US Diplomat retires after making anti-Arab attacks

Diplomat Charged With Arab Threats Retires:
(AP) A career U.S. diplomat indicted this week for sending threatening messages to an Arab political organization has retired from the foreign service, the State Department said Thursday.

Patrick Syring retired last month, about a year after he allegedly left racist and intimidating phone and e-mail messages with the Arab American Institute, but before his Wednesday indictment on federal charges of threatening and violating civil rights laws, spokesman Sean McCormack said.

. . .

It was not clear if Syring's resignation was related to the incidents with which he is charged, which are alleged to have occurred last summer during Israeli military strikes on the militant Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Federal prosecutors charged in an indictment that Syring had left multiple expletive-laced messages with the Arab American Institute whose founder, James Zogby, had criticized the government for not doing enough to protect U.S. citizens visiting family members in Lebanon.

"The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab," Syring is alleged to have said, accusing Zogby of being anti-Semitic, prosecutors said.

"You wicked evil Hezbollah-supporting Arabs should burn in the fires of hell for eternity and beyond," Syring wrote in one e-mail, according to the prosecutors. "The United States would be safer without you."

Syring, whose tenure in the foreign service was not immediately available, also praised Israeli forces for "bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs" and said "Arabs are dogs," according to an e-mail cited in the indictment.
It's hard to believe he was stupid enough to leave traces, but I suppose he was pretty stupid anyway. Even so, some people mount a pseudo-defense of what he did as a freedom of speech case.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing is that Patrick Syring was a commercial officer in Lebanon in the mid-1990s. There's a little more info about past abusive messages about Arabs over at Josh Marshall's TPM, which headlines its post rather appropriately: Didn't get the whole 'diplomacy' idea.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.