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You can scratch recently retired diplomat Robert Blackwill from the list of potential Cabinet appointees in the second Bush term. Condoleezza Rice herself scolded the architect of Bush's Iraq policy after he verbally and physically abused a female staffer, according to the Washington Post:
Robert D. Blackwill, who resigned last week as the White House's top official on Iraq policy, was recently scolded by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told her that Blackwill appeared to have verbally abused and physically hurt a female embassy staffer during a visit to Kuwait in September, administration officials said.
The incident took place as Blackwill was rushing to return home after a visit to Baghdad to join a campaign swing planned by President Bush. As six officials describe the incident, he arrived at the Air France counter at the Kuwait airport and learned he was not on the flight manifest. Blackwill then turned in fury to an embassy secretary who had accompanied him to the airport and demanded that he be given a seat on the flight, grabbing her arm at one point, the officials said.
Powell found out about the incident and informed Rice. He then had staff members gather facts and materials to present to Rice, including photographs of the woman's arm, a State Department official said.
I find it interesting that Glenn Kessler and Al Kamen found a half-dozen or more witnesses to the action that would speak with them in a White House supposedly obsessed with secrecy. Assuming the story is true, their sources have two possible motives. Either they don't want to have to work for Blackwill again, or the White House wants to make sure everyone knows why Blackwill won't be invited back. In any case, the reprimand must have been somewhat awkward for Rice, as Blackwill was her mentor earlier in her career.
The Post's White House sources insist that the incident did not cause Blackwill's resignation, but undoubtedly it will ensure that Blackwill does not return to Bush's staff. His behavior, if true, was reprehensible and inexcusable, and its extreme nature suggests that this incident was probably not unique. Kessler and Kamen mention in this article that Blackwill has a reputation as a difficult boss, but I recall that even at the time of his resignation that Blackwill had twice been the subject of an unfavorable management analysis prior to this incident.
Unfortunately, some of the most talented people in any business treat their peers and subordinates badly, even ironically in the diplomatic world. When they refuse to control their behavior or simply are unable to do so, their talent never outweighs the damage they do to the organization. The Administration may miss Blackwill's abilities, but they should not be tempted to bring him back.Sphere It View blog reactions
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