- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

(AP) — A career U.S. diplomat indicted this week on charges that he sent threatening messages to an Arab political organization has retired from the foreign service, the State Department said yesterday.

Patrick Syring retired last month, about a year after he purportedly left racist and intimidating phone and e-mail messages with the Arab American Institute but before his Wednesday indictment on federal charges of threatening and violating civil rights laws, spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Mr. Syring has chosen to retire from the State Department,” Mr. McCormack told reporters. He declined to comment on the specifics of the matter, citing privacy concerns, but stressed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would not tolerate the behavior in which Mr. Syring is reported to have engaged.

“Let me just underline the seriousness with which the secretary approaches the idea that the State Department should be a workplace that in no way, shape or form tolerates discrimination or hateful language or any other action that would violate federal laws or regulations,” he said. “It is just not condoned or acceptable in this department.”

It was not clear whether Mr. Syring’s resignation was related to the incidents with which he is charged, which are said to have occurred last summer during Israeli military strikes on the militant Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Federal prosecutors charged in an indictment that Mr. Syring left multiple expletive-laced messages with the Arab American Institute, whose founder, James Zogby, had criticized the government for not doing enough to protect U.S. citizens visiting family members in Lebanon.

“The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab,” Mr. Syring is reported to have said, accusing Mr. Zogby of being anti-Semitic, prosecutors said.

“You wicked evil Hezbollah-supporting Arabs should burn in the fires of hell for eternity and beyond,” Syring wrote in one e-mail, the prosecutors said. “The United States would be safer without you.”

Mr. Syring, whose tenure in the foreign service was not available, also praised Israeli forces for “bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs” and said “Arabs are dogs,” according to an e-mail cited in the indictment.

He identified himself in one phone message and sent e-mails from his personal account, prosecutors said.