Friends and colleagues describe Fried as genial but highly driven, a diminutive long-distance runner who is such a workaholic that he is currently walking with a severe limp after a knee injury because his work schedule hasn't left time for surgery. He can also be a fierce bureaucratic infighter.
For decades, he has sparred with another former ambassador to Poland, Christopher Hill, now U.S. ambassador to Iraq--who, as a fellow State Department desk officer, was among those skeptical of Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement; for years thereafter, Fried and Hill reportedly sniped and undercut one another within the foreign policy bureaucracy. (Fried calls such reports "a myth.") The combination of idealism, experience, and bureaucratic toughness cheered human rights advocates when Obama officials revealed their plan to tap Fried for the Gitmo portfolio.
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