Back during law school, I took the Foreign Service exam, passed on the first try, and interviewed for a job in the State Department. Today, I’d be less ashamed if I’d auditioned for La Cage Aux Folles, so this isn’t easy for me to admit. I flew all the way down to Dallas for the interview phase, only to come face-to-face with a bunch of pony-tailed hippies in suits. If there’s one thing I cannot pretend not to despise, it’s a goddamned hippie in a suit. I’m sure it showed. Ever since, I’ve thanked Jehovah daily that I went into the Army instead.
The other day, GI Korea told us about how State was airbrushing its annual North Korea human rights report, and thanks to reader Joseph, we see that it’s not as bad as that — it’s worse. Even as Kim Jong Il’s atrocities shock us with new depths of senselessness — I refer to the latest massacre of starving refugees — State has the impeccably timed gall to Trotsky up its annual report on human rights in North Korea.
We learn this from Washington Post columnist Al Kamen, who, I should note, writes like a thumbdick of the first order. If Kamen had written for the Post in the 1930’s, he’d have smirked that Hitler was “eccentric” and Stalin “eclectic,” because to Kamen, a guy who gases families, runs concentration camps, and slaughters refugees is “quirky.” Now that we’ve established that Kamen isn’t motivated by any interest in human rights — he mostly seems to want to embarrass a president he dislikes for tribal reasons — I’ll concede that Kamen collaterally does us a service by showing us an inside view of one of the lower moments of our country’s recent history:
So on Friday, Glyn Davies, the principal deputy assistant secretary in the East Asia bureau, sent an e-mail to Erica Barks-Ruggles, a deputy assistant secretary in the DRL bureau, regarding some changes in the introductory language of a report on North Korea.
“Erica,” he wrote, “I know you are under the NSC [National Security Council] gun,” apparently to get the report done so the NSC can review it, “but hope given the Secretary’s priority on the Six-Party Talks, we can sacrifice a few adjectives for the cause.
Did you catch that subtle effort at intimidation?
“Many thanks. Glyn.”
And the changes? Eliminated words are in brackets, and additions are in italics:
“The [repressive] North Korean government[regime] continued to control almost all aspects of citizens’ lives, denying freedom of speech, press, assembly, and assikeociation, and restricting freedom of movement and workers’ rights. Reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and arbitrary detention, including of political prisoners, continue to emerge [from the isolated country]. Some forcibly repatriated refugees were said to have undergone severe punishment and possibly torture. Reports of public executions continued to surface[were on the rise].” [Washington Post]
One valuable skill George W. Bush really should have learned from Kim Jong Il is how to carry out a half-decent purge. The concealment of atrocities is a fine old State Department tradition in which the contemptable Glyn Davies follows. Glyn may go home every night and pet his dog, but if I knew for a fact that those 12 women and 3 men the North Koreans shot on that bridge at Onsong were as soulless as Glyn Davies, I’d be surfing YouTube instead of going through a cathartic bout of binge-blogging. If George W. Bush has a shred of conscience, Davies will be a Deputy Chief of Mission in Nuokchott one month from now.
As with sausage, it can be unpleasant to watch foreign policy made. Still, they have to do something with all of those unused testicles, spines, and hearts.