President Obama should waive diplomatic immunity for all sex crimes: Secretary Clinton’s “Boys will be boys” policy must be reversed
ast week it was
revealed that the State Department failed to disclose a scandal in
Brazil involving a senior Diplomatic Security official who injured a
prostitute. The official was not fired and apparently was not even
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal high tolerance for male sex-capades should be rejected as Administration policy.
The incident highlights a dark side of the Foreign Service,
which is that a small number of its members prey on prostitutes in host
countries and they do so because these diplomats face no sanction for
these criminal acts.
solution is for President Obama to not simply announce that such
conduct is unacceptable, but for him to actually do something to stops
these crimes. The best solution is to begin waiving diplomatic immunity
for diplomatic, military and Secret Service sex crimes committed
overseas. That will almost instantly stop most of these criminal acts.
the Brazil scandal, a group of three U.S. Marines attached to the
security detail at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, and a fourth person,
who was reportedly a senior Bureau of Diplomatic Security supervisor of
the Marines, used an official Embassy van to drive to the Apples
nightclub for drinks. They apparently parked their vehicle on the street
(a security violation) and then went into the club and hired four
While in the process of leaving the nightclub location with
the four prostitutes, an argument broke out. One of the prostitutes was
pushed out of the van and then the van proceeded to run over her. The
four Americans fled the scene leaving the unconscious women lying in the
The victim, Romilda Aparecida Ferreira, suffered a broken
collarbone, two broken ribs and a punctured lung. The four Americans
were hastily flown out of Brazil and back to the United States. Two of
the Marines were demoted and apparently no disciplinary action was taken
against the other two Americans. The senior Diplomatic Security
official continues to work at the State Department.
State Department, under its full transparency policy, failed to report
the incident. It only came to light last week because the women filed a
lawsuit regarding the attack on her and because the sex crime fit into a
larger story in the U.S. about Secret Service agents and U.S. military
personnel in Columbia, Panama and elsewhere who were involved in similar
important facet of this story is the comparison between two Executive
Departments, which one might characterize as the Departments of Light
and Darkness. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to his credit, stepped
forward and met with the press. He detailed the facts, condemned the
conduct of his Marines in Brazil and announced that two of his Marines
had been demoted. This is what we should expect from our officials.
the State Department, Secretary Clinton refused to address the media,
refused to criticize her Diplomatic Security official and she apparently
refused to discipline him. Instead, she sent her hapless press
secretary out to meet the news media. During a contentious April 25,
2012 press conference, Victoria Newland, apparently forgetting that she
is a woman and a representative of the American people who demand that
its officials act with honor, refused to answer almost all questions on
She rejected Secretary Panetta’s characterization of the
facts and then shamefully stated that any discussion of the incident
would violate the privacy of the State Department’s unidentified
employee (which is not true at all). Ms. Newland proudly announced that
Secretary Clinton had a “zero tolerance” policy for prostitution
offenses, but then refused to explain exactly what that meant, because
offenders are allowed to keep their jobs. Ms. Newland then made the
outrageous comment that Ms. Ferreira’s injuries were her own fault
(i.e., that she pushed herself out of the van and then she ran over
This reinforces the terrible mantra of sex offenders that their victims got what they deserve and it is all their own faults.
Reporters leaving the April 25th press conference must have immediately wanted to take a shower to rinse off the bad smell.
Other important questions unanswered at the press conference were:
1. Who at the Embassy in Brasilia authorized the use of the Embassy van and who knew about these off-site escapades?
2. How wide spread is the use of prostitutes by U.S. diplomats?
3. What are the security implications of such criminal conduct?
4. If the security officials are hiring prostitutes, who is left to enforce the rules?
5. Why are security clearances not being revoked for such crimes?
6. Why was the U.S. Ambassador in Brazil (Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.) not fired? Why does the buck not stop anywhere anymore?
Where are Senator John Kerry and Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and
why is there never any aggressive oversight by the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee or the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding
State Department sex crimes?
web site “Diplopundit” has published an expose’ on prostitution and the
State Department. In its research, confirmed by this reporter, there
are published decisions of the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB),
which is supposed to review proposed disciplinary action against
Case No. 2007-11, a Foreign Service Officer was found to have solicited
prostitutes up to sixty times at two overseas postings and in both
countries such conduct was criminal. The Board affirmed the State
Department’s discipline in the case, which was a three-day suspension
for up to sixty criminal acts!
Case No. 2008-048 was filed in October 2008, but continued into 2009.
It was one of the first decisions the new Obama Administration had to
make when it took office. In this matter, the senior Diplomatic Security
official at an undisclosed embassy (who is called the “Regional
Security Officer” or RSO) was found to have used local prostitutes,
including one young girl under the age of 16. The case did not focus on
the adult prostitutes, which no one seemed concerned about. The concern
was over the young girl. The State Department finally agreed to separate
the official, but the Obama Administration apparently never prosecuted
approval of the current and previous Administrations for sex crimes has
impacted world public opinion and that has consequences. In August 2009,
an official of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow named Brendan Kyle Hatcher
became temporarily infamous when a Russian news outlet, which was linked
to the country’s intelligence services, released a video that purported
to show Mr. Hatcher frequenting a prostitute. The world’s press
immediately accepted this as true and reported it in the worst light.
The reason is that sexual misconduct is condoned by “Fifth Floor”
officials at the State Department. While the video was later found to be
a forgery created to embarrass the U.S., the forgery worked for a time
and the U.S. suffered significant bad press. It is the State
Department’s own fault that the international press has such a poor
opinion of U.S. diplomats, and the Department has only itself to blame
when subsequent Embassy statements about an incident are ignored because
U.S. Embassy statements have historically lacked credibility.
leads to a crucial issue of international law. The reality is that
American diplomats are not entitled to diplomatic immunity under the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
American diplomats are not entitled to diplomatic immunity because the United States does not adhere to the Vienna Convention.
immunity was never intended to license sex crimes. The concept was that
diplomats, depending on their status and notifications to the host
government, would only be immune from local process. All the Vienna
Convention did was change the venue of the prosecution from the Host
Country to the Home Country.
cornerstone of diplomatic immunity is the agreement that the offending
diplomat will be prosecuted in his or her home country, but the U.S.
never prosecutes its diplomats.
of the sex offense cases has apparently ever resulted in an American
prosecution. The same occurred in the case of Raymond Allen Davis, a CIA
contractor/official who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore on January 27,
2011. After returning him to the U.S., his “prosecution” was quietly
shelved and forgotten.
shelved by Attorney General Eric Holder was the investigation into the
death of Ebadur Rehman, an innocent Pakistani civilian who was run over
in Lahore by four U.S. security officials responding to the Davis
shooting. Mr. Rehman was killed when the U.S. officials recklessly
jumped the median on Jail Road and drove into on-coming traffic. The
Americans fled the scene and then fled the country. The Obama
Administration has refused to identify or prosecute them. Pursuant to
international law, host countries in the future can ignore all U.S.
claims of diplomatic immunity because such immunity simply does not
President Obama gave an interview and characterized Secret Service sex
crimes as just “a couple of knuckleheads.” Well, with all due respect
Mr. President, you should have characterized them as criminals and until
you start to do so, the honor and image of the United States will
continue to suffer, as will you own standing in the world community.
loss of diplomatic immunity for American diplomats would be for the
better. As there is no stomach in the U.S. to prosecute these sex
crimes, the prosecutions should be left to local authorities in the host
countries. The procedure should be that when an incident occurs, the
State Department temporarily asserts a claim of immunity, keeps the
individuals in-country and conducts a preliminary investigation, which
should include the use of polygraphs on its personnel. Unless the U.S.
inquiry reveals that the alleged offenses are either clearly untrue or a
set up, a decision should be made to immediately turn the diplomat over
to local authorities. Such a new policy would largely solve the
Obama needs to make this decision because Secretary Clinton will not.
The American news media last week failed to report a non-event, which is
the uncharacteristically invisible Secretary Clinton. As sex scandals
in Columbia, Panama, Brazil involving U.S. officials were disclosed, she
was curiously absent from public view.
Where is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
was no condemnation by her of any of these abuses against women and no
vows of swift punishment or corrective action. It is to the credit of
Secretary Clinton’s publicity machine that she is “renowned” for her
support of women’s rights, when the facts reveal the opposite. Publicity
photos and fancy speeches about women’s rights cannot replace the
reality, which is that the State Department deafening silence regarding
the abuse of women by U.S. diplomats and other officials. Such a policy
does not merely condone the practices, but encourages them. The Kabul
Press has witnessed this in Afghanistan as the U.S. Embassy has
consistently refused to condemn the brothels that sprung up in 2001 to
service UN and NATO officials and U.S. Embassy security contractors.
Like Ms. Newland, other prominent State Department women have also
abandoned women victims. UN Ambassador Susan Rice has consistently
remained silent on repeated UN peacekeepers sex abuses in Africa.
Rape, sex abuse and preying on children are literally a war on women.
sordid practices will continue as long as they are pushed back into the
darkness. It will be up to President Romney to bring morality back into
U.S. foreign policy. The standing of the U.S. overseas will only
improve when people can leave a State Department press conference
without having to take a shower.