Mina Chang is a 35 year old woman who was Deputy Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, resigned yesterday. She had inflated her resume, claiming that short courses at learning institutions were the same as graduating from them, as well as suggesting that she’d had the experience of personally addressing groups like Congress, the RNC, the DNC and the UN General Assembly. She’d even had a false Time Magazine cover made, displaying her face and a cover story focused in part on her.
This is absolutely an indication of how sloppy the vetting procedure is within the Trump Administration. President Trump likely did not have much to do with her other than authorizing a subordinate’s decision to hire Ms. Chang, but at the senior levels of power – and a Deputy Secretary of State wields considerable power – one of his top aides was likely directly responsible for that vetting.
It’s not merely the power that is a concern, it’s the exposure. State Department officials have significant clearances for diplomatically sensitive information. Honesty is a key attribute for them, when the State Department is functioning properly.
One of two mechanisms was at play in Chang’s hiring: either there was a failure of basic responsibilities in ensuring the safety of national secrets, or there was a perception that her loyalty was great enough that things like honesty didn’t matter. Either is unacceptable.
Chang is unrepentant. She insists in her resignation letter that she did not overstate her credentials, despite concrete evidence she did so. In this, she calls to mind another high official who created a fake Time Magazine cover to promote himself. Simply asserting something does not make it true… a basic fact that needs to be acknowledged in America. Not everything is politically shaded. Her failure to recognize that fact demonstrates that she is particularly unworthy to hold the position from which she’s resigning, and brings up the possibility that she was forced to leave, by being offered the choice of quitting or being fired.
These are all things which will be considered in various reports about her departure. What will be missing from most of them is another consideration: her hiring may be a sign of a government grown too large.
We have thousands of people who work directly for the State Department. While it is undeniable that they perform many needed tasks, if their ranks are so swollen that blatant fictioneers like Chang are missed among the hirings, perhaps the ranks need to be winnowed to the many who are actively working on behalf of core functions.