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WASHINGTON — In the largest call-up of U.S. diplomats since the Vietnam War, the State Department is planning to order some of its personnel to serve at the American Embassy in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers.
Iraq Assignments Anger U.S. Diplomats
By MATTHEW LEE,
Posted: 2007-11-01 12:49:12
Filed Under: Iraq News, Politics News
"It's one thing if someone believes in what's going on over there and volunteers, but it's another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment," Croddy said. "I'm sorry, but basically that's a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?"
His remarks were met with loud and sustained applause from the approximately 300 diplomats at the meeting.
Thomas responded by saying the comments were "filled with inaccuracies." But he did not elaborate until challenged by the head of the diplomats' union, the American Foreign Service Association, who, like Croddy and others, demanded to know why many learned of the decision from news reports.
Thomas took full responsibility for the late notification. But he objected when the association's president, John Naland, said a recent survey found only 12 percent of the union's membership believed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was "fighting for them."
"That's their right but they're wrong," Thomas said, prompting a testy exchange.
"Sometimes, if it's 88 to 12, maybe the 88 percent are correct," Naland said.
"Eighty-eight percent of the country believed in slavery at one time, was that correct?" shot back Thomas, who is black, in a remark that drew boos from the crowd. "Don't you or anybody else stand there and tell me I don't care about my colleagues. I am insulted," Thomas added.