Good or Bad for the Jews

"Good or Bad for the Jews"

Many years ago, and for many years, I would travel to Morocco to visit uncles, cousins, and my paternal grandmother. Some lived in Tangiers;...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Off to Vegas

See if I get inspired there . . .

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sorry for the Delay

I have been horribly busy with packing and traveling about and have been just too tired to post anything worthwhile.  Give me a couple of days and I will be back with some nonsense or another.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part XI: The End

Sorry for the long gap between Part X and this, the final installment in the Long Saga. This post provides a bit of a look at the aftermath of the arrest of Long and AC, and some reflections on what it all meant. Boring stuff, no doubt, but it's the best I can do on just ten years' notice.

As FBI and STATE DS agents told me subsequently, Long was taken from the embassy to the airport, allowed to change clothes, and put on a flight with escort to London. British authorities helped transfer her and "her party" to a flight to Washington DC. Long behaved well, making no attempt to run or create a scene. One agent who flew with her the whole way told me that she never said a word, sat perfectly still, not eating or drinking; he couldn't recall her ever going to the bathroom. She sat most of the flight eyes closed, lost in her thoughts. On arrival at Dulles airport, she was escorted to a magistrate in a small office at the airport, where she was formally charged with a long list of crimes. She said nothing. She was put into a van and driven to a holding facility in Virginia. Only during that portion of the trip did she say anything since leaving Colombo nearly 24 hours earlier. She turned to an agent and said, "This is probably not good for my career. This is probably the end of my career."

One of the FBI agents who had interrogated her that night in the Embassy told me he had never seen anybody quite like her. She had an answer for everything, replied very quickly and smoothly with no hesitation, and despite the hours of interrogation, kept her storyline consistent. She never lost her cool. He told me, "Somebody trained her very well." I remember saying, "It wasn't us."

AC, on the other hand, proved a very different guest of the feds. I saw the pictures of the raid on his house, and how he was taken while standing in the doorway. AC, according to one agent who was there, was terrified, shaking visibly, and absolutely incredulous that he was being arrested. He quickly gave up his denials of wrong-doing when presented the testimony of the young marine guard who had used my desk to have sex with Long. He became furious upon hearing that he was not the only one in the AC-Long household having sex in the Chancery after hours, and began spilling the details of the operation, blaming it all on Long.

The feds also raided the soon-to-open "Lemongrass" Vietnamese restaurant in Medford, Oregon and found a large number of illegal aliens living on the grounds in squalid conditions. Mostly Vietnamese, but also Indian and Sri Lankan, they had been brought there by Long and AC to help set up and operate the restaurant. (Note: I think that the restaurant is now a Thai restaurant.) The Los Angeles-based Vietnamese madam was arrested and many girls and women taken out of her brothels. The Virginia-based Iranian and his mistress, Long's daughter, were also arrested. The nascent limo operation in Colorado was shut down. There were other arrests, too--you can Google for the details.

In the end, neither Long nor AC got the 15-20 years prosecutors had assured us would be the punishment. I believe they were sentenced to six and seven years, respectively, and both were released after about four and half years. The case never went to trial, and Long and AC agreed to a deal for reduced sentences in exchange for a complete accounting of their activities and the forfeiture of all their assets--including Long's State pension and AC's Marine Corps pension. As part of the deal, the daughter in Virginia was allowed to keep her townhouse in exchange for taking on the care of the little handicapped girl, Zu. For what it's worth, and I told this to the prosecutors, I do not believe that Long gave up the full extent of her activities, and am convinced to this day that she hid money in Vietnam.

When investigators began looking at AC's and Long's household effects, they found gold, precious stones, antiques, and cash, stuffed and sewn into sofas and mattresses. They also found that the State Department Credit Union is not exactly run by financial geniuses. The thieving duo ran some $3 million through their accounts there without ever triggering some sort of an alert.

Subsequent to her release from prison, Long wrote a semi-ficitional autobiography which you can find on Amazon. I have no intention of reading it much less buying it. People who have read it have told me--and I don't know how accurate this is--that she barely touches on the visa scandal and does not mention the harm she caused other people and the country, the country that took her in as a refugee, in her bid to get rich.

Now, back to me.

 I, of course, was interviewed by the investigators and by the State IG. Just about everything I had to say or knew about the case I already had passed to the investigators. The IG gave me grief for a bit about the fraudulent representation vouchers which I had signed knowing that they were fraudulent. I showed them the memos I had written to DS each and every time I signed one, but the IG argued that DS did not have the authority to approve the signing of fake vouchers. They fought among themselves; I stayed out of it. I took the opportunity to grill DS on whether I ever had been a suspect in the investigation, and was told, "No." One DS agent, however, did mention that it had struck DS as odd that the Ambassador would try to keep me out of the investigation. My views on that were well-known, and I did not want to vent all over again. I did, however, ask whether anything would be done to BS for spilling his guts on a confidential investigation and for trying to malign me. DS agents said that BS had been reprimanded by the head of DS, and that "the decision had been made to leave it at that."

To paraphrase Long, this scandal did not do good things for my career. No matter how much I explained what had happened, my name was associated with something not kosher in Colombo. You must remember that the Department, when it comes to personnel decisions, operates largely on "corridor reputation," i.e., gossip, and half-information. I already had a reputation of being a trouble-maker and for being, let's say, somewhat more open about my views than is good for a career bureaucrat--you can Google that, too. I, in particular, had had run-ins with certain senior people in personnel (HR) and in the Consular bureau (CA). Some of them made a half-hearted effort to smear me with the scandal, but that did not go very far. I wrote a memo to CA and HR laying out how I thought they had let down the embassy and the Foreign Service; that embassies have to rely on the people provided by the Department system. In addition, I noted that CA had spent years trying to get Ambassadors and DCMs out of the visa process, insisting that it was a matter solely for consular officers; I noted that had I been able to review the visa issuances, I would have noticed that we were giving visas to people from outside of our consular jurisdiction. They sort of left me alone after that, at least on the official level, although, as I said, the rumors and gossip continued. The whole thing left me with a very bad taste in the mouth about the Foreign Service, and about how blowhards like BS can get away with bad stuff.

At the time I also was horrified that these two creeps had managed to blow a huge whole in our elaborate visa issuing system. I kept thinking what if they didn't just let in cooks, maids, and prostitutes? What other sorts of folks availed themselves of AC's facile visa stamp? In retrospect, of course, it all seems so penny-ante, so quaint, almost. We now have a misadministration in Washington that de facto has obliterated our immigration system in the continuing pursuit of irrevocably changing the very nature of our country. The southern border, for all intents, has been erased, and the US government is cooperating with the governments of Central America and Mexico in the sending of tens-of-thousands of illegal aliens in to the US with the full intention of having these people cared for by the American taxpayer and becoming Democrat voters. We are being told by spokesmen for Honduras, for example, and the always reliable New York Times, that suddenly the drug violence is so bad that tens-of-thousands of children are fleeing for the safety of the US and that the US has the responsibility to care for these "children" and make sure they are reunited with their families--reunited, that is, in the USA. All the talk about amnesty and the provision of generous federal benefits, of course, has nothing to do with this sudden surge.

What Obama and Holder have done makes the crimes of Long and AC look like child's play.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Collapse--Part II, The Rise of the Muslim Murder Machine

We have no foreign policy. We have vacuous speeches, hashtags, retreat, surrender, don't care, and "hope you're good and not bad," instead. An arc of insanity now prevails from Nigeria to Pakistan via the Middle East. The Great Muslim Murder Machine (M3) has gone into high gear driven by the totalitarian fanaticism of its followers and the weakness and cowardliness of its nominal rivals. We see what a post-USA world looks like.

A perusing of my archives will show the many, many postings I have about M3. My point throughout has been that Islam is not a religion like the others; the Jihadis and their M3 are followers of a totalitarian creed which far from being a "religion of peace" (the stupidest meme to come from the Bush administration) is a cult of death and slavery, of total submission. This is a "religion" that has undergone no enlightenment, and what reformation has taken place has pushed it closer to its 7th century origins in the Arabian peninsula. It treats women like garbage, has a uncompromising severe sexual code, has no compunction about killing anybody who transgresses that code especially women and gay men--although homosexual practices and pedophilia are rampant throughout the Muslim world--and sees Jews and Christians as prime targets for forced conversion, kidnapping, enslavement, other forms of subjugation, and murder. I should note that if Jews and Christians are not immediately available, M3 is willing to kill fellow Muslims, as we see, for example, right now in Syria and Iraq.

Tolerance is not a Muslim concept. Islam is the enemy of tolerance--not just the mythical "radical" Islam, but also straightforward everyday vanilla Islam is an enemy of tolerance.

If you go to a Muslim country, you must abide by Muslim rules and practices or Muslims will get offended and see your murder as  justified; if Muslims come to your country, you must abide by Muslim rules and practices or Muslims will get offended and see your murder as  justified. As I have said many times (here for example), try to build a church or a synagogue in Saudi Arabia, not possible; try to prevent Muslims from building a mosque in your home town, not possible.

This creed hates science and education; it hates and fears women; it wages war on freedom, joy and happiness. Islam seeks to make its subjects ignorant and brutish, and succeeds quite well at doing that--I admit, it does share that objective with modern progressivism. You see, Muslims and "liberals" do have something in common: the pursuit of ignorance.

For all its bravado, gunpowder, and chest-beating Islam is a cowardly and weak creed. It cannot stand debate; it fears having its tenets quoted back to it by non-believers; it invents its history because its real history is too horrible to contemplate; it can point to almost nothing but conquest, death and destruction as its achievements. M3 is a cowardly apparatus, feeding on the weak.

This Muslim Murder Machine is far from invincible, it can be defeated. I wrote long ago when discussing the SEALs' killing of Bin Ladin,
That brilliant raid should be a lesson for Muslims on the perils of following the path laid out by Jihadi murderers. It should also be a lesson for the West: we can defeat the Jihadis as long as we realize it is a long process, requiring patience, and sacrifice--and if we can continue to produce the men who carried out that raid. 
Islamic civilization is a rotten house. Constant outside pressure either will collapse it, or force its miserable occupants to begin a serious effort at reforming and rebuilding it. Islam holds sway among some of the world's potentially richest and most advanced countries, but that, in fact, are among the poorest and most retrograde on the planet. Islam as practiced is a failed ideology: it leads to slavery, stupidity, and poverty on a mass scale. The greatest victims of Islam are the Muslims forced to live under its tyrannical, mind-numbing, and brutal rule. 
Islamic civilization produces nothing. Yes, yes, what about algebra? Ok, Ok, it hasn't produced anything in modern times besides ignorance, death, despair, and poverty. It is the MSNBC of religious faiths, but, admittedly, with higher ratings.
The horrible fact, however, is that now we are doing precisely the opposite of what we did that night in Abbottabad. Almost always when the intended victims of Islam band together, say "No, you will not win," and fight back, Islam retreats. Be it at the gates of Granada or Vienna, the waters off Lepanto, the streets of Jerusalem, the sands of the Sinai, the hills of Afghanistan, or in a filthy compound in Pakistan, when the non-Muslims fight, Islam loses. It poses as a great warrior class, but it cannot stand up to the West either on the battlefield or in the arena of ideas.

Islam can only defeat the West when the West first defeats itself. When Western leaders assume that our constitutions and legal codes are suicide notes, that Islam is just another religion, that 99% of Muslims are not terrorists, the West loses. When the West refuses to stand up and tell the Muslim world, "We are better than you are. You should learn from us, but meanwhile we are going to crush you like grapes every time you attack us," then we lose. When we have malevolent leadership such as that now in the White House, leadership that announces that the war with Islam is over, then the jihadis and their murder machine fuel up and go to work. That is what we have now, as I wrote long ago, "We are not at war, we are under attack,"
The problem is not one regime or another. The problem is not creating yet another Arab state in "Palestine." The problem is not our insensitivity. The problem is Arab Islam. The deep, deep pathologies of Arab Islamic societies are out for all to see . . . yet again. And our great, overpaid liberal mass media with all their highly "educated" anchors and pundits, what are they covering? They are attacking Governor Romney for daring to say that we should never apologize for our core beliefs. The media and many at State, including the increasingly unhinged Hillary Clinton, claim that the unrest we now see in the Arab world, unrest which takes the form of attacking US embassies and murdering our people, is due to some obscure video made in July by some obscure person who has yet to be fully identified. Perhaps, then, it was in anticipation of this film that Osama bin-Ladin had his crazies fly planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center?
The world is increasingly on fire, and the ignition and the fuel for those flames come from Washington DC.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part X: The Long Good-Bye

It was now late April 2003, and, as noted, the prosecutors finally had given the go-ahead to arrest AC and Long. AC, of course, now lived in Medford, Oregon. We wanted them both detained at the same time despite the twelve-and-half hour time difference between Oregon and Sri Lanka. FBI and DS wanted Long arrested on US Embassy grounds. AC was to be arrested at around 7 am Oregon time as he left the house for the restaurant just after the kids had gotten on the school bus. That meant we had to grab Long around 7:30 pm Colombo time. We needed, therefore, to make sure that she would be at the Chancery at that time.

I cooked up an "all Americans must attend" meeting for 7:00 pm; I sent an email to American employees and their spouses telling them we would hold a mandatory meeting at 7:00 pm and they could have no excuses for not attending, "Even if you are to dine with the British Queen, you will call that off and be at the Chancery for this critical meeting." On getting the message, Long came to my office to try to get more of the story. I said, "The Ambassador will make an important announcement. I don't know anything else." She also tried to pry additional information out of the RSO and the Ambassador but got the same answer with the additional bit that the announcement would affect admin operations making it, therefore, crucial to have her and her American staff present.

At about 6 pm, Long came back to ask if I had additional information about the meeting. I said, "No, I don't have anything more." She shrugged and replied, "Oh, well. I am going down to the gym for some bicycling, take a shower, and be back up." That was my last conversation with Long. She headed down to the tiny gym she had had built. Just before the appointed time for the meeting, the Ambassador walked into my office and said, "You take the meeting. I am going to be with the investigators."

I walked down to our small conference room as the American employees and their spouses dutifully trooped in. Long, meanwhile, had returned to her office, still wearing her gym shorts; she sought to dry her hair, change, and get down to the meeting.

The Ambassador went into her office and said, "Long, these gentlemen want to talk to you." He pointed at some DS and FBI agents standing behind him.

"But what about the meeting? I don't want to be late."

"Don't worry about that, just go with them." The agents escorted her to one of the RSO's offices and closed the door.

I sat at the head of the big conference table fending off questions, telling people to show patience, to wait, we had some news developing. The phone on the table rang. The Ambassador told me, "AC has been arrested in Oregon. Long is being arrested right now. Tell the folks."

I announced the arrests; a gasp went through the room. Everybody knew Long and AC. There was widespread disbelief. I further announced that several of our local employees had been involved in the visa scheme, including some of my own residence staff, and were being visited as I spoke by local police and the RSO's people. We were conducting searches of their Chancery offices. These employees would be barred from Embassy grounds, fired, lose their pensions, and perhaps have criminal charges brought against them. A DS investigator from Washington gave a quick summary of the case, emphasizing that this was perhaps the biggest visa fraud case in Department history, noting that some $3 million might have been involved. Our Public Affairs officer read the announcement we would make to the local press the next morning; we would go public and not try to hide the corruption. The meeting broke up.

I returned to my office and sat there with my wife. "Well," I told her, "My first time as DCM and I have the biggest fraud case ever on my watch, and I have to jail or fire half the embassy. This is not good." My wife, who had soured on the State Department, Colombo, and BS, eventually went home. I stayed, really for no reason. The Ambassador also was hanging around. We went out on the balcony into the warm tropical night so he could smoke a couple of cigarettes and I a cigar. We sipped bourbon. We didn't talk very much. We stared at the ocean and the starry sky, listened to the waves, took in the breeze. After thirty minutes or so, he went back to his office and I to mine.

Some time after midnight, the door opened to the RSO office where Long was being interrogated. She was escorted out. The Ambassador and I walked out of our offices and watched her walk down the hallway to the elevator. Her head hung down, long hair down the sides of her head hiding all but a slight glimpse of her profile, hands behind her, with an agent on either side of holding an arm. She  still wore the gym shorts. Her flip-flops made the only sound. Long looked small and frail, even old and tired, in the midst of the young federal agents. She did not look at us, keeping her eyes focussed some two or three feet in front of her. The elevator doors opened, in she went, and was gone.

I never saw her again.

One more post to come on this story reporting on some of the aftermath of the scandal.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part IX: The Beginning of the End

True to the strategy laid out in his emails, AC turned in his resignation, saying he intended to go to Oregon, taking dogs and kids.

I, for one, felt glad to hear he would go. After over eighteen months of knowing about his and Long's activities, it had become increasingly difficult to keep up the charade of friendliness with this hail-fellow-well-met. Quite aside from the fact that he considered me an idiot, as stated in his emails, the investigation, I thought, by now had plenty of material to arrest and indict the thieving duo and more kept showing up: a new line of inquiry, for example, began developing re their possible involvement in an adoption racket with an ex-FSO, who had served with them in Hanoi and was now a Seattle-based lawyer.

Everyone who knew about the investigation was tired. There existed a poisonous atmosphere in the embassy; the bonds of trust that must exist with colleagues when serving far from the flagpole had become strained and frayed. I wanted the investigation to end and, desperately, to leave Colombo. As I told my wife, every time I had to deal with Long and AC I felt the need for an acid bath to remove the slime. Despite, nevertheless, my desire to leave, I remained concerned about the possible intelligence angle involving Long. We had discovered by certain means that she had a huge stack of pre-approved adoption certificates from the Vietnamese government. The adoptee's name remained blank but the rest of the document was signed, stamped, and ready to go. In my view, either Long had corrupt Vietnamese officials on her payroll, or had something else more sinister going on. I spoke to the FBI, but they and the prosecutors wanted to wrap things up. They had no interest in following up.

Life as a criminal in Colombo seemed also taking a toll on AC. One weird incident took place at the couple's house where we got invited to see AC put on a piano recital. Having taken piano lessons in a bid to seem more cultured, he now wanted to show off a bit. My wife found an excuse not to go, so I went alone. At this event there were several embassy people and some Sri Lankans. As usual, the food proved excellent, and poor little Zu had to put on her customary show. AC then sat down at the piano and began to play. He wasn't bad. Half way through a piece, however, he froze; he just starred at the musical score, his hands on the keys but still. This went on for a few painfully long moments, then AC put his chin on his chest and began sobbing, at first quietly and then quite loudly and uncontrollably. Long bolted from her chair, and said AC hadn't been feeling well and perhaps we should let him rest. We all quietly left. Neither AC nor Long ever mentioned this odd occurrence.

AC's planned departure presented a small but vexing problem. Who would give the farewell party? None who knew of the investigation wanted anything to do with it. Long forced the issue by inviting several of us to dinner at the new seafood buffet restaurant run by the Hilton hotel. None of us wanted to go, but in the end, did. It proved a forced affair with AC's buffoonish antics and jokes falling flat--nobody was in a laughing mood. It was just too much to listen to AC and Long tell us that now that AC was looking for a job they had told the kids to economize. One item on the restaurant menu had the ingredient "lemongrass." AC kept repeating that word to Long; they would smile at each other. "Lemongrass" was, of course, the name of the restaurant the two were setting up. We all had to pretend to be stupid about the source of the funding.

The next day, the consular section gave a little good-bye party for AC. As DCM, I got asked to make a few comments. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was bland, certainly not effusive about AC's qualities or full of words stating how much we would miss him. At the end of the party, AC put his big paw on my shoulder, and said, "Lew, man, I am not feeling the love. Where's the love, man? Where's the love?" He seemed genuinely nervous. I could muster only a wan smile and sip my warm soda water. Early the following morning, AC left post with a gaggle of kids, a couple of dogs, and a nanny.

Long, normally one tough cookie, became terrified at the prospect of living in the large house alone. She asked for more alarms, motion detectors, lights, and an increased frequency of patrols around her residence. She even wanted a guard permanently stationed there. I could not help but think that, perhaps, if she knew we had her under constant surveillance she might relax. It soon became clear why Long had become so fearful. Again, true to the scheme laid out in his emails, AC had scored a few more "home runs" before flying to Oregon. He had ripped off the Indian smuggling ring for an amount somewhere north of $50,000. He took the ring's money for visas, and departed without issuing said visas. Long, as we discovered via means I will not describe, was certain that Indian "mobsters" would come seeking revenge. She seemed to see a hit man lurking in every shadow and behind every tree. As far as I know, however, the Indians never showed up.

Long visited me in my office every day, more than her usual three or four times daily, as though a sixth sense alerted her that something was up. She told me that her promised assignment in New Zealand seemed to have hit a snag. She couldn't get a straight answer from personnel or from the office of BS of where that assignment stood. BS would not take or return her calls. Long asked me to see what I could discover. I told her to be patient: the Department worked in mysterious and slow ways. Long had become nervous and distracted; I often found her looking out the window, oblivious to the world around her.

DS and FBI investigators consulted with us on when to move against AC and Long. Prosecutors had given the signal that, finally, they thought they had enough to convict AC and Long and get them very long sentences, some fifteen to twenty years in a federal penitentiary. AC was in Oregon and Long in Colombo. There exists a twelve and half hour difference between the two time zones. FBI and DS wanted to effect the arrests simultaneously so nobody could get warned. We agreed that the feds would arrest AC at his home at 7 am Oregon time, making it 7:30 pm in Colombo. The agents wanted Long arrested on Embassy grounds. She would be placed on a commercial plane, escorted by DS and FBI to London, where she and her escorts would transfer to a flight to Washington DC. I was tasked with briefing the Sri Lankans and the British High Commission on the case and seeking their help to make the transportation process go smoothly--we, for example, did not want Long making a "break for it" in Colombo or London, demanding asylum or creating a scene of some sort. The Sri Lankans and the British promised full support.

I will stop there as we approach the end of this sorry tale. We are almost finished.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Collapse--Part I

Who among us with an IQ larger than Peter Dinklage's shoe size thinks Obama has an American foreign policy?

Everywhere around the globe we see the collapse of the West, its influence, its values, its interests, its will to protect itself against both totalitarians and purveyors of anarchy. I cannot name another time in history when we have seen so rapid and total a collapse of Western foreign policy, and of Western understanding of how the world works. It would seem as though the most naive possible idiots have assumed power in the West, or, perhaps more accurately, those who hate the West have assumed control of the West.

Let's start with Europe, the Old World, once the center of the universe. Europe's once great confidence and creativity which shaped the modern world are now submerged in socialist economics, the demands of political correctness, and, of course, the quicksand of a "more perfect" EU--the bureaucratic monster to end all bureaucratic monsters. Europeans are willingly giving up their liberty and their heritage to the tender care of meddlesome well-paid bureaucrats. While those EUcrats worry about the curvature of bananas, the percentage of cocoa beans in chocolate bars, and the human rights of murderers and terrorists, Europe falls to an invasion of "immigrants," occupiers really, who hate and seek to destroy the very values that protect them in Europe.

Among the Europeans, the will to defend what is theirs has disappeared. Ancient European cities, the cradles of Western civilization, are increasingly nasty, rotten, no-go zones filled with the criminal advocates and practitioners of totalitarian Islam who live on the public dole and mock and detest the politically correct fools who provide it. Europe's leaders, prattling on about climate change and gay rights, quake in the shadow of a renascent and aggressive Russia led by a man who recognizes fear and weakness in others; he has shown NATO for the empty shell that it has become. Russia, now owner of a new military machine and flush with petrodollars and gaseuros, stands ready to resume a place on the borders of Old Europe, threatening to cutoff Europe's energy supplies--turning it into an ecologist's dream, i.e., a land unfit for human habitation. Internal decay spreads as armed aggression marches: the perfect storm. Europe is now a collection of dead and dying nations.

This time, however, no salvation comes from the New World. The disease and decay have spread across the Atlantic. America's increasingly ignorant and illiterate electorate--eager to emulate dying Europe--have put in power a coterie of quasi-Marxist thugs, ideologues, incompetents, racists, and, yes, haters of the very America they are sworn to serve and protect and which provides them with ample salaries and benefits. These malevolent creatures hate America; they cannot abide that the greatest citadel of freedom and liberty in the history of the world was founded by no-nonsense, gun-carrying, white male Christians--and I say that as a Jewish American, and the son of immigrants. They have accepted and propagated a perverted version of American history in which anybody not a white male Christian is a victim entitled to an endless array of benefits and to seeing an end to that "white male Christian nation."

I know this will be misunderstood, and that I will be maligned for this by some, but what we see afoot, in both America and Europe, is no less than a war conducted from the outside by forces such as the Great Muslim Murder Machine, and by a fifth column of "progressives" against Western civilization.

Let's be more precise. We have a war underway against white male civilization.

Let's be even more blunt.

The concepts of human rights, democracy, liberty, and free enterprise; the great scientific, engineering, and medical inventions and discoveries; the great explorations of the globe; the magnificent literature and art; these are overwhelmingly the products of white males--many of them Jewish, most of them Christian. In the past few decades we have seen a backlash against that, a movement that instead of calling on all to emulate these white male achievements, calls upon these achievements to be ridiculed, denigrated, and destroyed. That is the core of the issue in America and in Europe and around the world. The haters, the race-obsessed thugs are now in charge.

We see the results of this at home with the opening of our borders to a hostile invasion and most notably abroad as our power and influence are undermined from Washington DC.

My next post will look at the result of this war against the West as manifest in what passes for US foreign policy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part VIII: The Not Suitable for Work or Children Portion (B)

It's hard to list much less describe all of the activities of our greedy couple while assigned to Colombo. As noted before, furthermore, I remain convinced that despite the length of the investigation some things remained covered. I, for example, still think, as I will lay out later, that there existed a Vietnamese intel angle that we did not explore.

That said, I will discuss in this post some of the major illicit shenannigans by the thieving duo that we did discover. On to the story . . .

Information on Long and AC's activities poured in. It seemed we found something new daily. Long, for example, had a social security scam running; she cashed SS checks and other payments for her dead mother and various relatives. Long turned in fraudulent representation vouchers to the embassy for dinners and other events she never held--I would sign off each time, and then, as agreed, write a note to the investigators stating that I knew the voucher to be fraudulent but had signed it for the purposes of the investigation. AC helped corrupt hotel managers in the Maldives fill out work experience forms for "employees" who would get visas as temporary workers in the US. AC and the hotel managers would split the considerable fees charged the workers.

Most grotesque of all, Long used the severely handicapped and pretty little African girl, Zu, as a prop and a money-maker. Whenever Long and AC had guests over--my wife and I were frequently such--they would bring out Zu, have her say a few things, and jump around in a swing set they had rigged from the ceiling in the middle of the living room. They also had an array of educational toys and exercise equipment scattered about ostensibly used by Zu. Long would tell a tearful story of how she and AC had found Zu in a Cape Verdian orphanage where she lay abandoned in a corner, covered in filth. Zu had cerebral palsy, and the orphanage, Long said, wanted nothing to do with her, in essence waiting for her to die. Long and AC, according to Long and AC, had come forward magnanimously to adopt the child nobody wanted. The details would vary on occasion but those formed the core of the tale. Long also heaped praise on a local therapist who did wonders for little Zu.

The little girl served as Long's ticket to sainthood; the embassy community constantly praised her caring for Zu. Well, to use my favorite phrase in this saga, as it turned out, the truth was more than a little different.

No therapist helped Zu. It was yet another scam. Long and AC would produce and turn in fake receipts to the insurance company for payment, and--surprise!--keep the money. They also had submitted a large claim for a very sophisticated, expensive, and imported battery-powered wheelchair for Zu; that wheelchair, however, did not exist--at least not in Long's residence. As we found out, Long and AC had an old, beat up, locally made chair out back that they used to move Zu the few times she left the house--mostly she was in the indifferent care of one or another "adopted daughter."

One of the most hideous scenes involving Zu occurred on one of Long's trips to LA. Long brought along Zu and a couple of other "adopted Vietnamese daughters." This time we had her under surveillance. She was filmed arriving at LAX, the  Vietnamese "daughters" were met and escorted away by the Vietnamese madam's employees. The diplomatic passports they had used got handed over to Long who brusquely passed Zu to one of the madam's female aides, saying, "Here, take this thing." Long then headed off to catch a plane to Washington DC to conduct business with her northern Virginia Iranian. Ostensibly in the US for a medical exam, Zu was actually there as a distraction for the INS officers to keep them from focussing too closely on the other "daughters." Long picked up Zu at LAX a few days later on her way back to Colombo.

It soon got personal for me. Our surveillance in Colombo revealed that Long and AC had rented a couple of houses for the temporary storage of visa clients. Indian and Vietnamese nationals would stay there, paying rent, of course, while waiting for AC to issue their visas. He had become more cautious, and would space out the issuances more so than in the past. These clients were told to remain inside;  they, however, needed to eat. AC and Long had cars bring food to the houses with some of the drivers embassy employees--this confirmed the doctor's suspicions about the head of motor pool. Our surveillance team took photos of the cars and the drivers as they delivered food made in Long's kitchen by some of the Vietnamese women and girls; this food, of course, got paid for first by the US taxpayer, thanks to the fake representation event vouchers, and then by the applicants. While viewing some of these photos I noticed a very familiar car and driver. To be precise, I noticed my personal car and my personal driver lugging big pots of food--my desk for sex, and now my car, my gasoline, and my driver for deliveries! I was livid and told the RSO. Long had reached into my home for her scams.

It did not end there.

My Spanish mother-in-law visited us in Colombo on three or four occasions. On her last visit, she kept complaining about the cook and his young assistant, "They are listening to our conversations. Always standing behind the door. You should be careful with them." I assured her that they were just good servants, always ready to help. She used a colorful and hard-to-translate Spanish phrase. "No," she said, "son mas molestos que una mosca cojonera. Nos estan espiando."["No. They are more irritating than a fly on one's balls. They are spying on us."] It helps to have grown up under dictatorship when it comes to spotting spies.

One day, the young assistant cook, while putting dinner on the table, casually mentioned that he soon would leave my employ to go work in a Vietnamese restaurant in a place called "Oregami."

That caught my attention. I stopped looking at the spicy soup, raised my eyebrows, and asked, "Do you have a visa?"

"Oh, yes, most certainly, sir!" Then lowering his voice almost to a whisper, "But, sir, I am not supposed to talk about it."

"I see. Well, then, you better keep it secret."

As soon as the indiscreet servant went into the kitchen, I got up and drove myself back to the Embassy, asking one of the RSO's deputies to join me there. We went to the consular section and opened the visa files. Yes, indeed, there sat my assistant cook's approved visa application replete with faked supporting documentation; he was going to Medford, Oregon--the town AC had long ago mentioned as the place where he and Long hoped to open a Vietnamese restaurant. On a whim, I decided to look also for my cook's name. Yes, right there, his smiling face looked up at me from an approved visa application attached to a packet of fraudulent supporting paperwork. He, too, was Medford-bound.

In emails to Long--Why send email when you work two floors apart?--AC reported a "legal strategy" that would let them avoid punishment if caught. Worried that the operation had gotten too big, with too many facets and too many people involved, AC thought the time was coming to end it. AC the Legal Genius told Long that if they quit the service they would be safe because they had committed their acts while having "diplomatic immunity." AC said he would leave his job after a few more "home runs," and go supervise the final set up of the Medford restaurant. That restaurant, in fact, was pretty far along, and soon would be ready for customers. He suggested they temporarily split: he to Oregon, and she to the cushy New Zealand assignment that BS had promised.

Our intrepid investigators placed cameras in the consular section to try to catch AC issuing crooked visas. His operation, however, had grown more sophisticated since the days when he had applicants deliver him notes. The "special visas" now got issued after hours with the help of the attractive Sri Lankan employee whom the detained Indian national at the airport had described. The cameras did catch this employee providing another service for AC: oral sex. All on tape.

With that cheerful image, I stop. I must decide how much to drag this out. There were lots of other shenanigans afoot, but it gets repetitive. Maybe if this gets picked up for an HBO miniseries, I will write in more of those details.

Anyhow, I might, or might not, take a break for a few days from this sorry saga, and write something about the horrific collapse of American foreign policy under the horrific Obama misadministration. 

Next part here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part VII: The Not Suitable for Work or Children Portion (A)

A lot was going on. As I have written many times before, of course, our embassy in Colombo was doing many things other than just investigate Long and AC. We were doing our bit for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: working against the Iraqi embassy in Colombo, and, with the Australians, on the presence of AQ operatives in Colombo. We also had a mandate to work with the Norwegians to help end the Sri Lankan civil war, a horrid, nasty thing that had dragged on for decades, and to reach out to the small, about 10%, Muslim community and see whether AQ-type radicalization was occurring there. Our embassy was overworked but dedicated. On top of it all, of course, we had this lengthy ongoing and seemingly endless internal investigation. As noted previously, my personal relations with the Ambassador and others in the embassy and Washington had suffered because of the manner in which the investigation was initially conducted and the consequences of that for my career--from which said career never fully recovered.

Back to our story. 

We had a very eager-beaver Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachment. The NCO in charge of these six or seven guys was a combat veteran and took his job very seriously. He made them drill constantly practicing responses to different threat scenarios. These MSGs were no joke. I would not have wanted to be an intruder. Some nights the MSGs would practice "react" drills in the chancery building. These would involve kicking open doors, chucking in some sort of hand grenade (practice ones), and clearing a room. Some mornings we would find traces of the previous night's drill--e.g., a boot print on the door, a wobbly door frame, a dent in the wall where a practice stun or gas grenade had been thrown. In general, however, the guys were pretty good about cleaning up.

I remember one morning, however, finding my very large--I used to call it the USS Nimitz--and very old-fashion antique wooden desk completely cleared off: the phone on the floor, my computer on a chair, papers, pens, paper clips, and photos scattered around the room. I thought to myself, "React drill. Never mind, I don't want to get the Gunny into trouble because some of his guys did not clean up." I put the stuff back on my desk and resumed the life of the dutiful drone. A few days later this happened again. This time, as I walked into my office, Long was directly behind me coming to see me about some administrative issue.  She saw the state of the room, and, laughing, said, "The Marines must have been drilling last night. Don't worry about it, I will talk to the Gunny." Long cheerfully helped me put all my bureaucratic detritus back in place. 

This time, however, I wasn't buying the "react" story. I walked over to the RSO's office, and asked him if the MSGs had carried out one of their drills the previous night. "No, they did not," was the reply. I told him about the desk situation, and about how Long had wanted to be helpful by not getting the MSGs into trouble. We both went down to view the entry log at Marine Post One. Long had come in the prior night around 9 pm or so, if I remember correctly, and about thirty minutes later one of the MSGs, off-duty and the youngest on the detachment, had entered the building.

This now becomes a sad story and I will try to tell it as accurately as possible. 

The Gunny and RSO called in this young marine, whom the Gunny had told us was leaving the MSG program and the Marines in a couple of months to get married and start a security service business in Virginia. The bewildered youngster, confronting a bunch of glaring senior old guys, quickly confessed that he and Long would meet at the Chancery for sex--I guess that's a form of marine drill. On at least two occasions, Long had suggested use of MY LARGE DESK for their nocturnal passions--did you see what I wrote? MY DESK! The desk where I worked and often ate lunch! She seemed to find it funny to have wild sex on my desk at night, and next morning sit at that same desk across from me discussing mundane operational trivia.

Oh, yes, the kicker: the young marine was leaving the service to marry Long! He worried that she might be pregnant and wanted to do the right thing. 

The Gunny gave him an icy stare imported straight from hell and barked, "First of all she's already married. Second, pregnant? She's pregnant? You f------ idiot! Do you know how f------ old she is?" He did not know; he thought her at least twenty years younger than she was. It gets worse. He and Long had traveled together to Virginia a couple of months back; while there she had him set up a new bank account. She and the marine had looked at houses, ostensibly searching for the one they would buy to enjoy perpetual wedded bliss. Following that lead, investigators in DC discovered that Long was using the poor sap's account to deposit large sums of money and then quickly move them on, including to her "daughter" in Virginia. Through that "daughter," Long had links to a shady Iranian businessman in Alexandria, who, investigators discovered, ran a people smuggling and prostitution business in Virginia, as well as a real estate scam involving investor visas. He also kept Long's "daughter," the very one with whom my wife and I had battled monkeys in the tea country highlands, as his mistress, providing her a monthly stipend and a townhouse in northern Virginia. The "boyfriend" we had met in Colombo was some stiff who was to be the dispatcher at the limo service Long and AC were setting up in Colorado.

We had the young marine shipped out immediately; he was put under confinement, and ordered not to contact Long. In sum, Long ruined a young man's career. She, perhaps needless to point out, was not involved in victimless crime.  

I wanted to have my desk napalmed, but that might have given away the game. I had to settle for a thorough cleaning. Long asked me once or twice about the suddenly departed marine. We had developed a story about his getting into trouble with the Marines over something, and having to go back. She seemed nervous about it for a bit, but when she suffered no consequences, settled down to her usual charming self.

One more detail, Long had kept the trysts with the marine a secret from AC--that plays a role later on.

Haven't had enough sex, eh? OK, there's more. But, unfortunately, you'll have to wait; I have to give the dogs their baths. They stink.

That smell . . . kind of reminds me of my old desk . .  .

Part VIII coming up . . . 

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad: Part VI, The Investigation Begins to Bear Fruit, and the Pace of Events Picks Up

OK, I have used the last hanky; my eyes are puffy from crying about how I was mistreated; but now without further tears and self pity, I resume the story of the greatest visa fraud in State Department history.

As mentioned in part V, after the drama provoked by the BS episode, I got read into the investigation. If you remember in part II, we had received a partial account of an interview by ATF of an Indian national on a tourist visa apprehended in California with a truckload of smuggled cigarettes. That Indian national had said that, in exchange for not being deported or jailed, he could tell INS a good story about a major visa fraud operation underway.  He proceeded to give details that while not right in all aspects were close enough for government work as a description of AC and Long as the masterminds of the fraud. Our RSO had gone back for more information and alerted DS (Diplomatic Security) in Washington of our preliminary suspicions that the corrupt visa officer described by the gray market tobacco merchant was none other than our own AC. Slowly, slowly an investigation began to be put together in DC; it began looking into past assignments for AC and Long, and for any smoking gun that an illicit visa operation involving corrupt US officers was functioning.

The big break came thanks to my Dutch friend's sharp eye (part III).  If you recall, while working at the airport in a prescreening operation, she had detected an Indian national traveling to Amsterdam from Colombo with a US visa he had obtained that day after fewer than 24 hours in Colombo. At my request, she had the Sri Lankans pull him out of the passenger line and hold him for us. At about daybreak, the Deputy RSO and a local vetted employee interviewed this Indian national at a holding facility at Colombo's international airport. The story the detained Indian told placed the crosshairs firmly on AC and Long. He was indignant that people kept asking if his US visa was fake; he angrily noted that he had paid well over $10,000 to a businessman in India who guaranteed that he would receive an authentic US visa in Colombo directly from the US embassy--no forgery, no fake. He had been handed a sealed note which he, in turn, was to hand to AC at the consulate; he then would receive a genuine non-immigrant visa (I don't remember if it was a business or tourist visa). He described AC perfectly and noted that a Sri Lankan employee, an attractive woman whom he also described, had helped AC process this visa apart from the others. The RSO's folks had gone back to the consular section and found the record of this visa issuance, and several other similar ones, by AC. The RSO briefed the Ambassador who made--from my perspective--the unfortunate decision to keep me out of the investigation because I would find find it "too uncomfortable" to deal with Long and AC while knowing they were being investigated.

The RSO had begun monitoring AC and Long. The local investigation revealed that we had before us an onion--there were layers and layers and layers to what was happening. Let me jump forward at this moment and let you know that I never felt that we got to the last layer; I told that to the FBI. We'll get back to that. Well, in fact, let me jump to one "layer" that always bothered me. The question of whether our Long Lee was the same Long Lee who had served at our embassy in Saigon. With the destruction of records and the disorganization that followed the evacuation of that embassy that issue could not be resolved--I thought--one hundred percent. One retired FSO who looked at her picture claimed, nay, insisted to investigators that she was not the Long Lee he had known in Saigon. Never resolved as far as I know.

Let's move on.

There now follows a jumble of events. I cannot swear to the order in which they occurred--but they did occur. Let me start with monkeys. I swear Long had a sixth sense, or maybe I was too sensitive. It struck me, however, that no sooner than I had gotten up-to-date on the investigation, Long made a very strong effort to get as close to my wife and me as possible. She insisted that we go with her, AC, the "daughter" who had gone to Jakarta with my wife, her handicapped "daughter" from Africa, an adopted young "son" from Vietnam, and another "daughter" visiting from Virginia with her boyfriend to an exotic hotel/spa in Dambulla-Kandalama. She had gotten a special rate on the luxury suites. We would have catered meals in a private dining room, and tours were set up to the Buddhist monastery, elephant rides, and on and on. The place was famous for its numerous and aggressive monkeys who would pick your pockets and burst into your hotel room in pursuit of the fruit basket if you didn't keep your windows locked. Even then, the  monkeys would bang on your window until you caved in and gave them the damn fruit basket.

I did not want to go. The thought of being trapped with this gang for three or four days did not appeal to me. The Ambassador and RSO, however, asked me to go so as not to raise suspicions. Those were some long days--no pun intended. I had to listen to AC's get rich-quick schemes allegedly involving the stock market--I knew better--and how he and Long were investing in a Vietnamese restaurant in Medford, Oregon and calling it "Lemon Grass." He also had plans to open a limo service in Golden, Colorado and have Long's "daughter" from Virginia move there to operate it. He also told me he was thinking of quitting the job in the consulate and heading off to the States to supervise the setting up of these businesses. All this while walking barefoot up what seemed hundreds of steps to a monastery while being assailed by thieving, dirty, and all around quite nasty monkeys.

The news that AC was thinking of leaving pushed the investigators into a higher gear. We now monitored AC and Long's email accounts, and assigned a surveillance team to follow the couple and keep their residence under observation. Long and AC used a crude code in their emails that involved quite a bit of baseball terminology: "Umpire," for example, was the Ambassador. I, for some reason, did not get a baseball-related name. No, I was the non-glamorous "Searchlight." On many days, I would read their emails and see "Searchlight is very dim and has no idea of anything," "I gave Searchlight a load of crap today and he believed it all," etc. This did not make for amiable relations, even of the pretend kind, but I think I pulled it off.

This went on for eighteen exhausting months. There was always some new facet being uncovered. My wife, for example, uncovered one scam. She worked in the security office's program of home security supervising the local electricians installing and repairing of burglar and fire alarm systems in our residences. One day, the alarm systems at Long's residence ceased to work; Long was very concerned about security at her house and asked the RSO to send somebody right away. My wife and her crew got dispatched. While at Long's house, the Diplowife opened a bedroom door and found the "daughter," let's call her Lucy, who had accompanied her and Long to Jakarta. This ordinarily would have meant nothing except that Long had told us that Lucy was heading back to the States to go to school, and that she had left post several days before. The Sri Lankan immigration service confirmed that she had left, and US INS that she had arrived in Los Angeles. There was no record of her return.

Very early the next day, around 7 am or so, I was in my office reading some cable traffic when Long slipped in and sat down. She did it so smoothly and silently that I did not even notice she was in the office until she spoke. I jerked up my head in surprise as she said, out of the blue, "Your wife was at my house yesterday fixing the alarms. She probably told you that she saw Lucy there. She didn't. She saw Lucy's twin sister who is visiting. Lucy is in LA."

Keeping on my best poker face, I said, "OK, fine, no problem," and returned to my cable traffic. As soon as Long left, I called the RSO and told him about this odd little visit, and suggested that we check again on whether Lucy, in fact, had left the country. That revealed another aspect of Long's business. Relying on the belief, apparently not too far off the mark, that Asian women all look alike to American immigration officials, she would "loan" her family's diplomatic passports to Vietnamese girls and women who could pass for the ones pictured in those passports. She would have their hair and clothes arranged to look as much like the passport photos as possible. The ladies would fly into LAX on these diplomatic passports, and get picked up by a Vietnamese madam who ran a large prostitution business in Southern California. The women would be relieved of the passports, which would be sent by FEDEX back to Long. Long charged several thousand dollars for each use of this "loaner" service.  

Let me post this as I have to do some more moving related stuff. We have just landed back in LA from DC. I will get back to this saga in a day or so.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Not Over Until the Cantor Sings

Wow! Eric Cantor of Virginia got bounced, better said, he got trounced in the GOP primary yesterday by a relatively unknown conservative economics professor, David Bratt. Here in northern Virigina, the press and the street comment is all about how the Tea Party has flexed its muscle and thrown out a well-known, powerful Congressman who was widely expected to be the next Speaker of the House--and is the only Jewish Republican Congressman. Lots of odd comments about how this shows that the Tea Party is anti-semitic, that this is a disaster for the GOP, that this will make it harder for "moderate" Republicans to reach compromises with the President and the Dems, etc.

Most of the commentary is nonsense. I am not really sure what "Tea Party" involvement took place, but it certainly wasn't evident in any funding for Bratt or in any big Tea Party endorsements. From what I can tell this was a genuine, old-fashioned grass-roots movement of just ordinary folks upset with the political culture in DC. Also from what I can tell from my past few days in Virginia there is genuine outrage here over what is happening on the immigration front. Cantor, despite DC's physical proximity to Virginia, seemed to have gotten himself trapped in the DC culture of deals and compromise, and of listening to advice from the dying mainstream media that "compromise," i.e., giving in, is really the way a Republican should operate. I always liked Cantor, and found him an intelligent and patriotic man, but think he really blew it on immigration. He lost touch with his constituents. I think that another man for whom I have a lot of respect, Paul Ryan, is in danger of the same thing with his obsession in pushing for an immigration amnesty. Marco Rubio of Florida also got himself into hot water on this issue and has been paying the political consequences of it.

This could prove the best thing that happened to the GOP. With some luck, the GOP establishment,e.g., the McCains, the Grahams, will understand what Ted Cruz has been saying all along: The GOP must be in touch with the people and not get itself wrapped up with the DC game. That game is loaded, stacked, rigged against conservatives and their values. One never hears, for example, on the need for liberal Democrats to "compromise," i.e., give in. Maybe, just maybe, the GOP leaders will begin to "compromise," i.e., give in, not with the Democrats and their captive media industry but with the people who sent them to Washington DC.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part V: It's Still Mostly About Me

By turns, I was furious, outraged, and feeling utterly betrayed after the phone call from my friend. This began some of the darkest days of my career in the Foreign Service. I always had prided myself on honesty and integrity at work. I now felt that a quarter-century of dedicated service, of always going where sent without question, of keeping the secrets, and of doing what I was told had to be done was being flushed away. I could barely breathe. I got up from my chair and stormed out of my office, tore across the front office suite, opened the Ambassador's door and barged into his office. He was meeting the RSO. Both were startled to see me, and, I imagine, the fury in my face and to hear it in my voice.

Before either could say anything, I snapped out, "Am I being investigated? If so, for what? If not, why is Mr. BS telling half the Dulles VIP lounge that I am?"

The Ambassador went pale and then red, he snapped his jaw shut. He looked at the RSO, who made a nodding gesture, pointed at the Ambassador, and said, "Sir, you should tell him, unless you want me to."

I stood glaring at one and then the other. "Well? What the hell is going on?"

The Ambassador said, "Sit down." I did. He then proceded, "It was my decision not to include you in the investigation we have on Long and AC. You deal with her multiple times a day, and I thought it would be uncomfortable for you to have to deal with her knowing that she was being investigated."

I stood up, "I quit. I hand in my resignation right now." The Ambasador asked the RSO to leave the room. "Stop being a baby. You took one for the team. Suck it up."

I wasn't buying it. "I don't understand this at all. Who else knows about this investigation?" He rattled off about five names. "You trust them more than you do me? People under me have kept this secret from me? What do you think they thought? No wonder, BS is going around saying I am being investigated. This stinks."

The Ambassador said, "Look, maybe I made a mistake. To his credit, the RSO was opposed to my decision. I don't know anything about why BS is going around saying you're being investigated. You're not. You can confirm that with the RSO. I am going to send BS a message now and straighten this out. Get read in on the investigation. Tell the RSO I said to give you everything."

I got up and left without another word. Yes, I got read in on the investigation--details to follow--but the relationship with the Ambassador and the RSO never fully recovered. We remained professional and cordial on the surface, but something had died. I just wanted to get out of Colombo. I decided to stay, however, because now I really wanted to see this investigation through to the end.

I sent a rocket email to the office of the Director General demanding that they step in and tell BS to knock it off. I got back an unctuous message saying that, of course, the DG was concerned about the reputation of FSOs, and, of course, the DG could not approve of the maligning of an FSO, and, of course, the DG worried about the compromise of sensitive investigations, but the DG's office knew nothing about any investigation and I would have to take this matter up elsewhere. I still have that email; it's in the Public Storage unit I will be emptying tomorrow.

I did take the matter up elsewhere. I demanded that the RSO send a message to the head of State Department Security in Washington telling him that BS was risking compromise of a major investigation, and maligning me. The RSO did so. To his credit, the head of DS, a former USAF General and a man of considerable integrity, read the Riot Act to BS. The Ambassador, also to his credit, called BS, who told him, "Yeah, that was my bad. If I absolutely have to, I will apologize to Amselem." He never did apologize, but did stop interfering in my onward assignment. Clearly, BS, a strong supporter of Long and no fan of mine, had been embarrassed by the investigation of his pet FSO. He had been pushing her for a cushy, and much sought job in New Zealand. BS went on to achieve infamy for leaking certain classified information to a journalist, and allowing another person to take the blame. You can probably guess who this is, but that's all I will say about him. Lawyers, you understand.

Next episode will be more interesting, and won't be all or even mostly about me. I will lay out what the investigation had picked up about Long. Events will begin to move faster, too. Won't just be me whining about how the system mistreated me.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad, Part IV . . . It's All About Me!

We are in the DC area to collect the material debris of our past life from a huge Public Storage facility in Virginia, and either throw it out or ship it out. I don't like DC; it brings back memories that are not always pleasant. I also hate what the current rulers of DC are doing to the rest of the country.

Well, no sense dwelling on that right now. Let me try a brief draft of a new chapter in the Long saga. My foul mood at being in the nation's capital fits in quite well with this part of the story--the personally most difficult part for me, and one I have some difficulty telling without getting very angry.

As noted at the end of part III, I had received a late night call from my Dutch friend. I called the RSO and told him about it. He said an odd thing, "Yes, we're on it. I have already sent out a couple of our guys to talk to the Indian." He said his Sri Lankan contacts at the airport had called him. I found the RSO, normally very open with me, somewhat evasive. He could not or would not explain what had led him to alert his contacts at the airport to be on the watch for a fraudulent visa. I didn't press the matter. This came back to haunt me.

The next morning, at our daily meeting, I asked the Ambassador if he had learned from the RSO how the interview had gone with the Indian national at the airport. I was told not much had resulted from the talk, but that the RSO would follow up. The Ambassador asked me to concentrate on other issues, such as working with the Aussies and the local government on terrorism, and with the Norwegians on the attempt to find an end to the civil war. At the time, again, I didn't think much about this, as my plate was, in fact, very full with all sorts of high priority topics.

My attention did drift away from Long and AC. I maintained a relatively cordial relationship with them, although I still had a nagging suspicion that something was not kosher. AC's boss in the consular section departed post and was replaced by an energetic younger officer who instituted some major changes in the way the consular section operated. I thought that was all fine. Every so often, Long would complain about the doctor and her alleged "rumor mongering." Long kept pushing me to support her effort to replace the doctor with one she favored. I put the matter off, and slow-rolled Long on the subject asking her for more information.

Then, as so often seems to happen in my life, I got one of those phone calls that make you feel as though somebody has hit you in the gut with a bat. A little background: the caller was a very senior career FSO and a close friend. We had been trying to arrange it so that I could work with him again. We had worked together in Pakistan and Washington. He had run into that senior political appointee I have mentioned before. A little more background: that senior appointee, let's call him Big Shot (BS), and I did not like each other. We had some open differences on certain issues. He, also, if you will remember had been a big promoter of Long.

All this came together on a sofa in the VIP lounge at Dulles Airport in DC when, somehow, my name came up in the conversation between my friend and Mr. BS. My friend mentioned that he wanted me to be his deputy. Mr. BS responded by saying, "You should wait on that. He's being investigated for fraud. Wait until the investigation is complete and then decide." My friend, who had known me for over 20 years, was shocked. First he did not believe that I was invovled in fraud, and second, that Mr. BS would so openly discuss what was, apparently, a highly sensitive and ongoing operation. My friend asked me, "Lewis, are you involved in fraud and being investigated?" I was almost speechless; my stomach tightened; the room seemed to spin. I angrily denied it. My friend said, "Yeah, I thought it was crap, but you better do something about it." I put down the phone, outrage and fury overwhelming me. I know myself in those situations and decided to sit for a few minutes before I did anything too rash.

I stop there as my ancient Ipad is acting up and my anger is coming back.

Part V is here.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad: Part III

This will be a shortish entry in the Long saga as I am preparing for some hectic days of traveling and packing. I will be off the grid for some six to eight days.

Please catch up on parts I and II.

We were scrambling in the wake of the China Air crash to determine whether Long had been on the plane. Her name did not appear on the passenger list, but those lists are notoriously inaccurate, often getting names and nationalities absurdly wrong. A couple of days into this, one morning I show up at the embassy and find Long and AC calmly having breakfast in the cafeteria. Shocked, I went to them, and blurted, "You're OK? You had us all worried that you were dead." Long ignored my comment and began chatting about how they had enjoyed Taiwan and Hong Kong where AC had gone from Cambodia. I remember saying, "Wait a minute. You do know the plane crashed into the ocean, don't you? The one you said you would be flying to Hong Kong." Long and AC glanced at each other, and Long smoothly crooned, "Oh, yes, that was terrible. Fortunately, I decided to go to Vietnam instead of Hong Kong. AC went to Hong Kong and then met me in Vietnam. I wasn't in Hong Kong. We had a great time in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. I visited my relatives, went shopping . . ." Then she laughed and began going on about the things she wanted to do to improve life for embassy employees. I became irritated and it showed, "You went to Vietnam? Did you clear that travel with the RSO?" She smiled, "I am going to take care of that now. It was an impulsive decision." AC said nothing, and stared into his coffee cup.

There was a nagging sensation in the back of my mind that I was being had. This had not yet blossomed into a full-blown, raging case of "I don't believe a word you say," but I could feel that something was up, and it wasn't good. Walking to the elevator, I kept thinking, "All that travel. How do they do that on their salaries, plus pay for all those kids and relatives, and schools in the States, and, and . . .?"

Now things get jumbled. As I noted at the start of this strange saga, I am not sure about the order of the following events, but I guess it does not really matter. Things began to happen in rapid fire succession and even at the same time.

As stated before, Long got along well with our Sri Lankan employees; she made sure their payroll issues were resolved quickly and fairly, and that our people had good medical coverage. She also worked hard to get them an improved retirement package. These employees seemed to appreciate her efforts. Apparently alone among this staff, the embassy doctor, a Sri Lanka Tamil woman, who had worked at the embassy for years, did not like Long and AC. The doctor was normally very discreet but one morning, as I got treated for some minor complaint, she said, "I am only a Sri Lankan employee. If I am out of line, please tell me and I will stop, but there is something I want to say about Long and her husband." I was taken aback by the usually shy doctor's words and tone, "Please, go ahead." The doctor, looking down at her desk, her hands bending and unbending a wooden tongue depressor, softly said, "They are doing something not honest. You should talk to the head of the motor pool. Why is it that he now has a new car? He is in some kind of business with Long and AC. He is always doing things for them that have nothing to do with work. I can't say anything more." Was this something genuine, or South Asian envy of another employee? Did she not like Long, for whom she worked, because Long was not a "real" American? I nodded and promised to check on the motor pool situation.

By "coincidence," that very afternoon Long came to my office, since she generally visited three or four times a day even when we had nothing to discuss I didn't find this odd, but this time it was to say that we needed a new doctor. The one we had, she claimed, was not very good; for what we paid we could get a young doctor with a more modern educational background, and, besides, some of the Sinhalese employees did not like having a Tamil doctor. This struck me as odd; I had never heard anything negative about the doctor. I told Long to get me something in writing and I would look at it. She left; I called the RSO. I told him to start checking the head of motor pool; he  said he was already doing some looking as "anomalies" existed in the drivers' logs.

Very early one morning, AC headed off to the Maldives. Our embassy covered that country, too, and we had regular visits to the Maldives by consular personnel to talk with the tiny American community there, and to address some immigration issues. He would be gone a few days. His bad luck.

Enter the Dutch.

Here I must go on a tangent, well, let's say provide context. The Embassy of the Netherlands, a former colonial ruler of old Ceylon, had a superb immigration officer: let's call her Anne. She was tall--at least 5'10"--broad-shouldered, blonde, brash, funny, and smart; she could have passed for a Texan line dancing cowgirl or an Aussie olympic swimmer or lifeguard. She had worked in the US in an exchange program with the INS and the Border Patrol and had loved it. Anne had served at JFK with the INS, and had crawled around in the dirt at night with the Border Patrol along the Texas-Mexico line. She had excellent English--don't all Dutch?--and had become a close friend of  the American Embassy. A further small digression: I first met Anne at a reception given in my honor by one of our senior officers, let's call him Dave, when I arrived in Colombo. Dave, who was openly gay, and I were standing together in the receiving line when Anne, also a new arrival, came through the line. Upon learning she was Dutch, Dave said to her, "Did you know that my partner is a Dutch musician?" Anne said, "How nice," and turned to me and began speaking Dutch. I quickly blurted out, "No! No! Not me! I am the new American DCM here. That's my wife over there." Anne and I later laughed a lot about that non-PC incident. One more bit of background: Anne had an interesting job in Colombo. She worked at the international airport pre-screening travelers on their way to the Netherlands and the EU.

My phone rang after midnight. The Marine guard said, "Sir, sorry to bother you but there's a lady from the Dutch embassy who wants to talk to you. Something about a visa. I couldn't find AC or his boss, so she said she wants to talk to you." I took it. Calling from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport, Anne said that while screening travelers heading for Amsterdam, she had spotted an Indian national with a US visa. She said, "It's none of my business but this man has been in Colombo not even 24 hours. Why didn't he get a visa for the US in India? I asked and he said he came specifically to Colombo to get a US visa." I remember telling Anne, "It's too bad AC isn't here to check this out, but we don't give visas to people from outside of our jurisdiction--especially not somebody who arrives less than a day before. The visa has to be fraudulent. Can you get the Sri Lankans to hold him until I can send somebody to interview him?" She said yes, but before hanging up, added, "Lewis, sorry to say this, but the visa looks good. I don't think it's fake."

To be continued when I get back from Washington DC.

Sorry for the length, but this story has lots of parts. Be patient and kind until my return . . . and I will tell you the story of the Marine "drill" in my office . . .

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Compare and Contrast: June 6, 1944 and June 6, 2014

Not fair, I know, to compare those two dates.

June 6, 1944, after all, was one of the key dates in modern history. It was the day on which the Western allies mounted the biggest amphibious landing in history and began to write the final chapter in the history of the monstrous Hitlerite plague. It also inserted American power into the heart of Europe where it remained in an icy and ultimately successful confrontation with the Communist bloc, another monstrous product of the statist ideology that has so threatened liberty and killed hundreds of millions of persons.

The June 6 invasion was meticulously planned and orchestrated. As usually happens with such massive undertakings, however, not much went to plan. Naval bombardments hit the wrong targets; soldiers got taken to the wrong beachheads; paratrooper drops and glider landings went disastrously wrong. Within hours the master plan appeared in tatters, and the outcome highly uncertain.

Eisenhower had a statement ready to go accepting full responsibilty for the failure of D-Day.

He never had to use it. What saved the landing and the day was guts, grit, and dedication. American, British, and Canadian soldiers regrouped, concocted new plans on the fly, made do without dead or missing officers, pushed ahead, and fought pitched and confusing battles against also determined German soldiers, skillfully and bravely defending a repellent regime. In the end, somehow, it all came together for the allies. The Americans, British, and Canadians were ashore to stay.

Where are we now, June 6, 2014? We have a malevolent president; I can no longer call him inept and incompetent. He is malevolent. He is out to destroy the spirit that built and sustained the country, and was evident on the beaches and along the hedgerows of Normandy seventy years ago. He detests our military and makes no effort to hide that. His recent speech at West Point, of course, is either an example of how little this little man understands his role as Commander-in-Chief, or is the product of an ideology that hates the cadets and their values--I go with the second interpretation. He and his misadministration have abused our laws, our military, and our veterans and never spared an occasion to insult or degrade them and their ethos. The latest and most grotesque example being the "rescue" of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; "rescue" is, of course, the wrong word. Obama swapped five murdering Taliban leaders for a man who had defected to the Taliban, converted to Islam, wanted to give up his US citizenship, and got several of his comrades killed in operations looking for him. We traded terrorists for a traitor. Nice job.

It was a cheap stunt meant to blow the VA scandal off the pages of the media, and to give Obama some sort of "Saving Private Ryan" patina as the anniversary commemorations in Normandy roll around.

One can only hope that it won't work. It's already embarrassing enough that Obama represents the US at those celebrations, turning June 6, 2014, into another cheap political PR stunt for the anti-American poseur from Chicago.

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad: Part II

While I try to put together this part of the story, please go read Part I to give me a little time. You can find it by clicking here, that will avoid my having to do a "previously on the Diplomad" intro.

OK, finished with Part I? Here we go, and sorry for the length. This is not the final part, unfortunately.

As noted before, I am not doing research for this. I tell the story as my memory presents it. Memory, of course, gets reshaped and eroded by the winds and water of time; it gets deposits of odd pieces of  what geologists call glacial erratic, debris that does not belong with the surrounding countryside. I will try to sift through all that and come up with something approximating The Truth, but will likely miss here and there, and allow some glacial erratic to enter the picture--it will, nevertheless, approximate The Truth more than an Oliver Stone movie or a John Kerry recollection, but that's a low bar.

As my tour churned on in Sri Lanka, events did not take note of Long and AC: the airport in Colombo got blown up by the Tamil Tigers and, of course, Al Qaeda exploited our lax visa laws to insert a killer team into the United States and conduct the September 11 atrocity. We in management at the Embassy were caught up in those events, and, frankly, missed what was happening inside the fortress, and had relied on the personnel system's vetting. No excuses, just the facts as I remember them (see above).

AC and Long continued as popular figures in the embassy--with one exception, the embassy doctor--the foreign diplomatic and business community, and among Sri Lankans. Long found funds somewhere, using her extensive DC contacts, that allowed the embassy, which owned a vacant lot, to build a very nice swimming pool and tennis court for the use of our personnel--a big morale booster given how grim everything else had become. Visitors, especially one very senior Bush appointee, were full of praise for how their visits to Colombo were handled, and grateful to the attentions bestowed upon them by Long and her team. That senior visitor, who came to Colombo several times, appreciated, for example, that Long had convinced the hotel management, at no extra charge, to move a large and expensive piece of exercise equipment into the visitor's hotel suite for his exclusive use. The Ambassador and I appreciated her ability to solve problems without fuss. AC seemed to be doing his job in the consular section, and was very popular among the local staff for his humor and generosity. We were like a sailor delighted with the wonderful weather and smooth sailing, not realizing that we were in the eye of the hurricane, and that the eye would pass.

The first hint that the eye of the hurricane was passing and that winds were coming came when the RSO (Regional Security Officer) handed me a summary of a report of an interrogation in California by the ATF. That summary was in a monthly bulletin of security issues that went out around the world to embassies. He said, "Read it. There's some disturbing stuff in there. I am going to ask for the full report." The summary, as well as I can remember it, told of the arrest of an Indian national, let's call him Rajiv, crossing from Arizona or Nevada into California with a truckload of cigarettes bound for his cousin's 7/11 store in Los Angeles. No California taxes--which are considerable--had been paid on the cigarettes, and the cousins hoped to engage in a little black market selling. Rajiv had been picked up as part of an investigation into suspected terrorist activities; when the ATF found out his activities involved cigarettes they were less interested, but were holding him for California authorities and Immigration (INS).

Rajiv freaked out. He began telling the ATF folks that if they went easy on him, and did not let INS deport him, he would tell a story much more interesting than one about some tax-free smokes. He admitted that he was on a tourist visa, and had been in the US for a couple or so years. Rajiv had gotten the visa in Fiji by paying the U.S. "consul" $5000 through a broker. He said he wasn't the only one. A ring of Indian smugglers, according to Rajiv, flew people into Suva and got them US visas thanks to that American consul. Rajiv described the consular officer as a former Army officer married to a Fijian national. He said the consul would contact the Indian smugglers at a swanky golf club in Suva, collect money and passports, and then a day or so later, bring the passports back with visas in them. He said the operation in Fiji had stopped when the consul had been reassigned to Laos or Thailand, but he had heard it continued there.

Both the RSO and I noted that AC had been an NCO in the Marines not an Army officer; he and Long, however, had served in Fiji during the time described by Rajiv; AC had been an associate in the consular section although not the consul; he was married to a Vietnamese-American FSO, not a Fijian; and he and Long had gone on to Vietnam, not Laos or Thailand. All that said, nevertheless, the story clearly was too close for comfort or to dismiss out of hand; the possible discrepancies, after all, were understandable. Rajiv's description of the consular officer provoked suspicion about AC from our RSO and even from dim-bulb me. I told the RSO that, yes, he should get more details.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Long continued her charm offensive. The dinner parties, the charity events, the contacts who could get us big discounts on this and that, helping me buy a birthday present for my wife, etc. It must have been April or May of 2002, when Long insisted that my wife accompany her on a shopping trip to Indonesia; AC was to vacation in Cambodia, but Long wanted to see Jakarta. The Diplowife was at first reluctant to go, until she learned there was a good chance that Jakarta would be our next assignment. She wanted to get a look at it, and, oh, did you say "shopping?" She left for Jakarta with Long and a twenty-something adopted "daughter." As she later recounted the visit to the RSO, my wife found the trip odd. Instead of staying at a hotel as Long had said they would, they all stayed with an Iranian woman whose husband, also Iranian, worked for the UN. Long seemed to know them very well. Long and the Iranian woman were conducting some sort of hush-hush jewelry business, with Long bringing stones from Sri Lanka and both paying and collecting payment, as well as other stones from the Iranian. My wife said they tried to conduct the business away from her, but that at least twice she saw the Iranian hand Long some stones, and Long write a check, and vice-versa. When she had remarked to Long about the gems and the checks, Long proved evasive and quickly changed the topic. My wife also noted that the Iranian lady detested Long's "daughter," telling Long that the young lady could not sit at the dinner table because in Iran, "Servants do not eat with you." The Iranian blew up at Long, "You have to decide if she's going to be your daughter or your maid." The next day, Long decided that she would fly on first to Taiwan and then to Hong Kong to continue her vacation. My wife returned alone to Colombo.

What are the odds? The China Air flight which Long said she would use to go from Taiwan to Hong Kong crashed into the ocean with all lost. My wife was horrified. We could not get hold of AC in Cambodia, and contacted our people in Phnom Penh, Taipei, and Hong Kong to let them know of the possibility that one of our officers and her daughter had been on the doomed flight.

To be continued . . .

Scenes from coming episodes: The Dutch step in; the twin sister line; the LA connection; the Oregon connection; the Colorado connection; the Virginia connection; the Vietnam connection; the Dulles Airport VIP lounge connection; the doctor's dissent; a falling out among the good guys; a stressful Thanksgiving in Dambulla-Kandalama among the monkeys; a broken wheelchair; social security checks; stuffed sofas; and sex on the desk and in the cubicle . . . all this and more yet to come to your screens!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The King of Spain Departs

King Juan Carlos of Spain is abdicating in favor of his 45-year-old son, Crown Prince Felipe. For most of us this is just celebrity news; possibly of less import than when "Bewitched" switched Darrins (there's an obscure reference for you.) For me, however, it is different. I've always had a soft spot for Spanish history, Spanish culture, Spanish food, Spanish politics (although they are of the unrelievedly leftist variety) and especially for the King of Spain, finding him "una figura simpatica."

Juan Carlos came to the throne at a very difficult time in recent Spanish history which needs a little background to provide the context. Generalissimo Francisco Franco, in one of the great bait-and-switch events of all time, had risen against the Spanish Republic in 1936, labeling it, not completely inaccurately, communist. Franco put together a coalition of supporters that included an unlikely combination of fascists and monarchists united only in their hatred for the Republic and what they saw, again, not totally inaccurately, as the growing Sovietization of Spanish politics and life.

The ensuing three years of civil war killed hundreds of thousands and was in some ways a prelude to the even greater struggle that began in 1939. General Franco, a man whose political brilliance and intelligence has been ignored or unjustly ridiculed, managed to convince one side of his band that he would install a fascist state akin to the one in Italy, and the other side that he would restore a traditional monarchy. He, of course, had no interest, nope, none at all, in becoming head of state--no, no, I am just a simple soldier . . . .. Well, things happen. Through the clever use of patronage, bribery, threat of the firing squad, and his nearly rock-solid support from the Spanish military, he melded the two bands into a weird National Movement in which loyalty was to Franco. He basically said to them, "I am the only hope you have of getting anything. Besides, if I lose, the Reds will shoot you all."

What many of Franco's critics, especially European and American leftists, failed to appreciate was that Franco was not a fascist or much of a "right-winger" or even a monarchist. He was an "anti-noisist," as in "Stop that noise!" He detested politics and politicians, believed in hard work, discipline, and the military ethos of manly valor and devotion to duty and nation. Anything else, well, needed to stop making noise. As Bill Cosby once famously said about parents, "Kids don't realize that their parents aren't interested in justice. They want silence!"

The monarchists found Franco in no hurry to restore the monarchy, although he gave it lip service by declaring a "restitution" of the monarchy in 1947. It would be monarchy without a monarch. As the years wore on, he pressured Juan Carlos's father, the Count of Barcelona, into giving up his claim to the throne and passing it to Juan Carlos. Franco took the 29-year-old Juan Carlos, who was declared Prince of Spain, under his wing, making him swear loyalty to The Movement and to, well, you know who. Franco got the rubber stamp parliament to approve Juan Carlos as the heir to the throne, while Franco would remain, of course, as interim head of state until such time as the Prince of Spain was able to assume his duties as head-of state and King of Spain--in other words, when Franco no longer could rule.

Juan Carlos assumed the throne permanently, with opposition from die-hard fascists in The Movement, in 1975 when Franco passed from the scene. Franco must have begun spinning in his grave as the new King immediately let it be known that he favored the restoration of parliamentary democracy and a movement of Spain towards democratic Europe. Juan Carlos played a key role in reestablishing Spain as a modern political entity; he made clear that he would assume the role of a Constitutional Monarch with little to no real power. Juan Carlos, despite the US and European mass media portrayal of him as a dolt, proved a clever and savvy politician, and a very good friend of the United States.

He also proved to have considerable guts.

On February 23, 1981, elements of the paramilitary civil guard and some military, attempted a coup against the government. Lt. Col Antonio Tejero, with 150-200 civil guards and a few soldiers, burst into the parliament building, fired some shots into the ceiling, and held the building and the parliamentarians hostage for nearly a day. Tejero, apparently in a bid for glory, had jumped the gun by about 24 hours on a wider coup effort. The confusion his bid for glory created among the units that were going to revolt on February 24, gave Juan Carlos an opening to appear on television, in full military dress, and deliver a powerful speech in which he as King and commander-in-chief of the military and the national police forces ordered the military and police to support the government and not take part in any coup. There were some dicey hours there when nobody knew whether the King's orders would be obeyed. In the end, they were. So the man deserves some props for that alone.

Now, of course, the King made his mistakes. He likes the ladies, and he likes politically incorrect activities such as hunting. He combined the two proclivities in an unfortunate "private" elephant hunting trip to Botswana in 2012 with a "friend," a very attractive 40-something German "princess." Well, worthy of a Spanish or Italian comedy, he broke his hip, and had to be flown back at considerable expense and publicity to Madrid. The King's wife, Queen Sofia sister of the deposed King of Greece, had a fit, and left Spain to live off-and-on, but mostly on, in London where her brother also lives. Spaniards, suffering exorbitant unemployment rates, a sluggish economy, high taxes, etc., were not amused--nor were animal lovers who forced the King to resign from the board of the World Wildlife Federation. Polling in Spain now shows a marked lack of enthusiasm for the once-popular King and for the monarchy, an institution also wracked by some big financial scandals by family and friends of the King. Whether the abdication of Juan Carlos will save the monarchy as his actions in February 1981, saved parliamentary democracy, remains to be seen.

Juan Carlos you have lived a good and full life. Much luck to you.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Big Fraud in the Far Abroad: Part I of a Painful Recollection

This is a true story.

Well, as I have said before about other recollections, as true as memory lets it be. I am deliberately not going to do research on this story; I want to tell it as I remember it. Perhaps the final record, whatever that is, will show that I got some incidents out of order. So be it.

In addition, my account is shaped by further caveats: while the names of the principals in this tale have been stated since this matter eventually became public and is now a matter of record, other names have been changed or just omitted. I had to compress details for brevity's sake--and it will still be a long account. I, unfortunately, also had to omit other details on how we cracked the case so as not to comprise means and methods. During this period, we worked closely with the Sri Lankan and Maldivian governments, as well as the British and the Australian High Commissions on sensitive issues dealing with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the presence of AQ terrorists. I will leave that out, too. My point is that we were focused outwards; we did not think some of our own would betray us. We trusted the people whom the personnel system sent--and that proved a grave mistake.

Above all, however, this is a complicated story, with lots of temptations to head off on tangents. It has a complex back story, one which I can touch on only relatively lightly here. In addition, the story has many moving parts located in many different parts of the globe over a considerable span of time; it will be tough to keep it all making sense. I will try. I have left out some salacious details (might put them back in for the Hollywood version): This is a suitable for work and family blog.

One last cautionary note: I have to show circumspection when dealing with certain people--that will become clear as the story progresses. For the sake of fairness, unlike much of what I have written on this blog before, the idiocy, the vindictiveness, and, perhaps, the outright malfeasance that will be described cannot be put at the feet of President Obama and his inept minions. In fact, one major dolt whom I would love to name but cannot for a variety of reasons was a senior Bush political appointee. Democrats do not have a lock on stupidity; it is a bipartisan commodity.

OK, here we go.

I was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka, 2000-2003. The head of admin was Long Lee, a Vietnamese-American then in her late-forties with a colorful story as to how she ended up in the US Foreign Service. Just how much of this colorful story was true, well, I guess she and God know, but nobody else I could find does. I never thought the Department did a good job of verifying her life’s account. She told of having been a Foreign Service National (FSN) in Saigon, married to an ARVN officer killed by the VC, and barely making it out of Vietnam ahead of the NVA’s conquest of Saigon--these details would change in various tellings. She landed in Washington, D.C., became a US citizen, married an older FSO, whom she subsequently divorced, but with whom she remained friends, and joined the Foreign Service as an administrative cone office--these details, in particular, the order in which they occurred also changed in different tellings. Along the way, she married, again; this third husband was the one I met in Sri Lanka. This spouse, whom everyone called AC, was some 18 years younger than Long. He had been a Marine Security Guard (MSG) when he met the apparently just-divorced Long. After they married, he left the Marines, and became a dependent spouse. She got assignments in Africa, and back in Vietnam, which was odd--as we will see. AC worked at our Colombo embassy, as he had at others, as a visa associate in the consular section. They arrived roughly the same time we did, the summer of 2000, and we became friends. I could not foresee how much I would regret that friendship.

Long and AC arrived in Sri Lanka from an assignment in Hanoi, following one at the US Embassy in Fiji. At both of those posts, as noted, she had worked in admin and he in the visa section. They brought with them a large family of adopted children from Vietnam, and one severely handicapped and very pretty little girl from Cape Verde where they also had served. It was all a bit weird, but in this age one may not question family structures. Throughout my time at post I occasionally noted other “adopted” children coming in and out, elder “relatives” staying and quietly leaving, and a host of young women who would come and go and be introduced as “relatives,” children from her first or second marriage, and friends. Long and AC were famous for their dinner parties, as Long was a superb cook. I noticed on a couple of occasions, however, that she had various of her “children,” teenagers or early twenties, working in the kitchen, and whom she treated rather harshly. On more than one occasion, I remarked to Long, after she had introduced me to one of her “children,” “I thought you said before her name was Jasmine, now it’s Lilly? I thought Lilly was that one over there.” Long would laughingly say, “We all look alike to you, right?” I must state that my wife, who worked then in the security office, was always a bit more openly suspicious than I about arrangements at Long’s house. I, perhaps, did not pay them the attention I should have--my excuse being the press of other work, especially after 9/11.

Long proved outstanding at her job. She wrote well, had a mastery of numbers and budgets, considerable personal charm, a sense of humor, a wide network of contacts, and, above all, an unparalled ability to cut through admin logjams and red tape. There seemed no problem of logistics, management, or administration that she could not solve. You could go to her and say, “We have a surprise 50-person VIP delegation arriving tomorrow. We need to reserve hotel rooms, get them transportation, set up their schedules and host a reception for 400. We need dancing bears, elephants, unicorns, and manatees . . ..” You get the point. She made things happen. She had her local staff running like a Swiss watch. Long drew the attention of a senior Bush State appointee, who thought her the ideal officer; he had big plans for her onward assignments, and made it clear he was her protector.

AC was an energetic, good looking, athletic, big, loud, personable man’s man. He hunted, fished, played superb golf and tennis, swore like a sailor, and was always launching out on some new hobby or another, including learning to play the piano. He almost talked me into going 50/50 with him on buying a locally made fishing boat. AC worked hard in the visa section, and was very knowledgable about US immigration law and procedures, and citizen services. When my eldest son would come to visit, he worked as AC’s assistant in the consular section; they, among other things, would pay visits to imprisoned Americans. AC taught him a great deal about consular law and services. I did find troubling AC’s fascination with get-rich-quick schemes; he seemed perpetually talking about how to make money with this or that investment, and had all sorts of schemes to game the stock market. He, at times, would mention in passing investing in a limo service and in a restaurant. That, too, shows up later.

I should mention a few other key persons in this story. Our security officer (RSO) and his deputy were excellent. Given the violent civil war raging in the country, and especially after 9/11, they had a very tough job. The embassy in Colombo received more white powder letters than any other embassy in the world. We were besieged with--thankfully--fake anthrax envelopes and bomb threats. Each one of these many envelopes had to be treated as the real thing. The RSO and his deputy set up some excellent procedures--which I won’t describe--for dealing with this flood of hostile “correspondence.”

The new Ambassador was a personable and experienced FSO. He and I became friends and had to deal with a host of issues, not the least of which was pressure from Washington to make the US a major player in ending the Sri Lanka civil war. I have described this in other postings and won’t go over it again. He was in the US when 9/11 happened, and barely missed by minutes being on one of the hijacked planes that crashed into the Twin Towers.

There we were, chugging along, fat, dumb, and happy to be doing the work of America in a faraway and exotic land. We had a few glitches (one described here ) but, in general, it was a well-run mission producing good stuff in the war on terror, on nuclear non-proliferation (yes), on finding a solution to the local civil war, and promoting American products. We also worked hard and successfully to undermine EU efforts to set up an outrageous extradition regime under the Treaty of Rome that would allow the EU to grab and try Americans and citizens of other countries that did not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Undersecretary John Bolton was absolutely superb in the battle to ensure that Americans, especially our military, would not get haled before some European-based court on spurious charges.

Then two bolts of lightening very briefly illuminated the problem scenario that was developing. One came courtesy of the ATF; the other, courtesy of the Netherlands' immigration service.

To be continued in a bit--or when I get around to it. I have to plan carefully the telling of the rest of this tale of woe--the single biggest case of visa corruption in the history of the State Department.

Part II here.