Alberto Fernandez is the infamous State Department employee whose job it is to appear on behalf of the United States on Arab media outlets. He’s a fluent speaker of Arabic and capable of performing his assigned task, if he adequately represented the United States. He recently condemned American behavior in Iraq for its “arrogance” and “stupidity” on Al Jazeera. He has also expressed his high regard for Yusuf al Qaradawi, the European sheikh who has been refused admission to the United States because of his support for terrorism.
The State Department nominated Fernandez as one of three candidates for the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy to be selected by the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and Tufts selected Fernandez for the award. Fernandez has accordingly received a certificate signed by Condoleezza Rice and $10,000 in cash. A reader has kindly forwarded us a copy of the State Department cable announcing the award:
UNCLASSIFIED STATE 00187968
DE RUEHC #7968 3201728
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161723Z NOV 06
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0236
UNCLAS STATE 187968
INFORM CONSULS; FOR SREP, ICAO, NESCO, FODAG, UNEP
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in
1. The Department is pleased to announce the selection of Alberto M. Fernandez, Director for Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, as the 2006 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy. This prestigious award is presented to the Department employee who best exemplifies the standards of dedication, integrity, courage, sensitivity and
excellence in the field of public diplomacy set by Edward R. Murrow, who was the Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) from 1961 to 1964. The Department Awards Committee designated three nominees to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University for the final selection. Tufts University subsequently chose Mr. Fernandez as the winner. Mr. Fernandez was cited for his work with pan-Arab media to increase the number of appearances by U.S. officials in order to present a “first person” U.S. foreign policy in the Near East. Mr. Fernandez was also selected for his central role in the development of the Department’s Rapid Response Unit’s daily report that provides talking points on each day’s most volatile issues.
2. The award consists of a certificate signed by the Secretary and a monetary stipend of $10,000.
3. Last year’s recipient was Mr. Richard Schmierer, former Public Affairs Officer in Baghdad.
4. The Department takes this opportunity to emphasize the importance of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy and to encourage participation in future competitions for this prestigious honor.
5. Minimize Considered.
Thanks to Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism for reminding me of Fernandez’s high regard for Qaradawi.