Why the U.S. State Department Deserves an “F” on their Handling of the Indian Consul Flap
It looks like the U.S. and India have worked out a sort-of deal to end the battle over visa-fraud charges brought against India’s deputy consul-general in New York Devyani Khobragade. Yesterday, a U.S. grand jury indicted Khobragade on the visa-fraud charges, and shortly thereafter, Khobragade was allowed to leave the U.S. for India. India is now retaliating by demanding the U.S. withdraw a U.S. diplomat from India.
From a purely legal perspective, this is a smart move by the U.S. since even if it had continued with the prosecution, Khobragade would be able to raise a variety of defenses based on her possible status as a diplomat accredited at India’s UN Mission at the time of her arrest, or at least her status at the Mission now. I think those defenses are decent (though hardly slam-dunk) and, if rejected, would further inflame India as well as create unwelcome precedents for US consuls and diplomats abroad.
Of course, from a diplomatic perspective, it seems clear to me that this prosecution should never have been brought, or at least there should never have been an “arrest” (much less the strip-search). Why couldn’t the U.S. have indicted her without arresting her, or even just demanded her withdrawal without indicting her? That is effectively what has happened anyway, except that we also get a crisis in US-India relations like we haven’t had in decades.
I’m putting the blame here almost completely on the U.S. State Department. They (supposedly) had notice that this arrest was going to happen, and they did not take steps to head off a pretty serious diplomatic incident. Dealing with foreign diplomats is at the heart of what they do. And they couldn’t have predicted what happened here? C’mon Secretary Kerry, hold someone responsible!
I’ve just finished my grades from last semester (yes I know, I’m late!). But I have no problem giving the U.S. State Department an “F” here.