel and a fair trail (to some extent).  Things have changed.  The number of countries that I would visit as a tourist has diminished lately, because of the fear that I might get railroaded into something and then be left in a foreign jail to rot.  The first link details the experience of an American veterinarian who was
traveling in East Timor.  She shared a cab with a stranger who was arrested for narcotics possession.  She is currently in jail and has no clue when her case will be adjudicated.  EAST EFFING TIMOR, PEOPLE.  That's have far we've fallen.  The legal system of East Timor gives its finger to the people of the United States.  In the "good ol' days", our Ambassador would make a phone call and the issue would be resolved.  In 2009, President Obama conducted his "Apology Tour", which announced to the Third World that for four, maybe eight years, they would have the opportunity to screw with the United States with NO repercussions.  And a number of countries are taking flu advantage of that opportunity, without risking their aid from the U.S. Government.  The government of East Timor should at least be concerned about the aid they receive.  Get ready for this, folks: Between 2001 and 2008, USAID gave $2,215,997 to the East Timor International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), $3,619,134 to the East Timor International Republican Institute (IRI), and $3,728,490 to the East Timor National Democratic Institute (NDI).  Almost $10 million, and an innocent American woman rots in an East Timorese jail.    Why haven't we DEMANDED her release?

Per the second link, we also have an American sitting in jail in Cuba.  Alan Gross made the mistake of accepting a contract with USAID which required his presence in Cuba.  To the Cuban government, that means they get to accuse him of being with the CIA, which most of Latin America will accept as fact without a shred of evidence.  Lets throw them some more money as well.  Gross is not a young man, and he has health issues.  And he sits in a Cuban jail solely because he is an American.  I won't spend too much time revisiting the case of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tamooressi.  He was finally released from a Mexican jail after nine months of confinement and episodes of torture.  Some questions remain about the exact circumstances of Tamooressi's attempted entry into Mexico and lies he initially told to the Mexican court.  But Tamooressi is a decorated veteran, and he earned my benefit of the doubt.  How about you, President Obama?  Why didn't the Administration instruct Secretary of State John "Frankenstein" Kerry to travel to Mexico City and ORDER the Mexicans to release our Marine?  Any response besides "yes, sir" should have been met with a disruption of relations and an end to all aid for Mexico.  Also, all Mexican nationals in U.S. prisons should have been treated exactly as Tamooressi until his release.  Instead, we did nothing but wait until the broken Mexican penal system decided that Tamooressi had served enough time for his crime.  The last link details the release of two American citizens from North Korean jails.  I was not the only person surprised at this decision on behalf of North Korea, and out of instinct I wondered which U.S. diplomat had negotiated their release.  I was wrong.  It was not a U.S. diplomat, but Chief of U.S. Intelligence James Clapper who secured their release;  No U.S. Department of State involvement whatsoever.

So the message is clear.  If you are planning an overseas vacation, be very careful of your
Stacey Addison
intended destination.  Do not visit a country where someone may plant something in your luggage.  Do not get touristy in a location with an anti-American segment to the populace.  If you end up in jail, you're on your own, although the State Department will undoubtedly send someone around with a two year old list of phone numbers for local attorneys.  This puzzling, disturbing and infuriating development started in 2009, when Hillary Clinton was doing such a grand job as Secretary of State, giving $5 billion to the Palestinian Authority and signing away our last nuclear deterrent to Vladimir Putin.  I'm glad that Tamooressi and the two Americans stuck in North Korea are back home, but I worry about Stacy Addison in East Timor and Alan Gross in Cuba.  Yes, folks, we live in a world where being an American can be crime enough to get you incarcerated with no due process.  How far we have fallen.

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