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9/11 Terror Attacks: A Consular Officer’s Perspective on Visas and Government Intelligence

September 11, 2001 marked one of the worst ever terror attacks on American soil. Two hijacked planes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, one crashed into the Pentagon, and one crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people were killed, 8,900 were injured, and thousands more were left traumatized after experiencing the […]

A Brief History of the Consular Service

When most people think about consular matters, if they think about them at all, it’s only because they are having difficulties in a foreign country or because they have to apply for a visa to travel, study, or immigrate abroad. However, in focusing only on these functions, as important as they are, we also overlook […]

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Consular Tales from Croatia — The Good, The Bad, and the Bianca Jagger

The Bosnian War spanned from April 1992 to December 1995 and was a result of ethnic tensions that boiled over after Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Bosnia was split between Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs, and Catholic Croats. Neighboring Croatia, which had declared independence earlier, sought to incorporate parts of Bosnian territory into Croatia and supported […]

Another Crazy Day in the Consular Section

Consular officers need to be prepared for whatever American citizens traveling abroad can throw at them. The consular section can often be a chaotic and stressful environment, as Foreign Service officers try to deal with an array of characters, usually with demands as outlandish as their personalities. Alexander Watson, who later became an ambassador, served […]

The Embassy Beirut Bombing — A Consular Officer’s Perspective

The suicide bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on April 18, 1983 was the deadliest attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission up to that point. The blast killed sixty-three people, seventeen of whom were Americans. The attack is thought of as the beginning of anti-U.S. attacks from Islamist groups. This attack, along with […]

Pinochet’s Trip to London: How the Arrest of the Chilean Dictator Inspired Unprecedented Global Transparency

In October 1998, the British government arrested former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet at the London Bridge hospital, where he was recovering from minor back surgery. The British government planned to extradite Pinochet to Spain, where the Spanish government would then prosecute him for crimes against humanity committed during his reign from 1973 to 1990. Although […]