Barbara Bodine

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Person.png Barbara Bodine   SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Barbara Bodine.jpg
St. Louis, Missouri
Alma materUniversity of California, Santa Barbara, Tufts University

Employment.png United States Ambassador to Yemen

In office
November 7, 1997 - August 30, 2001

Barbara Bodine was a US diplomat.

Ambassador to Yemen and USS Cole bombing

On November 7, 1997, Bodine was appointed to be US Ambassador to Yemen. Bodine's appointment coincided with events of major importance in Yemen: In 1999, Bodine negotiated the release of three Americans kidnapped in Yemen. On October 12, 2000, the US Navy Destroyer USS Cole was attacked in the Gulf of Aden. In January 2001, en route to the Yemeni city of Taiz to meet with the country's president, a flight carrying Bodine and 90 other passengers from Yemen was hijacked by an Iraqi mid-flight. The plane was diverted to the small African nation of Djibouti, where it landed with the hijacker being overpowered by the crew. Bodine left Yemen as ambassador on August 30, 2001.

Bodine's career was marked by controversy surrounding her relationship with the FBI during its investigation of the USS Cole bombing: The PBS Frontline documentary The Man Who Knew included interviews with officials such as Richard A. Clarke (the Clinton administration's counterterrorism chief) and Barry Mawn (a former head of the New York FBI office) who stated that John P. O'Neill (an FBI agent and al-Qaeda expert) came into a personal conflict with Bodine over different perspectives on Yemen. When O'Neill briefly traveled back to New York for Thanksgiving, Bodine denied his re-entry visa, blocking O'Neill from returning to Yemen to continue the investigation on the USS Cole bombing. Frontline cited sources as saying that "O'Neill's removal from the scene in Yemen may have seriously limited the Cole investigation".[1]

The chilly relationship between Bodine and O'Neill is detailed in Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower. While O'Neill viewed Yemen as a serious threat, unstable from the Yemeni Civil War, with a large number of weapons, large cells of Ayman al-Zawahiri's al-Jihad, and many Mujahideen veterans from the war in Afghanistan, Bodine, in contrast, viewed Yemen as an infant democracy, a "promising American ally in an unsettled but strategically important part of the world." O'Neill also took a hard line toward the Yemeni security forces and viewed his mission as a criminal investigation, while Bodine viewed O'Neill as reckless and harmful to diplomacy. Bodine was furious when O'Neill arrived with 150 investigators and other staff; she had thought she had an understanding with O'Neill that his staff would total no more than 50.[2] Murray Weiss wrote in The Man Who Warned America, a biography of O'Neill, that Bodine "took an immediate and strong dislike to O'Neill, and seemingly worked to hamper some of his initiatives."[3]

Later activities

Barbara Bodine retired as a diplomat and became a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.[4]

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  1. "The Man Who Knew - Introduction" (October 3, 2002). PBS Frontline.
  2. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower. Random House, 2006: pp. 322-323
  3. Murray Weiss, The Man Who Warned America. HarperCollins, 2004: pp. 304-333.