This is a response to "The USCIRF Is Only Cursing the Darkness," by former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Robert A. Seiple. The article first appeared on Christianity Today's website October 16, 2002.
I read with disappointment former Ambassador Robert Seiple's harsh and misguided portrayal of the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and his call for Congress to close it down. It is particularly sad that someone who participated in the Commission's early work would so thoroughly misrepresent the facts, as well as the Commission's operational style.
Mr. Seiple would have readers believe that Commissioners refused to meet with a delegation of Laotian officials whom his Institute for Global Engagement hosted on a U.S. tour. That is untrue. As Ambassador Seiple knows, Commissioners (seven of nine of whom do not live in the Washington, D.C., area) were available to meet with the delegation on several proposed dates. Mr. Seiple insisted on coming to Washington, however, on a date when he knew no Commissioners would be available. Despite Mr. Seiple's inflexibility, Commission staff met with the delegation and reported to the Commissioners on their discussion.
Mr. Seiple asserts the Commission preferred to "hurl hand grenades from afar" by "dismissing facts" and acting on the basis of "preconceived notions," when it recommended for the third time that the Secretary of State designate Laos as a "country of particular concern" (CPC). Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Commission has engaged in a long and serious study of the situation in Laos. That effort involved a mission to Laos by a Commissioner and staff in February 2002 — as Mr. Seiple knows, yet conveniently omits. ...1
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