Sunday, May 1, 2005
A press release of the Department of Justice reports that a "former state department chief consular officer pleads guilty to receiving illegal benefits from foreign nationals." The release states "that Patricia Raikes, a former State Department employee and former Chief Consular Officer at the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, pled guilty to a one count information charging her with a conflict of interest in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 209 and 216."
The press release further states:
"From 1999 through 2001, while serving as Chief Consular Officer, Raikes received thousands of dollars of benefits from foreign businesspeople in the form of paid airline travel and hotel stays for Raikes and her family members. After receiving these benefits, Raikes subsequently issued and/or approved more than 35 visa applications submitted or referred by the aforementioned foreign businesspeople. The plea documents further stated that many of the individuals who received visas issued and/or approved by Raikes were in fact ineligible to have received tourist visas under the then-existing embassy policy."
This appears to be a year of scrutiny on consular issues. On one hand we see the government looking at the actions of consulars. On the other hand we see individuals questioning the government's failure to provide appropriate consular notification to individuals charged with crimes. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the case of Medellin v. Dretke, a case recently argued before the Court where the issues involve failure to properly notify consulars, what remedy should apply in these situations, and what role international law plays here.