Peter Van Buren, a veteran State Department officer whose new memoir colorfully describes his participation in the waste of millions of dollars of U.S. reconstruction aid in Iraq, is under investigation by Foggy Bottom’s security office.
Van Buren says State Department security sleuths told him that a blog he wrote about the transfer of U.S. spare parts to Muammar Qadaffi in 2009, based on a U.S. diplomatic cable exposed by Wikileaks, makes him a possible security risk.
“Unfortunately, the State Department has started an investigation against me,” Van Buren said on NPR’s Fresh Air program Monday. “They claim that a link on the blog connected with this book links to a Wikileaks documents, and that constitutes a disclosure of classified information. And so the security people have begun an investigation against me that will probably end with me losing my job.”
The State Department cable Van Buren linked to is clearly marked “Unclassified.”
“I offered in writing to remove the link but DS [the Diplomatic Security Service] said they would not request me to do so,” Van Buren told SpyTalk.
“Their exact words, orally, were, ‘We're not here to negotiate. We don't negotiate with you, we don't negotiate with Julian Assange,'" Van Buren added. "They horribly mispronounced Julian's last name as well.”
Van Buren’s scathing and often darkly funny memoir, “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People,” was published last week.
"The State Department as an organization is not very happy about what I've done," Van Buren told Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "I was required to submit an early copy of the manuscript to them to determine that I wasn't releasing classified information ... or the more hilarious [reason], that I wasn’t misrepresenting official State Department policy.”
Van Buren, a State Department consular officer who had several foreign assignments over 20 years, said, “It's pretty clear that I'm speaking for myself here."
The State Department is “not comfortable about its private parts showing in public…” he added. “It makes everyone very uncomfortable…”
The department has declined to comment on Van Buren's allegations.