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Name: Patterson, Anne
Current Position: Previous Assistant Secretary

President Barack Obama has nominated a career Foreign Service Officer who has spent the last two years serving as U.S. ambassador to Egypt to be the next lead diplomat on Middle East issues. During recent protests that ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi from power on July 3, 2013, many Egyptians accused Anne W. Patterson of being too close to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and wild rumors about an impending impeachment of President Obama further soured her last months on the Nile.


Born on October 4, 1949, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Patterson earned a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1971 and attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina for a year.


Patterson joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1973 as an economic officer, and was promoted to career ambassador, the highest rank in the career Foreign Service, after 25 years’ service in 2008.


Early on, she held a variety of economic and political assignments, including in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Patterson served as economic counselor in Saudi Arabia from 1984 to 1988 and as political counselor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1988 to 1991. Back in Washington, she served as office director for Andean affairs from 1991 to 1993 and principal deputy assistant secretary and deputy assistant secretary of Inter-American affairs from 1993 to 1996. 


Patterson spent six years in Latin America, as ambassador to El Salvador from 1997 to 2000 and ambassador to Colombia from 2000 to 2003. She returned stateside for a series of assignments: State Department deputy inspector general from 2003 to 2004, deputy permanent representative and acting permanent representative to the United Nations from 2004 to 2005, and assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs from 2005 to 2007.


Patterson served as ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2010. According to a leaked diplomatic cable, while Patterson was in Pakistan, Pakistan’s prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, asked Patterson, in writing, for help in evaluating her security because she feared for her life, but Patterson and the George W. Bush administration took the position that her security was not the responsibility of the United States. In the words of the cable, “Ambassador strongly recommends against a U.S. Government evaluation, which would inevitably identify gaps (by American standards) in both equipment and training of personnel. The [U.S. Government] should either undertake full responsibility for Bhutto’s personal security or not.”


Two months later, Bhutto was assassinated.


Patterson is married to David R. Patterson, a retired Foreign Service officer. The couple has two sons, Edward and Andrew.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Speeches and Remarks as Ambassador to Egypt

Anne Patterson Outed By WikiLeaks As A Truth-Teller (by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post)

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