Several hundred US diplomats vented anger and frustration Wednesday about the State Department's decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq with some comparing it to a "potential death sentence."
In a contentious hour-long "town hall meeting" called to explain the step, they peppered the official who signed the order with often hostile complaints about the largest diplomatic call-up since Vietnam. Announced last week, it will require some diplomats - under threat of dismissal - to serve at the embassy in Baghdad and in so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams in outlying provinces.
Many expressed serious concern about the ethics of sending diplomats against their will to serve in a war zone, where the embassy staff is largely confined to the so-called "Green Zone," and the safety outside the area is uncertain while a review of the department's use of private security contractors to protect its staff is under way.
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