Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Albright shows her naïveté. How has history treated? Our SoS is following in her shoes

Madeleine Albright: Diplomacy still possible in Ukraine, if Putin wants solution

March 11th, 2014 By Mick Krever, CNN
A diplomatic solution to the standoff over Crimea is still possible, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“There is a solution,” she said. “There could be more autonomy for Crimea. The question is whether [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants a solution. He may like this kind of disarray, because it's kind of in everybody's face.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked on the phone Tuesday about their respective countries' ideas about resolving the Ukrainian crisis, a day after Lavrov announced that Kerry had postponed a face-to-face meeting with Putin, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“There are moments where you think, ‘Why can't we get this together,’” Albright told Amanpour. “The bottom line is, scoring points is not what it's about.”
There is a solution, she said, in which the country has a relationship with both Russia and the United States.
“What I think is a tragedy is that Putin is providing a zero-sum game. And it doesn't have to be.”
Crimea will hold a referendum Sunday on whether the peninsula should become a part of Russia or remain within Ukraine.
The interim Ukrainian government – and foreign leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama – have called that initiative illegal.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, will discuss legislation on March 21 on Crimea joining the nation, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday.
Could Crimea’s fate be a “fait accompli,” Amanpour asked.
“I suppose it is possible that it could be a fait accompli,” Albright said.
Ultimately, however, she said that the Russians would be “punished” for their actions, including sending armed men into Crimea.
“Instead of bringing Russia into a world where we are cooperating economically and diplomatically, the Russians are isolating themselves.”
She described as “short-term” thinking the idea that any sanctions against resource-rich Russia would backfire.
“What has happened to Russia in many different ways is kind of the oil curse. They have done no reforms whatsoever because they have that oil money. Oil prices may go down as a result of the shale revolution in a number of different ways. There are other sources.”
For example, she told Amanpour, a long-term deal over Iran’s nuclear program could further lift sanctions and make that country a global exporter of oil and gas.
Scare tactics
Meanwhile, intimidating billboards have gone up in Crimea equating the referendum – between Ukraine and Russia – to a choice between Nazism or Russia.

Albright decodes Crimea's Nazi billboard

Albright, a diplomat with extensive experience with Russia and Eastern Europe, translated the billboard.
“It says ‘16th March … we choose.’”
“This is just pure, unadulterated scare tactics,” she said.
“I was watching Russian TV in the last couple of days. And what they have done, there are, let me just say, probably good-willed people who are concerned that their Slavic brothers and sisters are, in fact, all of a sudden being subjected to fascism or Nazism.”
Many older people, she said, still have vivid memories of the “tragedies” that took place in Ukraine during World War II.
“That is one of the more outrageous placards that I've ever seen.”
The Russian mind-set
Many veteran Russia observers, such as New Yorker editor David Remnick, believe that President Putin is trying to reassert Russia’s place in the world as a great, powerful nation. 
“The Russians are really good at revisionist history,” Albright said, who served as Secretary State in the crucial period following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
“We didn't win the Cold War, they lost the Cold War. The Soviet Union disintegrated from inside. This was not something that the West did. The communist system simply does not work. And so that is the genesis of the problem.”
“We were asked to do something that has never been done before, which is how to devolve the power of your major adversary in a respectful way.”
The invited Russia into the G8, she said, and “made a point” of welcoming them into various international organizations.
The U.S. also pushed NATO – the Cold War-era military alliance – further, and closer to Russia’s border.
“I know there are those who think that that was a mistake,” she said. “They've just misunderstood from the very beginning.”
“I went to talk to Yeltsin about this. And I said this is what we're doing. And he said, ‘We're a new Russia.’ And I said, ‘This is a new NATO. It is not against you. And you can ultimately be a member of NATO.’”
“They are using this ‘Oh, woe is me,’ in order to garner sympathy, and have some kind of a recreating something that they destroyed themselves.”
Insight into the Russian foreign minister 
Albright also has extensive experience with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, having served as ambassador to the United Nations at the same time he did.
“He can be hot and cold. I mean he's very, very smart. He argues very well.”
“The last meeting we had was really peculiar,” she said. “I arrive at the foreign ministry – and I am known for my pins – so I had on this pin that is a knot. And he looked at the pin and he said, ‘So what is that?’ And I said, ‘It’s our bond.’”

Albright's 'peculiar' run in with Lavrov

“So then we left the hall, we went to sit down at the shiny table and he looks across the table and he says, ‘I know what it is! It’s James Bond.’”
“And I said, ‘No, Sergey, it’s our friendship.’ And he said ‘No, it’s what you think of our pipelines.’ And I said, ‘No, Sergey, it is a sign of our relationship given to me by your predecessor, Igor Ivanov.’”
“He has this capability of seeing what he wants to see. And he does like to score points.”
An optimistic view
In her interview on Tuesday, she wore a large sparkling sunflower brooch – “very-optimistic looking,” as Amanpour described it.
Is Alright optimistic about Ukraine?
“I wore it on purpose, because I do think that this can be solved,” she said. “There's a combination of tools here.”
“The Ukrainians have to be at the table. You can't do to the Ukrainians what happened to the Czechoslovaks at Munich, where they were told to do something and the country was sold down the river.”
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Diana Magnay contributed to this report.

Now where would the Secret Service get such an idea? Bureaucracy lives for itself and woe unto yee who crosses it.

Top Secret Service official urged release ofunflattering information about congressman

By Carol D. Leonnig and Jerry Markon September 30 at 7:57 PM

An assistant director of the Secret Service urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman ccritical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday.
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.”
Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected.
That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private.
The report by John Roth, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, singled out Lowery, in part because of his senior position at the agency. The report also cited Lowery’s e-mail as the one piece of documentary evidence showing the degree of anger inside the agency at Chaffetz and the desire for the information to be public.
Lowery had been promoted to the post of assistant director for training just a month earlier as part of an effort that Secret Servvice Director Joseph Clancy said would reform the agency after a series of high-profile security lapses. Clancy had tapped Lowery to join a slate of new leaders he installed after removing more than two-thirds of the previous senior management team.
During the inspector general’s probe, Lowery denied to investigators that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz to the press and said his e-mail was simply a vent for his stress and by about 45 Secret Service agents, some of whom shared it with their colleagues in March and April, the report found. This prying began after a contentious March 24 House hearing at which Chaffetz scolded the director and the agency for its series of security gaffes and misconduct. The hhearing sparked anger inside the aagency.
The inspector general’s inquiry found that the Chaffetz information was spread to nearly every layer of the service.
Staff members in the most senior headquarters offices, the president’s protective detail, the public affairs office, the office of investigations, and field offices in Sacramento, Charlotte, Dallas and elsewhere accessed Chaffetz’s file and many acknowledged sharing it widely, according to the report. The day after the March 24 hearing, one agent who had been sent to New York for the visit of the president of Afghanistan recalled that nearly all of the 70 agents at a briefing were discussing it.
All told, 18 supervisors, including assistant directors, the deputy director and even Clancy’s chief of staff knew the information was being widely shared through agency offices, the report said.
“These agents work for an agency whose motto ‘Worthy of trust and confidence’ is engraved in marble in the lobby of their headquarters building,” Roth wrote in his summary report. “Few could credibly argue that the agents involved in this episode lived up to this motto.”
Chaffetz issued this response Wednesday night in a statement to The Washington Post: “Certain lines should never be crossed. The unauthorized access and distribution of my personal information crossed that line. It was a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me and frankly, it is intimidating. It’s scary to think about all the possible dangers in having your personal information exposed. The work of the committee, however, will continue. I remain undeterred in conducting proper and rigorous oversight.”
Clancy said in an e-mailed statement earlier Wednesday: “I have reviewed the DHS OIG Report and have provided additional information to the DHS IG. The Secret Service takes employee misconduct very seriously, and as I have stated before, any employee, regardless of rank or seniority, who has committed misconduct will be held accountable. This incident will be no different and I will ensure the appropriate disciplinary actions are taken.
“On behalf of the men and women of the United States Secret Service, I again apologize to Representative Page 2 of 4
Top Secret Service official urged release of unflattering information about congressman - The Washington Post 9/30/15, 6:16 PM
Chaffetz for this wholly avoidable and embarrassing misconduct. Additionally, I will continue to review policies and practices to address employee misconduct and demand the highest level of integrity of all our employees.”
After reviewing the IG report, the oversight panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by what Roth’s team uncovered and that staffers who have shown themselves to be “unwilling or unable to meet the highest ethical standards” should leave the aagency.
“Chairman Chaffetz and I have worked together to help restore the Secret Service to its standing as the most elite protective agency in the world,” Cummings said. “Today’s findings by the Inspector General go directly against this goal and are completely and utterly unacceptable and indefensible.”
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, whose department includes the Secret Service, urged in a statement that those personnel who had engaged in inappropriate conduct should be held responsible.
Roth said in his report that it was “especially ironic and troubling” that the Chaffetz information circulated so widely inside the agency and yet Clancy did not know about it. Even Clancy chief of staff Michael Biermann and Deputy Director Craig Magaw had been privy to the information, the report said, but did not alert CClancy.
Clancy had previously raised concerns about the failure of his staff to keep him properly informed. At the March 24 hearing, he said he was “infuriated” that he was not alerted by his senior management to an incident earlier that month in which two senior supervisors drove onto the White House complex after a night of drinking and crossed through an active bomb-investigation scene.
“He testified that he was ‘working furiously to try to break down these barriers where people feel that they can’t talk up the chain,’ Roth wrote. “Yet the Director himself did not know.”
Roth’s investigation examined not only who accessed Chaffetz’s personnel file inside the service but also who disclosed information about the file to the media. The Daily Beast first reported on April 2 that Chaffetz had once been rejected for a job at the service. The Post reported additional details later that evening.
One official told The Post that the material included a parody poster that pictured Chaffetz leading a hearing on the Secret Service from his congressional dais, with the headline “Got BQA from the Service in 2003.” Within the Secret Service, “BQA” is an acronym meaning that a “better qualified applicant” was available.
Roth’s report said investigators were unable to pin down how The Post and the Daily Beast obtained their information. “Because of the significant number of individuals who had knowledge of Chairman Chaffetz’s application history, we were unable to conclusively determine the universe of sources of the disclosure . . . to individuals outside of government,” the report said.
Roth himself has faced criticism over his handling of the investigation because he allowed inspectors from the Secret Service’s internal affairs office to sit in on interviews and question some witnesses alongside his investigators. Legal experts and former government investigators have said the service’s involvement was a potential conflict of interest because top officials at the agency had an incentive to embarrass Chaffetz. Experts also expressed concerns that it could deter internal whistleblowers from coming forward with additional allegations of misconduct, for fear of retribution by their bosses.
Carol Leonnig covers federal agencies with a focus on government accountability.
Jerry Markon covers the Department of Homeland Security for the Post’s National Desk. He also serves as lead Web and newspaper writer for major breaking national news.
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