Dissent Channel

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The Dissent Channel is a messaging framework open to Foreign Service Officers, and other U.S. citizens employed by the United States Department of State and Agency for International Development (USAID),[a] through which they are invited to express constructive criticism of government policy.


  • This draft would be the Foreign Service’s first formal dissent cable (hundreds more would follow over the years from diplomats around the globe), and while it probably would not shift policy, it was guaranteed to enrage powerful people in Washington.... On April 6, two weeks into the slaughter, Blood transmitted his consulate’s vehement dissent.
    The telegram detonated in all directions, to diplomats in Washington, Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. The confidential cable, with the blunt subject line of “Dissent from U.S. policy toward East Pakistan,” was probably the most blistering denunciation of U.S. foreign policy ever sent by its own diplomats:
    [W]ith the conviction that U.S. policy related to recent developments in East Pakistan serves neither our moral interests broadly defined nor our national interests narrowly defined, numerous officers of Am[erican] Con[sulate] Gen[eral] Dacca … consider it their duty to register strong dissent with fundamental aspects of this policy. Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities. Our government has failed to take forceful measures to protect its citizens while at the same time bending over backwards to placate the West Pak dominated government and to lessen likely and deservedly negative international public relations impact against them. Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy, ironically at a time when the USSR sent President Yahya a message defending democracy, condemning arrest of leader of democratically elected majority party (incidentally pro-West) and calling for end to repressive measures and bloodshed.… [W]e have chosen not to intervene, even morally, on the grounds that the Awami conflict, in which unfortunately the overworked term genocide is applicable, is purely [an] internal matter of a sovereign state. Private Americans have expressed disgust. We, as professional public servants express our dissent with current policy and fervently hope that our true and lasting interests here can be defined and our policies redirected in order to salvage our nation’s position as a moral leader of the free world.
    • The Foreign Service’s first formal dissent cable, quoted from Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
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