Friday, May 15, 2009

Tough Dance at the Podium

The Skeptical Bureaucrat had a piece yesterday on a former Foreign Service Officer, Sabrina De Souza, who has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Clinton, and the United States of America ("defendants") and has requested that the Court afford her relief, among them to:

Require the USG to formally invoke diplomatic and/or consular immunity on behalf of De Sousa and provide her with legal representation with respect to both the criminal and civil proceedings in Italy;

Declare and find that the defendants violated the Administrative Procedures Act by failing to comply with internal rules and regulations with respect to invoking and asserting diplomatic and/or consular immunity on behalf of De Sousa;

Require the defendants to provide De Sousa with a name-clearing hearing in which De Sousa can refute and/or challenge the accuracy of the information underlying the criminal and civil proceedings in Italy that constructively forced her to resign;

Declare and find that the defendants violated De Sousa's liberty interest in traveling and pursuing a career dependent on travel under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution;

You just know this item is going to pop up in the Daily Press Briefing. From yesterday’s DPB:

QUESTION: Ian, can you tell – what can you tell us about the case of this woman named Sabrina De Souza, who has filed a law suit here seeking to force the State Department to invoke diplomatic immunity in her case in Italy?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, you know, I saw that – saw that story in the Times today. Because it’s a subject of an ongoing review, I think I’m just going to take the question, if you don’t mind, and get back to you.

QUESTION: Surely you can confirm whether or not someone was an employee of the State Department.

MR. KELLY: No, really, please just, you know, let me – let me – I want to refer this question to our legal department, if you don’t mind, and we will get back to you.

QUESTION: That’s even less than a comment on a pending legal case and I’ll refer you to the Department of Justice.

Grumble…grumble…it did not start off on the right foot, of course…earlier…

MR. KELLY:[…] I think you’ve all also gotten the notification that the Secretary will have a briefing tomorrow at the Foreign Press Center, and so that – you need to register for that. But that will be tomorrow.

QUESTION: I think you have to be in the foreign press, right?


MR. KELLY: No, I don’t think so. You just need to register.

QUESTION: There’s a Smith-Mundt provision. You better check that. You may not – you may not even have been able – allowed to announce that. (Laughter.)

But on the – since you already have, can we put in a request to have her come down and brief us, perhaps? You know, she has made a couple of appearances here, but never taken any questions.

MR. KELLY: Sure, sure. Well, she came a few days ago, but as you point out, didn’t take any questions. Yeah, we’ll be glad to suggest that to her.

QUESTION: Ian, I don’t think – I don’t know whether you – if you stated the time for that tomorrow. It’s – can you state the time for the record?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – yeah, I don’t know if I have the time. I think I have like the registration deadline for it. I mean, you have to RSVP by 5 p.m. today, but I don’t have the time. I mean --

QUESTION: Do you want me to tell you what it is?

Oh gouchy … just grouchy…

QUESTION: I know we’ve been over this I think a couple times before. But there’s a new report out saying that the U.S. wanted to swap Saberi for the four diplomats who are being held in Irbil. The IRGC guys have been held for a while. Can you say categorically whether that’s true or not?

MR. KELLY: I can categorically say that’s not true.

QUESTION: Well, why was that so hard five minutes earlier?

MR. KELLY: (Laughter.) All right. I’m still working through this, Arshad.

Four more weeks of this and these folks won't be so charming. Although it seems that he can make them laugh, which is always a good thing whether you're on the podium or not.

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