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A State Department down on liaisons

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Talk about affairs of state. Foreign Service members who cheat on their spouses could wind up in hot water with their employer — even if their liaisons take place off the government clock and between consenting adults.

The State Department has proposed disciplinary action against Foreign Service members for engaging in extramarital affairs and, in at least one case, indicated that the number of partners involved constituted “notoriously disgraceful conduct,” according to a report in the March issue of the Foreign Service Journal, a publication produced by the American Foreign Service Association.

The article described how the department in 2011 proposed disciplinary action against “a handful” of employees for their off-duty conduct, which included extramarital affairs. The association complained that the department had never advised employees that the number of partners they slept with could subject them to discipline. It also decried the “tenuous connection” between the accused employees’ jobs and their supposedly randy off-duty behavior.

The State Department wouldn’t elaborate on the proposed disciplinary actions or whether employees are ever specifically instructed not to cheat on their spouses. But a State Department official tells the Loop that the concern over what goes on in its employees’ bedrooms is a practical one.

“Where an employee is having an extramarital affair and the spouse does not know, there is a potential for blackmail,” the official said. So we guess many affairs mean more potential.

A representative of the American Foreign Service Association tells the Loop that workers are just looking for clarity about the rules — and consistency in how they’re enforced. “When the State Department wants to make employee rules, it must clearly communicate and announce them . . . and it must apply [them] fairly and equally to all personnel,” the AFSA representative says.

The State Department official pointed us to a portion of the Foreign Affairs Manual, which governs employee conduct, stating that Foreign Service workers are expected to behave with “integrity, reliability, and prudence.”

“Given the representational nature of employment in the Service . . . it is necessary that employees observe such standards during and after working hours,” the manual says.

The manual has a few things to say about the sex lives of Foreign Service workers. It specifically calls out for concern “sexual activity by an individual which reasonably may be expected to hamper the effective fulfillment by the agencies of any of their duties and responsibilities, or which may impair the individual’s position performance by reason of, for example, the possibility of blackmail, coercion, or improper influence.”

And it defines “notoriously disgraceful conduct” as “that conduct which, were it to become widely known, would embarrass, discredit, or subject to opprobrium the perpetrator, the Foreign Service, and the United States. Examples of such conduct include but are not limited to the frequenting of prostitutes, engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations . . . ”

Gives a whole new meaning to safe sex.

We have our winners

And now, the winners in the “Embassy for Sale” contest, which was to come up with ideas for what to do with the enormous, 104-acre embassy complex in Baghdad as the mission in Iraq winds down.

We received hundreds of entries from around the world. Here, based on our three-judge panel’s preferences, are the top 10 — in no particular order (one Loop Fan submitted two winning entries).

●The Fertile Crescent Community College (sports chant: “Go, Tigris!”) — Randy Brown, a freelance journalist in the Des Moines area.

●A five-star luxury hotel and spa experience — market it as “America’s Last Resort.” — Brown again.

●The Trump Baghdad casino-hotel. Only U.S. government officials with more than $1 billion in cash can play, and they are required to lose everything as quickly as possible. Casino management: Blackwater USA and the Iraqi government. — Retired Foreign Service officer James F. Schumaker of San Clemente, Calif.

●An educational institution for the study of government folly. Name: The College of Woefully Misguided Decisions (WMDs). — Retired journalist and former Loop contest winner Maurice R. Fliess of Brentwood, Tenn.

●A new stadium for the Redskins. Name: The Daniel Snyder Edifice for Annual Hope, Eternal Dreams and Everlasting Disillusionment. — Information technology specialist Dave McDermott of Brambleton, Va.

●A retirement home for American neocons. Name: The Open Arms. — Federal government retiree Kirk Augustine of Camano Island, Wash.

●A full-service, game-themed restaurant specializing in desserts. Name: The Yellowcake Factory. — Federal contractor program manager Kevin Dopart of the District.

●An open-air market. Name: Very Eastern Market. — Former Loop contest winner Matt Neufeld, news editor at Carroll Publishing in Greenbelt.

●The world’s largest bowling alley. Name: Dubya’s. — Daniel Bazan, a federal government employee.

●A new facility for the Redskins, Capitals and Wizards. Name: Camp Victory. — Retired Agency for International Development lawyer Bob Lester of The Villages, Fla.

Many of the entries reflected earnest efforts to think of something to do with the complex that would actually be useful in Iraq, such as a university or hospital.

We decided to give one award in this category.

●A rehab center for those affected by the war there, and a wellness center for war-affected children. Name: Al-Noorani (The Illuminated One). — Nighat Mir of Karachi, Pakistan.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all for entering. Special thanks to our judges: former New York Times and CBS News reporter Terence Smith ; our ex-colleague Dafna Linzer , a former Associated Press foreign affairs correspondent and now a reporter for ProPublica; and Aaron Blake of the wildly popular Fix Blog.

Another garden spot

Piper Campbell has had one of the hardest jobs out there as consul general in Basra, Iraq. Now, the White House is rewarding her shell-dodging stint in the war zone with an ambassadorship in . . . Mongolia.

The arid, landlocked nation is sparsely populated and not known for its comfortable climate (Ulan Bator is the world’s coldest capital city), cuisine (though the fermented mare’s milk will give you a buzz), arts — or really just about anything else, save for the fine cashmere.

What does a gal have to do to get a cushy E.U. ambassadorship these days, anyway?

And speaking of rough assignments, the State Department has yet to name an ambassador to Burma after announcing in January that it would resume an ambassadorial exchange with the nation, also called Myanmar, for the first time since 1990. The names we’re hearing most often for the post include Derek Mitchell , the special representative for Burma; the current embassy charge d’affaires, Michael Thurston ; and Human Rights Watch Washington Director Tom Malinowski .

With Emily Heil

The blog:
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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