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February 13, 2012

Mr. Robert Ford, are you a Diplomat or a CIA Officer?

February 13, 2012

February 13, 2012

Robert Ford, the current U.S. ambassador to Syria and former ambassador to Algeria (2006-8), had an interesting exchange with Algerian journalist Mohamed Tamalt after an article he wrote on the use of an ill child for PR purposes. The Arab Digest has published it below:

By Mohamed Tamalt
Mr Ford, there is no need to introduce myself as you know me well. A decade and a half ago when you were a first secretary, a journalist called Khaled Guerdjouma was arrested by the Algerian security services at the end of one of his regular briefings with you. You also helped Khaled Guerdjouma, who had and may still have strong links and contacts with the Algerian terrorist groups, to obtain two US visas: one to visit the USA in a program sponsored by the state department and another to live there as a refugee for several years.
You have been accused by prominent Iraqi public figures of having regular contacts with members of Sunni and Shia militias and armed groups (some are resistance, others are terrorists). You were also warned by the Algerian ministry of foreign affairs when you came back as an ambassador to stop your regular talks with the opposition which focused on other issues then what diplomats should deal with.
My question is: are you a diplomat or a CIA agent?

Robert Ford's First response:


Your articles lack objectivity. For example, in the article about the unfortunate Mounib child, you didn’t mention that the Algerian family came to us and asked the U.S. Embassy for help with the transport to the United States – it was their original request to us for help with an airplane. I had to justify to the United States government why it should pay for an airplane. Strange that you left that part out.
And your articles that suggest that I am some kind of CIA agent are not only completely wrong but they are insulting. My biographic information is abundantly available even on the internet if you took the time to do such basic research.
I would appreciate your removing my email address from your email distribution list.

Thank you,

Robert ford

Mohamed Tamalt’s response:


Instead of judging my objectivity you should have explained why you specifically requested a military aircraft as the only choice and left no space for any other option.
It was you who linked this humanitarian proposal to the need for improving the image of the US army AND NOT ME. I did not make you saying what you did not say.
If you were not intending to use the child in a PR campaign, then you are accusing the US government to deal with humanitarian cases on the bases of narrow interests only. ARE YOU?
In the leaked cable there was no single indication that the request for a plane came from Mounib’s FAMILY, you only mentioned that a group of (unknown) Algerians approached you.
I did not accuse you to be a CIA agent; I raised concerns about your suspicious activities all around the world which cannot be OBJECTIVELY described as diplomatic activities. Referring me to your official biography is meaningless; thousands of people who work for the CIA do not mention this fact in their CVs.
One of them for example is the US-British chairman of Chatham House DeAnne Julius; another one is Valerie Plame the wife of one of your most prominent diplomats, information about Plame’s work with the CIA were leaked by Bush administration as you know.
As for requesting to remove your two emails from my list, you will not receive anything from me unless it is related to you or to your embassy. Sorry to see you losing your temper, this is unusual for me.
Mohamed Tamalt

Robert Ford's second response:

You ought to understand that the U.S. government does not own a fleet of civilian airplanes (except the CIA) and the two planes used for the President and the Secretary of State. One is a 747, the other a 757.
Neither is equipped to transport persons with medical conditions. Only US military airplanes were available. And why do I need to explain that airplane situation in a telegram to my own government ? After you read the internal American government cable, If you had bothered to ask the American embassy, or the State Department's Office of Public Affairs, they would have told you about our airplane situation.
Do we deal with humanitarian cases on narrow issues ? Be realistic: millions of people need help every week. No country, not the U.S., not Algeria, not the UK, has the resources to provide all the assistance needed. You criticize me and my embassy for justifying the costs for a flight for a sick child on the grounds that it would help the American image, and the image of the military. I make no apologies for that. The U.S. military's image was not so good in Algeria at the time, as you well know. The U.S. military wanted a strong justification for a flight that was going American taxpayers - who have their own sick children - to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As for my diplomatic activities, maybe you don't objectively think that they are diplomatic. You are not a diplomat and you are not pushing for change in this part of the world. (Indeed, you take refuge in Britain, benefiting from the British laws that protect freedom of speech and due process. Why aren't YOU in Algeria where the battle for free speech and due process are ongoing ?)
But then, you have defended before the repressive actions of governments, whether in Algeria or Syria - from the safety of Britain and behind its solid grounding in the rule of law. I'm happy to be on the front line defending efforts of local people, whether in Iraq, Algeria or Syria, who want what you enjoy in Britain.
Lastly, it is easy to throw around the accusation that someone works for the intelligence services. Do you know anyone twice appointed as an ambassador who worked with the CIA? anyone in American history? Many people in Algeria told me to beware of you and your possible connections to the Algerian DRS. I don't know if it is true or not, but it would never have occured to me to put the accusation up on the internet. I guess you and I have different professional standards.
You've never seen me lose my temper. I still have not.
But I do request that you take my name off your mailing list.

Thank you,

Robert Ford

Mohamed Tamalt’s final response


Thank you for recognising that your main interest was not to help the child but to improve the image of your government.
Please don't blame me for not having contacted you before publishing the article and blame yourself; as you have ignored my previous question regarding your non diplomatic activities.
Improving the image of your army could have worked more effectively, if this army had stopped its cruel crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. It would have been better than selecting one child from the millions whom you have mentioned and make from him a PR tool. And it would have been much better than brazenly ask for immunity for the US soldiers.
I am not a diplomat but I know that diplomats may be subject to extradition if they keep contacting terrorist groups LIKE YOU DID, attempt to manipulate local political actors LIKE YOU DID, or recruit people to collect security information LIKE YOU DID.
You should have militated for human rights and freedom in your country instead of doing it in other people countries. A diplomat like you, who serves a state occupying two sovereign states, aggressing a third, and making from the land of a forth country a big prison: such a diplomat cannot teach the host country principles of human rights and freedom.
You are not in Syria to defend those principles, you are there to represent your government interests and you will get paid and promoted for this
There are many countries in the world where human rights are abused, but your government does not move a finger to stop those abuses simply because the rulers of these countries are allied to the US
As for me, you know VERY WELL that I always militated for justice, freedom and human right in my country. You know VERY WELL also that I wrote and still write dozens of articles against corruption, police state, human right violations etc. And you know that I was arrested many times, charged and sentenced to jail once, as a result of my writings against the Algerian regime.
I declined an open offer from president Bouteflika to work as one of his press officers, and several attractive offers from the Algerian DRS to work for them.
If I am in the UK it's ONLY because of the ban of one my two books, the refusal of the government to approve my project to launch a magazine, and the continuous attempts from the DRS side to recruit me. Both the Algerian and the British governments know this VERY WELL.
Residing in Britain for me is exactly like having contacts with foreign embassies in Algeria as I had in the past, it aims to mitigate any damage caused by the regime oppression but not to work against my people’s interest
When I was arrested in August 1999 after a book signing, the first thing which I did after my release was to call my parents; the second thing was to go to see friends in the French embassy. Days after, the head of the police Ali Tounsi asked me about the reason of my visit to the French, my answer was: it’s because that your regime shows more fear of the French than of God himself.
Having done so, I am consciously able to make the difference between using legitimate platforms to continue my struggle for real and constructive reforms in my country, and re-bringing colonialism in the name of freedom and human rights.
I am not ready to support the devastating desire of your government to duplicate other Iraqs and Afghanistans and will never be.
As for taking your name off my mailing list, I have already done it just after your first request.

Mohamed Tamalt


I'm sorry Mr Tamalt, but you have a serious luck of objectivity, it's you who have lost his temper, not Mr Ford, It's a shame how you are adressing a Diplomat in this way, as if you are talking to your neighbor's child ! I am far from being a fan of the successive american administrations, but still I respect them, shame on you !

A diplomat MUST not be a part of any kind of conflict in the country where he serves; when he does so, he deserves to be treated like a reckless child.
I am very proud to see my contributions (including my question about Ford and the CIA and my report on Ford and Mounib) succeeding to temporary neutralise Mr Ford’s ability to escalate the situation in Syria and to push the Syrian people toward a civil war. The US regime (the so-called administration) knows exactly what I mean.
What does make you respect the US regime (administration)? Guantanamo and Abu Ghrib? Support of Israel? Drones in Afghanistan?
If you like America then you should pay respect to the American people only and not to a band of thieves and killers called the US administration. I am really ashamed of you.

There is a missing article between my first question and Ford's answers
I have already notified this site admins about it

The missing article is entitled: Robert Ford used a kid to promote U.S. Army

Ambassador Robert Ford suggests exploiting a child patient to improve the image of the U.S. Army

Mohamed Tamalt

Former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria currently serving in Syria, advised his superiors to send a military aircraft to transport a sick child suffering from spine deformity for treatment in a U.S. hospital.

Robert Ford informed his officials in a cable sent on the ninth of May 2008 and leaked recently by Wikileaks, that the treatment of Mounib Ferchichi (two and a half years old) will not cost the U.S. government anything as a group of Algerians living in the US managed to secure a free treatment for him in Mayo Clinic.

The current ambassador in Damascus, who is suspected to be working for the American security services, indicated in his correspondence that the case of Mounib was addressed by Algerian newspapers which frequently promote anti-American views. He suggested that the use of a military aircraft to transport the child will put these newspapers in a position of enhancing the image of AFRICOM and the U.S. Army involved in significant violations of human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Guantanamo Bay. Children hold a special place in the Algerian society, as he added.

AFRICOM attempted, during the period leading up to the ambassador proposal, to move its headquarters from Germany to Africa; but met with rejection from several African countries including Algeria as rumoured. The military organization operates a news website called Magharebia where several Algerian journalists write, the website is supervised by officers in the U.S. army.

An Algerian activist, who contributed in raising funds for Mounib and who asked not to be named, said that the transfer of the patient was not in a military plane; this means that Ambassador Ford’s proposal failed.

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