A public diplomacy official who may soon be detailed to the the Tennessee Valley Authority (updated).
Posted: 25 Oct 2006 Print Send a link
Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs tells Aljazeera that the US has shown "arrogance and stupidity" in Iraq. "The state department says Mr Fernandez was quoted incorrectly - but BBC Arabic language experts say Mr Fernandez did indeed use the words." BBC News, 22 October 2006. Transcript. International Herald Tribune, 22 October 2006. The Aljazeera interviewer said, "I, of course, appreciate your usual candor Mr. Fernandez." The audience, perhaps, did as well. "Upon reading the transcript of my appearance on Al-Jazeera, I realized that I seriously misspoke by using the phrase 'there has been arrogance and stupidity' by the U.S. in Iraq. This represents neither my views nor those of the State Department. I apologize." Alberto Fernandez, State Department press release, 22 October 2006. But no apology yet from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack for claiming (as reported by VOA News, 22 October 2006) that the quotes issued by Aljazeera were not an accurate reflection of what Fernandez said. McCormack's contention dissolved when BBC and National Public Radio did their own translations of the Aljazeera interview. "Q: Did he get in trouble? Sean McCormack: Excuse me? Q: Did he get in trouble? McCormack: What do you mean by 'get in trouble'? Q: Was he rebuked by his superiors for this? McCormack: He's still in his job. Q: That's not what I asked you. McCormack: He's still in his job." State Department press briefing, 23 October 2006. Update: "Only in Washington, perhaps, is honesty considered a major gaffe." Editorial, USA Today, 23 October 2006. "Can you imagine a diplomat in any other nation saying such a thing and still having a job the next morning? We can't. It's easy to accept an earnest apology, but not so easy when one suspects the error represents not a personal foible, but an institutional norm." Editorial, Investor's Business Daily, 23 October 2006. "Of all the pronouncements by American officials on Iraq, his, at least, was the most truthful." Editorial, Gulf News (Dubai), 24 October 2006. For more media reaction, see Craig Hayden, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 23 October 2006.