The Washington Post

An ambassador post this assistant secretary of state would like to forget


U.S. Ambassador in Venezuela William Brownfield (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

A senior level diplomat was grateful there was no mention of his time as U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.

It’s a post he’d just as soon forget.

William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, began his remarks at a congressional hearing on U.S.-Mexico relations on Tuesday thanking the panel for not bringing up that particular time in his life.

“May I open by thanking you for not drawing attention during your introduction to my three years as U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, a period and a performance which richly merits not being remembered for centuries and centuries to come?” he said to laughter.

Brownfield, a career foreign service officer who served there from 2004 to 2007, had a contentious relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who threatened to kick the U.S. diplomat out of the country for “provoking” his people. U.S. relations with Venezuela were strained, to say the least, and Chavez believed the George W. Bush administration was plotting to help overthrow him. Brownfield’s motorcade was even pelted with eggs, according to a 2007 New York Times story.

Later in the hearing, Brownfield, who doesn’t seem to mince words, was candid about the resurgence of heroin usage in the United States.

“I know we’re not supposed to create headlines here … but I, in fact, do believe the United States of America is confronting a nationwide heroin crisis,” he said. “Over the last four years, the number of addicts and abusers of heroin in the United States of America has jumped between 75 (percent) and 80 percent. The amount of estimated pure heroin that is entering the United States has increased by nearly 100 percent.”

Pro-tip: When an official begins a sentence acknowledging what he’s about to say will create a headline, it’s guaranteed to do so. Exhibit A.

 

 

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Listen
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.