From conservative-mole-within-State, Diplomad:
In the late-1990s, I was working in State’s Political-Military Bureau in Washington. One of our duties was to work with the Pentagon planning and executing “noncombatant evacuation operations” (NEOs) in countries where the security situation had gone belly up. We had the job of getting our people out of harm’s way. This meant that we had to spend hours going over Embassy reports and other intel on the situation in likely trouble spots. I remember that a couple of us became concerned about the situation in a small West African country. Despite assurances from the Africa Bureau and the US Ambassador there that everything was under control, we pored over everything we could find on the country. That Ambassador had returned to the US for a couple of weeks to make the rounds of various Chambers of Commerce to convince US businesses to invest in this little country. One of the top goals of the Embassy country team was “empowering women.” The Embassy’s small political section flooded State’s computers with reports on the great work being done to “empower women.” The head of the political section had traveled to a remote part of the country to cover USAID sponsored events promoting rural women. Lots of cables came in describing the success of this program.
One morning. we were reading this stuff just as the army, which had not been paid in months, marched into the capital and overthrew the government, creating a huge security situation for our people there. There had been not a single State or CIA cable reporting on the growing crisis within the military. The Embassy, covering the issues of girls and women, had completely missed what the boys and men with guns were up to. The Embassy had dismissed the one report that had come in from a member of the DAO (Defense Attache’s Office) in a neighboring country; he had reported that his contacts were telling him that there appeared to be some sort of growing malaise within the military across the border. The Embassy had dismissed the report saying that they knew the situation better than some junior military officer in a neighboring country.
I always remembered this episode in subsequent years. It represented the State obsession with issues far removed from core US national interests. As I can tell from the State website, things have not improved.