Foreign Service Journal - November 2013 - page 9

Thank You, AFSA!
I am writing to express my gratitude
to the American Foreign Service Associ-
ation, and particularly to the AFSA staff
and Governing Board, for your support
during my period of extended admin-
istrative leave (Dec. 18, 2012, through
Aug. 19, 2013).
As many
readers know, I
was among four State Department
employees placed on administra-
tive leave following the department’s
knee-jerk decision to remove us from
our positions, in response to alleged
fears of congressional backlash to the
Benghazi Accountability Review Board
AFSA never abandonedme, and
continued to provide sage, sound legal and
practical advice throughout a very arduous
period. It did so despite pressure from the
department to politicize what was essen-
tially a human resources issue.
I have a renewed faith in AFSA, in its
mission and in its leadership’s capacity
to provide a bulwark against politicized
attempts to erode, if not eliminate, the
rights of hard-working, dedicated State
Department employees. These include
the right to due process, notification and
privacy—rights to which we are entitled as
citizens of this republic.
Raymond D. Maxwell
Washington, D.C.
Dissent and All that Jazz
As a foreign policy adviser serving at
the Pentagon, I found your September
issue on AFSA’s dissent awards very inter-
esting. Just for fun, I canvassed my office
to see what Defense Department person-
nel would say about the idea of a dissent
channel. The general consensus was that
a formal dissent channel would not work
well in the military, although there are
certainly ways to make individual views
For example, the Ideas Program
rewards those suggesting money-saving
ideas with cash bonuses of up to $10,000.
However, that programdoes not deal with
policy, but withmatters like better ways to
repair a Humvee.
Any military member could also draft
a letter and send it around his or her
boss and up the chain of command. But
that would be seen as very
bad form in this highly
hierarchical organization.
In fact, no one inmy office
had ever heard of anyone
submitting such a letter.
One can also report
fraud and abuse to the DOD
Inspector General. But there
is no formal way to dissent
on policy, and certainly no
award is offered to recognize
contrary thinking.
People inmy office saw
the idea of a dissent channel as very cultur-
ally “State.” One observed that “State is
like a jazz ensemble, and DOD is like an
orchestra.” State is made up of small teams
that improvise (embassies, for example),
so a dissent channel makes sense cultur-
ally and organizationally. Dissent in an
orchestra, where every player has a set
part and where every note must be played
exactly as written, would sound jarring and
throw other players off.
Shawn Dorman’s article in the same
lined how the culture of dissent and
improvisation works in practice. It gave me
a better idea of what meaningful dissent
might look like, and convincedme that my
career could survive dissent if undertaken
As a consular officer, I also found the
Rider and Shane Myers—enlightening.
Great writing, attractive layout, really
good issue.
Phil Skotte
Washington, D.C.
Landau, Letelier and
finest article I’ve yet read in
In Amb. Landau’s discus-
sion of the Orlando Letelier
murder, I was interested to
see that he credits “anti-
Castro Cubans” with plac-
ing the bomb that killed the
former Chilean foreignminister in 1976 as
he drove on Sheridan Circle in northwest
Washington, D.C. The majority of sources I
have consulted indicate that, while he had
assistance fromCuban-American activists,
American expatriate Michael Townley
was the person who actually attached the
explosive device to Letelier’s car.
When that occurred, I was in Brazil on
my first Foreign Service tour. I will never
forget hearing the disturbing news that a
deadly bombing had taken place in our
nation’s capital.
T.J. Morgan
FSO, retired
Keswic, Va.
The Case for
I congratulate AFSA and the
on the September issue, which focused on
AFSA’s dissent and performance awards.
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