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Playing politics

State Department spends $545K to teach employees not to embarrass themselves at congressional hearings

The State Department has taken out a contract worth up to $545,000 with an Orlando, Florida, firm, AMTIS, Inc., which is intended to teach state employees how to effectively testify before Congress. The training, which will include mock congressional hearings, comes in the wake of a series of missteps by State Department representatives in congressional hearings, such as former Sen. Max Baucus' statement that he is "no real expert on China" while testifying before Congress in advance of being confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China.

Reports of the contract brought backlash on Twitter, where conservative critics suggested that training should not be necessary if the employees are simply honest with Congress. This critique echoed comments by Citizens Against Government Waste's Leslie Paige, who told the Washington Times, "It's not The Charlie Rose Show; it's not The View. It is congressional testimony. So just cough up the facts, because that's all we really need from you."