Monday, November 2, 2009

Best Consular Blog. Dead, So Very Dead.

"It's just a flesh wound!" gravestoneImage by Colin Purrington via Flickr

And don’t you dare write another one!

Madam le Consul went missing from the blogosphere 30 days ago today. If you go missing for more than 48 hours in real life, the chances of finding you drop precipitously. The chances of recovery in virtual disappearances, um don’t really know. But she’s gone. Missing for over 700 hours now. The trail is cold. Most likely dead. Just dead. And we can understand if she wants to stay dead for now.

I imagine that there are folks out there who are relieved that though she may browse among us, she is now a ghost among us. And ghosts, you know, can’t be seen or heard, and have not been known to blog, yet. Dead blogger gone. End of line.

Other folks out there, of course, still harbor hope that she comes back. Why, to continue our rudely interrupted conversation, of course. Dead bloggers like cylons (see Battlestar Galactica) have many resurrection ships nearby:,,, Yahoo 360 and more … dead bloggers do not really go away, they just get new URLs. But I won't be surprised if she stays dead.

Every single day I also get somebody knocking on my door looking for MLC. I suspect that she is more popular now dead than she ever was, alive. If Madam le Consul is not resurrected, I hope her ghost starts micro-blogging on Twitter soon, if only to give the folks responsible for her demise nightmares and ulcers. Yup, I’m going to hell for wishing that. Whatever. I’m still royally pissed that I no longer have her company when I have coffee each morning.

Liam Schwartz who publishes the Consular Corner has a brief piece on Madam le Consul (republished below with permission):

Respect for MLC

"The Consuls' Files" -- probably the best visa blog in the universe -- has disappeared from our screens. Over a relatively short period of time, 'Madam le Consul' provided more consular education to more people than any of us would have thought possible. For her devoted audience, the reason for MLC's sudden disappearance remains a mystery; that said, opinion in consular cyberspace is virtually unanimous that "The Consuls' Files" was forced to close down by a skittish Bureau of Consular Affairs.

For a brief few months, MLC provided us with an enhanced level of information regarding the world of consular officers. In so doing, she created more public trust and support for that world than any one person has done in a very long time. We are deeply saddened by the loss of "The Consuls' Files" and thank MLC for having given so much in such a short period of time.

MLC's final blog piece, posted on October 2, 2009 was perhaps appropriately entitled "Yuck."

Yuck, indeed!

I think we have to remember that the Bureau of Consular Affairs was born out of the McCarthy furor of the 1950’s and was set up under INA of 1952. Robert Walter Scott McLeod, the first Assistant Secretary of State for what was then called the Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs (SCA) was known for his bureau’s slogan, “an ounce of loyalty is worth more than a pound of brain.” Also known apparently was his “field study” of 19,000 employees at home and abroad trying to find “security risks.” Donald Warwick, author of A Theory of Public Bureaucracy (1975 p.19) writes that “to become a “security risk,” one needed little more than an unflattering remark by a colleague.”

Ah, the bad, old days. Don’t you just miss them?

I’m not saying that MLC was a security risk or that the bureau is still trying to fumigate the commies out there -- just that the bureau’s "skittishness" may steam from its turbulent and sad history. In any case, I think we’ll let MLC rest in peace now. Let's have a parade when she comes back. Um, but what’s this I hear? -- is it true that the latest consular cable has an odd item discouraging the conception, immaculate or otherwise, of a consular blog? Oh, please, do tell.


NoDoubleStandards said...

Yeah, the inclusion of that item in the latest consular issues cable sure doesn't seem coincidental, given what's happened, does it?

skobb said...

I thought that section of the consular cable sounded rather ominous as well. It made a point of mentioning that even a personal blog can be a candidate for censorship if it discusses any work issues.

I never had a chance to read MLC's work. Is it all cached for me to check out?

diplopundit said...

@NDS - One of my readers tipped me on that not so very odd item, but I have not seen it, unfortunately. I imagine its points to 3 FAM and 5 FAM, can't remember the exact sections? I supposed that means ConOffs or any officer/employee at State who now must all be skilled in public diplomacy and public outreach - can blog all they want and do all that ho-ha in web 2.0 as long as they just reprint the talking points? I wonder if you have to submit for clearance any other comments that you may have for anywhere in the net? I supposed they will hire contractors to screen and approve/disapprove all those messages?

@skobb - I believe MLC's cache files are currently hosted at cryptome. See links in

I really wonder about this - how long before every one will be embedded with a chip so every time the employee post a comment in a blog or social media, a disclaimer will be attached to it, or better yet, the chip will zap post immediately, if employee speaks on matters of official concern that have not been approved by an official web20bot?