The general had given the orders. And the orders were to be obeyed. But for Diana B. Putman, a USAID health specialist on detail to the Pentagon’s Africa Command, the orders made no sense and could potentially harm lives. So she questioned them all the way to the top — even if others were unwilling to stick their necks out — and got the directive changed. The Washington Post reports, at a ceremony at the State Department on Thursday, Putnam was awarded one of three “constructive dissent” awards, designed to encourage Foreign Service officers to speak out if they think U.S. policy is going in the wrong direction. There is even a discreet “dissent channel” through which staffers can cable their concerns directly to the head of policy planning, who then will alert senior officials.
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