— -- Barbara Bodine is expected to be named the civilian administrator of central Iraq, which includes the capital of Baghdad.
One of the first women ambassadors to a Middle Eastern country, Bodine knows firsthand about the wrath of Saddam Hussein.
A career diplomat who has seen as much action as a battle-worn general, Bodine was the U.S. ambassador to Kuwait for 137 days, including during the Gulf War. She served as the deputy principal officer in Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War in the early 1980s and was deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of the country in 1990.
During Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, she was held hostage at the U.S. Embassy for four months, where she and the other hostages lived on a diet of swimming pool water and tuna fish — a food that she will not touch to this day. She was awarded the Secretary of State's Award for Valor for her work in occupied Kuwait.
She later became the U.S. ambassador to Yemen from 1997 to 2001. While serving as ambassador, a supporter of Saddam Hussein hijacked her plane as it left the Yemeni capital, but she survived without a scratch.
It was on her watch that the USS Cole was bombed in a terrorist attack in the port of Aden, Yemen. Ssome criticize Bodine's handling of the investigation.
After the bombing, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 others, Bodine acted as chief negotiator between the United States and Yemeni governments. FBI agents familiar with the investigation have reportedly accused Bodine of blocking their investigation into the bombing of the Cole for diplomatic reasons at a time when agents were starting to focus on Osama bin Laden as their main suspect.
Bodine has told friends and family that she's looking forward to her new assignment, though Baghdad will likely be a dangerous place.
Bodine was born in 1948 in St. Louis, Mo. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Asian Studies, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She received her master's degree from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She also studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Department of State's Language Training Field Schools in Taiwan and Tunisia.
She is now a "diplomat in residence" at the University of California at Santa Barbara