Peoria Journal-Star

June 24, 2001

Those in career foreign service take different path 


By DORI MEINERT 
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Edmund Hull, a career foreign service officer, made no political contributions last year. 

Yet Hull, 52, who grew up in Springfield, was selected by President Bush to be an ambassador. 

His assignment: Yemen. 

While political appointees typically get glamorous embassy assignments in places like London and Paris, career foreign service officers such as Hull are usually sent to the world's most sensitive and troubled spots. 

Yemeni authorities this past week arrested eight people believed to be part of a terrorist plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy and its staff in Sana, Yemen's capital. 

The State Department recently authorized all non-essential staff and family members to leave, closed the embassy to the public and warned Americans not to travel to the Middle Eastern country. The threat came as the FBI investigated the bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors last October in Yemen's Aden port.A career foreign service officer's experience and training can make a difference in difficult situations, several experts said. 

Hull, whose Senate confirmation hearing should be held within the next month, is well prepared for the new assignment. 

He is now the State Department's principal deputy coordinator for
counterterrorism. As a member of an interagency Counterterrorism Security Group, he has traveled to Pakistan, India, Russia and other countries to coordinate the United States' anti-terrorism efforts. 

"I'm not saying that's why he was chosen, but it is not bad experience to have when going into one of these countries that has been subject to problems of terrorist threats," said David Mack, vice president of The Middle East Institute, a non-partisan Washington-based think tank. 

Mack is a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Hull worked for Mack at the State Department for a year. 

"He is very capable, very experienced, dedicated and knows the Arab world in depth," Mack said. 

Hull speaks Arabic and French. He graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. 

Hull was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, from 1993 to 1996, earning the State Department's highest honor for management of an overseas mission. He has also served in Israel and Tunisia. 

What makes a good ambassador? 

"Decisiveness and management ability, intellectual courage as well as area knowledge. To be able to say unpleasant truths from time to time. Not everybody is. Some people are willing to trim their remarks in order not to make waves. I don't think that's true of Edmund," Mack said.