Category Archives: 2012

State Dept on Ambo Nominees’ “Certificates of Documented Competency” — Working On It

– Domani Spero

The American Foreign Service Association was in the news yesterday after announcing that it will file a suit against the State Department if, by end of business day today, it does not get the certificates of demonstrated competence for ambassadorial nominees (see AFSA Threatens to Sue State Department Over Ambassadors Credentials, Again).

The topic made it to today’s Daily Press Briefing with the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki answering questions about AFSA’s FOIA requests for these documents which were reportedly filed on July 29, 2013 and a second request filed on February 28, 2014.  Ms. Psaki refused to make a prediction of whether State would respond to AFSA’s request by the close of business today.

At about 3pm EST, ABC News tweeted that AFSA is giving the State Department until tomorrow morning to furnish the requested “Certificates of Documented Competency” for ambassador nominees.

When you look at that AFSA FOIA request delay of 7 months and a week, it might be useful to note that in FY2012, the State Department’s total requests in backlog is 10,464.   In fact, according to foia.gov, State has one of the highest backlogs, second only to DHS. In FY 2011, the average number of days to process a simple case was 156; for complex cases, 342. Some cases have been pending for 5 or 6 years (see State Dept FOIA Requests: Agency Ranks Second in Highest Backlog and Here’s Why).  The oldest pending request, as you can see below is 1,922 days.

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Here is the short version of the March 6, 2014 DPB:

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via Word It Out

Below is the long version from the March 6, 2014 DPB:

QUESTION: The American Foreign Service Association said yesterday that they were going to be filing suit against the State Department if, by end of business today, you don’t provide certificates of demonstrated competence for ambassadorial nominees. So I just wanted to know if you had any reaction to that.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, AFSA submitted a FOIA request on July 29th 2013 to our website – this is just some details for all of you to be aware of – seeking certificates of a demonstrated competence for every ambassador from January 1st 2013 to the present. We receive, as many of you know, about 18,000 FOIA requests per year. Generally – we generally process requests on a first in, first out basis. So we’re currently actively processing the request in accordance with the statute and the Department’s regulations, which applies to the specific release they put out yesterday.

In terms of broadly speaking, obviously, in nominating ambassadors, we look – the Administration looks for qualified candidates who represent Americans from all walks of life and who show true zeal for serving their country, and we’ve received interest and recruited talented people from all across the country and all kinds of professional backgrounds, whether they are Foreign Service – well, that’s – they proceed through a different process, there, of course, but political appointees who may be from the business sector, who may be from a public service sector. We feel that this kind of diversity helps represent who we are and the United States around the world.

So long story short, we are reviewing their request. We process requests as they come in. Certainly we welcome the comments of anyone and views of anyone on these sorts of issues, but I think it’s important to remind everyone of what we look at when it comes to ambassadorial nominees.

QUESTION: Jen, they submitted this request in July? How many months ago?

QUESTION: January.

QUESTION: No, July 29th, she said.

QUESTION: I thought you said January.

MS. PSAKI: For every ambassador from January 20 –

QUESTION: Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.

QUESTION: So how long should they expect to wait until you finish processing your request? And why should they even have to submit a FOIA request for this? Why wouldn’t you just – if they asked for it, why wouldn’t you just turn them over?

MS. PSAKI: They were asking for specific documents that are –

QUESTION: Right. But this is not an organization that has a questionable interest in this. It’s an organization that, in fact, represents – I mean, it is the – basically the union for Foreign Service officers, so it’s not really an outside party.

MS. PSAKI: Well, oftentimes, Matt, there’s a processing aspect that needs to take place with these requests, so –

QUESTION: Right, I’m sure that – I’m sure everyone is thrilled, everyone who’s ever filed a FOIA request to the State Department or any other government agency is thrilled, but I think that –

MS. PSAKI: There are many people who do. That’s part of the challenge in processing them.

QUESTION: Right. Okay, so you just threw this in the big pile, in the in-box with every single other request, even though they clearly have some – they have demonstrated interest in this subject. I don’t understand –

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say we threw it in a pile, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, you did. You said you get 18,000 requests a year, so – and –

MS. PSAKI: We do. We process them.

QUESTION: So when they –

MS. PSAKI: But obviously, we’re working to review their request and see how we can meet it as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: But specifically they asked for it to be by the close of business tonight. Otherwise, they’re going to take their – take this to legal action.

MS. PSAKI: I understand that.

QUESTION: Are you saying that you will not be able to get it to them by end of day tonight?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction of that. We’ll see what happens.

QUESTION: Just – can I have one –

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Where – you are now processing this specific request, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’re actually looking at it and trying to satisfy it?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. If you get 18,000 FOIA requests a year, what is the typical time lag for processing a request? Is it, as in this case, I guess, eight months or – is that typical or is it less, is it more?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specific time breakdown for you. I’m happy to see if there’s anything like that we can provide.

QUESTION: And was this one –

MS. PSAKI: We’re – they’re about to start the press avail, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. Was this one jumped to the front of the queue for any reason or no? It was processed –

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are cases where – and they asked for expedited processing, and some cases that question is asked. This didn’t satisfy the specific laid out standards for that, but we’re still working to see if we can process this as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: But it was not – was it jumped ahead or no? Or it –

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re still working to see if we can process it as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: No, no, that’s not my question, though. My question is whether it got – I understand that they may have requested expedited processing –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: – and did not – denied it because they don’t meet the standards, which happens to a lot of people.

MS. PSAKI: And at the same time, we’re still working to expedite – to process this as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: Right. Right. Right. No, but I’m sure you’re doing that with the other 17,199, right? I mean, the question is whether you are doing this faster.

MS. PSAKI: Specifically with this one, we are –

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: – working to process it as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: But quicker than everything – others’ stuff?

MS. PSAKI: It doesn’t work in that exact way, but we’re working to process it as quickly as possible.

Ali.

QUESTION: And Jen, they said that – AFSA said that they also filed a second FOIA request on February 28th.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So did they express to you their – because I know there was discussion between counsels.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So was that part of the aspect, that they didn’t feel that the July request had been processed or addressed within a – expeditiously enough so that –

MS. PSAKI: You’d have to ask them that question. I’m not sure if they are basically about the same thing or not. So I’m happy to check, and you may want to check with them and see what the reason was for the second one.

QUESTION: These documents are – what they’re seeking or these certificates are not classified, are they?

MS. PSAKI: No, but they’re still internal files, and so obviously we go through a process –

QUESTION: Fair enough. But they’re for a very small number of people, 50. Do you have any idea how many pages one of these things is?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s every ambassadorial nominee for the last 14 months.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: So –

QUESTION: And how many – well, actually, it wouldn’t have been originally –

MS. PSAKI: 15?

QUESTION: No, because they filed it in July asking for every one that went back to January. So –

MS. PSAKI: But when you meet it, you’re abiding by what the FOIA request –

QUESTION: Fair enough. How many pages is one of these things?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a specific number of pages for you.

QUESTION: It seems to me like this is a very limited request from an organization that’s got a very, very important interest in this subject, and that frankly, they should, if they ask, should be allowed to see – without having to go to through the FOIA processing. Was there any – did – do you know – are you aware if they asked outside of FOIA to get this – to get these documents?

MS. PSAKI: They are closely engaged with our chief of staff and deputy secretary of state, and have a range of meetings. So I know that all of these issues have been discussed. In terms of this specific request, I can check if there’s anything we can share on that.

QUESTION: So in other words, you said no. They asked, you said no, you have to submit a FOIA? Is that –

MS. PSAKI: I’m not saying that’s how it all went down. I’m saying they have many channels for having discussions with people in the Administration. And if there’s more to share on whether they made this specific request outside of the FOIA request process, I’m happy to check into that.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea if there is a chance, even a remote chance, that the processing will be finished by 5 o’clock this afternoon?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to predict when it will be finished.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but –

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re working to process it as quickly as possible.

QUESTION: I understand that. But is there a possibility that it could be done by 5 o’clock?

MS. PSAKI: There’s always a possibility.

QUESTION: There is. Okay.

QUESTION: How many nominees are we talking about? Have you got a figure?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a figure.

Well, then, tomorrow, maybe  – or we’ll wonder who’ll stop the rain …

 

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Filed under 2011, 2012, AFSA, Ambassadorships, Foreign Service, Leaks|Controversies, Obama, Political Appointees, Realities of the FS, State Department, Video of the Week

Snapshot: Foreign Service Grievance Board Statistics — 2012

– Domani Spero

We last posted about this in Foreign Service Grievance Board: Out With The Old, In With The New — Website.  Below are the numbers for calendar year 2012. FSGB did not make this available until about September this year.

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In 2011, the average time for consideration of a grievance case was 41 weeks, so the Board had been able to shaved off 8 weeks from the process in 2012.

Below is the FSGB’s summary of its cases, extracted from the 2012 annual report posted at fsgb.gov:

EERs/IERs/OPFs 

The Board decided 16 cases in which the grievants contested some aspect of material in their Official Performance Files (OPF), which provide the basis for promotions and other career decisions. The cases included a variety of claims: late and missing awards; falsely prejudicial material; lack of prior counseling on perceived performance deficiencies; and procedural errors. The Board affirmed the agency’s decision in eight of the cases; reversed the agency in five cases; and partially affirmed/partially reversed in one case. One case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and two were settled.

In one case, the Board rever reversed a decision by the agency that the grievant had not met the standards of her class. The Board found that the agency had violated several of its own regulations by not providing grievant written notice of performance deficiencies or adequate counseling. It also found that the record did not support the conclusion that the grievant had not met the standards of her class. The Board made the relatively unusual recommendation in this case that the agency grant the grievant a retroactive administrative promotion.

In another case, the Board found that the many procedural errors incurred in processing the grievant’s OPF for tenure review cast serious doubt on whether the grievant had received a fair review in a year in which he was denied tenure. As a remedy, it directed that the grievant’s OPF be placed before reconstituted tenure and selection boards.

Financial Cases 

The Board resolved 20 cases involving financial disputes this year, as compared to eight cases the previous year. It affirmed the agency decision in 13 of those cases, and partially affirmed and partially reversed in three cases. Three cases were settled and one was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

The three cases in which the agency was partially reversed involved reimbursement for the cost of vaccinations; credit for prior work experience in setting initial salary; and reimbursement for the shipment of HHE effects to grievant’s separation address upon his retirement. Six of the cases in which the agency decision was affirmed also involved challenges to the grievant’s starting salary.

One of the more complex financial cases involved the shipment of wood flooring, doors, and door frames by grievants in their household effects. The agency characterized the items as construction materials rather than household effects, and charged grievants for their shipment. The Board upheld the agency’s finding that the items could not properly be considered HHE. (In a separate action, USDA found the wood to be an endangered species that could not be imported legally unless it was part of HHE, and the items were eventually confiscated and destroyed.)

Disciplinary Cases 

The Board decided 12 disciplinary cases this year involving a range of issues: inappropriate behavior toward women; extramarital relationships; lack of candor; drinking while armed; failure to report contacts; unauthorized travel; violation of the agency’s Cyber Security Policy; violation of an embassy vehicle use policy; drunk and disorderly conduct; and misuse of USG equipment. The Board affirmed the agency decision in four cases; partially affirmed and partially reversed in two cases; and reversed in one case. Five of the cases were settled.

Separation Cases 

The Board addressed 12 cases involving the potential separation of the employee. Four of the cases involved separation for cause for misconduct. The other eight involved recommendations for separation by the Performance Standards Board for failure to meet the standards of the class; failure to become tenured; failure to meet an agency’s language requirements; and suspension of the employee’s security clearance. Eleven of these cases were settled and/or withdrawn. In the remaining case, the Board affirmed the agency’s decision to separate the employee for cause. No hearing was held, however, because the employee was living outside the country and failed to respond to repeated attempts by the Board and the agency to schedule a hearing.

Assignment 

Three grievants claimed that assignment actions violated agency regulations and policies. One grievant challenged the agency’s decision to direct a third assignment when his second assignment as a junior officer was curtailed for medical reasons. A second grievant objected to the agency breaking a linked assignment to a follow-on post when he curtailed from Afghanistan under conditions that were considered both medical and voluntary. The Board affirmed the agency decision in both cases. The Board dismissed the third grievance, in which the grievant claimed that the agency had violated merit system principles by not giving him an at-grade assignment, for lack of jurisdiction.

Other 

Five cases fell outside the above categories. These cases involved claims regarding non-selection for a position as an Eligible Family Member; an improperly delayed investigation by Diplomatic Security that resulted in a disrupted career and legal fees; statements made in a Report of Investigation that allegedly discriminated against grievant on the basis of disability and mental illness; improper calculation of grievant’s Time in Service date; and the agency’s improper failure to extend grievant’s retirement travel date. Three of the cases were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and/or timeliness. One was settled. The Board affirmed the agency decision in the final case.

We will post separately the judicial actions on the 2012 FSGB cases.

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Near, far, wherever you are, Benghazi will go on and on … oh, but do you want to buy a Benghazi thong?

– Domani Spero

The 60Minutes’ Benghazi segment with Lara Logan aired on Oct. 27, 2013 and reignited the Benghazi controversy once again. It included interviews with former US Embassy Libya DCM Gregory Hicks, and Green Beret Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Andy Wood. We’ve heard from Mr. Hicks previously and blogged about it here: “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” Features Former Embassy Tripoli DCM Gregory Hicks and Benghazi Hearing: No Kaboom as Promised, But More Details Fill Up the Dark Space of Sadness.

We’ve also heard from Colonel Wood once before: Benghazi Hearing: Looking for Truth Amidst a Partisan Divide, Outing OGA, Zingers

But we haven’t heard previously from this Morgan Jones fellow. That’s apparently a  pseudonym used by a former British soldier who has been “helping to keep U.S. diplomats and military leaders safe for the last decade.” He was reportedly the “security chief for Blue Mountain Security” in charge of the Libyan guard force.

Shortly after the segment aired, Media Matters cited Fox News correspondent Adam Housley as having said that he had previously spoken to the man “a number of times and then we stopped speaking to him when he asked for money.”

The same day that the 60 Minutes segment aired, Los Angeles Times’ Richard A. Serrano reported that two of theDOJ’s key witnesses in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack were summoned to the Oversight Committee earlier in October and “grilled for hours in separate legal depositions” conducted in “a highly guarded and secret interviews.”  The report identified the Diplomatic Security agents as Alec Henderson, who was stationed in Benghazi, and John Martinec, then based in Tripoli. Henderson was reportedly interviewed on Oct. 8 for eight hours and Martinec was interviewed for five hours on Oct. 10.  The report further says that Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa earlier had also demanded access to a third agent, David Ubben, who was seriously injured in the Benghazi attack. According to LAT, Mr. Issa learned the identities of the three agents from Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, who testified before the committee in spring.

On a related note, did you hear that Senator Graham is exceptionally pissed about Benghazi and has promised to block “every appointment in the US Senate” until the Benghazi survivors are produced?   Apparently, he did not know that two DS agents were right next door on October 8 for legal depos that lasted for altogether 13 hours.  Pardon me? Is it purely coincidental that there are bad news in the polls, and that a primary is potentially a headache? Well, is it?

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In any case, on October 28, Julia Frifield, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs responded to Senator Graham’s previous September 24 letter concerning the Benghazi survivors availability.  Read the response here.

On October 29, Mr. Morgan’s book, The Embassy House published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster went on sale; available in hardcover, Kindle and Audible; the cheapest edition via Kindle currently selling at $10.99.

Previously, in September 2013, Deadline reported that Thunder Road has acquired The Embassy House to use as the basis for a feature about the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya,

“The film will be written by Taylor Sheridan, whose adaptation of Comancheria has Marc Forster attached. Thunder Road is producing Sheridan’s script Sicario, and they’ve set him to script a look at Benghazi that is one part Black Hawk Down and another Lawrence Of Arabia. //UK-based Luke Speed of the Marjacq Agency repped the book and Gersh’s Bob Hohman and Bayard Maybank and Elevate repped the scribe. Thunder Road used its own resources to buy the book and will fund development, and hasn’t yet enlisted a studio.”

Also in September, The Hollywood Reporter says that HBO has optioned another book, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, with Jerry Weintraub on board to executive produce.  Under Fire is authored by former DSS Agent and Stratfor VP Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz and is “Based on the exclusive cooperation of eyewitnesses and confidential sources within the intelligence, diplomatic, and military communities” according to the book’s Amazon page.

If they start filming soon, will the movies be ready in time for the 2nd anniversary of the attack or the 2014 election?

On October 31, WaPo’s Karen DeYoung threw some more fuel on the Benghazi fire:

“[I]n a written account that Jones, whose real name was confirmed as Dylan Davies by several officials who worked with him in Benghazi, provided to his employer three days after the attack, he told a different story of his experiences that night.

In Davies’s 2 1 / 2-page incident report to Blue Mountain, the Britain-based contractor hired by the State Department to handle perimeter security at the compound, he wrote that he spent most of that night at his Benghazi beach-side villa. Although he attempted to get to the compound, he wrote in the report, “we could not get anywhere near . . . as roadblocks had been set up.”

On November 1, The Cable’s John Hudson reported that Star Benghazi ‘Witness’ May Not Have Been an Actual Witness:

“In contrast with the 60 Minutes account, which saw him knocking out terrorists with the butt end of his rifle and scaling a 12-foot wall the night of the attack, the Blue Mountain report has Jones at his beach-side villa for the majority of the night. Despite an attempt to make it to the compound, Jones wrote that “we could not get anywhere near … as roadblocks had been set up.”

Further The Cable points out that “the book titled The Embassy House was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is a part of CBS Corporation, which owns 60 Minutes — a fact not disclosed in the 60 Minutes story.

Oh, dear …. is that what’s called cross promotion or something?

On November 2, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake reported that Dylan Davies, aka: Morgan Jones denied writing the incident report cited by Karen DeYoung’s report in WaPo.  The Daily Beast had obtained a copy of the Blue Mountain Group 4-page incident report that lists Dylan Davies, “PM” as the “Name of Person Reporting.” The report is dated 13:00 hours, September 14, 2012, unsigned and the published copy does not include any indication whether the report was emailed or faxed to the Blue Mountain Group. See for yourself here via Josh Rogin/ScribD.

The Daily Beast report described Jones/Davies as a “Benghazi Whistleblower” and says that “Davies said he did not know who leaked the report to the Post but said he suspected it was the State Department, an allegation that could not be independently corroborated.” More below:

“A State Department official confirmed it matches the version sent to the U.S. government by Davies’s then-employer Blue Mountain Group, the private security company based in Britain, on Sept. 14, 2012, and subsequently provided to Congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks.
[...]
Davies said he believed there was a coordinated campaign to smear him. This week, Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, sent a public letter to CBS News asking it to retract the 60 Minutes Benghazi piece on the basis of the Washington Post article. On the Fox News Channel, reporter Adam Housley claimed on air this week that Davies asked for money in exchange for an interview. Davies denied this charge. 60 Minutes has stood by its reporting.”

Continue reading  Benghazi Whistleblower Says He Was Smeared.

Media Matters and Fox News in a coordinated smear campaign?  If I were drunk at 10 o’clock in the morning, that still sounds crazy bad.

The Blue Mountain Group was snared early on in the Benghazi controversy. Remember that time when the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said this three days after the attack: “I can tell you that at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya – at no time.”  That turned out to be false. This was covered by Danger Room in September 2012:  Feds Hired British Security Firm to Protect Benghazi Consulate.

The contract is a curious one, of course, since security in the State Department falls under the Worldwide Security Protection (WSP) program which has core funding for the protection of life, property, and information of the agency. WSP funding supports not just domestic facilities but also  worldwide guard force protecting overseas diplomatic missions and residences.  Defense Industry Daily has a list of contractors for the 5-year $10 billion WPS security contract inked in 2010.  The Blue Mountain Group is not on that list.  One wonders, given the presence of OGA in Benghazi, if this was in fact an OGA contract, though  the paperwork does say it is a State contract. Or it is possible that none of the WPS contractors are allowed to operate in Libya, so State had to procure services from another provider?  But then, that does not explain why three days after the attack, the State spokesperson was adamant that “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya.”

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A redacted copy of the Blue Mountain Group contract has now been released after a FOIA by Judicial Watch and can be read/downloaded here.

One thing more. On October 14, 2012, UK’s The Telegraph reported about Blue Mountain, described as a small British firm based in south Wales:

“Blue Mountain, which is run by a former member of the SAS, received paper work to operate in Libya last year following the collapse of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. It worked on short term contacts to guard an expatriate housing compound and a five-star hotel in Tripoli before landing the prestigious US deal.
[...]
But Blue Mountain’s local woes appears to have hampered a coordinated response by the compound’s defenders when the late assault kicked off.

Darryl Davies, the manager of the Benghazi contract for Blue Mountain, flew out of the city hours before the attack was launched. The Daily Telegraph has learned that relations between the firm and its Libyan partner had broken down, leading to the withdrawal of Mr Davies.
[...]
Abdulaziz Majbiri, a Blue Mountain guard at the compound, told the Daily Telegraph that they were effectively abandoned and incapable of defending themselves on the night of the attack.”

So far, no one has gone back to clarify or straighten out that story.

And because the Benghazi controversy simply refuses to die, CNN is reporting that a CIA operatives will testify behind closed doors at a classified Benghazi hearing on the week of November 11.

Then yesterday, Politico reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz  “slammed the source behind a report that revealed the real name of a British security agent in Benghazi, which was published in The Washington Post.”

“I don’t know who did it, but to release a covert agent’s name to endanger his life should be an absolute outrage in this town,” Chaffetz said Monday on Fox New’s “Fox and Friends” when asked if he thought the White House was behind the leak.

I was seriously looking for something like this to pop up because … hey, it’s too attractive to pass up if you want some screen time.  But now Morgan Jones/Dylan Davies is not only a “whistleblower”  he is also a “covert agent”?

Well, I’ll be …. the Oversight Committee hearing is coming soon.

Have you noticed that Benghazi is not only a popular subject with politicians, it has also gained popularity in the Amazon marketplace? The Benghazi tragedy has spawned not just books but also bumper stickers, a Benghazi album from Moon Records, Cover Up (The Benghazi Song), a Benghazi Memorandum Book,a Benghazi Record Book, whatevs.  There are also Benghazi cartoons, mousepads, coffee mugs, coasters, bottles, tshirts, a pinback button, and a Benghazi memorial license plate. There are more Benghazi-branded products available via Cafepress.com including  Benghazi underwear and panties; don’t  miss the Benghazi Blame and Good Riddance classic thongs. Benghazi products are also available at Zazzle.com; don’t miss the doggie clothing line.

If you’re renovating, there is even a Benghazi light switch cover for a 2 plug outlet.

And now my grey matter is seriously hyperventilating and need to drown itself in sorrow.

 

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Filed under 2012, CIA, Counting Beans, Diplomatic Attacks, Diplomatic Security, Leaks|Controversies, Media, State Department, U.S. Missions

Foreign Service Grievance Board 2012 Statistics — Up/Down Whatever Percent From 2011

– By Domani Spero

On June 19, 2012, we blogged this: Snapshot: Foreign Service Grievance Board 2011 Statistics, Up 25% from 2010.  The annual report is  submitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations at the United States Senate (SFRC), the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the House of Representatives (HFAC) and the Director General of the Foreign Service at the State Department (DGHR).

Eight annual reports are posted online with the exception of the 2012 report.  While all congressional submissions were dated in February and March of the previous years, there is no indication when these reports were made available online.  We regularly visit fsgb.gov, a website from  “yabba dabba doo!” When we posted about the 2011 report last year, we just discovered it in a dig done in June 2012.

  • 2004 – submission date: March 23, 2005
  • 2005 – submission date: March 23, 2006
  • 2006 – submission date: March 27, 2007
  • 2007 – submission date: March 27, 2008
  • 2008 – submission date: February 27, 2009
  • 2009 – submission date: February 26, 20120
  • 2010 – submission date: February 28, 2011
  • 2011 – submission date: February 28, 2012

It’s now almost fall and the 2012 annual report is still unavailable; a June 2013 email inquiry to the Board remains unacknowledged.  As of October 1, 2011, Garber Davidson is the Chairman of the Foreign Service Grievance Board. Elliot Shaller is the Deputy Chairman.  Mark S. Johnsen assumed his duties as the Executive Secretary to the Foreign Service Grievance Board on March 11, 2013. But wait, the FSGB website also says that Christopher Wittmann is its current Executive Secretary.  Can you please, please get the real Executive Secretary to step forward? Why? Well, because … it looks … it doesn’t look too good that the FSGB can’t even sort out who is its executive secretary.

While waiting for the 2012 report to make its online appearance, let’s make do with the 2011 stats. Pardon me? You want permission to bring up/down the grievance rate until the 2012 report escapes from Bedrock’s primitive typewriter?  Who are you, Fred Flintstone?

 

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D/SecState on 2012 State Department Awards: 32 of Our Very Best

The State Department hold its Annual Awards Ceremony in November.  The news coverage is usually brief or late, in cable format, emails weeks after the event and in a spread in State Magazine probably sometime in February or March. In all, 32 awards were given in a ceremony attended by Deputy Secretary Bill Burns. He lauded “32 of our very best in the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and Foreign Service National corps” and said:

“You represent diplomacy at its finest and demonstrate that great diplomats can do much more than hold their own at the negotiating table. Great diplomats are innovative, they’re intrepid, and they’re endlessly dedicated. They work beyond embassy walls. They help create jobs and promote trade. And they venture out to the most war-torn corners of the world to act as enduring forces for peace.”

We have previously blogged about the 2012 Annual Awards (see 2012 State Dept Annual Awards: Greatest Achievements in Many Fields, Mostly By Men).

All of the awards include a certificate, signed by the Secretary of State and monetary rewards ranging from $2,000 – $10,000. Many of the awards are sponsored by private donors, who are often former members of the Foreign Service or their families but the nominations go through the State Department process.

Some awards require that a supervisor nominate the candidate. Other awards require that nominations be submitted by the chief of mission.  Still other awards open the nomination from anyone having knowledge of the nominee’s contributions.  An employee or group of employees familiar with the nominee’s work, including supervisors, task forces, and country desks, may also nominate candidates. In almost all instances, the awards require the endorsement of the nomination by the chief of mission or principal officer at posts abroad or the appropriate assistant secretary or equivalent from participating agencies. Bureau assistant secretary may also submit nominations for chiefs of mission.

The awards program is in the 3 FAM 4800 series. The regs for the Annual Awards are in 3 FAM 4830.

Here are the awardees:

James A. Baker III—C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission – Recipient:  R. Stephen Beecroft

Former Ambassador to the Netherlands, C. Howard Wilkins, Jr., made this award possible. It recognizes outstanding contributions made by a deputy chief of mission who demonstrates the proficiency, creativity, and overall capacity to serve effectively as ambassadors and as chargé d’affaires in their absence. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Before he was appointed Ambassador to Iraq, Robert Stephen Beecroft was US Embassy Baghdad’s DCM.  A career member of the Foreign Service, he joined Embassy Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission on July 14, 2011.  Prior to that, Mr. Beecroft served as Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  He became Chargé d’affaires upon the departure of Ambassador James Jeffrey on June 1, 2012. We have previously blogged about him here.

Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award – Recipient:  Phillip Carter III

This award honors an individual who best exemplifies the late Ambassador Robert C. Frasure’s commitment to peace and the alleviation of human suffering caused by war or civil injustice. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

We have previously blogged about Ambassador Carter when he was appointed to Abidjan, when his post went on ordered departure, and when his staff was ordered to shelter in place when the bloody battle reached the capital.

Arnold L. Raphel Memorial AwardRecipient:  Paul O. Mayer

This award recognizes an individual in international affairs who embodies the special human qualities exemplified by the late Ambassador Arnold L. Raphel—the mentoring and development of subordinates, especially junior officers. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000. The recipient’s name is placed on a plaque in the Department.

Paul Mayer is currently the DCM at US Embassy Vientiane. If he sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve blogged about him here following the January 2010 Haiti earthquake and about his “K-Visa Delight” (set to the tune of “Afternoon Delight“)  for the Consular Corner Creative Writing Contest.

We have it it good authority that this is one of those awards where the subordinates, at least 18 of them banded as a group and put in the nomination.

Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service – Recipient:  David C. Jacobson

The Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service is presented to a Non-Career Ambassador who (a) has used private sector leadership and management skills to make a significant impact on bilateral or multilateral relations and (b) has done so in a manner that best reflects the foreign service culture of uncommon commitment in carrying out United States foreign policy through proactive diplomacy. The award is made possible by the generosity of Sue M. Cobb, former U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica. The honoree receives a certificate signed by the Secretary and the Embassy receives $5,000.

We have blogged about Ambassador Jacobson here and here with his curling consuls.

Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development – Recipient:  Scot A. Marciel

The former Ambassador to Iceland, Charles E. Cobb, Jr., made this award possible. It is conferred on two career members of the Department: one member serving under an ambassadorial appointment; and one member at any grade serving abroad in a non-ambassadorial assignment. The award recognizes outstanding contributions toward innovative and successful trade development and export promotion for the United States. The winners each receive a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

We have blogged about Ambassador Marciel here and here.

Secretary’s Award for Excellence in International Security Affairs – Recipient: Thomas F. Daughton

The award recognizes individual excellence in the development, negotiation and/or implementation of national policy and solutions to counter country-specific, regional and/or global nonproliferation, counter-proliferation, political-military, arms control, verification, and/or noncompliance challenges facing the United States. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State and a $10,000 stipend and the runner-up receives a signed certificate and a $2,000 stipend. (via Wikipedia)

We have blogged about Mr. Daughton a while back in US Embassy Algiers: Diplomatic Kerfuffle Over DCM’s “Rare Candor”

Robert C. Bannerman Diplomatic Security Employee of the Year – Recipient:  Robert Joseph Baldre, Jr.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions made by an employee in the security field. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Is he Diplomatic Security’s Chief Financial Officer (DS/EX/CFO)?

Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs – Recipient:  Steven G. Gillen

This award recognizes sustained excellence and initiative in the substantive policy areas of oceans, the environment, and science; democracy, human rights, and labor; population, refugees, and migration; and international narcotics and crime.  The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Civil Service Secretary of the Year – Recipient:  Crystal Y. Johnson

This annual award recognizes the high standards of performance which characterize the work of Civil Service Secretaries in the Department and abroad.  It is granted annually to one Civil Service Secretary whose performance is judged by a selection committee to exemplify most clearly these high standards.  The recipient receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State and $10,000.  In addition, the recipients’ names are placed on a plaque in the Department. (via Wikipedia)

Director General’s Award for Impact and Originality in Reporting – Recipient:  Ryan L. Hass

The Director General’s Award for Impact and Originality in Reporting recognizes the high standards that characterize the reporting of the Department.  The recipient of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, $10,000, and an engraved desk set. The recipient’s name is placed on a plaque in the Department.

James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence – Recipient: G. Kathleen Hill

The James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence recognizes leadership, intellectual skills, managerial ability, and personal qualities that most fully exemplify the standards of excellence desired of employees at the mid-career level. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Equal Employment Opportunity Award – Recipient: Gregory S. Stanford

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award recognizes outstanding contributions toward improving employment opportunities for minorities and women and significant achievements in taking affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified minorities and women.  The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Foreign Service National (FSN) of the Year Award

This award recognizes the high standards of performance and the value to the U.S. Government of the special contributions made by Foreign Service National (FSN) employees and foreign nationals serving under a personal services contract or agreement at our missions abroad.  The primary winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000. Each of the other five nominees receives a certificate signed by the assistant secretary of the appropriate regional bureau or International Organization (IO) and $2,500.

  • FSN of the Year Award (AF) Recipient: Emmanuel Umar
  • FSN of the Year Award (EAP) Recipient: Chen Er
  • FSN of the Year Award (EUR) Recipient:  Zlatko Moratic
  • FSN of the Year Award (WHA) Recipient:  Sylvia Cabezas

FSN of the Year Award (SCA) Recipient: Farah Naz

D/SecState Bill Burns had this to say about the awardee from the SCA Bureau: “Farah Naz joined Embassy Islamabad more than 25 years ago as an administrative assistant in the Health Unit. Today, she supervises a staff of 56 at the Embassy’s Warehouse—and she’s the first woman to ever serve in that role. Last year, Farah was at the helm of a massive transition that involved moving warehouse operations from one facility on the compound to two separate facilities, off-campus. To make it happen, Farah coordinated with local police, crane and moving vendors, the Regional Security Office, a local guard force, and other agencies to move fifty 20-foot shipping containers filled with goods worth over $53 million from one side of town to the other. And she did it efficiently, cost-effectively, and with a calm, confident smile. Today, we are recognizing Farah’s decades of hard work and dedication as FSN of the year for the Bureau of South and Central Asia.”

Cordell Hull Award for Economic Achievement by Senior Officers – Recipient:  Kurt Tong

The former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Steven J. Green made this award possible. It recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing U.S. interests in the international economic field. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State and $5,000.

Leamon R. Hunt Award for Management Excellence – Recipient:  Jason A. Brenden

The Leamon R. Hunt Award for management Excellence recognizes outstanding contributions to management operations. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Swanee Hunt Award For Advancing Women’s Role in Policy Formulation – FS Recipient:  Heera K. Kamboj

The Swanee Hunt Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Improving the status of women globally by advancing their influence in policy formulation is made possible by the former U.S. Ambassador to Austria, the Honorable Swanee Hunt. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in the area of promoting women as participants in the political and economic processes or as policy shapers. The annual amount of the award is $10,000, which will be given in two awards of $5,000 each: (1) To a Foreign Service or Civil Service employee; and (2) To a Foreign Service National at a U.S. embassy or consulate, along with a certificate signed by the Secretary.

Award for Excellence in Labor Diplomacy – Recipient:  Peter T. Shea

This award recognizes excellence in promoting U.S. foreign policy interest in the labor field. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretaries of Labor and State, and $10,000.

Linguist of the Year Award – Recipient: Adedeji E. Okediji

This award recognizes unusually successful acquisition and maintenance of a high level of proficiency in one or more foreign languages and use of the language ability to achieve Department objectives. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Frank E. Loy Award for Environmental Diplomacy – Recipient: Christo Artusio

This award recognizes outstanding achievement in international environmental affairs. The winner receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Thomas Morrison Information Management Award – Recipient:  Todd C. E. Cheng

The Thomas Morrison Information Management Award recognizes outstanding and unique contributions in the information management field. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

We heard that Mr. Cheng “did amazing work for our missions in Tripoli and Benghazi in 2011 and 2012.”

Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy – Recipient:  Gloria F. Berbena

This award recognizes significant contributions in the field of public diplomacy and the special qualities that reflect the integrity, courage, sensitivity, vision, and dedication to excellence that were so highly exemplified in the life of Edward R. Murrow. The winner of the award receives a plaque presented during the commencement exercises at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. The winner also receives $10,000, which is presented at the annual Departmental Awards Ceremony held at the State Department.

Office Management Specialist of the Year Award – Recipient: Gail M. Cooper

The Secretary of the Year and Office Management Specialist of the year awards recognize the high standards of performance that characterize the service of secretaries in the Civil Service and Office Management Specialists in the Foreign Service. The award is conferred on both a Civil Service and a Foreign Service Office Management Specialist.  b. The winners each receive a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000. The recipients’ names are placed on a plaque in the Department.

D/SecState Bill Burns on Gail Cooper, the Office Management Specialist for the Regional Security Office at US Embassy Sarajevo: “Last October, as our Embassy in Sarajevo suffered a brief attack, Gail sprung into action and served as a one-person ops center for the post. She worked with Washington and others involved to give regular updates on the situation, coordinated outreach to make sure embassy personnel were safe and accounted for, and eased the fears of understandably concerned family members. In a chaotic and frightening time, Gail was an island of calm. So today, we’re recognizing Gail as the office Management Specialist of the Year, not only for her superior office management abilities, but also for her leadership in the midst of a crisis.”

Luther I. Replogle Award for Management Improvement – Recipient:  Mark J. Cohen

The late Luther I. Replogle, former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, makes this award possible. It recognizes outstanding contributions to management improvement. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Mary A. Ryan Award for Outstanding Public Service – Recipient:  M. Andre Goodfriend

Selection will be based on the extent to which nominees demonstrate leadership abilities when providing services while assigned domestically or abroad to U.S. citizens. The recipient receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Herbert Salzman Award for Excellence in International Economic Performance – Recipient: Douglas J. Apostol

This award is made possible by the late Herbert Salzman, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing U.S. international relations and objectives in the economic field. The recipient of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Rockwell Anthony Schnabel Aard for Advancing U.S.-EU Relations  – Recipient:  Paul E. Pfeuffer

A supervisor must nominate candidates for this award. Endorsement of the nomination by the chief of mission or principal officer at posts abroad or the appropriate assistant secretary or equivalent from participating agencies, State, USAID, Commerce, and Agriculture, is required. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $5,000.

Innovation in the Use of Technology Award - Recipient:  David C. Schroeder

This award recognizes the suggestion, planning, development, or implementation of an innovative use of technology (both program and administrative) that has substantially contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000.

Barbara M. Watson Award for Consular Excellence – Recipient: Joshua D. Glazeroff

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to consular operations. The winner of the award receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and $10,000. The Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs will chair the selection committee, which will be comprised of the principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs, and representatives from CA offices, the Bureau of Human Resources, and the bureaus.

D/SecState Bill Burns on the awardee: “Joshua Glazeroff, Consul General New Delhi, is compassionate and perceptive — a combination of qualities that make him a consular officer of the highest caliber. A few months ago, when a gunman shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Josh took charge to help the friends and relatives of those who were slain travel to the U.S. to grieve for their loved ones. Josh was put in an extremely difficult position—he had to strike the balance between helping make a tragic situation a little less painful without making the visa process any less rigorous—and he pulled it off. Today we recognize Josh’s outstanding contributions with the Barbara M. Watson Award for Consular Excellence.”

Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy (no award given)

The award recognizes those who excel in the most challenging leadership positions overseas.  The winner, if an employee of the agencies covered by the Foreign Affairs Manual, receives a certificate signed by the Secretary of State and $10,000.  In accordance with 3 FAM 4813.2(c), the winner, if a member of the military, may only receive the certificate.

Human Rights Officer of the Year Award – this award was reportedly shared jointly by 4 officers at a US Mission in the EAP Bureau.  We’ve looked for references to this award and the awardees at http://www.humanrights.gov/ but have been unable to find any further details or press. A previous winner of a human rights award was roughed up by police in central Vietnam.  Not sure that’s the reason why this is  low key — but if the names of the awardees are published by State mag next month, we will update this entry.

For additional details on all of the awardees, we have to wait and read it in the next issue of State magazine. The 2011 awardees were featured in its February 2011 issue.
domani spero sig

 

 

 

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GOP Connie Mack IV Wants Nonexistent UN Election Monitors to Observe “Banana Republics” Not U.S.

FP’s  Joshua Keating recently reported that Florida Rep. Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV aka: Connie Mack IV (Republican for the 14th district), currently running for a senate seat has called for the United Nations to be defunded and “kicked off U.S. soil.”

Dear United Nations, what did you do to this man?

Here is what Mack’s campaign sent out:

MIAMI – U.S. Senate candidate Congressman Connie Mack and Chairman of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee today strongly condemned reports that the United Nations is preparing to monitor the upcoming U.S. election – a function usually reserved for third-world countries, banana republics and fledgling democracies.

Mack said:

“The very idea that the United Nations – the world body dedicated to diminishing America’s role in the world — would be allowed, if not encouraged, to install foreigners sympathetic to the likes of Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Putin to oversee our elections is nothing short of disgusting.“

For years the United Nations has aggressively worked against the best interests of our country and many of our allies. The UN’s actions and intentions toward the United States have been nothing short of reprehensible.

“Every American should be outraged by this news. The United States must defund the United Nations. The United Nations should be kicked off of American soil once and for all. And the American people should demand that the United Nations be stopped from ‘monitoring’ American elections. The only ones who should ever oversee American elections are Americans.”

And – according to Tampa Bay Times, in case we miss it the first round, Mack’s campaign said that the U.N. monitoring “should be reserved for third-world countries, banana republics and fledgling democracies.”

They’re talking about those countries where income inequality stretches a mile, where there is a slim or nonexistent middleclass and where plutocrats are a rare breed sitting atop a pyramid or something?

Hey, waaaait a minute — is Congressman Mack IV also ranting about those OSCE election monitors masquerading as United Nations observers?

Holy mother of goat and all her genius nephews! We’ve written previously about the fears of quantum elections in Texas over those OSCE election observers.  The senate candidate from Florida is certainly entitled to his own outrage but we’re horrified that he could not get the target of his outrage well, straight. OSCE man, OSCE not the UN.

:Sigh: — and this is the guy who wants to replace Bill Nelson as one of Florida’s senators to the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Connie Mack IV

While you’re digesting that thought, here are some photos of Senator McCain (who apparently was close with Mack’s father, former Congressman and Senator Connie Mack III and campaigned with Mack IV) observing the elections in Libya this year (right there in the polling station, too), writing: “I had the honor of observing Libya’s first free elections in 60 years – an extraordinary achievement for the Libyan people.”

(Click on image for more photos)

 

Holycrap! One of our senators observing real democracy in action! And just as good as in the movies!

It looks like Florida’s 14th district pride is behind in the polls, but if there is a Senator McGillicuddy IV in after Tuesday’s election, we’ll be in a lookout for his trips to bananaland.

* * *

Oops! What’s this?  Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) was on MSNBC earlier today sharply criticizing the confusion and long lines at some Florida polling places and said:

“I don’t know what went on in Florida, but I do have to say that in this day and age, it’s inexcusable that in this country, we have anything like this going on.” she said. “I’ve led delegations around the world to watch voting and this is the kind of thing you expect in a third-world country, not in the United States of America.”

Noooooooo!

 

 

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US Mission Afghanistan: USAID Sub-Contractors Killed in Kabul Suicide Attack

WaPo reports that today’s attack in Kabul was carried out by a suicide bomber who rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the Kabul International Airport.  At least 12 people died, including eight South Africans, three Afghans and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan. The report says the Afghan militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack and said it was carried out by a 22-year-old woman named Fatima. It also adds that suicide bombings carried out by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan, where few if any Afghan women drive cars.

Worst Take-Your-Kid-to-Work-Day ever
Photo and Caption via It’s Always Sunny in Kabul

VOA quotes Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation:

“We understand from our mission in Islamabad that the eight South Africans were employed by a private aviation company,” said Kgwete. “At the moment the department has the complete list of all the names of the deceased. We are working on establishing contact with the next of kin and also ensuring that we ensure the necessary consular assistance to the families.”

A separate WaPo report says that many of the victims were contract personnel with Air Charter Service, a British-based company that provides services to the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations in Afghanistan.  The company’s website did not list its clients but the charter service reportedly has a contract with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to ferry USAID officials around Afghanistan.

These are deaths that will not even be counted when our war casualties are tallied. We may never even know their names. They are not Coalition soldiers or American civilians, they are foreigners in Afghanistan, third country nationals who work as contractors to a USAID contractor that is British-based.

The US Embassy in Kabul released the following condemnation statement:

Condemnation of Suicide Attack in Kabul
September 18, 2012

The U.S. Embassy condemns, in the strongest terms, the suicide bombing that took place this morning near Kabul International airport, killing at least 10 people and injuring several others, including members of the Afghan National Police. Many of the victims were contracted personnel of a private company providing services to USAID and other organizations in Afghanistan. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all of the victims, and we wish for a full recovery to the injured.

 

The embassy didn’t know how many of them provided services for USAID, only that many of them did. I don’t know why I find that distressful.  For 2012 alone, the US Embassy in Kabul has already issued 25 condemnation statements, an average of two a month and it’s just September.

Our blog pal, El Snarkistani in It’s Always Sunny in Kabul lists 5 reasons why this latest suicide attack is a big deal, and in his words, “frighteningly different from the norm here in the Emerald City”:

[T]o review: a) actions by the insurgency are dramatically altering ISAF strategy, b) the insurgents are able to kill foreign civilians in the capital, and c) they’re able to destroy ISAF’s most valuable asset, its airpower.

Thus, if negotiations do occur anytime soon, it’s because the insurgency brought the bigger stick. And if there’s an olive branch involved, they probably impaled the dove on it. Think more Brando’s Don, less Kingsley’s Gandhi.

If this is a weakened insurgency, I’d hate to see what a strong one would look like.

Read his full post here.

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All It Takes to Unite the Olympic Games Host Country? A Guy Called Mitt Romney

You probably heard this story already.

The Mittster talked to NBC’s Brian Williams and he said, “There are a few things that were disconcerting.”

We’ve seen the stories out of London, of course.  The Mittster also heard those stories and he added, “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Probably did not sit well with UK Prime Minister David Cameron who rebuked Romney (according to HuffPo) with:

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

What’s that they say about diplomats never unintentionally insulting another person? Think the Prime Minister got some tips from Whitehall?

But the Mittster did have some nice things to say about Great Britain during that NBC interveiw:

“But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain,” Romney said. “It goes back to our very beginnings, cultural … and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I don’t know agree with whoever that advisor might be. But do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain.”

Except that the Mittster forgot he wrote something about it in his book. FP’s Joshua Keating notes that Romney’s book says Britain is a tiny island that makes stuff nobody wants:

“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.”

Wait until Boris Johnson hears that.

Boris Johnson, if the name is not too familiar is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a British Conservative Party politician and journalist, who has been the elected Mayor of London since 2008. According to Wikipedia, he was previously the Member of Parliament for Henley and Editor in Chief of The Spectator magazine. You might also remember him as the person who said, “Maybe when President Obama’s hors d’oeuvre plate is whisked away he will find a bill for £5.5m.”

That’s the “congestion” charge for driving in central London. According to the BBC, the Transport for London (TfL) confirmed the US Embassy London owed £5.2m in unpaid congestion charge. The US embassy said it considered the charge to be a “direct tax”.

Okay, yeah, that’s the guy.  And here he is hailing ‘Olympomania’ at Hyde Park, including leading the crowd in a chant of ‘Yes We Can,’ President Obama’s famous campaign slogan from 2008.:

“I heard there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!”
[...]
“Can we put on the greatest Olympics games that have ever been held?” he asked. “Can we beat France? Yes we can! Can we beat Australia? Yes we can!”

Ouch! The Mittster’s travel will also take him to Israel and Poland. We’re all ears.

Domani Spero

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Blog Index | January 2012

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The Newtster’s Pick for Secretary of State Endorses the Mittster

Secretary Rice announces the nomination of Joh...Image via WikipediaRemember last December when I blogged about Newt Gingrich’s pick for Secretary of State? He told some crowd that he would appoint former United Nations Representative John Bolton as his Secretary of State.

But Ambassador Bolton had somebody else in mind. On January 11, Ambassador Bolton announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney on Fox News’ “On the Record” with Greta van Susteren. He called the Mittster “the person who can best lead the party, best articulate our conservative principles, and is most likely to beat Barack Obama.”

What took you so long, John B.? Iowa by eight votes? Check.  NH by 39.3%? Check. A 32% projected vote range in the Palmetto state? 

WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin may have the answer:

“I spoke to former U.N. ambassador John Bolton this morning about his endorsement last night of Mitt Romney. He said he has been contemplating for some time whether to endorse a GOP candidate. “I just thought you oughta decide at some point,” he said. He said it was critical that he back someone who could beat President Obama. “I do think Governor Romney is the best candidate to defeat Obama. Jim Baker [former secretary of Treasury and state] gave me some great advice: ‘Keep your eye on the prize.’ ”

By Friday the 13th, the former U.N. ambassador has showed that can be one of the Mittster’s fiercest attack dogs of President Obama’s foreign policy. Via CBS:

“He’s not only the most radical president in history domestically; he is the first president, Republican or Democrat, at least since Franklin Roosevelt, who didn’t get up every morning thinking first about what threats the United States faces. [...] He just doesn’t care about national security the way other presidents did,”  Bolton said of President Obama to an audience (in Hilton Head, South Carolina).

Keeping his eye on the prize, no doubt. Maybe he’ll be able to parachute to Foggy Bottom from a Romney plane …   

 
 
 

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