The Cable

USAID officer killed in Afghanistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah both issued statements of condolence following the death of USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, along with three ISAF soldiers, at the hands of a suicide bomber Thursday in Afghanistan.

"Ragaei's work over the last year was critical to our efforts to support Afghanistan's political, economic, and security transitions and was an example of the highest standards of service," Clinton said, noting that a State Department employee was also injured. "Over the last 15 months -- partnering with local officials -- he worked in eastern Afghanistan to help establish new schools and health clinics, and deliver electricity to the citizens of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Ragaei was so committed to our mission and to the people of Afghanistan that he volunteered to serve a second year."

"With the work of people such as Ragaei, the civilian surge we launched in Afghanistan in 2009 has made a tremendous impact, strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government and laying a foundation for long-term sustainable development. Though we are shocked and saddened by this loss and will miss Ragaei, our efforts will continue," she said.

Shah said in his statement that the death is a testament to the commitment and sacrifice made by aid workers in conflict countries around the world. Ragaei had just begun a voluntary tour in Afghanistan, his second stint there. He had 15 years prior development experience and was working on his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech as well.

"Safety and security is an agency priority for USAID staff on the frontlines of poverty and conflict across the world," said Shah. "Ragaei gave his life in service to our country and our Agency's mission of providing help to those in need and advancing our national security. His sacrifice and the ongoing commitment of our staff in Afghanistan is building on progress from the past decade and helping to make both Afghanistan and America safer."

Ragaei is survived by his two teenage sons and wife.

The Cable

Rice, Rhodes, and Love headed to the Olympics

Barack Obama has announced his delegation for the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics on Sunday and it will be led by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice with White House advisor Ben Rhodes and the president's former body man Reggie Love in tow.

The delegation will attend some events, meet with U.S. athletes, and attend the Aug. 12 closing ceremony, the White House said in a Thursday statement. Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for communications, is Obama's main foreign-policy speechwriter and message crafter. The United States is currently ahead of China in the overall medal count by 82-78, so hopefully Rhodes won't have to answer wisecracks in London about whether U.S. athletes is "leading from behind."

Rounding out the delegation will be U.S. ambassador to the UK Louis Susman, Michelle Kwan, U.S. public-diplomacy envoy and Olympic figure skater, and Curtis Pride, former Major League Baseball player and head coach at Washington's Gallaudet University. The U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony was led by First Lady Michelle Obama.

In his Aug. 4 weekly radio address, Obama praised the Olympics as an opportunity for Americans to set politics aside and unite.

"I want to take a break from the back-and-forth of campaign season, and talk about something that's brought us all together this week -- the Summer Olympics," Obama said. "These games remind us that for all our differences, we're Americans first."

But this week on the campaign trail, Obama has been using the Olympics metaphor to criticize Mitt Romney for questioning the credibility of a Brookings Institution study that predicted the former Massachusetts governor's economic plan would add trillions in addition tax burdens on the middle class.

"Let's just say there was a whole different kind of gymnastics being performed by Mr. Romney than what's been happening in the Olympics," Obama said Wednesday at a campaign stop in Colorado.

"So they were twisting and they were turning and doing backflips, and trying to say, 'Well, this is a biased report' -- despite the fact that the head of this nonpartisan center used to work for President Bush. But it's not surprising that he was trying to scramble a little bit, because they've tried to sell this old, trickle-down tax cut fairy dust before."