Inside the 2011 US Embassy Evacuation from Libya

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Goodbye

10 years ago today I put my wife and baby boy on a ferry in the middle of a storm to cross the Mediterranean Sea and the escape the imminent collapse of Libya. After kissing my wife and son goodbye, I stayed behind. I didn’t know when, or more accurately, if, I would see them again.

And it wasn’t just me who stay behind. It was the responsibility of a very small group of some of the bravest folks I have served with to stay behind. We had a job to do.

On paper, our job was to secretly shut down the Embassy by destroying all sensitive documents and electronics and then escape ourselves, if possible. In reality, an element of our job was to provide cover and buy time for our families and the non-essential Embassy personnel to safely get out of a country quickly becoming the latest warzone. Even if that meant we would become hostages to a hostile government with nothing to lose.

Background – Before the Revolution

Not much has been told of the days and weeks leading up to the first US Embassy shutdown during the Arab Spring. No book has been written, no movie made. Perhaps because many folks continue to serve our country. Considering only a few folks stayed behind, not many have this unique perspective anyways.

While I can’t get into anything remotely classified (yet…?), I will share some of the details of this historic event to honor those who lived through it, especially my wife and son. And to also honor those who stayed behind so that our families, colleagues, and hundreds of strangers could get to safety.

The Days and Weeks Before – A Quick Trip Around Arab Spring

US relations in Libya were already at an incredible low. Libya effectively kicked out one of our diplomats for ditching his surveillance and going outside the city without permission – a major “no” in paranoid Libya. Then the Libyan government booted our Ambassador after Wikileaks published some diplomatic cables (reports) that embarrassed the Qaddafi government. Not that relations were ever good, but work was a bit more challenging by the time the revolution rolled in.

Around mid-December 2010, a produce vendor in Tunisia, right next door to Libya, lit himself on fire starting what is now known as the Arab Spring. The timing of Wikileaks releasing classified American documents detailing corruption throughout the entire Middle East contributed to more outrage. Tunisia and the entire region were already a powder keg waiting to explode. This poor man lit the powder keg.

By mid-January, Tunisia had fallen to the protestors. By the end-of January, Egypt and a handful of other countries were beginning to see their people get into the fight. Despite arguably the most oppressive and abusive regime around, Libya stayed quiet through all of this. To the point that many of us were skeptical that it would even happen, at least to Qaddafi’s stronghold grip in Tripoli.

So skeptical that our Embassy continued on with our normal lives and jobs. Well, as normal for a bunch of diplomats living under the Libyan government microscope watching our every move.

February 15-19, 2011

Revolution Brewing

Whatever skepticism began to diminish. Word quickly spread that February 17th would be the “Day of Revolt” across Libya. The revolution started a few days early back east in Benghazi. The protests grew and began burning down government buildings. In predictable fashion, the Qaddafi government violently put an end to their revolution, as expected by a despot who had ruled for nearly 42 years. Except he missed the mark and merely emboldened the protestors.

Quiet Before The Storm

My wife served the Embassy as the Community Liaison Officer, effectively the person in charge of keeping morale high among the employees and families. Arguably the hardest job in the Embassy. Weeks prior she scheduled a tour of an old Roman villa about 60 miles east of Tripoli. As there was no indication of danger, half the Embassy convoyed with our families to check out one of Libya’s incredible ancient ruins on February 18th. Considering this region would soon fall to the control of protestors, it was a quiet and uneventful trip.

Until our return to Tripoli where roadblocks were limiting access to Tripoli.

Protests began picking up the next day and had spread across the country, even to the western part of Libya. We were getting incredible and scary reports from our contacts around the country and the media. In my opinion, many of the reports were exaggerated to rally foreign and domestic support to the cause. But even the mildest reports indicated that this revolution was about to get violent and bloody. And it was coming to Tripoli!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Protests in Tripoli

Reports of violence across Libya were coming in for nearly a week by February 20th. In Tripoli we were starting to see that the revolution was already upon us yet our families and non-essential personnel did not yet have orders to evacuate.

We were preparing for the worst, though. I distributed satellite phones to my office and we all dusted off our Embassy radios preparing for the Libyan government to shut down communication. We brought in a few of our single officers who lived on the far side of town for fear of their safety.

Living In Tripoli

We didn’t have a typical Embassy. We didn’t have a Marine Security Guard detachment, a staple of most every Embassy. Hell, we didn’t even have a fortified compound! Just a group of five or six villas with a wall around us. Our Embassy “security” worked for the Libyan government. They stopped protecting the Embassy when the chaos hit, to no one’s surprise.

The Libyan government wouldn’t allow us to develop a proper Embassy and made life difficult for all the Embassy staff. Needless to say, we were sitting ducks long before the revolution. Despite all that, it was actually an interesting place to live.

Embassy staff lived throughout the city. We didn’t have a specific neighborhood or a compound. Half of us lived near the Embassy, the other half had to commute through the city. I had a beautiful house with our favorite butcher and baker nearby, just minutes from the Embassy. It wasn’t too bad at all. Living in the country had its challenges, but an incredible team at the Embassy made it our home.

Revolution Reaches Tripoli

As we lived out in the community, we got a front row seat to the fall of Tripoli. From the roof of our house we watched Tripoli descend into chaos on the evening of the 20th. We lived in a neighborhood near a horse racing track where one of the largest protests started. While incredibly scary to have your wife and son that close to the front lines of a war breaking out, we also knew that we weren’t the target of any hostility from the protestors.

Our house overlooked the road that thousands of protestors followed as they marched their way to Green Square, effectively the center of the city a couple miles away. The protestors burned dumpsters and cars as they marched down the road. They destroyed light poles and were burning buildings chanting and banging on everything all night long. Nearby, we could hear small arms fire interrupted by large artillery rounds.

Our neighbors had blocked off the entrance to our street and had tools and knives for weapons just to keep the protestors focused on the goal. My wife baked them cookies while the protestors raged through.

From my roof you could see dozens of separate fireworks displays going off around the city. And constant gunfire and explosions of some type. Along with the fireworks, they had gunfire with tracer bullets shooting steady streams of bullets into the air. It was almost beautiful. My wife had a glass of wine and my son was asleep in his crib downstairs. It finally felt like the world was crashing down on the city and it sure looked like it. Qaddafi said these were all pro-Qaddafi celebrations, but we all knew better. The fireworks gave him a perfect explanation for the explosions.

Communicating House to House

During all of this, I was on the radio with our Embassy team scattered around the city. We each were providing reports from the safety of our homes. My boss forced us out of the office to go home before dark, in part because it was safer, but also because we could be with our families and report what was happening throughout Tripoli. He always told us we couldn’t do our jobs from inside an office, and now he was more adamant than ever.

Then over the radio our Assistant Regional Security Officer politely reminded us that bullets that go up eventually come down. We heeded that warning more so when reports were came in that Qaddafi forces were using anti-artillery guns on the protestors in our neighborhood.

The situation was clearly out of control.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Evacuation By Air

For whatever reason, the US Embassy in Tripoli did not receive an evacuation order from Washington until February 21. Don’t ask me why, this was all well above my pay grade. I know our Embassy folks were pushing for the order and even requested a ferry to get everyone out days before all this chaos hit. I remember one senior Embassy officer super pissed off saying we were told by Washington that the ferry would cost too much and to try the airport.

We already knew the airport was a disaster, being on the outskirts of town and the only way out of the country. I had already sent a few of my guys, some well-connected Libyan nationals who worked for my team, to the airport to get a status report. The report was awful. Some planes taking off, possibly some foreign military cargo planes and foreign government chartered aircraft, thousands of people surrounding the airport. It was a complete disaster.

We had to try. Washington is Washington and so far this is our only option. An order came in for our families and non-essential personnel to pack a suitcase and meet at the Embassy. We were to put them in Embassy vehicles and convoy to the airport at an attempt to leave the country. Supposedly, Washington had secured plane tickets as the Libyan government wouldn’t approve a chartered American plane to enter the country. I know my wife, son, and my office’s family were scheduled to depart on a British Airways flight to London.

Somehow, someone above me knew something about the airport that I didn’t that allowed this plan to proceed despite my reports from people on the ground. Like I said, most of this was above my pay grade and out of the hands of our incredible Embassy staff who were working against the clock in a high stakes battle to get everyone out of the country safely.

Goodbye

As our families arrived at the Embassy, we prepared them for their evacuation by plane. I kissed my wife and son goodbye, arguably the hardest thing I had done in my career to that point. I knew what was on the table for us and why we were staying behind. Which made saying goodbye that much harder. I didn’t know that I would have to repeat this goodbye the next day.

Airport Disaster

Predictably, the airport was a disaster. Either way, the non-essential personnel and our families were dropped off. I don’t recall what specifically happened, whether the plane wasn’t available or the plane was packed full of whomever could get on, but flying out of Tripoli wasn’t going to happen.

My wife contacted me to let me know about the situation. Half the city was trying to escape, the airport was packed. Embassy management determined it was too dangerous to continue on this plan, let alone try and get our families to fly out of this airport. So, back to the Embassy for everyone.

I’d love to say that it was great to have another night with my family, but we now had no way to get them out of the country. A storm was blowing in off the coast and the revolution was in full force in the city. The airport was a no-go, despite the fact that other Western countries were flying their personnel out somehow.

We also had an evacuation plan of convoying out of the country on roads to Tunisia, however, this was also not possible with our families as the violence had now spread to every town and village in the entire country. If we could just get our families out, a road trip would be back on the table for us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chartered Ferry

Fortunately, Washington started listening to our Embassy management. They chartered a ferry immediately after the airport attempt and it would arrive the next day. This ferry option was already being used by other countries to get their citizens out. The UK had even sent one of their warships to Benghazi to evacuate citizens there!

As the ferry could hold hundreds of people, the Embassy staff communicated out to as many people as possible that all Americans, all unaffiliated with the Embassy, could evacuate on the ferry the next day.

Driving Around Tripoli

In the mean time, Tripoli was calm. The protests only happened under the cover of darkness. I drove around Tripoli each morning trying to make sense of the incredible news stories we saw on CNN, the BBC, and Al-Jazeera.

I read reports about anti-artillery guns being fired on protestors. Libyan fighter jets attacking highway routes into Tripoli. The Libyan Navy bombarding the coastal neighborhoods. Snipers attacking protestors from the rooftops. Hundreds of bodies lying dead in the streets all over Tripoli.

Reports Not Adding Up

I don’t know about all that. It was certainly crazy. The Libyan military airport near my house had a steady stream of government transport planes taking off for sure. It’s possible, but I don’t recall hearing fighter jets.

I followed all the protest organizers on Twitter, which is where the media was getting their information as there was no media on the ground in Tripoli. I understood the agenda of the protestors. Whether the reports were true or not, the protestors were winning the propaganda war and the foreign media was happy to assist.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending the Libyan regime. Qaddafi was evil, no doubt. Protestors were dying. Gunfire and explosions going off all night long. Government building all over Tripoli were on fire. Qaddafi had to go. Some of these stories could have been true, Qaddafi was certainly capable of it. Either way, the revolution was well underway.

One Last Night

My family and I enjoyed another wonderful and eventful evening in Tripoli, our last together. As my wife and son had already packed for the evacuation attempt a day earlier, there wasn’t much else to do. We returned to the roof to watch another night of chaos in the city.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Evacuation by Sea

We arrived at the Embassy early to convoy to the port for the ferry evacuation. Another emotional goodbye to the family and they were again off to attempt to escape the impending war.

With plenty of room to spare for the eight hour trip, around 300 folks boarded the ferry destined for Malta. Around 100 were families or non-essential Embassy staff. And pets, lots of pets. The ferry planned to depart at 3pm to beat the storm.

Well, the storm had other plans.

The storm blew in and the ferry was unable to depart. To make matters worse, the people onboard the ferry had already “departed” Libya and were not going to leave the ferry in case the storm breaks. They were only expecting a few hours delay, just until the weather improved enough to leave, so leaving the ferry wasn’t worth the hassle.

That was Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday night rolled in and they were now expecting to spend the night. There was enough food and supplies for an eight hour trip, probably enough to suffer through minor delay. US Embassy personnel from Malta and London were on the ferry and had done some amazing preparations to handle some minor delays. Everything was alright, at least for now.

Back At The Embassy

Back at the Embassy we were now able to do our jobs without having to worry about our families. They were on the ferry, leaving imminently. Each office of the Embassy was preparing for shutting down and abandoning our Embassy if the order came in. And we had to do it secretly.

One reason we stayed behind, other than to destroy sensitive materials, was so that Qaddafi would let the families get out of the country. He knew, and we all knew, that if the United States personnel left Libya then the United States could, rather, inevitably would, get into the fight. But as long as we were in country, Qaddafi was safe. President Obama and Secretary Clinton tried to watch their tone on how they reacted to the reports of Qaddafi attacking his people. They knew that our lives hung in the balance of whatever they said publicly. Our nervousness only grew the more anxious they were to condemn the Qaddafi response.

Had Qaddafi learned that the US Embassy was shutting down and completely evacuating the country, he would have done something to prevent it. By force, if necessary. Just a couple years before, Qaddafi got into a diplomatic spat with Switzerland, effectively holding two Swiss businessmen hostage. It was intense enough that Switzerland considered a military rescue operation to break the men out of a Libyan prison. In turn, Qaddafi surrounded the Swiss Embassy with police threatening to raid the Swiss Embassy. Qaddafi was insane and predictably unpredictable. Holding Americans hostage was certainly in his playbook.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Storm

The ferry had been sitting in the Tripoli harbor for nearly 24 hours by the morning on February 24th. Supplies were quickly running out. Our families were tired and scared from a long night of sitting on the ferry with a storm on one side and violent protests on the other. The folks on the ferry were told to avoid the windows facing the city in the event gunfire reached them.

To make matters more complicated, the ferry was packed with children, babies, and pets. I got word from my wife that they needed diapers, food for them and pets, and other supplies. Our Embassy staff got to work. I sent my local guys to each house of the folks in my office to raid our pantries, grab diapers, and get whatever they could to the ferry.

Our Plans To Evacuate

Sometime on Thursday Washington had chartered a Turkish flight to Tripoli to evacuate the rest of the Embassy and whatever Americans in the country who were left behind to Istanbul. The only catch? We couldn’t make it known that we were leaving.

The complete evacuation of the US Embassy in Tripoli was a complex operation. On one hand we had to get our families out of the country. On the other hand we had to get ourselves out of the country without telling anyone.

We had to continue to go about our day as if we were staying for the long haul. Our Embassy officials went to meet Libyan government officials to plead with them to stop the violence. In between meetings I would hear my boss’ phone ring and my boss telling someone that a plane was incoming and we needed their approval to land it at the military airport, but only to evacuate more Americans who couldn’t make the ferry.

Then our families on the ferry starting hearing a rumor that we were leaving. They didn’t fully understand the complex dance we were doing with the Libyan government. We continued to maintain we were staying, even though they knew better. It was an easy lie considering we wouldn’t leave a second before the ferry, anyways. At this point, everyone onboard the ferry was resigned to another night of terror in the harbor.

Shutting Down The Embassy

By Thursday, most of us had moved into the Embassy, abandoning our homes and everything we owned. We were already working around the clock. Anyone who has seen the movie Argo knows the routine. When the evacuation order comes in, everything has to be destroyed. All paperwork needed shredded, all electronics destroyed beyond the best forensic recovery capabilities.

The Embassy became the ultimate “rage room”, a room where people pay to destroy things. Armed with hammers and other tools, we went about destroying everything the Libyan government could use against the United States. Computer, servers, cell phones…you name it. It had been a very scary week, with massive emotional swings and unparalleled pressure to do our jobs. However, this was fun.

I’d be lying if I said my office didn’t talk about the Iran Hostage Crisis. It was, after all, the worst case scenario for us. We knew the stakes and honestly didn’t care as long as our families could get out of the country. Except that storm kept our families in the harbor, still within reach of the Qaddafi government. Qaddafi was already blaming the US for the insurrection and threatened to go down fighting. Everyone in Washington feared for our safety. These days were among the longest of my life to that point.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evacuation by Sea and Air

At some point on Friday the storm let up. Let me restate that. At some point Friday someone decided the ferry was leaving one way or another. Maybe the storm let up a little, but the next eight hours or so would be the worst eight hours for our families on the ferry. It was Friday and they all boarded the ferry Wednesday for a quick trip.

As the ferry’s departure was imminent, or even underway, the Embassy let Washington know to send us our plane. Our complex evacuation plan was a full go with no turning back.

I am not sure our families on the ferry would enthusiastically agree. They were on a catamaran ferry headed straight into very rough waters. Over the course of eight hours, the ferry braved the ups and downs of the high waves of the storm. Everyone was seasick, from the adults and kids to the babies and pets. No chance of sleep for the exhausted passengers. Fear of violence in Tripoli turned into fear of violent waves.

Final Preparations

Back at the Embassy we were continuing our charade. After the we got word that the plane was enroute, we destroyed the last of our electronics, officially cutting ourselves off from Washington from the Embassy itself.

I went about temporarily transitioning my mindset from the immediate evacuation to the weeks that would follow. We still needed people on the ground to continue to work for us after we leave.

With approval, I paid my local Libyan guys a healthy advance to continue working. I gave them the money along with the keys to our houses and cars. I told them that after we leave they were to remove all the alcohol, food, and whatever supplies they needed from our homes so that they can survive with their families. They had plenty of cash to make it through the immediate danger and hopefully enough to do a few things we would require in the future, like arranging for our homes to be packed up and stored if our homes survived, that is.

But first they had one last thing to do: get us to the military airport.

Closing The Embassy

We all watched while our Army Attaché lowered the American Flag at the Embassy for the last time. Our Embassy had only been around a few years after normalizing relations with Libya. And now it was closed.

In the year and a half I had been there we merged our two Embassy locations and began making major improvements to our Embassy to make it our long-term home. Each month our brilliant engineering team would complete another major improvement to the compound making it safer and more practical as an Embassy. Our Embassy personnel developed working partnerships on projects with the Libyan government to improve our relationship. It was a privilege to be part of an incredible team building a long-term presence in Libya and normalizing the relationship.

It was hard to leave knowing we wouldn’t be back. At least to the little community we created. We would be leaving behind an extremely loyal and dedicated local Libyan staff. We would be leaving behind our wonderful friends from various sub-Saharan African countries who found work around the Embassy and in our homes. Everyone needed us as much as we needed them.

Rush to the Airport

But it was time to say goodbye. We piled into our vehicles ready for the twenty minute convoy to the airport. Once we left, we knew our Embassy was no more. We didn’t own the buildings and we knew the Libyan government would be in shortly.

The area around the airport was in open conflict during the day at this point. As we drove to the airport we were almost caught in a firefight between local police and some group of people. The streets were getting ugly and we were leaving Qaddafi controlled territory and driving through the warzone.

Arrival At The Airport

Our arrival at the airport, though, was quite anticlimactic. We got there and the plane wasn’t near. We jumped out of our vehicles and just waited on the curb in front of the terminal building. I can’t remember if it was an hour or a few hours. It just felt like forever.

My local guys were starting to get scared, though. The violence we saw on the way to the airport shook them up. They knew they had to drive back that route and in American Embassy vehicles, no less. One of them came up to me and asked if they could leave. I could tell he was scared. And it was more than just the drive back.

They had been bravely serving our office since we arrived in Tripoli a few years back. Each of them had to deal with a hostile Libyan government harassing them and their families about what my office was up to. They were used to a certain amount of danger, but knew that we protected them to some degree.

But here we are, leaving the country. And I couldn’t let them go until our plane was in the air even if that put them at more risk. We didn’t know if the Libyan government would stop the flight upon learning we were departing and force us back to the abandoned Embassy. We were still playing the game with the government officials, but there was now too much evidence suggesting we were leaving.

Arrival of Our Plane

At last the plane arrived. We entered into the terminal to go board our plane. I had a backpack full of work stuff I didn’t want the airport scanners to see. So, with some polite assertiveness, a group of us pushed passed the security folks and none was the wiser.

We boarded the plane, expecting other Americans to eventually show up. I don’t know how many, but a number of Americans were supposed to get to the airport to fly out as this would be our last effort to get people out of the country. No one showed up that I am aware of. I don’t know if they couldn’t make it to the airport or were stopped, but the plane only had the last few essential Embassy officers on it and a full crew of Turkish Airlines flight attendants.

Scariest Phone Call Ever

And then we began to taxi. Despite being a full plane, we all sat together. We were silent, only whispers – ironic as we were literally sneaking out of the country. Then my boss’ phone rings. It was a senior Libyan official, one of Qaddafi’s closest allies. Which made it scarier as this guy does Qaddafi’s dirty work. If something bad was about to happen, we were about to find out.

My boss rebutted the indication that we were all on the plane. The Libyan official said he was told all the Americans had evacuated the Embassy and boarded the plane. My boss convinced him that we were merely at the airport to assist the last Americans out of the country and we were all headed back to the Embassy.

Somehow that worked. I don’t know what the other Embassy management folks were saying to their Libyan counterparts, but the plane continued taxiing, in any case. As we picked up speed and the wheels left the ground the entire cabin fell silent. Our office analyst leaned over and half-jokingly pondered which fighter jets the Libyans would send after us to force the plane back. He only said what we were all thinking.

International Airspace!

Moments later the pilot tells us that we are in international airspace and safe. Cheers and hugs everywhere. The pent up stress of an eventful week dissipated. It was finally over. We got our families out, we saved hundreds of other Americans, and we were able to escape unscathed.

In an impromptu ceremony on the plane, our Army Attaché gave our Deputy Chief of Mission, our head Embassy official, the American flag that had been flying over our Embassy just hours before.

And with much less fanfare, I was out. I hadn’t slept in days. The week had been long and sleeping on a marble floor doesn’t really help. I was mentally and physically exhausted. The shear amount of pressure to get the job was crushing, but it was now over.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Arrival in Malta

There isn’t much more to say about the ferry. Imagine eight hours of storm waves hell. It never let up. It certainly wasn’t the Mediterranean cruise my wife always wanted to take! But sometime Friday the ferry had arrived safely in Valetta, Malta. US and foreign media had also arrived in Malta to cover the story of the evacuation and hounded the evacuees the second they stepped off the ferry.

The US Embassy folks in Malta let our families know that we had safely evacuated from Tripoli and were headed to Istanbul. My wife, with my son and our cat, headed to the hotel to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Arrival in Istanbul

Upon arrival in Istanbul, the US Consulate staff met us and escorted us through the airport. They also had good news, we had flights secured to Rome and onward to Malta in the morning. They also booked us into a hotel nearby for a shower and maybe a couple hours of sleep.

Well, everyone but me. I had a backpack full of work stuff that needed to get to the Consulate and I couldn’t just give it to someone. So, one of the Consulate officers drove me through Istanbul in the middle of the night to the Consulate then drove me back. By this time it was time to catch our flight to Rome.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Reunion in Malta

Everyone looked fresh and clean when we caught up at the airport in Istanbul. The staff without families were traveling onward to the United States. The rest of us were to reunited with our families in Malta to figure out a plan from there.

Upon arrival on Malta a few hours later I saw my wife and son for the first time since I said my final goodbye on Wednesday. We have spent many months apart frequently in my career, so that wasn’t the hard part. But this was different. We weren’t mentally preparing for a few months, rather, for something much worse.

But thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of an incredible Embassy staff, the worst never came. Of course, Washington played a role, as did the US Embassies in Malta, Istanbul, and London. But it’s a bit different when you are on the ground, in the trenches, stuck in a dangerous and violent situation.

We Did Our Job

Like I said, on paper our job was to shut down our Embassy. In reality it was to potentially sacrifice ourselves to save hundreds of Americans. I don’t know if that part ever made it into any official reports, but we all stayed knowing that was the job and we did it without reservation.

The adventure was over, but it was only the beginning of what would be the scariest and most dangerous months of my life. And equally tough conversations with my wife about my safety and when I would return home after redeploying. I couldn’t tell her anything I was doing and or even where I was. I might need to write a book for those stories, though. Although, they’d make a better movie!

Why Now?

I have only shared some details of this evacuation story with very close friends and family. In fact, these friends and family lived through it with me as they reached out via email to make sure we were alright. But it has been ten years now, the story needs to be told. This is part of our history and our history is best told by those who lived through it rather than a summary of retracted and declassified reports that serve a different purpose.

The reports might tell a story, but they won’t talk of the bravery exhibited by those who stayed behind to guarantee the safety of so many others. The reports and analysis will certainly tell of the process, the failures and successes, but they won’t mention the sacrifice people were prepared to make.

I wish I could share names and classified details. I have chosen to keep it general because each Embassy officer, no matter which office they worked in or what their missions was, bravely and honorably played their part. We worked together and we got the job done. I couldn’t imagine a better team to experience this event.


Disclaimer: All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are mine and do not reflect the official positions or views of the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, or any other US Government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government authentication or CIA/DoS endorsement of these views.


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