Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

Senate Ends March Madness With Lots of State Dept Confirmations

On March 29, the U.S. Senate finally got around to confirming the following nominees for the State Department and USAID.

PN1110 *      State/R
Tara D. Sonenshine, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

PN1129 *      State/Conflict and Stabilization Operations
Frederick D. Barton, of Maine, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations).

PN1130 *      State/Reconstruction and Stabilization.
Frederick D. Barton, of Maine, to be Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.

PN755 *      State/R/PA
Michael A. Hammer, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Public Affairs).

PN1003 *      State/WHA
Roberta S. Jacobson, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service,
to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs).

PN1038 *      State/UN/ECOSOC
Elizabeth M. Cousens, of Washington, to be Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

PN1039 *      State/UNGA
Elizabeth M. Cousens, of Washington, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

PN1109 *      State/PRM
Anne Claire Richard, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration).

PN1231 *      State/DGHR
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, of Louisiana, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Director General of the Foreign Service.

PN1053 *      Republic of Malta
Gina K. Abercrombie-Winstanley, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta.

PN1054 *      Oriental Republic of Uruguay
Julissa Reynoso, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

PN1055 *      Togolese Republic
Robert E. Whitehead, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Togolese Republic.

PN1086 *      Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Larry Leon Palmer, of Georgia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

PN1169 *       Republic of Panama
Jonathan Don Farrar, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama.

PN1172 *      Nicaragua
Phyllis Marie Powers, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Republic of Nicaragua.

PN1173 *      Kingdom of Cambodia
William E. Todd, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

PN1182 *       Tunisian Republic
Jacob Walles, of Delaware, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Tunisian Republic.

PN1199 *     India
Nancy J. Powell, of Iowa, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Personal Rank of Career Ambassador, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to India.

PN1232 *      Republic of Haiti
Pamela A. White, of Maine, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.

PN1233 *      Libya.
John Christopher Stevens, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Libya.

PN1234 *      Republic of Kosovo
Tracey Ann Jacobson, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kosovo.

PN1371 *      Croatia
Kenneth Merten, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia.

PN1399 *     Latvia
Mark A. Pekala, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Latvia.

PN1400 *      Georgia
Richard B. Norland, of Iowa, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia.

PN1401 *      Republic of Estonia
Jeffrey D. Levine, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia.

PN1002 *      USAID
Earl W. Gast, of California, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development

Over a dozen State Department nominations remain pending in committee including the January 2011 nomination of  Matthew J. Bryza for Azerbaijan, and the October 2011 nomination of Sharon Villarosa for the Republic Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Domani Spero

Update: One of our readers alerted us to the news that Ambassador Bryza resigned from the Foreign Service in January and reportedly residing in Istanbul. A press clip from early March identifies Ambassador Bryza as the new director of the Tallinn-based International Center for Defense Studies.  In which case, nobody has bothered to notify Congress of this development as his name is still listed as pending “In the Committee on Foreign Relations.” Al Kamen has a list of other State nominees who missed the confirmation train. The names are no longer listed as “pending” in the SFRC as they have been cleared by the Committee but have yet to get their full Senate vote.

 

 

Related items:
Confirmation | Daily Digest – March 29, 2012 (PDF)

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Filed under Ambassadors, Confirmed, Congress, Resignations, State Department

What Do Uranium and a Transgender Foreign Service Officer Have in Common?

Robyn McCutcheon at the Marine Ball
(used with permission)

Robyn Ann Jane Alice McCutcheon has been a Foreign Service Officer for seven years now. She might be the first openly transgender officer (transitioned in 2011) to live full time as female in the workplace. She writes that “the road to this transition has been filled with twists and turns, and if I succeeded in 2011, it’s because of having learned from failures in the 1970s, 1990s, and even as recently as 2000.”  Her story is a very human story that is both sad, and touching, and I cried myself silly.  It looks like she is living the happy ending now but it has not always been easy.  At one point, somebody from the mission not in the know spotted her, made a complaint and a question was asked if she was mentally stable. “Perhaps I could be persuaded to accept a compassionate curtailment of my posting to go home to the US and take care of my problem?  It was a very scary moment,” she writes.

“Kyna asked me stay into the evening, and she arranged for me to be interviewed by telephone by the Regional Psychiatrist in Vienna.  We talked about Hubble, space, Russian history, and what it is to be transgender.  What a contrast that was to my experience with psychiatry in 1990!

I also knew that there was one very important difference between 1990 and 2011.  I don’t remember exactly when in the Education of a Transgender Rip Van Winkle I first learned that gender identity had been added to the State Department’s Statement on Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment in the summer of 2010, but I certainly knew it by the start of 2011.  On paper, at least, I could no longer be curtailed as unsuitable because I had declared a gender identity not in conformance with my birth sex.  I was later told by a Bucharest friend that inquiries had been sent to Washington about my possible curtailment.  The inquiries, I am told, were answered with a gentle education on the matter of gender expression.

Kyna said afterward that the Regional Psychiatrist had expected to be speaking with a very troubled person, not someone who was accomplished and who was having no issues at work.  I was never again bothered with proffers of compassionate curtailment.

Prior to joining the State Department, Robyn McCutcheon spent twenty-five years with one company under contract with NASA (more than half, she spent working on the Hubble Space Telescope). She is an experienced system programmer who scored somewhere in the top ten of those listed on the political register.

Below is a piece written by Robyn in her blog, Transgender in State (The Improbable Adventures of a Transgender Foreign Service Bicyclist Across Time (Zones), Cultures, and Continents). Excerpted below with permission.

What Do Uranium and a Transgender Foreign Service Officer Have in Common?

Quite a lot, come to think of it.

There is the radioactivity to begin with.  When I first tried to speak of being transgender in 1990, I might as well have been radioactive judging from the speed with which some people in my life ran in the other direction.  Even in this much more welcoming and enlightened second decade of the twenty-first century, some may have preferred to deal with radioactivity than with the announcement of my intent to transition in the workplace overseas.  Special handling seemed called for, much as it might have been for an international shipment of uranium.

But just as with uranium, being transgender implies energy.  We need large stores of potential energy that we turn to kinetic as we walk the transition path.  I tell everyone that today I feel far younger than I did just two years ago.  It’s as though I’m 57 going on 27.

Being a transgender Foreign Service Officer (FSO) takes the analogy further.  Like uranium, I have found that a transgender FSO can find herself in more demand than she ever expected.  It has been my greatest post-transition surprise over the past three months.

For the coming weekend I will be judging twenty-six finalist essays on the theme of tolerance.  Embassy Bucharest is holding an essay contest in honor of Human Rights Day, and the essays were submitted by Romanian high school students.  Last weekend I judged twenty-eight essays in the first round.  Over three hundred essays were submitted in all, and I am one of a dozen volunteer judges.
[...]
And then there has been the Esquire interview.  I’m leery of Esquire as the right venue for an article on what it means to be transgender, but just such an article is being written in the Romanian edition.  That article is not about me, thank goodness, but about one of the young Romanian transgender women whom I have come to know and respect over the past year.  (I have already had my fifteen minutes of fame in the Romanian press in a good article, A fi bărbat sau a fi femeie?, published in the opinion and literary journal Dilema Veche last November.)  The journalist from Esquire approached the Embassy for an interview, and with the State Department’s current push for LGBT outreach, both the Embassy and Washington were enthusiastic.
[...]
Let’s see, what else?  Oh, yes, this is LGBT history month in Romania, and last Sunday I was a book in a living library event organized by Accept.  When I was first told that anyone who wished would be able to check me out and read  me for 15-20 minutes at a time, I had to chuckle.  The thought of a transgender person willingly offering herself to be checked out and read was just too humorous.  In the end it was a fun evening as I was checked out and read multiple times, mainly by young gay and lesbian Romanians for whom a transgender person is nearly as esoteric as an extraterrestrial.  This book from the foreign literature section learned as much from the evening as did her readers.

Yes, just like uranium, a transgender FSO can be simultaneously radioactive, energetic, and in demand.  Please just don’t put me in a centrifuge.  Although I wouldn’t mind being enriched, I believe I’m already as refined as I can be and can’t be improved.  As long as my half-life is long, I will continue to live as a young 57 going on 27.

Now, where did I leave that stack of essays on tolerance? . . .

She is not only smart and lovely but also “don’t put me in a centrifuge” funny — read in full here.

Domani Spero

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Filed under Blogs of Note, Foreign Service, FS Blogs, FSOs, State Department

James Hogan Case: Missing Diplomat’s Wife Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice

Via USDOJ:
Florida Woman Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice in Relation to Her Husband’s Disappearance
Friday, March 30, 2012

Abby Beard Hogan, 50, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Northern District of Florida for her role in the obstruction of a multinational investigation into the disappearance of her husband, James Hogan, then an employee in the U.S. Consulate in Curacao, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Pamela Cothran Marsh for the Northern District of Florida, U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

Abby Hogan pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones to one count of obstruction of

Abby Hogan
(Photo from Aruba Daily)

justice. According to court documents, on the night of Sept. 24, 2009, James Hogan, an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Curacao, a Caribbean island that was part of the Netherlands Antilles, left his home on foot and subsequently disappeared.  In the early hours of Sept. 25, 2009, James Hogan called his wife and spoke for approximately three minutes.   The next day, when James Hogan failed to report to work, the U.S. government and Dutch and Antillean law enforcement launched an island-wide search and opened an investigation into Hogan’s disappearance.   On Sept. 25, 2009, a diver located James Hogan’s blood-stained clothing on a local beach.

Abby Hogan admitted that during the course of the investigation, she repeatedly provided false information to U.S. law enforcement about the time period before James Hogan’s disappearance and withheld relevant information.  Abby Hogan initially told investigators that, before his disappearance, she and her husband had an argument.   She subsequently modified that statement and claimed that there had been no argument, just a minor disagreement over her husband’s next assignment for the State Department.   Abby Hogan further told U.S. law enforcement agents that James Hogan had been in a “good mood” prior to leaving for his walk on the evening of his disappearance.   She repeatedly denied that there had been any marital problems or that her husband had been upset, depressed or suicidal in any way.   Abby Hogan further stated that she could not remember the full three-minute conversation before her husband disappeared because she was sound asleep when her husband called.   She claimed she fell back asleep after the call, and did not awake until the following morning.

According to court documents, after law enforcement interviews, between Sept. 30, 2009, and Jan. 15,

James Hogan
(Photo from ScaredMonkeys)

2010, Abby Hogan deleted more than 300 emails from her Internet email account.   These emails contained information that Abby Hogan knew was relevant to specific questions she had been asked by U.S. law enforcement.   The emails also contained information that she had either previously misrepresented or knowingly omitted during her interviews with law enforcement, including that she was engaged in an extramarital affair; the night James Hogan disappeared, the couple had argued, and he left the house angry and upset; and that she did not want law enforcement to know what had happened that evening.

Abby Hogan faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for obstruction of justice.

We have been following this case since September 2009 when FSO James Hogan was first reported missing in the Netherlands Antilles (see related posts below).  The ScaredMonkeys website has a copy of Ms. Hogan’s indictment here. The James Hogan missing flyer is still up on the US Consulate General Curacao’s website. Despite the obstruction of justice guilty plea here, we are nowhere closer to understanding what happened to Mr. Hogan over there.

Domani Spero

 

 

Related posts: (sorry about that; all links below have now been updated to diplopundit.net)

James Hogan Case: Wife of Missing Diplomat Charged with Witness Tampering, False Statements, and  Obstruction of Justice | August 26, 2011

What happened to American diplomat, James Hogan in Curacao? Dec 27, 2010

Vice Consul James Hogan: Still Missing | Aug 12, 2010

James Hogan: Now a Cold Case?| Dec 24, 2009

Vice Consul James Hogan: 1440 Hours Missing |Nov 23, 2009

James Hogan: Missing Now for 31 Days| Oct 26, 2009

US Diplomat James Hogan: 19 Days Missing| Oct 12, 2009

DNA Match in James Hogan Search |Oct 03, 2009

US Navy Joins Hogan Search in Curacao |Oct 01, 2009

US Diplomat Missing in Curacao | Sept 30, 2009

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Filed under Consul Generals, Court Cases, Foreign Service, FSOs, Spouses/Partners