I recently came across this piece in the New York Times Magazine by Doug Bock Clark, whose work on Americans in trouble overseas I have come to respect and admire. He describes the plight of Americans held in Kuwait – veterans working for defense contractors picked up by Kuwaiti authorities for drug dealing. It highlights the need for greater scrutiny of US consular services.
Persistent failures of US policy
It chronicles persistent failures by consular officials to pay regular visits, check on health and mental health of Americans held in Kuwaiti jails, and show the most basic competence in following up on requests. This follows 2014 complaints by families of US hostages, which led to a wholesale review of US government handling of hostage cases and an annual review of progress by the James W Foley Legacy Foundation.
It wasn’t until Doug Bock Clark started asking questions and Governor Richardson got involved that things changed and some Americans were returned back to the United States.
Time to review consular services
This is tricky territory for bilateral relations, but surely we can do better? It’s time for a wholesale review of US consular services.