Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Indian Consul's Arrest Controversy Keeps Escalating


Is orange still the new black?
















-- UPDATE at 10:30 PM --

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued a statement today after I had already published the post below. He rebutted various assertions made by the Indian press and politicians about the treatment of Dr. Khobragade by the U.S. legal system, and noted the general lack of concern that they have shown for the victim in this case, who of course is also an Indian.

Most importantly to me, he stated that the DSS agents arrested Dr. Khobragade "in the most discreet way possible, and unlike most defendants, she was not then handcuffed or restrained." Not then handcuffed, but presumably was later. Anyway, if his description of the arrest is accurate, then it was done with discretion and intelligence. I'd still like to see DSS make a statement about that itself, but so far so good.

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I've been panning for gold nuggets in the stream of Indian news media updates on the arrest of India's NYC Deputy Consul-General Devyani Khobragade, and found a couple good ones.

First, there is the interesting counter allegation that U.S. Government agencies are facilitating the real visa fraud in this case, which was committed by Dr. Khobragade's maid when she absconded from her employer and ran to an immigration lawyer. A timeline helps to understand that allegation:


  • Dr. Khobragade obtained a U.S. visa for her maid in November, 2012, and the maid arrived in NYC the same month.
  • According to the Indian press, the maid “absconded” from the Khobragade household in June, 2013, and sometime afterwards Dr. Khobragade's husband reported to New York police that she has stolen some valuables.
  • In July, the Indian Embassy in the U.S. notified the State Department of the missing maid and requested assistance in locating her.
  • Around this point, according to Indian news media, the maid contacted an immigration lawyer in an attempt to stay in the United States. Around the same time, the State Department began to investigate how Dr. Khobragade obtained the maid's visa.
  • In September, the State Department notified the government of India of the visa fraud allegations against Dr. Khobragade, according to the State Department spokesperson yesterday.
  • Also in September, a court in India issued an injunction to the maid ordering her not to institute any legal proceedings outside of India against her employer.
  • December 10, two days before Dr. Khobragade was arrested in NYC, the maid’s husband and son departed India for NYC, presumably to join her.


  • The India news media is spinning this as a case of the USG facilitating immigration fraud, i.e., of helping the maid (former maid, now the USG’s witness in a criminal case) to legalize her presence in the U.S., and to bring her family over as well.

    In a second interesting development, the Indian government is considering a proposal to make the domestic household help of its diplomatic employees direct-hire employees of the Indian government “in order not to fall foul of minimum wages laws in developed countries.”

    Third, the Indian government may be trying to shift Dr. Khobragade's assignment from its New York Consulate to its Mission to the United Nations, in a ploy to obtain for her full diplomatic immunity versus the more limited consular immunity she currently holds. (See this handy pamphlet for an explanation of the difference.) As the Indian press noted, the only problem with this genius scheme is that the U.S. State Department would have to agree to recognize her new status.

    Fourth, the U.S. Marshal’s Service spokesperson confirmed that Dr. Khobragade was indeed strip-searched during prisoner intake at a U.S. Courthouse. She helpfully noted that the U.S. Marshal's Service was not the arresting agency – the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service was – and the USMS merely kept Dr. Khobragade in custody until she was released on bail. The search, like the DNA collection swab and the “available and suitable holding cell,” was a matter of standard procedure. The State Department Spokesperson likewise said yesterday that the DSS agents were following standard procedure by handcuffing Dr. Khobragade before transporting her to the custody of the Marshals Service. With everything done so impeccably in accordance with standard procedures, what could the Indians possibly complain about?

    The appeal to “standard procedures” reveals the cultural difference in play here. When Indians look at how Dr. Khobragade was arrested, they see an unnecessary, even outrageous, use of force and violation of her personal dignity. Why arrest her by surprise while she was taking her young children to school, and why handcuff her? Since there was no good reason to do that, they assume we intended to inflict abuse upon her for some hidden purpose, maybe one connected to her status as a Dalit, or untouchable (not that any of the Americans involved – with the possible exception of the Indian-born U.S. Attorney – would have known or cared about her caste identification).

    But to the Americans involved, the arrest was an impersonal matter. Just mindless, mechanical, process. Individuals have no need, or even opportunity, to exercise judgment when they simply follow procedure. The fact that Dr. Khobragade was treated exactly like everyone else who was under arrest and being processed at the U.S. Courthouse that day is assumed to be a solid defense against any charge of mistreatment, because standard procedure absolves the individuals who implement it of personal responsibility. “I’m not paid to think,” as some people say. If the arrestee and her home country infer any actual motive from our treatment of her, well, that’s their problem. They give us too much credit for independence.

    Fifth, the Indian press is reporting details of an e-mail Dr. Khobragade sent to collegues in which she describes the prisoner intake procedures and says that she broke down in tears many times. The strip-searching part of her arrest has now overwhelmed all other considerations, including the main one of her alleged visa fraud, in the Indian mind.

    This business is escalating from a diplomatic incident into a Mexican soap opera.

    23 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    TSB: My mother in law says tell you she no longer watches 'The Blood and The Passion' she's now hooked on CSI... which reminds me.. How come you can't read (automatically) a spanish translation of www.skepticalbureaucrat.blogspot.me/??

    ps: way to cover this exciting diplomatic kerfuffle!! gwb

    Anonymous said...

    http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/12/18/Cops-Man-Demands-McDonalds-Job-Application-at-GunPoint

    TSB: You Virginians have some strange customs. If this guy had gone into a bar to apply for a job would he have been ok? (Sure, I'm assuming he has a concealed weapon permit.) gwb

    TSB said...

    Spanish translation? I'll have to look for widgets to do that. good idea.

    That McDonald's applicant showed poor judgment, so I'm not surprised he didn't get a job. If he did that in a bar,
    It would certainly be frowned upon, but I'm not sure it would be illegal.

    Anonymous said...

    Juan Cole has it right TSB. Americans are happy to live in a police state with constant surveilance of everything and strip searches for parking tickets. They keep electing the same people... GWB would probably have a decent shot in 2016.. but hopefully NSA revelations and the failure of QEforever will light a fire. gwb

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/americas-practices-supreme.html

    Anonymous said...

    TSB: It's good to see your tweets are back where I can read them. I've been banned from Tweeter and Facebook,
    smacked around by Federale,wemeantwell guy and totally mis-understood by Diplopundit. Juan Cole's editors don't like me. But that's all fine cause I still have you, Google and the NSA! gwb

    TSB said...

    Glad to help. It's funny, but I didn't notice that my twitter feed had dropped off some time ago. As soon as I saw that, I turned it back on.

    Anonymous said...

    TSB: The WH might need Ms HmHHarpf on loan to counter these statements from the Presidents Blue Ribbon Panel Report on the NSA: (or 40 million Target shoppers might start wondering if this is Russian payback for NSA cyberwarfare?)gwb

    http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-12-19/us-government-changing-amount-people%E2%80%99s-financial-accounts-its-offensive-cyber

    James said...

    GWB: "smacked around by Federale,wemeantwell guy and totally mis-understood by Diplopundit. Juan Cole's editors don't like me"
    What have you been doing to earn the love?

    James said...

    "but I didn't notice that my twitter feed had dropped off" My god man, do you not realize that weighty decisions hang in the balance waiting for info from tsb? Why multitudes rise as early as 2 or 3 pm to profit from your wisdom. Ever vigilant should be your motto, or thought about, or put on a to do list.

    TSB said...

    James: Sorry to drop the ball on Twitter. I'll try to stay on top on things better from now on!

    Anonymous said...

    James: I'm just glad he recovered from that 6 month posting malaise.I mean where else can you find out that Carol Turner was posted to the Cuban Embassy in 1959 and starred in a 1968 movie? gwb

    TSB said...

    That's Kathleen Turner (of Body Heat, the voice of Jessica Rabbit, etc.) who was a child in old Havana. I don't remember her in anything before Body Heat - 1980/81/82? But, I **really** remember Body Heat.

    James said...

    TSB: A relief, for I knew otherwise I'd be driven to watch Ed Schultz on MSNBC for info.

    James said...

    GWB: "6 month posting malaise" don't bring Jimmy Carter into it!

    Anonymous said...

    TSB:Oops! Thanks TSB. I never saw any of those movies or tv shows but Lana's my favorite.. coming from nothing, discovered at a soda shop and making great movies for $100 a week. Married 8 times, died with $1.7 million in the bank she left to the maid who was the only one who actually gave a rip about her. gwb

    Consul-At-Arms said...

    I've mentioned you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-curious-case-of-consuls-maid-top.html

    Anonymous said...

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/12/sanctions-mandate-senators.html#comments
    TSB,James: 13 Rep and 13 Dem 'likudniks' are out to scuttle the talks with Iran by adding $55 billion in new sanctions on Iran. Can you name one of them that does not support the total security state? gwb (same for the Rep's)
    The 13 warmonger Dems who obey AIPAC and joined 13 Repubs to demand more sanctions against Iran are:

    Menendez (NJ), Schumer (NY), Gillibrand (NY), Blumenthal (CT), Casey (PA), Cardin (MD), Coons (Del), Warner (VA), Donnelly (Indiana), Begich (Alaska), Pryor (Ark), Landrieu (LA), and Hagan (N.C.).

    TSB said...

    CAA: Thanks! The Indian politics of that case are getting more interesting, with news stories coming out about the Deputy CG getting favorable treatment in hiring (she entered their foreign service under a quote for Dalits, or Untouchables, and later benefitted from rule changes that allowed her to get preferred postings) and in the purchase of an apartment in a Mumbai development that is supposed to be reserved for war widows. Her influential father seems to be the man behind the curtain in all that.

    TSB said...

    GWB: I've seen Netanyahu saying favorable things about the Iran deal lately, which makes me think he might be conceding that it will happen. If he does that, the Senate will fall in line.

    Anonymous said...

    TSB: Here are some of our military people who could have used some 'security' while executing their mission. This mess just keeps getting harder to cover up.gwb

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-12-21/us-sailors-assisting-fukushima-clean-crippled-cancer

    Anonymous said...

    That was a good piece by CAA! gwb

    Consul-At-Arms said...

    Thanks, gwb; nice of you to say so.

    Anonymous said...

    google screenshot of sangeeta richard ds 160.

    Plenty of download links of the screenshot of the actual visa form that Devyani os charged of lying in. Clearly show she was NOT lying, that 4500 $ was employers salary.

    Lots of presumptions and preconcieved opinions, little facts or even adequate scrutiny of both sides of the story.

    Just another bee in the swarm towing the official line online.