Category Archives: UN

Today at the SFRC: Crocker (IO), Lawson (ICAO), Wood (USCD)

– Domani Spero

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding its confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nominees for  the International Organization AffairsInternational Civil Aviation Organization and the Conference on Disarmament .

Presiding: Senator Markey
Date: Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Time: 03:00 PM
Location: Senate Dirksen 419

Webcast:

This hearing is scheduled to be live webcast. Please return to this page to view the hearing live or see the nominees’ prepared statements.

Nominees:

  • Ms. Bathsheba Nell Crocker
    of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Bathsheba N. Crocker is the Principal Deputy Director in the Office of Policy Planning at the Department of State (DOS), a position she has held since 2011.  Previously at DOS, she served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State from 2009 to 2011.  From 2008 to 2009, Ms. Crocker was a Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer for International Affairs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  She was the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support at the UN Peacebuilding Support Office from 2007 to 2008.  From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Crocker was the Deputy Chief of Staff to the UN Special Envoy at the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.  Ms. Crocker worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project as a Fellow and Co-Director from 2003 to 2005 and as an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2002 to 2003.  Ms. Crocker was an Attorney-Adviser for the Office of the Legal Advisor at DOS from 2001 to 2002 and from 1997 to 1999.  From 2000 to 2001, she was Deputy U.S. Special Representative for Southeast Europe Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy.  From 1999 to 2000, Ms. Crocker was Executive Assistant to the Deputy National Security Advisor for the National Security Council at the White House.  She has served as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, and American University.  Ms. Crocker received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. (Via)

  • Mr. Michael Anderson Lawson 
    of California, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization

Michael Anderson Lawson is the immediate past President of the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners.  He has been a member of the Board of Airport Commissioners since 2005 and held the position of President of the Commission since 2011.  From 1980 to 2011, he practiced law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP where he served as partner since 1995.  From 1978 to 1980, he was a staff attorney at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.  Mr. Lawson is a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College, Loyola Marymount University, The Advancement Project, the Music Center at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, the California State Teachers Retirement System Board, and the Community Redevelopment Agency Oversight Board for the City of Los Angeles.  Mr. Lawson received a B.A. from Loyola University in Los Angeles and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. (Via)

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Filed under Congress, FSOs, Hearings, Nominations, Obama, Officially In, Political Appointees, SFRC, State Department, U.S. Missions, UN, Uncategorized

If True That Foreign Diplomats in the U.S. Are “Eligible” for Medicaid — That’s Absolutely Bonkers!

– Domani Spero

In early December, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced charges against 49 current or former Russian diplomats or spouses of diplomats employed at the Russian Mission in the United States for participating in a widespread fraud scheme from 2004 to August 2013 to illegally obtain nearly
$1.5 million dollars in Medicaid benefits. (See 49 Russian Diplomats/Spouses Charged With Picking Uncle Sam’s Pocket in Medicaid Scam).

On December 6, during the Daily Press Briefing, the State Department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf said this:

“We routinely inform all foreign missions in the U.S. – most recently we did this in November – that we expect their personnel to maintain health insurance coverage. So under U.S. law, nonimmigrants, which diplomats fall under in this case, who meet certain eligibility criteria may apply for and receive federally funded medical care.”

Whaaat?!

Lest we get all excited, this is the same spokesperson, of course, who could not say what appropriate consular assistance is provided when an American citizen dies abroad.  Or who says from the podium that “It’s not for any State Department official to sign off on any arrests, right, even regarding a foreign diplomat.”  Whoops!  (We heard that the Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service toppled over in their swivel chairs when the clip aired on YouTube).

Then on December 14, UPI reported that “Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “some of the diplomats accused of glomming on to the U.S. healthcare system were actually entitled to do so.”

Entitled to do so?  As in  a legal right or a just claim to receive it?

On December 16, Interfax also reported that Moscow is “already taking disciplinary measures in relation to the Russian diplomats accused in the U.S. of unlawfully receiving Medicaid benefits to cover the pregnancy and childbirth costs.”

The report quotes Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov saying, “This is a disciplinary offence, because, by being insincere in filing applications and citing inaccurate figures to receive some benefits, they violated the host country’s norms and rules, which a diplomat has no right to do. I’d like to stress once again: they are being subjected and will be subjected to disciplinary action.”  Now, the same report repeats this notion that some of the Russian diplomats were “entitled” to apply for such assistance due to their low income:

“We have looked into this. First, the allegation that none of them was entitled to this because they are foreigners is wrong. There are different laws in various states of the U.S. that allow for using Medicaid benefits by foreigners. Second, it is not quite true that the Russian diplomats’ incomes did not make them eligible for receiving such payments through Medicaid,” he said.

“We have studied the files of the said colleagues, and it turned out that at least some of them had salaries that entitled them to apply for such assistance from the U.S. fund at that moment. 

How bonkers is that?  That American taxpayers are subsidizing the health care cost of foreign diplomats in the United States.  Which part of this makes sense? Medicaid is a federally funded program designed to assist low-income families afford health care. And in this case, if the allegations are true, Russian diplomats took public assistance that would have been  helpful to low income Americans.

The big question now is — can we also call this foreign aid?

Screen Shot 2013-12-26

Extracted from Medicaid Renewal Form
(click image for larger view)

Now Congress wants to know Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is going on here. The SFRC is missing on this but U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently expressed “serious concern about foreign diplomats receiving, and reportedly defrauding, U.S. Government-funded benefits programs.” In his letter to Secretary Kerry, Chairman Royce requested a meeting plus written answers to the following questions:

1.      How will the Administration treat the 11 named defendants who, according to the U.S. Attorney, remain in the United States?  Will you ask the Russian government to waive their immunity so that they can be prosecuted?  If not, will the Department declare them persona non grata?

2.      How will the Administration treat the 38 named defendants who, according to the U.S. Attorney, no longer reside in the United States?  Will you request that they be extradited to stand trial?  If not, will the Department impose a U.S. visa ban on them?

3.      How will the Administration treat the unindicted co-conspirators at Russian diplomatic offices in the U.S. who allegedly advised and assisted the named defendants by supplying false documentation to New York officials in support of the fraudulent Medicaid claims?

4.      Will the Administration bill the Russian government for the Medicaid benefits its personnel fraudulently used?  If not, how will New York State’s Medicaid program be compensated for the loss?

5.      On December 5, 2013, Department of State Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “We are still…reviewing the charges that were unsealed.”  How closely did the U.S. Attorney, Department of Justice, or Federal Bureau of Investigation cooperate with the Department of State during the investigation?  What steps did the U.S. Attorney take to coordinate with the Department of State before filing the complaint on November 18, 2013 or unsealing it on December 5, 2013?

This situation also raises a number of important questions about government programs that provide benefits to foreign diplomats.  I therefore would appreciate written answers to the following questions not later than January 13, 2014:

6.      On December 6, 2013, Department of State Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf stated that foreign diplomats in the United States “who meet certain eligibility criteria may apply for and receive federally funded medical care.”  What are the medical programs for which foreign diplomats may be eligible?  What are the eligibility criteria?  Over the last 10 years, how many foreign diplomats have used these programs?  What was the total cost of the benefits provided?  Please provide these data sorted by foreign diplomatic mission or international organization.

7.      Are foreign diplomats eligible for government-funded benefits other than Medicaid (e.g., Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)?  If so, which programs and what are the eligibility criteria?  Over the last 10 years, how many foreign diplomats have taken advantage of these programs?  What was the total cost of the benefits provided?  Please provide these data sorted by foreign diplomatic mission or international organization.

8.      Is the Administration aware of other cases where foreign diplomats fraudulently or inappropriately obtained Medicaid or other government-funded benefits?  Please provide the details of these cases, including the cost of any benefits that were inappropriately obtained.

9.      What is the Administration doing to ensure that foreign diplomats cannot inappropriately obtain government-funded benefits in the future?  Has the Administration asked relevant government benefit agencies to check their rolls for the names of foreign diplomats?  Does the Department regularly provide a list of foreign diplomats to relevant government benefit agencies?

And — if some foreign diplomats in the United States are “eligible” for Medicaid, how about some of their underpaid domestic workers, are they eligible, too?

Oh, for god’s sakes, maybe the State Department should just publish a handbook of freebies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Congress, Diplomacy, Diplomatic Immunity, Diplomatic Life, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Assistance, Foreign Service, Govt Reports/Documents, Hall of Shame, Huh? News, Leaks|Controversies, State Department, UN

Snapshot: Top 10 State Department Assistance Recipients FY2013

Via USASpending.gov

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 11.41.51 AM

👀

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Filed under Follow the Money, Foreign Assistance, Govt Reports/Documents, Snapshots, State Department, UN

All Susan All the Time — Foggy Bottom’s Hallway Conversation?

The Daily Beast has a new addition to the Susan Rice, please let this be over story already. It’s titled, Susan Rice’s Personality ‘Disorder’.  Is it just us or are folks trying to outdo themselves with their Susan headlines?  We fear that the longer this runs, the more outrageous the headlines will be; so they’ll get our attention despite cruising towards some darn cliff, of course.  While it is not surprising that this is a hallway conversation over in Foggy Bottom, we’re still struck by this: (excerpt):

George W. Bush, had flouted longstanding tradition and downgraded the U.N. job to sub-cabinet status, but President Obama restored it to cabinet rank for Rice—thus insuring intense bureaucratic rivalry between the U.S. Mission in New York and the State Department in Washington, where various career foreign-service officers view the prospect of Rice’s takeover with suspicion.

“It’s the hallway conversation,” says a longtime State Department staffer. “It’s like, Jesus Christ, woe unto us all if this happens!”

Indeed, Rice has apparently left a trail of bruised egos and injured feelings in the nation’s capital. A veteran of the Clinton White House recalls a junior aide being summoned by Rice, then director of Africa policy at the National Security Council, and returning to his desk in tears.

 

It’s like, Jesus Christ, must be more than just bruised egos!

How come this makes us think of our favorite resident from the Foggiest Bottom?

domani spero sig

 

 

 

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Filed under Ambassadors, Political Appointees, Politics, Secretary of State, State Department, UN

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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Filed under 2012, Elections, Politics, UN

Brett McGurk on Leadership and Fingertip Understanding of Iraq at the Senate

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) still has not put up the June 6 video and prepared testimony of Brett McGurk, President Obama’s nominee to take charge of the US Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world.  The SFRC Minority Report on Iraq says that “The administration must continue to assign its most skilled and experienced Arabist diplomats to ensure Iraq’s complex problems are considered in the broadest possible regional terms.”

But that’s only the Minority Report, and here we are.

Rumor has it that the embassy staffing will be slashed by 25% next fall, which would make it a 12,000 personnel diplomatic mission. Still the largest embassy in the world. When it will be slashed by 75% — that will be news.  Yes, do please think about it, we’ll wait here.

Map of Iraq, where Yahya ibn Umar conducted hi...

Map of Iraq (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The c-span video of the hearing is here. Don’t worry, the entire hearing for three ambassadorial nominees only lasted 1 hour and 27 minutes.  Only two Dems showed up for the show, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.  Only two GOP senators showed up for the show, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, and Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana.  So out of 19 members of the  Senate Foreign Relations Committee only four senators bothered to come in for the hearing.  We’re sure they’ll watch it on c-span like we did.

Anyway, last week, the State Department in response to inquiries about the purported McGurk emails has the following:

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, on the subject of the emails, they’re out there for everybody to see. I’m not going to get into emails between Mr. McGurk and the woman who subsequently became his wife. With regard to Mr. McGurk’s nomination, I think you know that he spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration. He is, in our view, uniquely qualified to serve as our ambassador, and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination.

Uniquely qualified? Waaaaait a minute – wasn’t that the same thing they told FSOs when they did the prime candidate exercise? Everyone who received the letter were told they were “uniquely qualified” to serve in Iraq. Even an FSO who has done all consular work and no Arabic, was “uniquely qualified” to be a political officer somewhere in Baghdad. FSO ended up going on a volunteer assignment (also known apparently as “voluntold”).  But did FSO’s boss who had political officer experience and Arabic language, who’s never been to Iraq, also get the “uniquely qualified” notice to go to Iraq?  We don’t know but boss reportedly got stuck at a desk in Foggy Bottom with a mighty glue.

Over at The Common Ills blog, a transcript of some of the Q&A during the confirmation hearing last Wednesday was posted.  Mr. McGurk’s comment is so full of shiny cliché that we thought it could stand some improvement if we turn it into freestyle rap, or could also work as a chant. The full text of this segment of Mr. McGurk’s comment is posted here.

*

Leadership of the embassy starts at home
At the embassy  
I’ve served with all five of our prior ambassadors to Iraq
I’ve seen every permentation of the embassy from the very beginning to where it is today  
I have learned and seen and been involved with what it takes to lead in Iraq

*

And to lead in Iraq
you need a really  fingertip understanding
of the operational tempo in Iraq
of what it’s like day-to-day
of knowing when something is a crisis
and when it’s not
managing morale and keeping people focused on the goals 

*

It also takes a team  
I’d be inheriting a team of extraordinary talent and depth at the embassy  
I’ve been fortunate to have worked with every member of the country team in Iraq  
That team encorporates  individuals from across the government
just a whole government approach
from Commerce to Transportation
to Treasury
to State
to the Defense Community
to the Intelligence Community

*

Key members of that team have volunteered to stay on for another year
And, if I’m confirmed, would serve with me  
As Ambassador, the buck would stop with me
I have a very clear vision —
in coordination with the President and the Secretary
– of where we need to take this mission 
But I would be working with a very strong team

He totally forgot the boss person at the regional bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) in his “clear vision–in coordination with….” part of the response.

If he is confirmed those who volunteered another year would serve with him, of course.  But they have probably volunteered before he was announced as a nominee, anyway.   If he is not confirmed, those who volunteered to serve another year, will serve with whoever the Senate confirms as the new embassy boss.

Mr. McGurk’s experience in Iraq includes serving “all five of our prior ambassadors to Iraq,” but does not include Arabic language, or experience in managing a a budget, especially that in the billions of dollars; does not include managing dozens, or hundreds of employees (even if Baghdad is “rightsized” to 12,000, that’s a long jump from managing a few people to thousands of personnel) in what is still a dangerous zone.  And he was apparently our negotiator with Iraq on retaining a residual U.S. force there, which did not happen -  so ….

Frankly, we do not know what “uniquely qualified” even means anymore or if that will be enough, whatever that is, to keep Mr. McGurk in this embassy slot.  He is a political appointee, so presumably he is a White House pick, not a State Department pick.  We’ve heard about the official support to this nomination from the State Department but have not heard anything from the WH.   More from The Cable here today, with additional doubts and questions expressed.  And fallout at the Wall Street Journal with the resignation of Ms. Chon.

In related news, somebody opened an account in Tumblr under Brett McGurk’s name –  see http://brettmcgurk.tumblr.com/ – on May 4, 2012. Sorry, no interesting notes there but one nice photo with President Bush, Ambassador Crocker and General Petreaus. Part of the description does say: “Brett McGurk possesses a wealth of knowledge and insight regarding U.S. policy in Iraq with high-level posts spanning nearly a decade between both Baghdad and Washington.”  

Okay then.  The nomination has not been scheduled for a vote in the SFRC’s website but reportedly will come up for a vote sometime next week. 

In another related news, the senior diplomat who oversaw US policy over that region in turmoil, who speaks Arabic and had actually managed more than a handful of people at an embassy and a regional bureau has finally landed at the United Nations.  On June 11, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Jeffrey D. Feltman of the United States as the top United Nations official dealing with political issues, as part of an ongoing series of changes to his senior management team initiated at the start of his second term.  The announcement says that “Mr. Feltman will replace B. Lynn Pascoe, also a US national, as the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, overseeing a department that plays a central role in UN efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflict around the world.”

Domani Spero

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Filed under Ambassadors, Ambassadorships, Congress, Iraq, Leadership and Management, Leaks|Controversies, Nominations, Quotes, SFRC, UN, US Embassy Baghdad

Say Goodbye to NEA Bureau Boss, Jeffrey Feltman

On May 22, 2012, the State Department spokesman confirmed that “Assistant Secretary Feltman has advised Secretary Clinton that he would – that he plans to retire at the end of the month and that he is going to be pursuing other opportunities.” Liz Dibble, NEA’s PDAS will reportedly be steering the ship in the interim.

Below is Jeffrey Feltman, then US Ambassador to Lebanon during the 15,000 amcit evacuation via Cyprus in 2006. Unfortunately, he’s not the most Flickr-friendly official we have and we do not have a lot of photos to share.  But he is not altogether invisible.  Click here to view a few more photos in a slideshow of the outgoing NEA boss.

Ambassador Feltman with U.S. Marine Brigadier General Carl Jensen during the evacuation of Beirut, July 2006
(photo via Wikipedia)
Click here to view slideshow

Digger of Life After Jerusalem has a nice post (would tickle FS bloggers, too) on Secretary Feltman saying, “Don’t go.”

The IG inspectors also had great things to say about him when they reviewed the bureau in May 2011:

The Assistant Secretary has served throughout the region, including as Ambassador in Lebanon, as well as principal deputy assistant secretary and acting Assistant Secretary immediately prior to his current position. He received consistently high marks from employees throughout the bureau and the Department for his knowledge of the region, his communication skills, and his genuine concern for his staff and their workload. His own grueling schedule only reinforced that appreciation.

Each Friday, the Assistant Secretary convenes an open meeting that all bureau employees and key contacts inside and outside the Department may attend. Interagency contacts praised the front office for its professionalism, transparency, and openness, saying it resulted in better communication for all sides as they work together on difficult and urgent issues.

The Assistant Secretary, DASes, and EX director take an active interest in filling the bureau’s positions with the best officers they can find. The need to fill key Iraq slots over the past 7 years has resulted in many non-NEA hands coming into the bureau. The Assistant Secretary is understandably proud of this influx of new blood. Competition for prime NEA slots remains fierce, despite the long hours.

So there, that’s why he will be missed.

We do not have confirmation for this but he is reportedly heading to the UN Secretariat as Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (DPA).  Good for him!

About where he’s going:  Established in 1992, DPA is the lead U.N. department for peacemaking and preventive diplomacy. According to the UN, the Under-Secretary-General manages the department, advises the Secretary-General on matters affecting global peace and security, carries out high-level diplomatic missions and provides guidance to peace envoys and political missions in the field.  The Under-Secretary-General also serves on the Secretary-General’s Policy Committee, the highest decision-making body within the U.N. Secretariat, and chairs the Executive Committee on Peace and Security, a high-level body for interagency and interdepartmental coordination.  In addition to its more than 250 professional and administrative staff at U.N. headquarters in New York, DPA draws from the work of political and peace-building missions under its supervision, which employ more than 1,700 national and international staff in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Sounds like an interesting gig, with all best wishes!

Domani Spero

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Filed under Ambassadors, FS Blogs, Life After Jerusalem, Regional Bureaus, Retirement, State Department, UN

State Dept’s Crocker, Feltman on May Departures … Leaving Posts in Nine Days?

AP’s Matthew Lee is reporting that Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs (NEA) who has guided U.S. policy through the tumult of the Arab Spring, plans to retire from the foreign service at the end of May and become a deputy to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. The report says that Feltman is expected to be named U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs.

Back in March 2012, Inner City Press first reported that Ambassador Feltman is slated to assume UN’s top political job currently filled by another former State Department hand, Lynn Pascoe.  Read it here.

And the Twitterverse erupted with Reuters news from Chicago that Ryan Crocker is reportedly expected to step down soon from his post as President Barack Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan. According to Reuters’ unnamed sources, “The Obama administration is considering Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham to replace Crocker when he leaves the post as early as this month.”

No one in Kabul is talking, but somebody in Chicago certainly did talk. Since both these departures are supposed to happen this month, and there’s only nine days left before we turn the calendar, we should hear about this officially very soon.

With Brett McGurk nominated for Iraq (and yet to get his confirmation hearing), Ambassador Munter leaving Islamabad this summer, and Ambassador Crocker reportedly leaving as early as this month – there will be a complete turn over of the Chiefs of Mission for our Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan (AIP) missions.

Update @ 12:43 pm ET: The US Embassy in Kabul has now confirmed via Twitter Ambassador Crocker’s departure.  NPR says that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also confirmed in an email to reporters just after 11:30 a.m. ET that Ambassador Crocker’s departure is due to “health reasons.”

CNN reports that “Crocker was appointed to the post in Kabul on July 25, 2011. The relatively short length of his service in the Afghan capital is no surprise. In recent history, American ambassadors have served similar terms.

Well, that’s not quite right. The last four ambassadors appointed to Kabul served two-year terms. During the last five ambassadorial appointments to Kabul, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a Political appointee, served for approximately 19 months. Another political appointee, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry served approximately 27 months. Ambassadors Neuman and Wood served approximately 20 and 23 months respectively.  If Ambassador Crocker is going to stick around until the “donors conference in Tokyo in July” he shall have served 12 months this time around. Ambassador Crocker was also  appointed Charge d’Affaires ad interim from Jan 2, 2002-April 3, 2002 after the reopening of the US Embassy Kabul in 2001.

Domani Spero

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Filed under Ambassadors, Regional Bureaus, Staffing the FS, State Department, UN

Officially In: David J. Lane – from the White House to UNFAO

On April 11, President Obama announced his intent to nominate David J. Lane as the next US Rep to UNFAO.  The nominee will have the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as the United States Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. The WH released the following brief bio:

David J. Lane currently serves as Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff at the White House.  From 2007 to 2011, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of ONE.  Prior to joining ONE, Mr. Lane was the Director of Public Policy and External Affairs and Director of the East Coast Office for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  From 1993 to 2000, he served in a number of senior positions in the federal government, including Executive Director of the National Economic Council at the White House and Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

He received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

WaPo’s Who Runs Gov has this to say about David Lane:

When Bill Daley took the reins as White House chief of staff in January 2011, he brought his own former chief of staff, Lane, to the West Wing to advise him. Lane came to the Washington from a job as president and CEO of ONE, an organization that fights global poverty that was co-founded by the U2 rock star Bono. “He’s astute, considered and calm,” Bono said of Lane. “His presence means a better night’s sleep for those who work with him.”

If confirmed, Mr. Lane would succeed Democratic Party official, Ertharin Cousin who was appointed to UNFAO in 2009 and recently moved on as Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Domani Spero

Related item:
April 11, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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Filed under Ambassadors, Nominations, Officially In, Political Appointees, UN

US Embassy Kinshasa Diplomat Reportedly Assaulted by Uruguayan Major in the DRC

The Laboratoire Médical de Stanleyville was si...Image via WikipediaA Nov 23 AP report carried by WaPo says that an unidentified female U.S. embassy official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has accused an Uruguayan army major stationed in the country with assault.

The report which quotes an Uruguayan official was filed from Montevideo and there does not appear to be any other source on this at this time.  Note that approximately 1300 U.N. peacekeeping troops from Uruguay are posted in the DRC. Although the news report did not indicate where the alleged assault took place, US presence in the country includes the embassy in Kinshasa and a small office in Goma, the center of the UN presence in the east.

The most recent OIG report we could find for the US Embassy in the DRC is dated 2009.  At that time, U.S. Embassy Kinshasa has 63 American direct-hire employees plus 11 personal services contract positions. The official presence in the country includes the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) located on three compounds. It is entirely possible that the staffing number is no longer accurate due to mission expansion in the last couple of years.

The OIG report also note that “Steady mission growth since 2007 has resulted in a lack of office space, and more growth is projected. Recent plans to begin construction of a NEC have now been pushed back to 2014 because of the inability to find a suitable site.”

More excerpts:

Through the U.S. presence in the city of Goma in the conflictive eastern Congo, Embassy Kinshasa is successfully advancing U.S. foreign policy interests through political and humanitarian representation, reporting, and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The Embassy has carried out an impressive effort to establish and provide administrative and security support for the U.S. presence in Goma, a presence that is likely to be necessary for the next three to five years.


There is an important need to regularize the status of the Goma location as a small, medium-term presence in order to assure the security and proper functioning of the U.S. personnel there.


As U.S. engagement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo has grown, and U.S. development assistance has resumed, the size of the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa has increased greatly and is scheduled for further growth in the next several years. Future growth of embassy program staff needs to be adjusted to the embassy’s ability to provide security and administrative services.


SECURITY

The Ambassador and the DCM recognize the importance of security in Embassy Kinshasa, and support the strong security program of the regional security officer. Because of the poor maintenance record of local airlines, the Ambassador has prohibited Embassy employees from using local carriers with resultant difficulties in getting around this large country.

U.S. PRESENCE IN GOMA

The city of Goma in eastern Congo is located a 2.5 hour flight by UN aircraft and is unreachable by any other safe transport from Kinshasa. Goma is on the border with Rwanda and close to military clashes and consequent population flights in that region. The United States has been present in Goma with temporary duty (TDY) political and humanitarian representation since October 2007 in response to the request of Democratic Republic of the Congo President Kabila to the U.S. Government. USAID humanitarian officers, a political officer, and rotating diplomatic security officers have been based full-time in Goma since November 2008. In order to diminish costs and provide a safer location, the Embassy leased, furnished, and helped secure, with Department support, a residence and small compound for these permanent officers and frequent TDY visitors.

THE STAKES AND THE TIMEFRAME

Although Goma would not be the U.S. Government’s first choice for a consulate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation in the Goma area encompasses the most significant U.S. interests and objectives in the Congo: regional and domestic stability and conflict, humanitarian assistance to the war-affected population, human rights and movements of refugees and internally displaced people. In addition to being the city closest to ongoing Rwanda/Congo military operations, Goma is the center of the UN presence in the east, and provides access through the United Nations to areas and populations affected by Ugandan operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army in the remote northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo. Goma is also a frequent stop for visiting congressional and congressional staff delegations. The Embassy estimates, and the OIG team agrees, that the United States will need a political and humanitarian presence in Goma for the next three to five years.

INSPECTION

The OIG team that visited Goma confirmed the excellent work being done by personnel there in representing U.S. interests with the UN peacekeeping mission, other diplomatic missions, local authorities and the many humanitarian nongovernmental organizations and the voluminous reporting that keeps an avid Washington and regional readership informed. The OIG team also confirmed the outstanding management and security support provided by Embassy Kinshasa in leasing, equipping, and securing a compound of two houses for the political officer and TDY personnel. The position of political officer in Goma is currently filled on a permanent basis by an officer officially assigned to Kinshasa, who receives full meals and incidental expenses in Goma. The regional security office in Kinshasa and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Washington support Goma with TDY security officers and the FY 2011 MSP proposes a new assistant regional security officer position for Goma.

GOMA OPERATIONS
During the inspection, OIG personnel traveled to Goma, met with the Goma political officer and accompanied him to a number of meetings. The officer, experienced in Africa, is Embassy Kinshasa’s senior representative vis-à-vis Congolese and international authorities in Goma. He serves as the primary reporting officer on the regional conflicts in the eastern Congo. As the eyes and ears of the U.S. Government in a conflict-torn region, he sends in daily reports to the political section in Kinshasa, which then adds its own input, puts the reports into cable format, and transmits them to Washington, thus providing hungry Washington consumers with conflict-related reporting from this extremely isolated part of the Congo. He also reports by telephone to offices in the Departments of State and Defense, as well as to other embassies in the region.

The Goma officer has forged strong bonds with UN officials, European governments, nongovernmental and religious organizations, international media, and civil authorities. He attends the UN forces daily military briefing to remain current on UN operations and has accompanied UN officials to visit conflict zones throughout eastern and northern Congo. He has provided invaluable assistance to visiting Members of Congress and Congressional staff with interest in issues related to the conflict, humanitarian assistance, refugee affairs, sexual and gender-based violence, child soldiers, and trafficking in persons. The U.S Government presence in Goma is successfully advancing U.S. foreign policy interests in the region.

OIG Report No. ISP-I-09-36A, Inspection of Embassy Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo – May 2009(pdf)

 
 
 

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