Meet John Doe, an Iraqi Refugee Who Works For Uncle Sam, and Still Waiting For Resettlement in the Home of the Brave

Posted: 3:01 am EDT


In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, opposition is growing in the U.S. to the Obama administration’s plans to admit up to 10,000 refugees from Syria’s civil war. Below via the Pew Research’s Fact Tank:

A new Bloomberg Politics poll found that 53% of Americans don’t want to accept any Syrian refugees at all; 11% more would accept only Christian refugees from Syria. More than two dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they’ll oppose Syrian refugees being resettled in their states. And on Thursday the House of Representatives passed a bill blocking the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees unless they pass strict background checks.

According to the Washing Examiner, under the legislation, no Syrian or Iraqi refugee would be admitted into the United States until the nation’s top federal law enforcement officials certify that they do not pose a safety or terrorism threat.

Now this …


The GOP candidates appear to be in a parallel race on who can put out the most dehumanizing idea when talking about refugees: spoiled milk, rabid dogs, Muslim database, special IDs, ending housing assistance, etc. What’s next?

We will remember this week as that time when the 2016 presidential campaigns have gone heartless for the win.

Here’s one story that might give folks a glimpse of how lengthy, and how convoluted is the USG refugee process.

On November 3, 2015, Judge Richard W. Roberts allowed John Doe, an Iraqi refugee to file his complaint under a pseudonym in the District Court of the District of Columbia:

Screen Shot

According to court documents, John Doe voluntarily assisted with the U.S.-led reconstruction efforts following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq, and has received numerous recommendations for his work in connection with those efforts.  But this assistance has come at a significant cost to John Doe and his loved ones. Because of his work, John Doe is a target for those who seek to intimidate, harm, and kill those who have assisted the U.S. in its reconstruction efforts.

Court documents also say that John Doe served as a Provincial Model Clinic Support Coordinator in a USAID funded program. As part of his service, John Doe reportedly worked to improve access to primary health care in and around Kirkuk, Iraq by coordinating health clinics, training clinic staff, and conducting health surveys. Since October 2014, John Doe has served as a Senior Medical Officer at another USAID-funded projects. As part of his service, John Doe’s reported responsibilities include planning, development, implementation, oversight, monitoring, and reporting for two projects: static, camp-based medical clinics and mobile medical units that move throughout displaced populations in and around Erbil.

John Doe is an Iraqi citizen currently residing in Erbil, Iraq. For over two years, since fleeing to Erbil, John Doe has worked for programs funded by USAID in furtherance of the U.S.-led reconstruction efforts following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. During this time, John Doe has risked his life alongside U.S. personnel to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure. By helping with the U.S. reconstruction efforts, John Doe has knowingly placed himself, his wife, and his small child in danger. If John Doe’s service to the United States were to become fully known in Iraq, he would likely be killed by persons opposed to the United States and to the Iraqis who have assisted the United States.

He applied as a refugee in 2010:

John Doe first sought protection from the U.S. Government through his application for emigration to the United States with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

On April 8, 2010, John Doe requested to be added to his sister’s USRAP application out of fear for his own safety after members of his family were threatened and physically assaulted because of their work for the U.S. Government. John Doe provided all necessary documentation and took all steps necessary for his USRAP application, including attending his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interview. On September 22, 2010, he was notified that his case was deferred and would continue to be processed. Despite continued assurances that his case is being processed, John Doe has yet to receive a decision on his USRAP application. As of the filing of this complaint, it has been over five years and four months since John Doe first submitted his USRAP application. Over five years have elapsed since John Doe attended his DHS interview. In addition, it has now been over four years and eleven months since John Doe was notified that his application was deferred for further processing.

He also applied under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program in 2012:

Finding himself with a deferred USRAP application and with no indication that he would receive a timely response to the application, John Doe sought to avail himself of the protections offered by the SIV program. On August 11, 2012, John Doe’s wife submitted on behalf of herself and John Doe all documents needed to obtain Chief of Mission Approval (COM Approval). COM Approval was granted on June 17, 2013, and John Doe submitted all necessary documentation for the SIV application (the SIV Application) on August 15, 2013. On November 19, 2013, John Doe attended his visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.

As of the filing of this Complaint, it has been over three years since John Doe first filed his papers for COM Approval. Over two years have elapsed since John Doe submitted his SIV Application materials. In addition, it has now been over one year and nine months since John Doe completed his interview, the final step in his application process.

John Doe has exhausted efforts to work with Defendants to receive a timely decision on his SIV Application. Following repeated requests for information concerning his application, John Doe has been told by the U.S. Embassy on several occasions that his case remains in “additional administrative processing” and that no estimate of how long it will take to complete such processing can be provided.

Defendants’ substantial delay in processing John Doe’s SIV Application is not only unreasonable, but egregious-particularly given the dangerous situation faced by John Doe. Each day that John Doe remains in Iraq leaves him in mortal danger. This danger increases by the day as the security situation in Iraq deteriorates. Additionally, John Doe’s wife and child who have been issued SIVs-plan to travel to the United States on October 5, 2015 in advance of the November 4, 2015 expiration of their visas. By failing to make a decision on John Doe’s SIV application, Defendants have created another hardship for John Doe in forcing him to be left behind and separated from his wife and young child.

The court filing says that given the urgency of John Doe’s situation, and because Defendants have been unresponsive to John Doe’s repeated requests that his SIV Application be decided, John Doe has no choice but to seek relief from this Court compelling Defendants to adjudicate his SIV application.

If this is what happened to an Iraqi refugee who helped with USG reconstruction efforts in Iraq, what can other Iraqi and Syrian refugees expect with their resettlement hope in the United States?

And since you’ve read this far, do read Phil Klay’s response to the refugee crisis.  He  served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq during the 2007 and 2008 surge. He is the author of Redeployment, which won the National Book Award for fiction in 2014. He tweeted his powerful reaction to the congressional news today. In one of them Klay wrote, “It’s only during frightening times when you get to find out if your country really deserves to call itself the ‘home of the brave.'”


Ladies & Gentlemen, Your Next Ambassadors to the Best of Europe

Posted: 1:40 am EDT



Democrats vs Republicans at Benghazi Committee: Pew, Pew, Pew, Tzing! Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

Posted: 6:52 pm EDT



On October 7, Chairman Gowdy wrote a 13-page letter to Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee (see pdf).  On October 18, Rep. Cummings responded with a 2-page letter stating that the alleged classified information in a Blumenthal email dated March 18, 2011, was not in fact classified, and was redacted by Gowdy himself.  That email is available to read here (pdf); note the absence of redaction codes.  On October 18,  responded to ’ letter on whether that Libya source was classified info in his letter here (pdf).

The Democrats charged that the Select Committee “has never held a single hearing with anyone from the Department of Defense in 17 months, and the Select Committee has conducted nearly ten times as many interviews of State Department employees than Defense Department employees (39 compared to 4).” 

The report says that the Committee has conducted a total of 54 transcribed interviews and depositions to date. Previous congressional committees and the independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) had already spoken to 23 of these individuals. The actual number of “new” interviews is 31 according to the Democrats contradicting the “50 interviews” apparently cited by Mr. Gowdy.

Going by the report, below is a list of 31 people interviewed by the Committee. We note that that are no DOD or CIA folks included here, only State Department people:

  • 1: State Department Chief of Staff State Department Chief of Staff from 2009 until February 1, 2013
  • 2: Senior Watch Officer in the Diplomatic Security Command Center from 2011 to 2013
  • 3: Principal Officer who served in Benghazi in the fall of 2012
  • 4: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the summer and fall of 2012
  • 5: Principal Officer who served in Benghazi in the summer and fall of 2012
  • 6: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the summer of 2012
  • 7: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring and summer of 2012
  • 8: Principal Officer who served in Benghazi in the spring and summer of 2012
  • 9:  diplomatic security agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2012
  • 10: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2012
  • 11: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the winter and spring of 2012
  • 12: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the winter of 2012
  • 13: Principal Officer who served in Benghazi in the fall and winter of 2011-2012
  • 14: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the fall and winter of 2011
  • 15: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the fall of 2011
  • 16: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2011
  • 17: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2011
  • 18: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2011
  • 19: Diplomatic Security Agent who served in Benghazi in the spring of 2011
  • 20: Post Management Officer for Libya from 2011 through June 2012
  • 21: Communications Officer for the State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from the fall of 2008 to the present
  • 22: U.S. Ambassador to Libya from December 2008 until May 2012
  • 23: U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations from July 2010 until July 2013
  • 24: U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya from 2009 until June 15, 2012
  • 25: Deputy to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from July 2011 until September 2014
  • 26: Contracting Officer in the State Department Office of Acquisitions starting in May of 2012
  • 27: Executive Secretariat Director of Information Resources Management who served from spring of 2008 until November of 2012
  • 28: Chief of the Records and Archives Management Division from fall of 2014 to the present
  • 29: Spokesperson in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2011 through 2013
  • 30: A speechwriter for Secretary Clinton
  • 31: A speechwriter for Secretary Clinton

Here’s one thrown over by WaPo’s Pinocchios:

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.44.45 AM

Here’s one who was a student in Cairo in 2011:

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.49.30 AM

Here’s one who wasn’t at the State Department anymore at the time of the incident:

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.14.07 AM

Here’s one who says “I don’t know of anything.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.50.17 AM

Boy! Who wrote these questions? A secretary of state “ordering” a secretary of defense?  What universe is that?

Who signed off on the April 2012 cable “denying security resources to Libya?” Can these congressional folks really be this ignorant? Every cable that goes out must have clearance. They all include the name or names of draftee/s and the names of the clearing and approving officials. How could a DS agent in Benghazi know if the secretary of state in WashDC “personally” signed off on any cable? And are these folks really ignorant of the hierarchical structure of the State Department? Or are they purposely ignorant because reality is not sexy enough to blow up?

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 2.45.38 PM

New hearings, please, on the topic of what can be done so politicians grow a conscience instead of playing offense/defense when they search for the “truth” — the kind where we don’t have to wrap the word “truth” in air quotes.

The former deputy director of the CIA writes that “The State Department facility in Benghazi has been widely mischaracterized as a US consulate. In fact it was a Temporary Mission Facility (TMF), a presence that was not continuously staffed by senior personnel and that was never given formal diplomatic status by the Libyan government. The CIA base—because it was physically separate from the TMF—was simply called “the Annex.” [….] CIA does not provide physical security for State Department operations. Why so few improvements were made at the TMF, why so few State Department security officers were protecting the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, why they allowed him to travel there on the anniversary of 9/11, and why they allowed him to spend the night in Benghazi are unclear. I would like to know the conversations that took place between Stevens and his security team when the ambassador decided to go visit Benghazi on 9/11/12. These were all critical errors.

Well, the temporary mission did not issue visas, nor had a consular officer tasked with providing citizen services. The State Department must have had another mission, what was it?  To lend cover to the “Annex”? If there was no State Department temporary mission in Benghazi, would the CIA have had an outpost there? How many people from the CIA did this Committee talked to? What the frack were they thinking when they interviewed UN personnel and speechwriters but not interview the spooks?

Or could it be that State was there for a very simple reason — the need for a reporting outpost? Click here (pdf) for the Action Memo from the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau (NEA) to the Under Secretary for Management (M) requesting approval for the continued operation of the U.S. presence in Benghazi through the end of calendar year 2012. That’s why there was a “tent” and not a fortress.  The memo was approved in December 2011.

Also see the email chain in this document collection (pdf) on Diplomatic Security coverage and the “Banghazi Plan;” RSO Eric Nordstrom’s emails are clear enough, the status of Benghazi post was undefined and Diplomatic Security did not want to devout resources to it.  NEA wanted to be there, why?  DS did not want to put resources there, why? The email from Shawn P. Crowley, the Principal Officer in Benghazi from January-March 2012 is also instructive.  Plenty of lessons there, but folks are not seriously looking, why?


Obama Nominees: A Work Around the Republican Senate? Call Your Senate Besties!

Posted: 2:39 am EDT


Politico writes that Tom Cotton, the freshman Republican senator from Arkansas has indefinitely stalled ambassadorial nominees to Sweden, Norway and the Bahamas — a former White House counsel, plus two Obama campaign bundlers — until the administration investigates the Secret Service’s misconduct.

It’s not just Cotton holding up nominations. Republican senators such as Ted Cruz, John McCain and Chuck Grassley are deploying the tactic at an unprecedented level in their ongoing war with the White House. Right now, eight ambassadorial nominees are waiting on the Senate floor to be confirmed, and more than 100 other nominations are languishing in committee.
It’s a historic battle with the president that’s likely to continue as Obama marches toward the end of his presidency with minimal relations with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Faced with such resolute opposition from the GOP, there are signs that the White House isn’t eager to push more high-ranking nominees to the Senate.
[F]or dozens of other nominees hoping to serve Obama for his last 15 months, there’s no way to work around the Republican Senate. Currently, there are about 60 nominees awaiting floor action, and more than twice that waiting for committee approval.






The Senate did confirm a few nominees for the State Department last week (see Senate Confirmations: Tamlyn, Hawkins, Gilmour, Nolan, Alsup, Rubinstein, Amato, Mendelson), mostly career appointees.  However, the senate hold, includes not just political appointees but even midlevel career appointees snared in this logjam (see Senators Grassley and Cotton Now Have 25 @StateDept Nominations Glued Down, and Going Nowhere).

With less than a hundred days to go, some of these nominees will potentially time out this year and would have to be renominated.  Some of those on the list have already been renominated once before, we can’t imagine they’d be willing to put their lives on hold just waiting around indefinitely.  If they do get renominated and get confirmation,  they’ll have several months on the job before they have to submit their resignation after the November 2016 presidential election.

Who wants to move household in February 2016 only to pack out and move household again in December or January 2017? This would be true particularly for political appointees but they may not care as long as they get to posts.  However, career appointees would not be exempted from this disruption either if they are destined for posts high on the wish list of the 2017 political appointees.

Career diplomats are typically allowed to serve their full tours even if there is a change of administration.  But all appointees serve at the pleasure of the president, so 2017 will be another year of embassy staffing disruption and personnel movement for top ranking career diplomats will be in the stars.





Related post:

The Tyranny of the Timepiece : Senate Rules Obstruct Voting to a Degree that Wounds Our Government (pdf)

The Logic of Collective Inaction: Senatorial Delay in Executive Nominations, American Journal of Political Science (for fee access).

Ex-Staffer Pours Fuel to the Benghazi Select Committee House Fire

Posted: 5:18 pm EDT
Updated: October 11, 3:26 pm EDT





Several days ago, before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the speaker’s race, he did this:


CNN reports that Major Bradley Podliska, an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve who describes himself as a conservative Republican, told CNN that the committee trained its sights almost exclusively on Clinton after the revelation last March that she used a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Podliska served nearly 10 months on the committee before he was fired in late June.  According to CNN, Podliska plans to file the lawsuit next month after a 30-day mediation phase required under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act passes. The spokesperson for the House Select Committee for Benghazi has released a 5-paragaraph statement in response to the ex-staffer’s allegation.

Major Bradley Podliska’s exclusive TV interview with CNN will air Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Updated, PowerPoint as obsession:


Abolish the State Department? Really? Should we pretend to freak out now or later?

Posted: 12:17 am EDT


The GOP candidates have been trying to out-crazy each other under the shadow of the Trump circus canopy. Cruz would like to “abolish the IRS; take all 125,000 IRS agents, and put them on our southern border.” The same candidate would also like to get rid of the Department of Education.  Paul asks in a video on the website that supporters sign a petition to have Congress also eliminate the IRS. At least seven candidates want to end “birthright citizenship” under the 14th Amendment, which grants everyone born in the United States of America the right of citizenship. Jindal suggested abolishing the Supreme Court. Carson suggested eliminating the Department of Veterans Affairs. Before suspending his campaign, Walker proposed scrapping the National Labor Relations Board, eliminating public employee unions and making right-to-work the national standard for workplaces.

Last week, a former United States Senator representing Pennsylvania, the one with a Google problem, added his voice to the “abolish this or that” crowd. Mr. Santorum was a GOP presidential candidate in 2011; he suspended his campaign in April 2012. This past May, Mr. Santorum announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election. Apparently, Mr. Santorum now has a two-campaign cycle dream of abolishing the U.S. Department of State.

Who knew?



What else did this smart potato say?



Can you hear him? No?

Apologies for the glitches, it sound like he does not like the State Department because employees there spend way too much time talking to foreigners?  Maybe they speak way too many foreign languages and not enough American?  American officials also wear strange shoes and un-American clothes, is that it? Ay, caramba! Oooh, do not/do not show him the fantastic headgears, you, internationalists, you!

Here are Santorum’s specific complaints according to BuzzFeed:

“I said that when I ran four years ago — the first thing I’d do is abolish the State Department and start all over.”

“I have to tell you, I dealt with them for 12 years, I was on the committees that had a lot of interaction with them, and, you know, not that there aren’t a few good people in there,” Santorum continued. “I’m sure there are really good, dedicated public — but look, it’s just, they are a bunch of internationalists who do not look after the interests of the United States. They don’t look at the world from the standpoint of the United States and our principles being the ones that are the best.”

“They’re relativists, they’re internationalists, and they are not serving the interests of the American people,” Santorum concluded.

“It’s like, if all the tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” Santorum said. “Every problem that the State Department has, the answer is diplomacy. Why? Because if it’s not diplomacy, they don’t have a job.

“And so the answer is never to do anything, the answer is always to appease, to talk,” he continued. “I mean, I’m sure that they, that John Kerry, they’re just having the greatest love-fest over at the State Department right now, because they got a deal!

You guys are having a love-fest and you did not invite us … please send photos?!

Two candidates have already suspended their campaigns but Mr. Santorum’s campaign for some reason appears to still be chugging along. We imagine that his candidacy will fold sooner than later. But it looks like he is unable, as yet, to accept the unbearable inevitability of his short campaign life.

So okay, let’s see who else he plans to abolish with brain waves next week. Then we’ll pretend to freak out.


FASTC Hard Skills Training Center: “Who owes who favors?”

Posted: 12:19 am EDT


On September 9, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (HOGR) held a hearing to examine the efforts to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel and assets in northern Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexican border (see HOGR Hearing: Violence on the Border, Keeping U.S. Personnel Safe).  There were questions about danger pay, security, local guard pay, planned facilities, hardship posts, staffing and yes, a congressman did suggest that we close our consulates in Mexico.

During the hearing, one congressman also showed up to beat up DS A/S Gregory Starr about the FASTC hard skills training center set to be built at Fort Pickett. The congressman from Georgia, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-1)wanted to know why the OMB has not released its report on this politically contentious project that has been going on for years.  Um… probably because it’s not Diplomatic Security’s report to release? What the congressman from Georgia probably really want to ask is why the heck is the State Department building a training facility  in Fort Pickett, VA, didn’t everybody know that FLETC in Glynco, GA is the best facility there is?  We did not see the representatives from the VA delegation, probably because this was a hearing related to border posts.  Not sure, the congressman was really interested in the answers to the questions he asked. He told Mr. Starr to “go back and compare the two sites.” We wonder how many times Diplomatic Security has to go back and compare these two sites. Until all the congressional delegates are happy with it?  Did he ask other questions about the border posts? Must have missed that.

The Skeptical Bureaucrat recently did a piece on the FASTC:

To review the situation, the administration wishes to construct a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) that would consolidate ‘hard skills’ training by the State Department and its partners at Fort Pickett in southside Virginia. Some members of Congress are trying to stop the project, ostensibly on grounds of economic efficiency, and would require the State Department to use the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia for hard skills training. Both sides are currently awaiting the public release of a General Accountability Organization (GAO) report that evaluates the business case for building FASTC at Fort Pickett.

This week the Progress-Index, a local newspaper in the Fort Pickett area, interviewed and quoted a senior Diplomatic Security Service official for an article about the political impasse over FASTC. Well, hum, that’s interesting. I presume the senior official had gotten official clearance to make those remarks. I further presume that State gets to review the expected GAO report before it goes public. Putting 2 + 2 together, I wonder whether DS is signalling with the interview that it knows the GAO will support building FASTC at Fort Pickett?

Here’s the article, Report could speed up diplomatic training center at Fort Pickett:

State Department officials are hoping a soon-to-be released report will help end wrangling in Congress that has delayed construction on a diplomatic security training center at a National Guard base in Virginia.

Construction on the first phase of the facility at Fort Pickett, just over the Dinwiddie County border, was set to begin Aug. 1 with a completion date set for 2019. State Department officials have put that work on hold while they respond to Congressional requests for information.

The State Department stands by its selection of Fort Pickett, saying its proximity to Washington, D.C., and rural location would allow it to conduct around-the-clock military-style training. The site is also within driving distance of Marine bases in Virginia and North Carolina that State Department personnel train with, as well as Navy special warfare forces that are stationed in Virginia Beach.

Stephen Dietz, executive director of the State Department’s bureau of diplomatic security, said the Marines have told him that they can’t afford to travel to Georgia for State Department training. He said the cost estimates for the southeastern Georgia site [FLETC} only have to do with construction, and don’t include operation, maintenance or travel costs for State Department, military or intelligence agency personnel. 

Read TSB’s  Possible Tip-Off About FASTC Hard Skills Training Center at Fort Pickett?

The report cited by TSB also has a quotable quote from Mayor Billy Coleburn of Blackstone, Virginia who has been looking forward to as many as 10,000 people coming through for State Department training each year:

“If you’re banking your hopes on common sense and consensus in Washington, D.C., you stay up late at night worrying,” said Mayor Billy Coleburn. “Who owes who favors? Who gets browbeaten behind the scenes. Those are things we can only imagine — what happens in smoke-filled rooms in Washington, D.C?”

We can’t imagine those things. Nope.

What we’ve learned from this hearing is that Congress is really worried about the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas. Until it’s not.

So far, it has not been able to get its act together on a project that’s the center of a long standing tug-of-war between politicians. For sure, there will be another hearing. And another. And another.

It certainly is interesting to watch these congressional hearings where our elected reps demonstrate their deep understanding of the issues bubbling with barely hidden agendas. Can we please start sending these folks to Crash and Bang training?  Also, Channel 9 has Survivor Matamoros Nuevo Laredo, all 9 square miles of the city you’re allowed to go  is also accessible on Channel 9, any volunteers?

Anybody out there know what’s happening to the GAO report?


Congressional Drama Features Ex-Clinton IT Staffer Bryan Pagliano, Good Excuse to Check Your PLI Coverage

Posted: 5:27 am EDT
Updated: 3:03 pm EDT


Bryan Pagliano worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and reportedly helped manage her server at that time. When Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, Pagliano got a job at the State Department.  This report citing public federal records says that he was classified as a GS-15 in his job as a special advisor and deputy chief information officer at the State Department. He earned around $140,000 per year from 2010-2012.  He was also reportedly paid personally by the Clintons to continue managing the private server from 2009 to 2013.

The State Department confirmed on September 3, that Mr. Pagliano was employed by the State Department from May 2009 through February 2013 as an IT specialist, and that he currently serves as a contractor working in the Bureau of Information Resource Management (State/IRM). The State Department also said that it was not consulted on Mr. Pagliano’s decision to take the 5th.   “He has pleaded the Fifth, so to speak. It’s certainly not an admission of guilt, as we all know, but it’s his constitutional right, so we respect that,” the official spokesperson said.

That’s not the end of it, of course. The House Select Committee on Benghazi is reportedly requiring Mr. Pagliano’s presence, which prompted a stern letter Wednesday from Pagliano’s lawyer, who accused the panel and its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), of engaging in political theater and abusing its subpoena power, according to the Washington Post. Politico also has a report today noting that Pagliano’s lawyer, Mark MacDougall has said in a letter to two congressional panels that he did not ask any Congressional committees for immunity, but “in the event that any committee of the Congress” does authorize such a judicial order, “Mr. Pagliano will, of course, comply with such an order.”

Even if you’re in no danger of getting snared in the Clinton controversies, isn’t this case a good reminder to review one’s Professional Liability Insurance coverage? PLI covers not just admin and disciplinary matters, but also congressional and OIG investigations. For eligible employees, the State Department regulations allow the reimbursement of up to 50% of PLI cost (see 3 FAM 3840 – pdf).













Kerry Appoints Retired Diplomat Janice Jacobs as @StateDept’s “Email Czar”

Posted: 1:44 pm EDT
Updated: 7:08 pm EDT
Updated: Sept 9, 6:07 pm EDT

Via CNN:

Secretary of State John Kerry has tapped a former career diplomat as an “email czar” to coordinate the State Department response to the myriad of document requests mostly related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which have strained the department’s resources, officials familiar with the appointment tell CNN.

Janice Jacobs will serve as Kerry’s State Department’s Transparency Coordinator, charged with responding to Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests faster and more efficiently and improving the State Department systems for keeping records.



A career diplomat, Janice Jacobs previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs from June 2008 to April 2014. She retired from the Foreign Service in April 2014 (see Asst Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs to Retire Effective April 3). According to the State Department spokesperson, Ambassador Jacobs will will report directly to the Secretary and to Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, the deputy for management and resources. She won’t be embedded in a bureau but the State Department will “make sure that she has the administrative support that she needs to do her job.”  According to the spox, the plan going forward is that Ambassador Jacobs will have “regular meetings with both Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and the Secretary on a consistent, frequent basis to talk about what she’s learning, recommendations she wants to make. And then as the IG comes back with recommendations it intends to make, she will be responsible for helping the Department implement those. “

Secretary Kerry released the following statement on Ambassador Jacobs’ appointment:

Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador Janice Jacobs as the State Department’s Transparency Coordinator, charged with improving document preservation and transparency systems.

Ambassador Jacobs will lead Departmental efforts to meet the President’s Managing Government Records Directive, to respond to recommendations from the review I asked the Department’s Inspector General to launch earlier this year, and to work with other agencies and the private sector to explore best practices and new technologies. I have also asked her to focus on improving our systems for responding to Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests faster and more efficiently.

As I have repeatedly made clear, we have a fundamental obligation to document the conduct of U.S. foreign policy and to produce our records in response to requests from the public and Congress. Our records, and our ability to share them, serve as testament to our commitment to transparency and open government. I take very seriously that responsibility, and so does everyone else at the State Department.

I am grateful for the work being done by scores of people across the Department who continue to support the unprecedented number of requests we are facing — a three-fold increase in Freedom of Information requests alone since 2008 or the numerous requests for information from members of Congress.

However, it is clear that our systems and our resources are straining to keep pace with the growing number of records we create and the expanding demand for access to them. It is time to take further action. I want the Department to lead on these issues, to set and achieve a new standard for our efforts, and harness new technological tools in order to meet our commitments. To reach that goal, we must think boldly and creatively. As we enhance our records management system, we also intend to fundamentally improve our ability to respond to requests for our records.

Ambassador Jacobs is exactly the right person for this job. She not only has a distinguished record of service in the State Department, but she also has a track record of successfully leading critical reform efforts: she reorganized the Visa Office after 9/11 and reformed how the Department engages with law enforcement and intelligence communities to share information. As my Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, she also led efforts to meet the Administration’s new visa issuance goals. She is a proven leader who knows how to run large organizations and produce results.

I am grateful she has agreed to take this on. She will have not only my full support, but that of the Department as well.


September 9, 2015


According to Politico, the State Department spokesperson, John Kirby expressed some indignance that Jacobs — a career foreign service officer — was being faulted for a political donation she made, especially after leaving the government.

“This is the United States of America. It’s a democracy. People are allowed to do these kinds of things,” Kirby said. “That’s a very bad place to be if we’re going to start criticizing people for campaign contributions that they make in their private time, in retirement no less. I just don’t think that’s the place we want to be as a country.”

Read more of that here.


Who signed off on Secretary Clinton having a private server? Over there – go fetch!

Posted: 1:19 am EDT

DPB, September 1, 2015

QUESTION: But do you know who signed off on her having a private server?

MR TONER: Who signed off on her? I don’t, no.

QUESTION: I mean —

QUESTION: Did anybody?

MR TONER: Again, I’m not going to answer that question. I’m not going to litigate that question from the podium.

QUESTION: So you’re saying that nobody signed off on her having a private server?

MR TONER: No. I’m saying – look, everyone – there were – people understood that she had a private server. I think we’ve talked about that in the past.

QUESTION: What level was that knowledge? How high did that go up in this building?

MR TONER: I mean, you’ve seen from the emails. You have an understanding of people who were communicating with her, at what level they were communicating at, so —

QUESTION: Was there anybody in this building who was against the Secretary having her own private server?

MR TONER: I can’t answer that. I can’t.

QUESTION: And just —

MR TONER: I mean, I don’t have the history, but I also don’t have – I don’t have the authority to speak definitively to that.


MR TONER: Again, these are questions that are appropriate, but appropriate for other processes and reviews.

QUESTION: But not the State Department? She was the Secretary of State and —

MR TONER: No, I understand what you’re asking. But frankly, it’s perfectly plausible – and I talked a little bit with Arshad about this yesterday – is for example, we know that the State IG is – at the Secretary’s request – is looking at the processes and how we can do better and improve our processes. And whether they’ll look at these broader questions, that’s a question for them.
QUESTION: So last opportunity here: You don’t know who signed off on Secretary Clinton having her own server?

MR TONER: Again, I don’t personally, but I don’t think it’s our – necessarily our responsibility to say that. I think that that’s for other entities to look at.


Holy Molly Guacamole!

See here? I don’t have enough fingers to count the verbal calisthenics the public is subjected to these days from the official podium of the oldest executive agency in the union.

He’s just doing his job, like … what would you do?

Pardon me? You’re embarrassed, too? Well, I suggest wearing a brown paper bag when watching the Daily Press Briefing from now on.

Are we ever going to reach a point when the career folks at the State Department will say “Enough, I’m not doing this anymore?

Hard to say. Hard to say. Although that did happen in Season 1, Episode 15 of Madam Secretary, so there is a clear precedent.