WASHINGTON – The State Department repudiated on Thursday comments by a veteran department analyst who said that British Prime Minister Tony Blair's relationship with the United States was "totally one-sided" in Washington's favor.
Deputy spokesman Tom Casey said that Kendall Myers, the official who made the off-message remarks, was summoned by his superiors at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research to a meeting to explain his remarks.
"The comments, frankly, I think could be described as ill-informed, and I think, from our perspective, just plain wrong," Casey said.
Myers is a 30-year member of the Civil Service and is an expert in U.S. British relations. He spoke Tuesday to a gathering at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, where is an adjunct professor. Casey said Myers thought his appearance was at a closed academic forum.
The Times of London reported Thursday that Myers said Britain's role as a bridge between the United States and Europe was "disappearing before our eyes."
Myers said that despite British attempts to influence U.S. policy, "we typically ignore them and take no notice — it's a sad business."
Casey said department officials meeting with Myers were attempting to determine the facts of the events on Tuesday. He did not rule out the possibility of disciplinary action, stressing that Myers does not have a policymaking role.
Efforts to reach Myers by telephone at his office were unsuccessful.
In October, State Department official Alberto Fernandez ran afoul of his superiors when he told Al-Jazeera television that the United States had displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq.
Fernandez is an Arab-speaker assigned to tell the U.S. side of the Iraq story to Middle East audiences.
He issued a written apology, saying he "seriously misspoke." Soon thereafter, the State Department said Fernandez was still on the payroll and that the matter was closed.
Myers' misstep appears to be more serious than that of Fernandez. In contrast to Fernandez, whose mistake involved a brief lapse, Myers' speech was sprinkled with comments that do not reflect official thinking.
Casey said the United States and Britain "have worked together to successfully deal with some of the most difficult issues before the international community." The two countries, he said, have a special relationship.