Re "Senate inaction on envoys hinders U.S. foreign policy" (Editorials, July 13): The Bee's editorial decrying Senate inaction on ambassadorial appointments may have overstated the consequences of an ambassador's absence from a U.S. embassy overseas.
When an ambassador is absent for any reason a charge d'affaires is announced to the host country and performs all the normal duties of an ambassador. Thus the host country's conduit for official communication with the U.S. government in both directions is completely intact.
With respect to the eyes and ears function of an embassy, it should be noted that the ambassador exists largely in a bubble. Few locals will speak candidly or out of school to such an important personage as an ambassador. Lower-level officers are much more likely to hear and accurately assess both public opinion and attitudes at the working level of government in the host country. These officers produce the majority of embassy reporting.
-- Michael Betcher, Placerville