Embassygate in Bahrain Not the Fundamental Problem
31 March, 2014 – Brian Dooley – Huffington Post
The U.S. State Department Inspector General’s office has sunk the knife pretty deeply into U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain Thomas Krajeski. A report released last week alleged that his “failure to maintain a robust planning and review process has led to confusion and lack of focus among some staff members.” The report also claimed that “Management controls processes are weak across the board,” and “A lack of transparency in management policies exacerbates low morale.”
The report charges that Krajeski’s “belief that reactive ‘seat of the pants’ leadership works best in Bahrain’s challenging environment has left staff members who do not have access to him on a regular basis confused.”
The report from the 11-member team is nothing if not thorough, finding fault in all sorts of places, and making 74 recommendations, including that “Embassy Manama should adopt a policy that forbids drivers to put a car into gear until all passengers fasten their seat belts,” and that “Embassy Manama should implement and publish a policy restricting use of personally owned furniture and furnishings.”
I cannot assess whether Ambassador Krajeski is as poor a manager as the report suggests — I’ve only met him a few times, largely because I haven’t been allowed into Bahrain for over two years. But when we have spoken, he’s been refreshingly frank about the challenges he faces and more open to a candid discussion than many of his colleagues.
Yet some of the report’s most interesting findings are not about Krajeski’s performance, but the reality of the U.S.-Bahrain relationship and the functioning of the embassy. It states, for example, that “Embassy Manama has two Leahy Vetting officers, both in the political/economic section…. In 2012, the embassy vetted 308 individuals.” U.S. Leahy laws prohibit the Departments of State of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military or police units believed to have violated human rights. It’s unclear from this report how many Bahraini security officials were denied U.S. support under this law. …more