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09 January 2014

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The beaver

Colonel

FWIW: Foggy Bottom did advise the Indian Embassy, back in September, that one of their staff in NYC was under investigation and the reason of that investigation. The Indian authorities did nothing - it is not the first case from this consulate: this is the third one:
http://www.searchindia.com/2013/12/12/nyc-indian-consulates-maid-in-india-problem/

I agree that the treatment applied to her was harsh and the bureau of diplomatic security screwed up by letting the US Marshals take over her case. Foggy Bottom should have put pressure on the Indian Embassy by requesting a waiver for her diplomatic immunity (even as a junior diplomat) in situ or demand that she leaves the country thus it would have been a closed case between Foggy Bottom and the MEA of India.

Another piece of news: Her husband is a US citizen and as a rule from the Indian Govt, a diplomats spouse must take Indian citizenship. However, this has never been initiated.

turcopolier

Beaver

You seeking to justify the moralistic BS inherent in the US's action. pl

The beaver

Colonel

Far from it - both sides are wrong:
the US treatment more so as far as not understanding the meaning of diplomatic immunity, fully accredited or not (after the stunt Foggy Bottom and the CIA pulled in Pakistan wrt the agent who killed two ISI agents: "it's a do like I say not like I do").
- India for not applying "lessons learned" after being caught twice at the same consular office. From September to December, India had plenty of time to usher her out of the country but it was not to be since this will play against the goal of that diplomat, which is either representing her country at the UN or being given a management position as an International Civil Servant like Shashi Tharoor at the UN (subsequently a potential candidate in some yrs when the UNSG position is vacant and assigned to a candidate from that region).

JohnH

I would love to know more about the case. For example, did the maid receive "in-kind" compensation, such as room and board? That alone would have far exceeded minimum wage, considering Manhattan rents.

I find it telling that the Obama administration finds time to chase after Indian consular figures rather than domestic banksters, war profiteers and drug kingpins.

The R2P ladies needs to start focusing on protecting American taxpayers rather than pursuing jay walking ticket scofflaws to the ends of the earth.

FB Ali

The strong Indian reaction may well be due not just to her arrest but the manner in which it was carried out. There is a video going around showing her being held down by several marshals and strip-searched (possibly including her body cavities) with sounds of her distress. The video is not clear and it is not certain it is of her.

However, the horrifying thing is that the US authorities claim that this treatment is meted out to everyone who is arrested. No one deserves to be treated in this manner. That it should be happening in the US is a sign of just how far things have gone there.

Fred

How much money will business owners (who contributed to BHO) who do business in India (or with Indian companies) lose because of this? They should expect to continue to lose millions as those mid-level staffers educated (indoctrinated perhaps) in the same mold as the decision makers in the BHO administration continue to get promoted and advanced across the federal (and state) government. Perhaps they should take a page from the governor of Soprano land and 'explain' to the politicians who's staffer(s) have so screwed them and start funding opponents - and fire any such former administrative hacks as they might have hired.

Fred

The treatment applied to her was harsh? This is abusive to everyone. Why is the US government conducting a strip and body cavity search on everyone (per the NYT 12/18) “the same search procedures as other U.S.M.S. arrestees held within the general prisoner population in the Southern District of New York.” ? All arrested do not pose the same risk to other prisoners or employees of the courts or prison system. It is the same authoritarian mentality in the government that we saw in all the illegal searches conducted in Boston after the Tsarnaev brothers set of a bomb during the marathon. I believe they call conforming to the police requirement that you give up your rights any time they say you must 'Boston Strong'. But hey, everyone was treated equally so it must be okay.

b

It is totally unclear if the diplomat really paid too little for the helper. As I understand housing and food etc. was part of the total pay. How valuable is that in New York?

Also the helper ran away in August under somewhat murky circumstances. I find the U.S. media just repeating the prosecutor's claims without any doubt quite offensive in this case. How, if the prosecutor is right, can a minor paper infringement justify an arrest and even a strip search? In no country but the U.S. and some rather infamous dictatorships would such be seen as normal.

bth

The whole bungled affair over the course of a month brought new US-Indian business deals to a stop and corroded away goodwill between parties that took several years to build. State and MEA did a horrible disservice to their respective countries and might as well have been driving clown cars.

confusedponderer

Foreign relations is IMO about making relations with other countries work and to limit oneself to the important things, and in particular, for anybody whose name is not Netanyahoo, it is not about educating or lecturing the opposite parties.

This here is the US needlessly and deliberately snubbing India, because some US party felt good about 'the message so sent' that Indian diplomats in the US must pay ther Indian servants acording to US employment laws.

One cannot even say that there was no reflection on what that message actually conveyed, just illusions over whow it will be understood.

The culprits are just so self-righteous that they don't see that their 'principled stance' to about anybody else is a provocation.

Only two hundred year ago wars were fought over 'insults' like that to representatives of sovereigns (which on the plus side must have had the effect that diplomats were weighing such actions carefully).

A selective, judicious application of the law is sensible and necessary in such cases. The US side showed poor judgement, and worse, probably prides itself on having come done so.

Yes, it is all happened on US territory, but so what? All that claptrap about that the US is just 'eforcing the law' is nonsense with the person subjected to the strip search being a diplomat who should have been protected from such invasions, and from such law enforfcement, in the first place.

In effect the US is enforcing US law on India and Indian diplomats, and in doing so is violating the Vienna Protocols on consular immunities:

Article 41 that "1. Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a **grave crime** and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority." (emphasis mine)

IMO, paying a servant not according to US laws is not a grave crime.

But here the underlying idea is obviously that the US cuplrits see it in their rigth right to demand Indian diplomats to conform with US law, Indian consular or diplomatic privilege be damned.

An issue in itself is the apparently routinely ham fisted way in which US law enforcement has conducted itself here.

I cannot see a reason how, in a case of a diplomat accused of paying her servant not according to US law, of all things, a cavity search could posibly be reasonably warranted. What that was pertinent to the case were they searching there? Her servants employment contract? Well, wih these aliens and foreigners, one never knows where they put things ...

The only reason for the cavity servh was probably that this sort of excess is the unthinkingly executed SOP.

Well, with SOP, who needs individual judgement? And with SOP like that, what room left is there for excess? Well, come to think of it, they still could perhaps have beaten or tasered her in addition to what they subjected her to, and they could have shot her dog, or the underpaid servant, on arrest ...

It is fairly predictable that in India all this must be conceived as a deliberately humiliating treatment, and they don't care that US authorities treat US persons just as unthinkingly ham fisted.

Good working relations between India and the US should trump in importance White House and State Deparment weenies feeling good about themselves over having been tough on India over this trivial social issue.

For what I ask.

Self restraint and sound judgement ought to be part of the job.

What I see here is instead an imperious inpulse.

With 'Diplomats' like that, who needs anti-American radicalisers?

India will reciprocate, in fact has already. The US don't respect the privileges and personal integrity of protected staff? India can play that game also:

http://www.sfgate.com/business/bloomberg/article/India-Cuts-U-S-Embassy-Security-as-Strip-Search-5073989.php

Congrats.

confusedponderer

Interesting chart on diplomatic and consular immunities:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consular_immunity

Matthew

Col: terrible policy and worse psycho-drama. I imagine that our US attorney is repelled by the horrific class system of his family's country of origin. But it's the ultimate yuppie conceit to damage America's interests "to make a point."

confusedponderer

"However, the horrifying thing is that the US authorities claim that this treatment is meted out to everyone who is arrested. No one deserves to be treated in this manner."

Absolutely.

Beyond the remarkable diplomatic stupidity on display in this episode, this is IMO by far the most disturbing thing here.

US police authorities are by now probably the most severe in the western world.

Long gone are the days of the 'peace officer'. What the US appear to have now is law enforcement with an emphasis on ENFORCEMENT, or else.

The elemt of coercion is dominant, and officer safety paramount. SWAT teams, with their paramiilitary trainig and the emphasis on subduing resistance, have proliferated and today are seen conducting routine operations like serving warrants.

All this suggests an adversarial attitude towards the civilian population at large.

The strip search, including cavity search, as an SOP, without the necessity for any cause, is instructive.

It means the police is not asking for your cooperation - they are taking what they think they need, and if you know what's good for you you comply or they'll only come down heavier on you (heavier as as in two 180 pound cops).

The monitoring of communication traffic by the NSA is born of the same paramilitary mindset.

In essence, we witness in the US the scrutinisation of everything private, be it the contents of your E-Mail, your shopping or browsing history, your movements as tracked by your cellphone - or, by SOP, the contents of your bowels.

Because citizens no longer trusted their privacy is no longer respected?

It also means that, even when police overreach (which happens on occasion) and act illegally, defiance, let alone resistance or self defence is not a realistic option for resistance will be broken with overwhelming force.

We witness a paramilitary attitude on part of the police.

Somewhere along the way, respect for citizen rights, let alone civilised behaviour, went out the window, sacrificed for the sake of being tough on crime and officer safety über alles.

If the US citizenry wants to right that, they have their work cut out for them, for changing it will take generations.

turcopolier

All

I agree that the police in the US are out of control and should be reined in. They increasingly behave as though they are an occupying army and they are remarkably fearful. the spectacle of thousands of heavily armed police surrounding one cornered man in Boston is illustrative. I have seen the FBI fake evidence and bribe witnesses. This was in the Pete Seda case in Oregon. I am unimpressed. pl

Charles I

Could it be possible the ball got rolling more with low level prosecutor cupidity and policing overreach rather than White House moral stupidity? And once rolling the feds felt all in? Doesn't seem all that plausible to me that this was intentionally orchestrated from the top from the outset in some kind of moralistic crusade. If there was some kind of WH moralistic urge - or a political grudge at the top - at the instigation of it, well what a naif I am, and god help us.

The ex post facto handling of it is, of course, the quality of diplomacy we've come to know and expect.

O/T it turns out that SST is not the only the only, er, chronicler of The John Kerry Traveling ME Review of Same Old Same Old. Israeli settlers' groups have taken to the arts to express their heartfelt dedication to a er, solution.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/mocking-campaign-kerry-yesha-council-netanyahu-onevoice.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+[English]&utm_campaign=668faafa20-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-668faafa20-93086137#

Mark

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eVh3j56Rp0

The beaver

Fred

Your point?
If I used the word "harsh" this does not mean that I do agree with the US govt.for treating a foreign-looking person like dirt.

FYI:
Strip search and cavity search have been going on since 9/11 whether you are an innocent tourist looking like a MEasterner taking pictures in the city ( chances to get your head bashed against the wall in addition if you don't understand the American slang) or just a druggie trying to buy that little packet at a corner street in NYC.
In this case, the US marshals and the DA did not stick to the 27-page handbook published by the Diplomatic security Bureau of the State Dept on how Law enforcement should deal with foreign diplomatic agents, their immediate family and their personal employees in different situations.
Surprised ?
NO - this is the M.O. in NYC, guilty before being declared innocent- the yahoo way for maintaining the security of the nation or the political appointees/elected officials have their own personal agendas.
As a foreigner, I have stopped taking contracts from US companies- reason: life has been HELL at the airports since 9/11 for me ( my career has taken a hit since i can't work for other non-western companies-security clearance of hubby will be problematic) and since i am a guest on this blog, it is not my place to bad-mouth the US or its govt and its policies.

DH

"Khobragade had been indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements about the compensation given to her housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard. Federal prosecutors alleged that Khobragade promised in Richard's visa application to pay her at least $9.75 per hour for no more than 40 hours per week; however, Richard actually received less than $3.31 per hour and worked much longer hours. Khobragade reaffirmed her innocence as she left the United States."
-Foreign Policy Magazine

As has been said, it is mind-boggling that relations with India should be interrupted over such a petty matter, with such a ham-handed act. India is a fellow descendant of the British Empire, and in my opinion, be afforded an informal, yet understood, brotherhood status. Yet on the day of his first inauguration (election?) he called Pakistan, but not India. Sorry for the jingoism, but damn.

*Colonel, please note the email change.

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

An appalling sequence of events which, if initiated at high levels, displays arrogance and stupidity. Those two traits seem often to go together. If initiated locally, then a complete failure of common sense and discretion.

In the arrest procedure, the subjecting of. Madam Khobragade to being stripped and poked in intimate areas of her body while being detained on the allegation of underpaying her servant seems bizarre in the extreme. My take on that is that the goal is humiliation and degradation of the individual. It's something a more kinky Franz Kafka might have imagined in one of his stories.

WPFIII

The beaver

JohnH

This is how A-3 visa are granted to personal/domestic servants:

http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-typedomesticemployee.asp

A-3: Embassy or consulate
G-5: International organizations

Had her husband been the actual employer? a B-1 visa

In the Ministry of External Affairs books, the maid is considered as an employee of the Indian government, thus her compensation should be as in the home country.

kao_hsien_chih

This is a dangerous perversion of the idea of "the rule of law." The state and its agents can always coercively enforce the laws that it makes for itself: they have the power of the state behind themselves, after all. What makes for a real "rule of law" is the state willing and able to commit itself to limit the potential use and (abuse) of its powers--if the state can bend and break the law legally (intentional paradox) to get whatever it wants, why should the civilian population cooperate with it by obeying the laws? This recognition is increasingly lacking in American society: everyone thinks "I am right, therefore I am justified in doing whatever I can to do what I want to do." This is a dangerous development indeed.

NancyK

So when she was strip and cavity searched, what were they looking for, the passport, the visa, the missing maid or all three?

David Habakkuk

Charles 1,

I would very much doubt that this was 'intentionally orchestrated from the top'.

However, there may be a mentality which links different levels: a bizarre amalgam of prim sanctimoniousness and underlying brutality.

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

No one would have dared to arrest this woman on these charges without WH permission. pl

Fred

I did not intend to be personal. I agree 100% that these policies are idiotic but is the MO in NYC. Apprently the Americans living there are either ok with that or haven't been subject to the treatment (which is probably more likely).

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