The Foreign Service Journal, December 2007

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, in response to the trend, goes so far as to suggest that ambassadors work out memoranda of understanding with DOD to make clear where lines of authority lie. Gillespie sees the problem as broader than just a con- flict between State and Defense or State and Justice. He agrees that agencies have become “more robust, not nec- essarily in terms of numbers, but in the ways they think they can operate under this still not terribly well-defined authority of the chief of mission.” That has led to an uptick in challenges to ambassadorial authority, he expects, though the phenomenon itself is “nothing new.” Staples argues that such disputes are not necessarily anything sinister — in terms of a direct and deliberate challenge to ambassadorial authority — but can emanate from ignorance of diplomatic complexities. It’s entirely natural, he says, for an FBI investigator to want to turn to his counterpart in the national police of the country in which he’s posted. But an ambassador needs to provide the “broader perspective” when such natural tendencies won’t necessarily work in a foreign environment, or could potentially disturb broader embassy goals. Greenlee agrees, citing his experience leading up to, and after, the 2006 election of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Substantial opposition to bilateral cooperation arose in Washington because of Morales’ past links to drug traffickers. But Greenlee recognized that the new president had won a landslide victory and the United States had to engage him. “Some took the attitude that all we have to do is cut off funds and people will do what you want, but it’s really much more complicated.” Bodine hopes the pendulum she believes has swung in the direction of Defense and Justice will swing back in a new administration. Freelancing and overaggressiveness by FBI investigators or Defense Department Special Forces can needlessly destroy diplomatic relationships, she says. In Yemen, she recalls, “The FBI were accusing me of putting the bilateral relationship ahead of the investigation, but the investigation can’t go forward irre- spective of the rest of the relationship. This is a point that F O C U S D E C E M B E R 2 0 0 7 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 27