This afternoon we, the auxiliares de conversación of Madrid, had a so-called “briefing” with officials from the U.S. Embassy. Last year they didn’t bother to make contact with the nearly 100 of us working in Madrid.

The meeting was largely unhelpful, and quite disheartening. The director of regional security presented first because one of the higher-ups at the Embassy was late. He spoke to us about safety in Madrid–mostly things that were complete common sense. And then, noting terrorism, he said, “Al Qaeda is a presence in Spain. They were behind the attacks of March 11th. … After all, Morocco is just south.”

I didn’t know that Moroccans were particularly important members of Al Qaeda.

When a girl mentioned that she’d been to Morocco several years ago and had an experience where she was lucky not to have her passport stolen, the security director responded, “We are talking about the Middle East here.”

Oh, really? I thought Morocco was in Africa.

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