Thursday, January 9, 2014
Compounded Stupidity by the United States With Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade
American stupidity With Devyani Khobragade continues with the State Department expelling her from The United States The United States Justice Department through U.S. Attorney for New York, Preet Bharara, continues to act stupidly and exhibit prosecutorial abuse of power directed towards India diplomat Devyani Khobragade. As I discussed in my December 21 blog, she was arrested on December 12 outside her children’s school by State Department security officers and then turned her over to the United States Marshalls, who pursuant to standard procedures, stripped searched her. The Consular Official was accused of visa fraud and underpaying her maid. The normal procedure would have been to quietly request the Indian government to withdraw her from the United States. Instead, the diplomat was arrested like a common criminal. The logical explanation for this treatment is that the United States wished to make an example of her because of widespread abuses of foreign workers by their diplomats. The United States apparently did not provide advance warning to the India Embassy or Devlani, or her attorney of the pending arrest. The United States flew the maid’s husband and children out of India to the United States two days before Devyani’s arrest. The visas issued to the maid’s family were those used for victims of human trafficking, further arousing and insulting India. India exploded over the mistreatment of their diplomat, an advocate for women’s rights. As a sign of improved equality in India, the Indian people strongly supported Devyani of Dalit descent, previously known as “untouchables.” Those who live in glass houses should not cast stones. Syed Akbaruddin of India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated: “Reciprocity is the basis on which diplomats work all over the world.” India is reciprocating, indeed escalating on more than the normal tit for tat response. The India government quickly investigated the conduct, or misconduct, of American embassy and consular officials in India. India immediately imposed restrictions on the U.S. diplomats. U.S. diplomats are now subject to airport frisking. It issued new restrictions a few days ago. The United States Embassy had an exclusive club selectively open to expatriates, the American Community Support Club (The American Embassy Club). India ordered it closed to all non-Embassy personnel. The Club offers open-air swimming pools, a bowling ally, tennis courts, gym, video club, and a beauty parlor. Its menu offers steaks. It sells duty-free liquor and other goods to the members, but no more. India also suspended diplomatic immunity for traffic violations by United States diplomats. India is investigating the American Embassy School, also on the Embassy grounds, for visa and pay violations. The legal question arose whether as a consular official Devyani possessed full diplomatic immunity or more limited immunity. India claimed she had full immunity. India transferred her from the New York consulate to the India’s permanent mission to the United Nations, which would provide her full diplomatic immunity. The State Department would have to approve her appointment, normally a perfunctory decision. India has requested a formal apology by the United States and the dropping of all charges against Devyani. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to smooth the waters, but Preet Bharara, the U. S. Prosecutor, went public, instead of being quiet. He vowed to “uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law – no matter what their social status and no matter how powerful, rich, or connected they are.” The ambitious prosecutor has forgotten prosecutorial discretion in his zeal for fame. U.S. law has a deadline of January 13 for the government to indict Devyani or drop the charges. Her attorney requested a continuance, a normal legal procedure. Most sides in litigation, criminal or civil, grant continuances to the other party, particularly in the early stages, as a matter of professional courtesy. Not Bharara, an Indian expatriate. He opposed the continuance. The matter was resolved earlier today, but in a further affront to Devlani and India. Bharara obtained a grand jury indictment on two felony counts against Devlani. The State Department recognized her diplomatic immunity with Bharara teling the court no arraignment would be necessary. The State Department requested the Indian government to lift her immunity. It properly refused. The State Department in response ordered her to leave the United States, in essence declaring her persona non grata in the United States. She has left the United States, leaving her husband and children behind. Her husband is an American citizen and a philosophy professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her children are also American citizens. Devlani is subject to arrest if she attempts to reenter the United States with the outstanding indictment pending against her. The normal diplomatic response to the expulsion of a diplomat is for the other country, India, to expel a diplomat, an American. Reciprocity, or what goes around, comes around. The critical relationship between India and the United States should not be jeopardized because the Justice Department, a United States Attorney, and the State Department are acting stupidly, but they are. Let me understand our foreign policy in Southeast Asia. We don't trust Pakistan, Afghanistan is thumbing its nose at us, and we've gone out of the way to inflame India.