Friday, December 01, 2006

Strait talk

U.S. repudiates remarks by official on US-British relations
The State Department repudiated on Thursday comments by a veteran department analyst who said that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's relationship with the United States was "totally one-sided" in Washington's favor.

Myers is a 30-year member of the civil service and is an expert in U.S. British relations. He spoke Tuesday to a gathering at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, where is and adjunct professor. Casey said Myers thought his appearance was at a closed academic forum.

Deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Kendall Myers, the official who made the off-message remarks, was summoned by his superiors at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research to a meeting to explain his remarks.

"The comments, frankly, I think could be described as ill-informed [after 30 years?], and I think, from our perspective, just plain wrong," Casey said.

Efforts to reach Myers by telephone at his office were unsuccessful.

In October, State Department official Alberto Fernandez ran afoul of his superiors when he told Al-Jazeera television that the United States had displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq.

Fernandez is an Arabic-speaker assigned to tell the U.S. side of the Iraq story to Middle East audiences.

He issued a written apology, saying he "seriously misspoke." Soon thereafter, the State Department said Fernandez was still on the payroll and that the matter was closed.

Myers' misstep appears to be more serious than that of Fernandez. In contrast to Fernandez, whose mistake involved a brief lapse, Myers' speech was sprinkled with comments that do not reflect official thinking.

State Department Analyst's Remarks On US-British Relations Refuted
Kendall Myers, an analyst in the department's intelligence bureau, told a university forum in Washington earlier this week that the United States ignores Britain and does not take its concerns seriously.

"We typically ignore them and take no notice. We say, 'There are the Brits coming to tell us how to run our empire. Let's park them.' It is a sad business and I don't think it does them justice," Kendall said, according to the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Myers also dismissed the notion of unique US-British ties, saying "There never really has been a special relationship or at least not one we've noticed."

"As a State Department employee, now I will say something even worse: it has been from the very beginning very one-sided."

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