Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Fun Suspended for Embassy Control Officers

WaPo reports that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) appeared on the Senate floor this past Wednesday to call for a delay of at least two more weeks to review Obama’s AG-designate’s (Eric Holder) record as a local judge, federal prosecutor and then deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.

The Chairman, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) fired back with a three-page letter to its ranking member saying basically that the hearings for the past several Attorney Generals were conducted speedily between 24-30 days from their dates of designation. And says “I have noticed the hearing for the next Attorney General 39 days after he was officially designated and 52 days after your November 18 statement that you were already at work reviewing his record.”

Of course, Leahy’s letter started with this blurb for public record: “As I hope you know, I honored your request and asked Secretary Rice to facilitate your 14-day trip to 10 countries from December 25 through January 7. Please do let me know who the other Senators are who will be accompanying you.” Heh!

Al Kamen of WaPo
did a big “Hmmm” on this. He speculated that “Leahy, as Judiciary chairman, probably authorized Specter’s congressional delegation, though it’s possible he didn’t know that the “delegation” was just Specter and his wife and an aide, who are taking a military jet to Europe and the Middle East over the holidays. The itinerary includes stops in England, Israel (his 26th visit), Syria (18th) and Austria. The Austria stop is for a chat with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.”

In short, at least ten unfortunate diplomats in mostly sparkling capital cities (London, Jerusalem, Damascus, Vienna plus six more) will be working as control officers for the congressional delegation over the holidays. Sorry guys and gals, you are public servants and should never be off duty. The local staff would have to be drafted especially the drivers. The Community Liaison Officers would also need to be drafted unless no shopping spree is in order (no shopping? where's the fun in that?). I wonder if our diplomats get brownie points if they’re “it” for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? No, there's no overtime. What, comptime? Forgetaboutit.

As a taxpayer, I am appalled that these folks are not home and spending the holidays with their constituents in their home states/districts. Some people could not afford to heat their houses this winter (actually some no longer have their own houses to heat), so an open house with hot coco and sweets would really be in order. But in the event that this train has already left the station, I'd say here is an opportunity to engage in bread and butter diplomacy. So no long faces -- but if you’re “it” for December 28 - just remember that the Holy Innocent’s Day is equivalent to April Fool's Day in a bunch of countries. The fun need not be suspended in the holiday graveyard shift.

1 comment:

Digger said...

Boy do I sympathize. As a junior officer, I worked on 10 Secretary visits, plus numerous codels and a FLOTUS. Inevitably, the visits were over holidays and long weekends (we were told this was intentional so they wouldn't "interfere" with our regular operations). They "offered" us comp time, but of course, comp time expires and our schedules never permitted us to use it before it went away. So with as little leave as a JO gets, I ended up with use or lose leave by the time I got back to DC.