WASHINGTON — Hundreds of U.S. diplomats Wednesday vented anger and frustration over the State Department's decision to force Foreign Service officers to take jobs in Iraq, with some calling it a "potential death sentence."
In a contentious hourlong meeting, they peppered officials with often hostile comments about the move announced last week that will require some diplomats -- under threat of dismissal -- to serve at the embassy in Baghdad and in reconstruction teams in outlying provinces.
Many expressed serious concern about the ethics of sending diplomats against their will to work in a war zone -- where the embassy staff is largely confined to Baghdad's protected Green Zone -- as the department reviews use of private security guards to protect its staff.
"Incoming is coming in every day; rockets are hitting the Green Zone," said Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer.
He and others confronted Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, who approved the move to "directed assignments" to deal with a shortage of volunteers.