Monday, August 28, 2006

I Just Didn’t Call To Say…

US Ambassador James F. Moriarty has too much on his hands. Just take the month of August. A professor-cum-newspaper columnist applies for a US visa and is refused. The only disqualification he can think of is his relentless criticism of American coddling of King Gyanendra during the monarch’s direct rule. He puts that in writing. The essay prompts a bevy of personalities to write about or narrate similar experiences.
His Excellency is forced to respond. Although the professor has been an American Embassy cultural contact, Moriarty notes, visa officers have to work within the US Immigration and Naturalization Act passed by Congress.
The law charges every consular officer to assume that every visa applicant is an intending immigrant, unless the applicant can convince the officer otherwise. Interviewing and adjudicating visa applications are difficult tasks, but those entrusted with the onerous responsibility are not indifferent, as the professor suggested.
Here’s what Moriarty was probably getting at. The US Embassy comes under the State Department. Visa officers have considerations related more to the Department of Homeland Security. (Context: Before 9/11, immigration matters used to come under the Department of Justice. When Mohammed Atta’s student visa came through six months after he flew American 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the sweeping transformation became inevitable.)
Moriarty is now forced to clarify that he hasn’t made phone calls to anybody lobbying for the retention of ceremonial monarchy. Now, even if Moriarty were part of such a campaign, could he be expected to acknowledge it at a news conference?
Moreover, if he were involved in such an effort, why would he have to telephone people. He does visit all the SPA bosses a couple of times a month, doesn’t he? As for the mid-level politicians, haven’t they always been more anxious to present themselves before His Excellency and his predecessors?
Could the Maoist leaders have been the recipients of Moriarty’s calls? Considering that Washington officially considers them terrorists, the telephone would certainly meet the plausible-deniability test. Since His Excellency already considers the Maoist leaders Octobrists, what line of conversation could he have led on the phone? A polite intimation that the time has come to shed more light on Prachanda’s purported association with the USAID or thereabouts?