On Friday, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker met with President Aoun in Baabda after leading the first U.S.-mediated talks between Lebanon and Israel to demarcate the southern maritime border.
Speaking with Aoun, he said that he hoped the negotiations would be completed as soon as possible, according to the Presidency’s press office, which added that Schenker also praised Aoun’s role in fighting corruption.
A statement issued by Baabda quoted the diplomat as saying, “We commend the positive role that His Excellency the President plays in combating corruption…”
However, U.S. Embassy Spokesperson Casey Bonfield later issued clarifications about statements attributed to Schenker in local media, and basically denied the above remark showing the dramatic change in context.
“Assistant Secretary Schenker noted an inscription on the sword that hangs in President Aoun’s office, which reads: ‘Transparency is the sword that vanquishes corruption.’
“In commenting favorably on this message, he urged that it is incumbent on His Excellency the President to wield (metaphorically) that sword of transparency and change the governing paradigm.”
Interestingly, it was not one word, or two, that was misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Presidency’s press office, but the entire sentence or message of the U.S. official.
The Baabda’s statement did not even mention the sword…
Schenker did not praise Aoun’s role in fighting corruption but rather urged him to do so, just because it’s not being done; a matter that is common knowledge despite the constant claims of the presidency that it is fighting corruption.
However, its press office didn’t stand for accuracy and press integrity itself when it changed the statement of the U.S official, misleading the public into believing that the United States endorses the way Aoun has been fighting corruption, which is practically nil.
At this point in Lebanon’s history, nothing has been done to fight corruption, not a single attempt from the state or any top officials. Those only fighting it are the people protesting against it and reporters exposing it, and they are always at risk of getting arrested or sued for doing so.