What A Stupid, Unnecessary Arrest!

by Jack Lee

diplomat45A female Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade(shown left), was arrested for deliberately falsifying the wages of a female employee on a U.S. visa application. The Obama Administration claims the female employee was a virtual slave forced to work for almost nothing.

Speaking on Khobragade’s arrest, “They were trying to humiliate her and flex their muscle, and they succeeded in doing that,” Dan Arshack, lawyer for Khobragade. But, the attorney for the housekeeper whom Khobragade is accused of underpaying said Arshack is the one who doesn’t have the facts straight. Regardless it was the manner in which this case was handled which is the primary concern.

Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested and strip-searched last week on charges of visa fraud related to her treatment of her housekeeper, who has been publicly identified as Sangeeta Richard.

The charges are serious, but not so serious that they could not have been handled with a summons. A summons could have been issued to Khobragade giving her a date to appear in court. At that time she could have presented her defense and the case would have been either settled or she would be bound over for trial. This would have been reasonable and it would have avoided all this flat about the way she was treated in custody.

The stupidest thing that could have been done was to arrest the diplomat on a warrant, take her into custody in hand cuffs and strip search her then toss her in with other inmates. Anyone in the Obama Administration, with half a brain, should have known an arrest handled this way of a diplomat would serious consequences, that it would blow up into an international foreign crisis, and it could have caused American deaths in India. The outcome on that one is still pending as unrest in India grows. This diplomatic debacle has now shifted the focus away from the alleged criminal violation.

India-U.S. relations remain tense after this arrest. “This type of fraud on the United States and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to discuss the issue Thursday with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

The case has sparked outrage among conflicting camps: those slamming her treatment as “barbaric” and those saying the real issue is the alleged mistreatment of domestic workers.

Already the Obama Administration is starting to back peddle on the arrest. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed deep “regret” over the situation, but without saying the United States had done anything wrong. And technically we haven’t, we just should have taken an alternate path that would have accomplished the mission, but without creating an international incident. For that monstrous bungling, the Obama Administration must take full responsibility.

This was absolutely uncalled for because it was so recklessly and stupidly handled. You would think we’ve never had to deal with a foreign diplomat before!  What a bunch of rank amateurs we have running this country. It’s incredibly embarassing to watch the Obama Administration create one crisis after another, at this rate it’s likely going to go down as the most incompetent administration in history.

More on this story from a friend and journalist of Khobragade, “The nanny, Sangeeta Richard, who was hired by Devyani, was to be paid $4500 per month (US minimum wage). In other words, the charge against Devyani is that she paid at a rate of a mere $3.31 per hour to her domestic help when she should have paid thrice that amount to remain safe in the US – legally and diplomatically.

But the question is how can Khobragade pay her nanny $ 4500 per month when she is being paid $ 4120 per month, a point that has been stated by her father Uttam Khobragade, a retired IAS officer. It is an important point which Washington needs to take into consideration, because this is not India’s story alone.

Besides, the US owes it to the world and come out clean with statistics as to how many countries actually respect the $4500 bottom line for diplomatic corps’ salaries and how many diplomats of various countries it has proceeded against on this count.

Khobragade has been charged with visa fraud, an allegation that is yet to be proved. Even if proven, is it a charge grave enough to handcuff a diplomat and put her into jail?”

UPDATE:  Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested and strip-searched by US marshals, was on Wednesday shifted to the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) at the United Nations in New York. The transfer gives her all diplomatic privileges and immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which she did not enjoy as a consular officer.


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16 Responses to What A Stupid, Unnecessary Arrest!

  1. Libby says:

    Good heavens. One minute it’s: “piss off the cops and take what you get.” And the next minute it’s: “Barbaric!”

    All because of who got abused? That makes a lot of sense.

    What it is … is the cops, nationwide, are getting totally out of hand, and something will have to be done.

    But is was most certainly NOT a stupid, unnecessary arrest. That arrogant, abusive, malicious t%@t gets arrested and deported and good riddance.

    • Jack says:

      Libby, it never ceases to amaze how two people can read the same story and come away with such divergent opinions!

      The point I was trying to make has nothing to do with the offense and I take no position on it. My point is how it was handled. The Obama Administration had a clear choice: ( A. ) Have an international incident and place Americans in India at personal risk by making an arrest, placing the consul in handcuffs and having her stripped searched and tossed in a cell with a bunch criminals or ( B. ) Issue a notice to appear in court to answer the charges, thus avoiding an international incident.

      I think it’s safe to say that 99% of normal, every day American people, with absolutely no training in foreign relations, would say ( B. ) would be the preferred choice. Only an idiot would think otherwise.

      And you know Obama had to be aware of the pending arrest. This is absolutely mandatory when such a high ranking diplomat with a large, friendly, nuclear power is involved. State Dept. and Justice Dept. officials were most certainly involved and it would be negligent beyond belief if this pending arrest was not sent up the chain of command to the White House. So, yeah, I hold Obama responsible for this scandal.

      • Jack says:

        One other thing…you called her malicious for not paying the Nanny more than she makes as a lead diplomat? On a scale of personal responsibility this makes no sense. I think the nanny deserves a fair wage in line with her country’s standards, not in line with US standards. She’s an Indian citizen, she is paid based on their economy and cost of living not ours. She was hired in India, brought to the USA to work with Indian diplomatic staff. She is paid with Indian money…rupies. Now IF she came here to work for an American company, then she falls under our rules. There may be more to it, but so far I haven’t seen it.

        However, and let me say this again, my whole point for posting this story was due the poor way this investigation was handled and how that part caused an international incident, when it could have been easily avoided. If the diplomat had simply received a summons or had been cited to appear in court, all this strip search and incarceration with inmates would have been avoided.

  2. Tina says:

    There’s are a number of intriguing wrinkles in this story. Allegedly the nanny tried to blackmail the diplomat and the diplomat tried to file a missing persons report on the nanny prior to her arrest.

    I agree with you, Jack, but I suspect there is more going on here than we know.

  3. Libby says:

    I agree about the strip search. (All her other claims are, apparently, bogus … and just what you’d expect from the highly privileged daughter of an INS officer.) The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (there is an agency to be sequestered) claims strip-searching is SOP, and I fail to see why it should be.

    But of course she should be arrested. And your justifications for her conduct betray you standard operating attitude toward labor generally.

    “She’s an Indian citizen, she is paid based on their economy and cost of living not ours.”

    What’s this nonsense? Sounds like Repug-Meat-Packer rationalization for hiring illegals and paying them illegal wages. $3.31 and hour! … and I’ll bet they charged her for room and board. Disgusting.

    You guys cannot keep your principles straight from one situation to the next.


    “And you know Obama had to be aware of the pending arrest.”

    You have GOT to be kidding.

    • Post Scripts says:

      “And you know Obama had to be aware of the pending arrest.”

      When Obama’s Justice Department is about to arrest a major diplomat from a nuclear power (and an ally in the war on terrorism) and likley cause an internation incident over a small-time financial matter and a discrepancy on a visa application, you darn well better believe the people involved ran this up the chain of command right to the top. If they didn’t, they should be fired! Only a fool would have taken it entirely upon themselves. Obviously you don’t know how government bureaucrats think Libby. The only way they could have any cover is if they ran it by the White House first. Otherwise this could blow up in their face and cost them their job.

  4. Tina says:

    Libby: “You guys cannot keep your principles straight from one situation to the next.”

    Oh really? What is unprincipled about paying people according to the value of services rendered within their society? What is unprincipled about paying people cording to the value of their work?

    The difference between our principles and yours is that you think it’s perfectly okay to use the power and force of government to award higher wages whether they are warranted or not.

    You deny the individual the learning experience derived from dealing with his employer for higher wages himself and diminish the incentive to improve.

    You attempt to make an employer the parent of the employed reducing him to adolescent status.

    Further, you presume that because we believe that people should earn what they have and learn to behave and contribute as an adult that we would underpay people for the work they do for us…a complete lie!

    Then you have the audacity to believe your principles are superior to ours.


  5. Libby says:

    I’m glad to see our government had “manned up” over this. From the WaPo:

    But the Justice Department appeared to be taking a harder line. Preet Bharara, the Indian-born U.S. attorney in Manhattan who is prosecuting the case, issued a blistering statement denouncing “misinformation” about the charges against Khobragade and vowing to “uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law — no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are.”

    He said the second contract with the nanny, which “was not to be revealed to the U.S. government,” changed the payment to “far below minimum wage, deleted the required language protecting the victim from other forms of exploitation and abuse, and also deleted language that stated that Ms. Khobragade agreed to ‘abide by all Federal, state, and local laws in the U.S.’ ” Morever, he said without elaborating, “there are other facts regarding the treatment of the victim” that caused U.S. authorities to take legal action.

    Bharara also sharply denounced what he described as legal retaliation against Richard’s [the nanny’s] family in India in attempts “to silence her” and to compel her to return to the country. As a result, he said, the family was brought to the United States.
    “Some focus should perhaps be put on why it was necessary to evacuate the family and what actions were taken in India” against them, he said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department “are compelled to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending,” he said.


    They had to bring the nanny’s family over here ?! Them INS people … you don’t mess with them. (But we did know that already, didn’t we?)


    And this, below, is sad:

    “The difference between our principles and yours is that you think it’s perfectly okay to use the power and force of government to award higher wages whether they are warranted or not.”

    What do you mean, “warranted”? Work is work. A nanny is a nanny. And the minimum wage in this country is $9.75 and hour.

    “You deny the individual the learning experience derived from dealing with his employer for higher wages himself and diminish the incentive to improve.”

    The nanny did not contract for an internship, an apprenticeship or indentured servitude. She contracted for a job. You can’t alter the facts to suit your prejudices.

  6. Libby says:

    Sorry, it’s the IAS that Daddy worked for.

    I’ve been reading a little more, and it gets creepier by the second. It’s starting to look like Princess got herself into a pickle, and a plan was hatched to exaggerate the circumstances; then Daddy’s cronies set out to incite the mob, thereby exerting pressure to release her.

    I don’t think so, no.

    It also looks like India is backing down. They REALLY would not want this scenario to be proved more than a suspicion.

  7. Tina says:

    Libby: “What do you mean, “warranted”? Work is work. A nanny is a nanny. And the minimum wage in this country is $9.75 and hour.”

    The response had nothing to do with this nanny.

    You made what I think is a ridiculous assertion: “You guys cannot keep your principles straight from one situation to the next.”

    The core principle is I have is freedom! Another is
    personal responsibility. Another is personal choice.

    A principle that asserts government should force a wage scale and raise it whenever it wants (yours) is a principle that uses mob rule as its basis. I don’t think a mob should have the power to tell an employer what will work in his business. They don’t pay the bills. They don’t pay the taxes. They don’t assume any of the risk. They won’t share the loss if the business is forced to close its doors due to unreasonable (for them) enforced wage scales.

    This is the real reason we had to bail out GM. The mob ruler employee union bargained for and got, through intimidation, compensation packages for employees that the business could not sustain. The company dealt with it in various ways throughout the decades, replacing workers with machines, restructuring (firing white collar guys), sending the work overseas, but the day inevitably came when the entire leviathan collapsed. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip!

    I don’t agree with your principle at all. It is a destructive principle. Businesses are not all alike. Work is only as valuable to the employer as he can afford to pay to have it done. If what he has to pay is an amount no employee will take then he will have to find another way to get the work done or give up the enterprise.

    You may not be willing to flip hamburgers for $7.00 an hour but that doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t take the job in a heartbeat. Why shouldn’t a willing employee and employer be allowed to come to those terms together? People don’t all have the same needs and requirements. They don’t all have the same lifestyles and expenses. People work for all kinds of different reasons. A kid in high school is not the same as a mother trying to supplement the family income. Let the kid have the Burger King job and let the mom (without experience) go to retail where her chances of getting a higher wage and moving up are greater. Further, a Burger King in SF may be able to pay ten bucks an hour for new hires due to the higher traffic but in Chico that would be asking a lot.

    “You can’t alter the facts to suit your prejudices.”

    I responded to a philosophical question. I can do as I please.

    As usual you assume I would not pay the nanny minimum wage because of my philosophical difference. You don’t consider, because of your DEEP prejudice, that I would pay a nanny the minimum wage (because its the law) but I might also pay a nanny much more IF she proved to be an excellent reliable nanny! You do this because you won’t admit that your own philosophy is based on mob rule, a system that denies all people freedom, responsibility, and choice. I suspect that your position derives from deep distrust of your fellow man and a propensity and need to control others.

  8. dewey says:

    India is pissed but backing down let the facts come out! We do not have them all yet

    Wow the simplest of facts is always wrong when a tea partier states it and they complain about low info voters? They do not get it Tea party and Fox viewers are the low info voters everybody talks about.

    The minimum wage in this country is $7.25 in the nation and some states have raised it.


    There are exempt jobs where the worker is getting $2.13 hr, waiters, sky caps ect. It’s always how to get free labor.

    Ya see there is no where else to show increases for wall street. There is a never ending cycle where you have to show huge increases every year after the last year. it is impossible for a never ending increase in every business. After all the labor is free, and the products are all cheap poison where do they get the increase? 40% a quarter is not unusual. Then the profits goes to the millionaire CEO and shareholders.

    Did I not see a whole phony post about min wage? What ever the Koch Boyz freedomworks and heritage write is the only truth low info voters know. LOL

    Since all our jobs going overseas is favored by the Tea Party and over half of new jobs created is low pay forcing families into poverty seems to be something these people enjoy watching as the take social security and their pensions. They do not care that they are against future generations living the life they did. That hamburger flipper ? If they have a family taxpayers feed them with foodstamps. meanwhile the CEO makes thousands an hour

    A McDonald’s employee working overtime for nearly four months straight would make as much as the company’s former CEO earned in just 60 minutes


    it’s a different world out there Tea party supports tax breaks for a company to move the jobs overseas and also to bring the product back in the USA duty free.

    Tea party is on the wrong side of history

    Several studies showed Fox viewers had less knowlede on what is going on in the world than people who watched no TV at all.

    All Media is just propaganda bought and sold.

    The 5 or 6 rightwing nutjobs who own everything use it for their Propaganda period







  9. Chris says:

    Tina: “You deny the individual the learning experience derived from dealing with his employer for higher wages himself and diminish the incentive to improve.”


    “The mob ruler employee union bargained for and got, through intimidation, compensation packages for employees that the business could not sustain.”

    Got it. Liberals are bad because we deny people the opportunity to bargain with their employers, and we are also bad because we give people the opportunity to bargain with their employers.

    What was Libby just saying about keeping your principles straight?

  10. Tina says:

    Chris: “Liberals are bad because…”

    I did not use the word bad and I do not think in terms of people being bad.

    We are talking about the methods and merits of two opposing philosophies. If you could manage to rise above the personal we might actually get to the point of respect, if not agreement.

    An individual goes to his boss and asks for a raise. The boss might ask why he feels he deserves a raise. The employer takes the opportunity to tell him he is always on time, he works hard, he’s been with the company for X years and his idea, X, was implemented after his last review. They talk for awhile and come to an understanding.

    A union boss goes to the bargaining table and tells the employer this is what we want and if you don’t meet our demands we will walk out and shut your production down for days, weeks, whatever it takes. Then after we damage the company sufficiently and win, we’ll come back to the table but with even greater demands. Mob rule…coercion and extortion!

    In the case of public unions most of the people footing the bill don’t even have a place at the bargaining table. Quite often public union raises are won through collusion…you give us a raise and/or better benefits and we will make sure you get re-elected.

    Now, I do not deny that individual people can be jerks. Some bosses are insufferable beasts. But jerks exist in every group. These days there are a lot of employees that have no respect for the people who employ them because they have not been taught a work ethic and they have been taught that they deserve things just for showing up. Performance isn’t even in the vocabulary for some people. On the other hand many employers have begun to treat their employees quite well. If they’re big enough they provide things like workout rooms, child care, and flexible hours. Small companies can offer greater flexibility for work schedules and time off for appointments, sick kids and and teacher conferences. Not all businesses are alike. Not all workers are alike either.

    I believe in freedom, personal responsibility, and choice. I don’t believe in force, extortion, or collusion.

    My principles are secure, thank you.

  11. Libby says:

    “… to arrest a major diplomat from a nuclear power ….”

    Actually, I think they set out to arrest a consular official, not a diplomat (you can’t arrest diplomats; you can deport them, but you can’t arrest them) … for defrauding her domestic help.

    Call me a cynic, but I don’t think that rates a Presidential briefing.

    Granted she’s a babe … and well connected … which is how WE come to be in a pickle, but I think you’re making irrational leaps based upon prejudice.

  12. Harold says:

    “And you know Obama had to be aware of the pending arrest.”

    To borrow a line from one of Obamas highest placed appointees in charge of the safety of our own American personnel working abroad:

    ‘What differance does it make now’!

  13. Tina says:

    Bullseye! Harold, you’re the man.

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