Timothy N. Hunter is Washington representative of State Department Watch, a citizens' oversight group.
In December 1992, the U.S. Department of State assigned me to serve as an administrative attaché at the American Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. My activities there became controversial because I raised questions about restrictions on the human rights of Americans. On April 21, 1995, the Department of State terminated, without explanation, my appointment in the Foreign Service. The following pages recount my experiences in Saudi Arabia leading up to my expulsion; I believe these to be of interest to a general public because they show the dismaying way in which American officials appease the Saudi authorities.
First, a few words about myself: Prior to this posting in Jeddah, I had no particular connection to the Middle East, not having been to the region and not knowing its languages. Rather, I had spent three of my fifteen years in federal service as a special agent of U.S. Army Counterintelligence and seven years as a policymaking appointee handling economic and planning recommendations in the executive branch (at such institutions as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Office of Personnel Management, the White House Office of Administration). I joined the State Department as a mid-level specialist career candidate in the Foreign Service in July 1990.
THE CHRISTIAN CATACOMBS
Early in my tour of duty, Consul General Mark Hambley (the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, also serving as the American consul general in Jeddah at a time when there was no designated ambassador to Saudi Arabia) called me in, along with a security aide, to discuss the "informal duties" I would take on. They explained that because security officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia tolerate no non-Muslim religious activity, the U.S. consulate general's offices compound in Jeddah (which, like all diplomatic establishments, is considered sovereign territory belonging to the embassy's government) had for many years provided religious sanctuary for worship, primarily for the 6,000 Americans in the consulate district (out of the 21,000 Americans in the country as a whole). That way, Christians could worship beyond the reach of the Mutawa, the kingdom's feared religious police.1
As a practicing Catholic myself, I was assigned the job of monitoring and coordinating the "Tuesday Lecture" at the Jeddah consulate general -- really the Catholic catacomb. (Services in Jeddah took place on Tuesday, not Sunday, owing to the scarcity of clergy and their need to be in other locations on Sundays.) I soon learned that the mission management2 had limited attendance to fifteen worshippers, each of whom was reviewed for his "security reliability," despite the consulate's ample grounds capacity to accommodate hundreds of worshippers at once.
To ensure that the congregation did not grow in numbers, I had detailed instructions about procedures to follow with non-official Americans (the catacombs were generally open only to officially connected Americans) who contacted me. When Catholic Americans sought permission to worship, I was to receive their telephone inquiries and deflect them by pretending not to know about the "Tuesday Lecture." Only if a person kept calling back and insisting that such a group existed was I to meet with him and get a sense of his trustworthiness. If satisfied that he would keep a confidence and not admit the existence of the group, I would refer the person to the U.S. security officer, who would check with the Saudi police to make sure this American citizen was not a Saudi scofflaw. If the person passed all these checks, he might be admitted. In my time, we never actually admitted anyone, though one very pious Catholic family attended a single liturgy before being turned away, because they were found to be Canadian nationals, not U.S. citizens.
My personal dealings were limited to Catholics. I later learned that others -- Protestants, Mormons, and Jews -- were denied any sanctuary on the consulate grounds. I cannot explain why only a few Catholics temporarily enjoyed the privilege of safe worship; perhaps it has to do with the multinational nature of the Catholic community in Jeddah and the major Catholic clergy's all being non-U.S. nationals. In contrast, Protestant Americans are relatively isolated. Non-Catholic Americans were directed to the British Consulate, which both sponsored other religious services and admitted much larger numbers of Catholics. But the U.K. services were full, leaving most American worshippers only the option of holding services on Saudi territory, thereby exposing themselves to potentially violent attack from the Mutawa.
Indeed, upon hearing sacred music, the Mutawa were known to break into American residences without notice and confiscate such religious items as crosses, prayer books, music sheets, scapulars, rosaries, and Bibles. On occasion, they beat, even tortured Americans in Jeddah for as little as possessing a photograph with a Star of David in the background or singing Christmas carols.3 The Mutawa chained, beat, and cast clergy into medieval-style dungeons.4 Punishment on the spot for "offending Islam" included whipping, imprisonment, or expulsion.5
Non-Islamic worship being so dangerous on Saudi territory, I recommended to management that Americans of all denominations have the opportunity to use the U.S. consulate general's space for divine worship. It rejected this recommendation and told me to continue directing American citizens to the British consulate. Why so? Because "security reasons" dictated keeping the numbers down.6 Did they envision terrorist bombers infiltrating the clergy and families to attack the U.S. consulate, I asked? Did they not know that the clergy would cooperate in any procedures to ensure security? Management responded with a clear warning: push further and the Catholic congregation would feel the consequences.7
In January 1994, a team of security inspectors from the State Department's Office of the Inspector General were due for a visit. I met with them and described the phony security pretexts being used to deny free exercise of religion. The inspectors reported that abuse of religious liberty due to manipulation of the security system was not within their mandate because it involves "political" issues. When I pointed out that the Code of Ethics for Government Service flatly contradicts that opinion,8 they advised me of their unfamiliarity with the details of the Code.
In this context, it is worth noting that the U.S. mission has a protocol with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the effect that no American diplomats thought to be Jewish by the State Department will be permanently stationed in the kingdom;9 needless to say, this contravenes a whole library full of American statutes.10 In striking contrast, management encourages Muslims, Saudi and American alike,11 openly to worship on the grounds of the American consulate (for Islamic prayers occur five times a day, making it is more convenient for the scores of Muslim staff to stay on the premises than to leave the consulate's grounds and find a space in the congested public mosques).
This attitude fits a larger pattern of willingness to infringe on American civil liberties. In 1990-91, when over half a million American forces were stationed in Saudi Arabia to defend the kingdom, the Pentagon agreed not to assign non-Muslim military chaplains to minister to the troops. Indeed, President George Bush had to eat his Thanksgiving meal on a ship off the Saudi coast for fear of offending the Saudis with a prayer before the feast. The American troops did not celebrate Christmas services that year, but attended what came to be known as "C-word morale services" held in unmarked tents or in mess halls; under no circumstances were the activities within ever to be seen from the outside.
Getting back to the consulate, its policy is illegal under U.S. law. The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from any abridgment of religious exercise; "security" is not a legitimate argument for restricting the free exercise of religion. Not only must officials not engage in any form of religious persecution or harassment but established practice requires them to anticipate the religious needs of citizens. Thus, Congress has provided itself and the armed forces with religious chaplaincy. Denying religious accommodation is blatantly unconstitutional. Further, no law or regulation authorizes U.S. diplomats in Saudi Arabia to provide a place for worship for some worshippers (i.e., Muslims) but not others. Nor may they accommodate aliens worshipping on U.S. grounds while denying the same right to Americans.
Helping with the exercise of religious observance would not place a heavy burden on management. Just as nonmilitary U.S. agencies overseas (State, U.S. Information Agency, Commerce, Agriculture) avail themselves of many Department of Defense services -- groceries at the commissary, dry goods at the PX, Class Six goods (beer, wine, and liquor), and even the military postal service (FPO/APO) -- they could take advantage of the military chaplains to sustain diplomats and their families.12 Until churches can open in Saudi Arabia, it is axiomatic that the U.S. government should provide chaplains for American military personnel, their dependents, and the many other official Americans in the country. Further, this would benefit all Americans resident there, for private citizens are entitled to attend U.S. military chaplain's services (except under combat conditions).
OTHER ACTS OF APPEASEMENT
This unwillingness to stand up for the religious rights of Americans fits into a larger pattern of American diplomacy in Saudi Arabia. Take the censorship of mail: U.S. officials meticulously cooperate with Saudi censorship of international mail. Mail to U.S. military and official government personnel enters the kingdom on U.S. military craft, and American officials in Saudi Arabia follow Saudi wishes by seizing and disposing of Christmas trees and decorations and other symbols of the holiday. They seize and destroy Christmas cards sent to (the mostly non-official) Americans who receive their mail through a Saudi postal box, and even tear from the envelope U.S. stamps portraying religious scenes.
The impossibility of doing archaeological research is similarly revealing. The search for antiquities is not ordinarily considered a matter of human rights, but the Saudi authorities deny nearly all requests from scholars to dig in the kingdom. The U.S. government has not challenged this blanket refusal to allow excavations by American researchers.
To a degree, this is understandable, for the U.S. mission is so preoccupied with extraneous duties -- entertainment packages for high-level visitors, liquor sales, and handling baggage for VIP visitors13 -- they have scant time to devote to the rights of Americans. But a parade of high-profile U.S. officials and ex-officials who come to Saudi Arabia to pay homage to King Fahd -- in 1993 and 1994, Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, Colin Powell, Mack McLarty, and Richard Murphy -- could press these issues. Instead, these U.S. visitors, who were feted and presented with medals and gifts at closed ceremonies with the Saudi monarch, presumably did not bring up such contentious topics.
The weakness of American diplomacy is apparent in other areas too, such as the unwillingness to protest human-rights abuses against foreign workers or to stand up publicly for American interests.
Foreign workers. Officially, U.S. government policy advances the cause of human rights in Saudi Arabia.14 In fact, this is not the case. In their meetings with Saudi counterparts, U.S. diplomats apparently do not raise the issue of the kingdom's international commitments to human rights,15 but seem thoroughly uninterested in this subject. The issue of executing and killing foreign workers shows this indifference.
At a plaza in downtown Jeddah, known to American diplomats as "Chop-chop Square," mostly foreign men have their heads and limbs severed with swords in punishment for alleged crimes. My colleagues told me that many of the unfortunates put to death had been framed by the Saudi government as drug smugglers. U.S. officials believe most of the victims to be innocent workmen set up in foreign countries by Saudi narcotics agents who lure them with promises of good-paying jobs, but condition these on their secretly carrying a package into Saudi Arabia. Saudi border officials are tipped off to examine these would-be workers' baggage very carefully, then supposedly find drugs, a capital offense. The Saudi drug police devised these methods to produce evidence of successful drug interdiction because, I was told, they knew they could not cope with actual drug traffickers, who are so powerful as to be untouchable. American officials, I learned, do not bother to condemn these manifestly unjust executions but just stay away and pretend nothing is happening.
Or this: When the body of a Filipina woman was found one afternoon in 1993 in a parking lot across the street from the Consulate General, I went to the scene and heard that, in the course of a landlord-tenant dispute, a Saudi man had thrown the Filipina from a third-floor balcony, killing her. A colleague who had witnessed the incident made it sound like premeditated murder. His reaction was astonishingly nonchalant. Having lived in the kingdom for many years, he seemed to find the death of the Filipina of little importance. It wasn't abnormal for Saudi landlords to kill difficult tenants, he observed, adding that local courts and police take no interest in such cases.16 However regrettable such deaths, he indicated, there was no point in the our making a big issue of it, for this would serve no purpose.
The more familiar I became with the behavior of America's diplomats in Saudi Arabia, the more it became clear that their practice of not supporting human rights was irregular, even contrary to established norms. I also learned that the mission's leadership could not sensibly explain the purpose of their irregular practices. It seemed to exploit the traditional State custom of not second-guessing overseas diplomats. They adopted an independent stance in regards to the United States's clear intent thoroughly everywhere.
Public diplomacy. The U.S. Information Service (USIS) office in Jeddah, charged with refuting hostile accounts of the United States and its foreign policy, is almost completely staffed by non-U.S. citizens from the Middle East, many of them not friendly to American values and policies. During my time, the USIS made no effort to counter the systematic, widespread falsehoods in the Saudi media about American society. In some instances, in fact, the USIS actually provided misinformation about U society to the Arabian press and society. For example, USIS news briefs only report on U.S. secular society and make no effort to represent the many Americans who are believers. Rather, the audio-visual materials it provided to the Saudi television network tended to deal with the dullest of issues internal to the Department of State and U.S. government (such as personnel plans for the Foreign Service). Not surprisingly, I never saw any USIS-produced or disseminated material appear on Saudi television. The public library at USIS not only avoided books critical of the kingdom but also those dealing with family health issues, deemed by the USIS staff to be "too sensitive" to circulate in Saudi society.
THE U.S. ROLE IN SAUDI ARABIA
These are the problems. They exist because American goals in Saudi Arabia in fact have little to do with human rights or other humane concerns. Rather, the mission exists to achieve a three-fold purpose: strengthen the Saudi regime, catering to the Al Saud (the Saud family), and facilitate U.S. exports.
Strengthen the Saudi regime. Bolstering and legitimating the Saud dynasty is the mission's first priority. With a great sense of commitment, it engages in a sustained effort to improve Saudi state institutions. It treats the Saudi state as a parent might a child, an approach perhaps encouraged by the resemblance of many Saudi state agencies (such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Civil Aviation Authority and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority) to their American prototypes. The U.S. Geological Survey frequently meets with the mission leadership to deal with such issues as the contamination of ground water, the inadequate management of watersheds, concern over replenishing exhausted freshwater aquifers, concern over how to find new commercially exploitable mineral resources, and even Saudi angst about running out of oil (!). Department of Transportation officials report on their efforts to guide Saudi civil servants to administer air safety and proposals by U.S. experts to improve Saudi civil aviation. USIS seems to be most deeply worried about the decline in professional standards within the Saudi press. American diplomats occasionally wring their hands over struggles for tenure and dominance within the newly established Saudi universities. The military also adopts this parental attitude. Naval officers worry about Saudi sailors too frightened to take their ships to sea overnight. The air force officers agonizes over Saudi "hot dog" fliers, who violate the speed limitations and consume too much aviation fuel.
As for legitimating, American diplomats in the kingdom do their best to show off the kingdom's best side to visiting Americans. They regularly shepherd administrators, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals collected by the U.S. Information Agency through desert Potemkin villages. The Saudi regime maintains some facilities and sites of interest for many Western officials on visits. An "ancient" town has been constructed from archaeological remains for this purpose near Riyadh, to which a lavish excursion rail service takes them. Despots require signs of affection, illegitimate regimes need to be endorsed by legitimate states; so this sort of American sanction is very important to continued Al Saud control of the country.
Cater to the Al Saud. The second priority involves catering to the Saud family's special requirements -- a major undertaking given that the men of the royal family are estimated to number between 4,000 and 8,000. American diplomats have taken upon themselves such undiplomatic tasks as specially piping satellite broadcasts of entertainment, music, and network television to King Fahd's palace in Jeddah.17 Their immense wealth permits the Al Saud to lead a restless, jet-set life-style; often, at the spur of the moment, they decide to fly to the United States in their own planes. To accommodate them -- and make sure they do not have to get in line with commoners and American citizens -- the Sauds can obtain travel documents at all hours. And if they decide to buy newer planes for themselves, America's diplomats make sure they obtain a special loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Indeed, Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña once visited with a promise of a low-interest U.S. government loan for the Saudi royals to upgrade their jet fleet.
In contrast, representatives of the United States sit at the king's palace in Jeddah literally for days on end, waiting to be summoned for meetings that sometimes never occur or are cancelled without explanation. This humiliating and embarrassing service as retainers to the Al Saud receives no American press coverage because, as a police state, Saudi Arabia is essentially closed to the press; also perhaps Saud family representatives often provide sumptuous advertising revenue.
Facilitate U.S. exports. The third priority concerns the promotion of commercial activities, with an emphasis on construction, the aeronautical industry, telecommunications, and agricultural sales.
The euphemistically named U.S. Military and Training Mission (USMTM) is supposed to organize and conduct realistic joint Saudi-U.S. land and sea maneuvers. However, Saudi conditions make such training virtually impossible. The USMTM is also supposed to train the National Guard, King Fahd's 30,000-man praetorian force. Saudi forces in garrison could not be roused effectively to form for maneuvers and did not appear at the designated assembly areas. Saudi naval war vessels could not be pried away from their port berths. (Saudi naval commanders stipulated that in exercise with the U.S. Navy, Saudi ships would not go over the horizon or out of sight of land, and Saudi crews had to be able to return to home port by dark.) These restrictions left the USMTM staff with not much to do except concentrate on the remaining area of its assignment: weapons procurement. USMTM personnel had a key role in the Saudi government's procurement of American weapons.
There's no problem with commercial boosterism as such, but three aspects of the Saudi situation raise concern. There's no thought given to the implications of loading up the kingdom with modern military equipment; this is merely good business and is not further thought through. Nor do weapons sales to police and security organizations raise questions about repression. Also disturbing is that the American taxpayer is subsidizing many of these sales via loans offered by the Import-Export Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Department of Agriculture. The Saudi government may be months late in paying its bills, but no sale seems to be too risky so long as it promotes export policy.
U.S. diplomats, in short, further the interests of the Al Saud more than those of the United States. U.S. overseas missions are often said to suffer from "clientitis" -- becoming preoccupied with the well-being of the host state. But America's diplomats in Saudi Arabia have gone a full step further, becoming the tool of a foreign government.
The U.S. mission in Saudi Arabia is willing to set aside all proudly declared American values. In too many instances, America's diplomats in Saudi Arabia practice a diplomacy based upon opportunism and expediency. They place America's materialistic interests above its primary spiritual obligations. By subordinating moral imperatives to secular greed, they debase their country's most cherished ideals and consign to administrative oblivion the duty of every American official to act in accordance with the principles of "liberty and justice for all."
Few FSO's could speak, or bothered to learn, Arabic. Astonishingly, this included graduates of the Foreign Service Institute's Arabic training classes. Moreover, FSO's rarely received any Arabic-language training prior to posting. Intensifying the problem was that the overwhelming bulk of officers lived on the diplomatic compound in little "islands of America." Usually, this was both for security reasons and because of preference, but the effect was a parochial, small-town atmosphere.
Typical of the parochial spirit of the FSOs were the actions of one officer, who seemed to think she had made a major contribution to post management of the special library collection by "cleaning up" -- i
The lack of a moral compass accounts for much of the spirit of appeasement among America's diplomats in Saudi Arabia. FSOs seemed to lack any ideological passion or romanticism, à la Lawrence of Arabia. There was, however, clientism, that sense that seems to rear up in most countries served by the State Department whereby the American diplomats on the scene become, without any particular prompting, the exponents of their host country's views. Also, many FSOs seemed capable of a kind of Great Gatsby boosterism, particularly when escorting visitors from the United States. Perhaps this was some sort of ur bureaucratic imperative -- to protect the post's status in Washington's eyes. If our staff included Arabists, they were well hidden.
The pathologies of the FSOs were baser: the instinct was to discard laws that apply in the United States to "simplify" matters and to facilitate shortcut solutions. As regards the Saudis, there was a healthy loathing of the restrictions that Saudi Arabian authorities imposed upon the effected FSOs. The FSOs' instincts and thoughts did not rise above the level of self-interest.
My efforts to bring attention to the predicament of practicing Christians in Saudi Arabia brought results -- but not the ones I had sought. A U.S. security officer made menacing remarks in February 1994 about my family's "rough future," and the State Department revoked my wife's medical clearance, so that she could not stay with our children and myself during the several years remaining on my tour in Jeddah. We eventually got the medical clearance reinstated (though only on a visit to the United States in March 1994) but it caused us great distress. Then, in February 1995, I learned that the department considered me medically "unfit" for future overseas duty.
On March 31, 1995, the Office of Career Development and Assignments informed me by telephone that the State Department had decided to terminate my employment effective April 21, 1995. The deputy assistant secretary for personnel also said I would not receive any of the normal due-process rights the law guarantees to a career employee; further, my status as a Vietnam veteran (which gives special rights) would be disregarded. The authority cited to terminate my appointment was that conferred by the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Section 609.18 This section can be read to authorize the Secretary of State to deny a member of the Foreign Service protections normally afforded employees of public service, such as the right to due process, the right to respond to accusations, and other features of the rule of law for no cause. It is unclear that Congress in enacting such provision ever intended such a sweeping provision, and it is clear that the Department of State has previously not claimed that had such a power.19
My appeal to the secretary of state's office went unanswered.
In June 1994, a Catholic clergyman, Clifford Mangano, fresh back from Saudi Arabia, told me that the U.S. mission's persecution of the catacomb community had increased following my curtailment. A week following my departure from Jeddah, management asked the Catholic group to cease holding services, giving a new pretext (that no American diplomats wanted the Catholic services).
I contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and met with two "agents" in June 1994. They turned out to be trainees who needed help researching the U.S. Code. In August 1994, I reported my situation to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Specifically, I complained that the U.S. mission has knowledge of human-rights abuses of its own citizens and asked the commission to investigate and hold hearings into the actions of the mission security officials who appeared seriously to compromise the human rights of Americans resident in the kingdom. I offered to testify under oath or provide a deposition to the commission. One and a half years later, the commission's chairman, Mary Frances Berry, has not dealt with my complaints beyond a cursory inquiry of Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Since leaving the State Department, I have raised these issues in two ways. First, I filed several legal actions against the Department of State; one of these20 is now pending at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Representative Mark Souder of (Republican of Indiana) wrote to the inspector general on May 10, 1995, seeking an explanation for the treatment I received; on September 26, 1995, the Department of State advised his staff that it would respond to his inquiry only "in 1996 or 1997." In addition, some forty members of Congress and a host of organizations (including the Government Accountability Project, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights Under Islamization) have asked the department to make the appropriate corrections to its policies and past practices.
Secondly, I filed suits against the Department of State concerning official abuse of authority and mismanagement while I was an employee. Legal experts have discovered eighteen major areas of federal law that appear to be involved or associated with these issues. The news of this effort has even reached Saudi Arabia.21 Third, with the support of several organizations, I have sought reach an audience of church-going Americans, mostly by appearing on talk shows. I found that while callers have little awareness of the situation in Saudi Arabia and religious discrimination by the State Department, they quickly took interest in this problem.
1 The Mutawa are of two types: an officially sanctioned body ("Committee for the Combat of Vice and the Propagation of Virtue") funded by the government purse; and the purely spontaneous or vigilante Mutawa. The officially sanctioned Mutawa are organized bureaucratically, and operatives receive directives from officially designated area leaders operating through a chain-of-command system. They wear distinctive clothing and always are accompanied by uniformed civil police. Vigilantes make ad hoc "holy raids" on "un-Islamic" occurrences.
2 Hereafter, "management." The mission includes the embassy and consulate in Riyadh; a consulate general in Dharan; and a consulate general in Jeddah. The de facto embassy is wherever the king is. During my time (1993-94), the king was usually in Jeddah. The management forms a collective entity regardless of where they are physically in the kingdom.
3 U.S. Court of Claims. See The Washington Post, Jan. 2, 1996. An American who worked in Saudi City, in Jeddah during the 1980s says his residence was broken into by Saudi police and he was badly beaten and otherwise molested when the police found a picture of his son. The son was pictured against the background of a Star of David. He sued the U.S. government (unsuccessfully, I think). I came across the case through my attorney. He has forgotten it, but I will try to locate it at a law library.]
4 A Catholic priest in Saudi Arabia working under cover told me that a fellow priest who fell into the hands of the Mutawa was beaten severely, chained at the ankles and the wrists, and taken to a Mutawa jail, where he was held for many weeks incommunicado. He was beaten on the soles of the feet, deprived of sunlight, suffered sleep deprivations, allowed no books or reading materials, dehydrated, fed rotten food, and verbally threatened with beheading. When let go, he could not walk properly and appeared as if drugged.
5 Expulsion from Saudi Arabia is harsher than it sounds, for it means the hapless individual loses everything other than what he can carry in a suitcase. The security officials then have first claims on property left behind, which typically includes such items as scuba gear, artwork, silverware, collectibles, pets, office equipment, and automobiles.
6 In an ironic contrast to this professed concern with security, Ambassador Raymond E. Mabus, Jr., disclosed after the bombing of an American facility in Nov. 1995, killing at least six, that American diplomatic officials had been aware of the threats but gave them low credibility. Indeed, Mabus's staff had undertaken an investigation and dismissed them, explaining that, so far as was known, there had not been an attack on Americans in Saudi Arabia in twenty years.
7 Indeed, soon after (in Nov. 1993), Catholic worshippers found that items stored at the consulate -- candlesticks, altar bells, communion service, crucifixes -- had been desecrated.
8 The law, enacted in 1980, requires P.L. 96-303 to be placed in all locations where U.S. government employees work. It reads: "never be a party to evasion of the U.S. Constitution, laws or regulations." It also points out a duty "to expose corruption wherever found," which applies to "everyone in government service" without exception.
See Ethics in Government Acts of 1978 and 1980, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 4 sect. 201-212, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 5 sect. 401-408, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 6 sect. 101-112, 18 U.S.C. sect. 201-218, 28 U.S.C. sect. 49, 528, 529, 591-599, P.L. 95-2521, 92 Stat. 1824, 4 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1978 pp. 4216-4397; P.L. 96-303, 94 Stat. 855; Executive Order 12731 (Oct. 17, 1990), C.F.R. pp. 306-11 (1991 compilation), 55 F.R. 42547; 5 C.F.R. sect. 2635.101-2635.902, 57 F.R. 35006; 5 C.F.R. sect. 2636.101-2636.307, 56 F.R. 1723. The State Department implementation is found both at 22 C.F.R. sect. 10.735-101 - 10.735.411 (Employee Responsibilities and Conduct) and at 22 C.F.R. sect. 136.1-136.6 (Personal Property Disposition at Posts Abroad). 18 U.S.C. sect. 208 prohibits any executive-branch employee from participating personally and substantially in a government-related contract in which he has a financial interest. Department of State implementing regulations under the act are also found at 22 C.F.R. sect. 171.40-171.43. The act requires civil servants to disclose instances of fraud, waste, and abuse of power. It makes whistleblowing mandatory. See also E.O. 12731 sect. 101(k), and sect. 101(n). The latter prescribes avoiding even the appearance of violating the Act or ethical standards.
9 In Dec. 1992, when a State Department assignments officer called to ask me if I could take the job in Jeddah, his first question was my religion. "Catholic," I replied, and he said, "That's fine. We [the State Department] can't send anyone to Saudi Arabia who is Jewish." "Why?" I asked. "That's the way the Saudis want it."
10 Civil Rights Act of 1964, 28 U.S.C. sect. 1447, 42 U.S.C. sect. 1447, 1975-1975f, P.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241. This and 5 U.S.C. sect. 2302(b)(1) ban discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicapping condition, marital status, political affiliation, or geographical, political, or educational affiliation on U.S. soil.
State Department regulations under this act and 22 U.S.C. sect. 2658 appear at 22 C.F.R. sect. 141.1-141.12. See also the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1964 (Title VII) & 1991, 42 U.S.C. sect. 2000e-2000e-17, P.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 253, sect. 701 et seq.; P.L. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071-1099. Title VII is the EEO portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
11 Several Foreign Service officers converted to Islam during their tours in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, I never saw these converts join their co-religionists in the very visible five-times-a-day prayers. This may have to do with the fact, reported by U.S. Consular officers, that any American who converts to Islam while in the kingdom receives a $23,000 bounty from a Saudi account for "conversion expenses." (Canadians receive about $20,000, Britons $18,000, Filipinos $1,000, and South Asians $800.)
12 During my tour of duty, however, there were no Christian or Jewish U.S. military chaplains in Saudi Arabia, due to a decision taken by U.S. authorities. In contrast, some corporations import Christian chaplains to Saudi Arabia, with the full knowledge of the Saudi authorities. Admitted as "teachers," they conduct religious services for employees of companies within the limits of company residential compounds. The companies were said to enjoy a grandfather clause of sorts, as their predecessors had directly appealed to Saudi monarchs of the 1950s and 1960s for this permission.
13 Purportedly for security reasons, U.S. diplomats actually handle the luggage for high-level visitors, dropping consular and diplomatic work to do this.
14 Letter from Margaret M. Dean, director, Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs, Department of State, to Chairman Mary F. Berry, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, May 17, 1995.
15 For example, the kingdom has signed the U.N. Charter, which promises "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."
16 And if they did, woe to the luckless foreign (and non-Western) worker whose car happened to be in the vicinity. Hearing about the Filipina's death, our South Asian staff virtually panicked and streamed outside to remove their cars, fearing that the Saudi police might take down their license plate numbers and, should they decide to find a suspect, apprehend and punish one of these innocent foreigners.
17 The king gets his television from the U.S. government because the Mutawa forbid satellite dishes on Saudi territory, so it would look bad for the king to have one. Instead, he gets a mix of Western entertainment (sports, movies, news, music videos) from the U.S. government. He also receives the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television, a composite of U.S. commercial programming, minus the commercials, intended only for U.S. troops abroad. The palace in Jeddah, incidentally, houses hundreds of people.
18 The authority cited to terminate my employment was that conferred by the Foreign Service Act of 1980, section 611. It reads: "The head of a foreign affairs agency may terminate at any time the appointment of any member of the Foreign Service serving under a limited appointment who is in the Senior Foreign Service, who is assigned to a salary class in the Foreign Service Schedule, or who is a family member of a Government employee serving under a local compensation plan . . . excluded from this provision are appointees whose termination occurs at the end of a limited or temporary assignment at the end of the period specified in the appointment."
19 In his memo of Apr. 22, 1987, the undersecretary of state for management endorsed an analysis of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 that indicates: the Foreign Service management must carry out decisions affecting an employee's career according to the employee's, not management's interests. Employees entitled to veterans' preference under civil service rules (such as myself) were equally protected as members of the Foreign Service.
20 CA-No. 95-0574, filed on Dec. 14, 1995.
21 Barbara G.B. Ferguson, "AMTRACK," Saudi Gazette, June 11, 1995.
Related Topics: Saudi Arabia, US policy | March 1996 MEQ
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