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Current Visa Sanctions: Cambodia, Guinea, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Plus The Gambia #INA243(d)

Posted: 1:38 am ET

 

We previously blogged about visa sanctions in January 2017 for countries who refused to accept their deported nationals (see On Invocation of Visa Sanctions For Countries Unwilling to Accept Their Deported Nationals. Also read @StateDept Notifies Foreign Countries of New Information Sharing Standards Required For U.S. Travel.

Note that the Trump Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States include section 12 on countries who refused to accepted their nationals who are subject to removal by the United States:

Sec. 12.  Recalcitrant Countries.  The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State shall cooperate to effectively implement the sanctions provided by section 243(d) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1253(d)), as appropriate.  The Secretary of State shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.

Read more: U.S. to Invoke Visa Sanctions For Four Countries Unwilling to Accept Deported Nationals

On September 12, the State Department released an update of its FAM guidance 9 FAM 601.12 on the “Discontinuation of Visa Issuance Under INA 243 (D).   Per 9 FAM 601.12-2(C), the following countries are currently subject to discontinuation of visa issuance under INA 243(d): Cambodia, The Gambia, Guinea, Eritrea, and Sierra Leone.

Kevin Brosnahan, the spokesperson for the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs released the following statement:

The Secretary of State has ordered consular officers in Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia to implement visa restrictions effective September 13, 2017. The Secretary determined the categories of visa applicants subject to these restrictions on a country-by-country basis. Consular operations at the U.S. embassy will continue. These visa restrictions do not affect other consular services provided, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the suspension.

The Department of State received notification under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act from the Department of Homeland Security for Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. According to that section of the law, when a country denies or unreasonably delays accepting one of its nationals, the Secretary of Homeland Security may notify the Secretary of State. The Secretary must then order consular officers in that country to discontinue issuance of any or all visas.   The Secretary determines the categories of applicants subject to the visa restrictions.

via travel.state.gov

Below are the four countries, in addition to The Gambia that are currently under visa sanctions/restrictions. With the exception of  Eritrea where the sanctions affect “Eritrean citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents,” the restrictions for the other countries are currently directed at government officials and their families.

CAMBODIA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia has discontinued issuing B1, B2, and B1/B2 visas for Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees, with the rank of Director General and above, and their families, with limited exceptions.

Under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, when so requested by the Secretary of Homeland Security due to a particular country’s refusal to accept or unreasonably delay the return of its nationals, the Secretary of State must order consular officers to suspend issuing visas until informed by the Secretary of Homeland Security that the country in question has accepted the individuals.

GUINEA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea has discontinued issuing B, F, J, and M visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate family members, with limited exceptions.

ERITREA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, 2017, the United States Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, under instructions from the Secretary of State, has discontinued the issuance of non immigrant visas for business or pleasure (B1/B2) to Eritrean citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents. The Department of State may make exceptions for travel that is in the U.S. national interest, for emergency or humanitarian travel, and other limited exceptions.

SIERRA LEONE (see full notice here)

On Wednesday, September 13, the United States Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone will discontinue the issuance of B visas (temporary visitors for business or pleasure) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and immigration officials.

Consular operations at the U.S. embassy or consulate will continue.  These visa restrictions do not affect other consular services provided, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the suspension.

THE GAMBIA (see announcement here)

The sanctions placed on The Gambia occurred last year. As of October 1, 2016, the United States Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia discontinued issuing visas to Gambian government officials, others associated with the government, and their families.  The announcement says that the Department may make exceptions for travel based on U.S. international obligations and to advance humanitarian and other U.S. government interests.

Per  FAM 601.12-3(C) (a) Public Notice of Discontinuation of Visa Issuance:  During the period of discontinuation, posts should continue receiving and adjudicating cases; however, posts should explain the discontinuation of visas to all applicants covered by the order.  The explanation should note that visas cannot generally be issued for certain visa classifications or categories of applicants as determined by the Secretary’s order, and explain that visa fees will not be refunded, but that the cases will be reviewed again once visa issuance resumes.  The notification may be provided by flyers posted in the consular section and/or on the post’s website.

All the above notices are posted under the “News/Events” section of the embassies’ websites, which is understandable, but that is also not the section that visa applicants would first look when searching for visa information. One post did not include the information on non-refundable fees.

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Dusting Off the Moscow Microwave Biostatistical Study, Have a Read

Posted: 2:40 am ET

 

CBS News Radio broke the story last month on the mysterious attacks against U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Those evaluated reportedly were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system. On September 18, CBS News citing “two sources who are familiar with the incidents” said that a top official in charge of security for the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, is among at least 21 Americans affected by mysterious attacks that have triggered a range of injuries. In a follow-up report on September 20, CBS News says this:

An internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9. The diplomats complained about symptoms ranging from hearing loss and nausea to headaches and balance disorders after the State Department said “incidents” began affecting them beginning in late 2016. A source familiar with these incidents says officials are investigating whether the diplomats were targets of a type of sonic attack directed at their homes, which were provided by the Cuban government. The source says reports of more attacks affecting U.S. embassy workers on the island continue.
[…]
At the time, Nauert said she didn’t believe the number of Americans injured was in the tens or dozens. But a source says that by the time the State Department first publicly acknowledged the attacks, it knew the reports of Americans injured had reached double-digits.

Read in full: As number of injured diplomats soared, State Dept. kept Cuba attacks secret.

Related to these mysterious attacks, also see Microwaving U.S. Embassy Moscow: Oral History From FSOs James Schumaker and William A. Brown.

For those interested in the Moscow incidents, we’ve dug up the John Hopkins and subsequent technical reports on the Moscow microwave study (abstract and links below). We understand that there is also an AFSA report prepared on the Moscow incidents but we have not been able to locate a copy.

PB288163 | Evaluation of Health Status of Foreign Service and other Employees from Selected Eastern European Posts, Abraham M. Lilienfeld, M.D., Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health The Johns Hopkins University (1978): This is a biostatistical study of 1827 Department of State employees and their dependents at the Moscow Embassy and 2561 employees and their dependents from other Eastern European Embassies. Health records, health questionnaires and death certificates were the basic information sources. The study is the impact of the Moscow environment including microwave exposure on the health status and mortality of the employees·. It was concluded that personnel working at the American Embassy in Moscow from 1953 to 1976 suffered no ill effects from the microwaves beamed at the Chancery. Excerpt:

A relatively high proportion of cancer deaths in both female employee groups was noted–8 out of 11 deaths among the Moscow and 14 out of 31 deaths among the Comparison group. However, it was not possible to find any satisfactory explanation for this, due mainly to the small numbers of deaths involved and the absence of information on many epidemiological characteristics that influence the occurrence of various types of malignant neoplasms. To summarize the mortality experience observed in the employees’ groups: there is no evidence that the Moscow group has experienced any higher total mortality or for any specific causes of death up to this time. It should be noted, however, that the population studied was relatively young and it is too early to have been able to detect long term mortality effects except for those who had served in the earliest period of the study. (p.243)
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The results of this study may well be interpreted as indicating that exposure to microwave radiation at the levels experienced at the Moscow embassy has not produced any deleterious health effects thus far. It should be clear however, that with the limitations previously discussed, any generalizations should be cautiously made. All that can be said at present is that no deleterious effects have been noted in the study population, based on the data that have been collected and analyzed. Since the group with the highest exposure to microwaves, those who were present at the Moscow embassy during the period from June 1975 to February 1976, has had only a short time for any effects to appear, it would seem desirable that this particular study population should be contacted at periodic intervals of 2 to 3 years, within the next several years in order to ascertain if any health effects would appear. Furthermore, it would be important to develop a surveillance system for deaths in the entire study population to be certain that no mortality differences occur in the future and to monitor the proportion of deaths due to malignancies, especially among the women.

There is also a need for an authoritative biophysical analysis of the microwave field that has been illuminating the Moscow embassy during the past 25 years with assessments based on theoretical considerations of the likelihood of any biological effects.

Read the full report here: PB288163. (PDF)

NTIA-SP-81-12 | The Microwave Radiation at U.S. Embassy Moscow and Its Biological Implications: An Assessment
(by NTIA/ERMAC, US Dept. of Commerce; US Dept. of State; and Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University) 1981:  This report presents the results of an assessment of the likelihood of biological effects from the microwave environment within the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, USSR, based on a retrospective analysis of that environment. It contains a description of the microwave fields and models power density distribution within the Embassy from 1966 to 1977; estimated personnel exposures as a function of work and living locations in the Embassy; and the results of an assessment of the biological implications of the type and levels of exposure described. In summary, it was concluded that no deleterious biological effects to personnel would be anticipated from the micro- wave exposures as described. Read the full report here PB83155804 (PDF).

 

Related posted:

 

 

Retired Navy Rear Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador to Estonia

Posted: 2:23 am ET

 

On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate retired Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador to Estonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia. Mr. Masso is a highly decorated Naval Officer who is the founder and president of Flagship Connection, a consulting company focused on business development, strategic planning, and operations analysis in the areas of missile defense, cyber security, and data analytics. During his distinguished 32-year career in the U.S. Navy, he held nine command assignments, including Commander, Navy Personnel Command/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. He has served in NATO and the United States European Command. Mr. Masso is a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Cyber Security. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1977.

JINSA has a detailed bio of Admiral Masso here.

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Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be @StateDept’s Legal Adviser

Posted: 1:42 am ET

 

On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be Legal Adviser at the State Department. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jennifer Gillian Newstead of New York to be Legal Adviser at the Department of State.Ms. Newstead is a partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she has a global practice representing clients in cross-border regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters. Ms. Newstead previously served in several senior government positions, including as General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, and Associate Counsel to the President. Ms. Newstead previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C and earlier in her career clerked for Justice Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School, and a 1991 graduate magna cum laude of Harvard University.

Her law firm has a more detailed bio:

Ms. Newstead is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. She has a global practice representing leading international corporations, financial institutions and Boards of Directors in white collar criminal defense, regulatory and securities enforcement matters, internal investigations and related civil litigation. She advises clients in high-profile, cross-border investigations involving alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.S. economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws, securities and accounting laws, and other financial regulations. She represents clients before regulatory and law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC, the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury/OFAC, the NY Department of Financial Services, and other authorities. She has conducted investigations related to business in numerous countries in Asia, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin and South America. Ms. Newstead frequently advises clients on the design and implementation of global compliance programs to mitigate risk.

Ms. Newstead joined Davis Polk after a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship. She left the firm in 2001 to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. She served as an Associate White House Counsel from 2002 to 2003 and as General Counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2003 to 2005. She rejoined the firm in 2005.

Back in June, BuzzFeed reported that Ms. Newstead, a former George W. Bush administration official and architect of the Patriot Act was slated be the top lawyer at the State Department. See A Lawyer Who Helped Write The Patriot Act Is Trump’s Pick For A Top State Department Job.

The White House sent her nomination to the Senate on September 5, and it has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As of this writing, the SFRC has yet to schedule this nomination for a hearing.

Former Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III (2005–2009) notes that if confirmed, Ms. Newstead would be the first woman to serve as Legal Adviser of the State Department. He writes that this position was created by statute in 1931, replacing the Solicitor, which had been the chief legal officer of the State Department since 1891.

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Snapshot: Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay For Employees Traveling Away From Post

Posted: 12:57 am ET

 

Via GAO:

Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay (click on image for larger view)

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SFRC Clears Bass (AFG), Manchester (Bahamas), King (Croatia), McFarland (Singapore), Gingrich (Holy See), and More

Posted: 1:30 pm PT

 

On September 19, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following nominees. The nominations will now go to the full Senate for a vote:

John R. Bass, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Stephen B. King, of Wisconsin, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic.

Kathleen Troia McFarland, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Singapore.

The panel also cleared Steve Mnuchin as U.S. Goveror for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the IMF:

Steven T. Mnuchin, of California, to be United States Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United States Governor of the African Development Fund, and United States Governor of the Asian Development Bank, vice Jacob Joseph Lew, resigned.

Steven T. Mnuchin, of California, to be United States Governor of the International Monetary Fund, United States Governor of the African Development Bank, United States Governor of the Inter-American Development Bank, and United States Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of five years, vice Jacob Joseph Lew, resigned.

The following nominees for UNGA were also cleared:

Barbara Lee, of California, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Christopher Smith, of New Jersey, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Previously, the Senate panel also cleared the following nominees. As far as we can tell, these nominees are pending on the Executive Calendar and the full Senate has yet to put these nominations to a vote:

Callista L. Gingrich, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See. Jul 27, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador. Aug 03, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations. Aug 03, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

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9/19 SFRC Hearings: Jon Huntsman Jr. (Russia), Wess Mitchell (State/EUR)

Posted: 12:47 am ET

 

The SFRC is holding two hearings today, one for Ambassador Huntsman’s nomination to be the next Ambassador to Russia, and the second, Wess Mitchell’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State for the EUR Bureau.

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

Panel One

The Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Of Utah, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Russian Federation
His Certificate of Demonstrated Competence per Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4) is available here.

Panel Two

Mr. A. Wess Mitchell
Of Virginia, To Be An Assistant Secretary Of State (European And Eurasian Affairs)

The prepared statements and live video of the hearing will be available here.

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Trump Economic Adviser Carla Sands to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark

Posted: 1:16 am ET

 

On September 7, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Carla Sands as the next U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. The WH released the following brief bio:

Carla Sands of California to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Denmark. Ms. Sands has been the Chairman of Vintage Capital Group, L.L.C in Los Angeles since 2015; a company recognized by real estate industry as a professional, ethical and highly successful real estate firm. She is also a doctor of chiropractic and has been a television and film actress. Ms. Sands is a leader in the non-profit sector, working with organizations to improve the lives of children and the underprivileged. Demonstrating her commitment to improving education, she has served as a Board Member of Pepperdine University. In addition, Ms. Sands has served on the boards of organizations supporting the arts and culture. Ms. Sands earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College, Marietta, Georgia.

A mored detailed biography is available here via Vintage Capital Group.

Ballotpedia notes that Carla Sands was a district-level delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention from California.  In summer 2016, she was named as one of Trump’s economic advisers. OpenSecrets.org lists her as one of Trump’s 250 donors who shelled out $100k or more for Trump’s inauguration.

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Career Diplomat Rebecca E. Gonzales to be U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho

Posted: 12:47 am ET

 

On September 7, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Rebecca Eliza Gonzales to be the U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho. The WH released the following brief bio:

Rebecca Eliza Gonzales of Texas to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho.Ms. Gonzales, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1992. She is currently the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Administration at the Department of State. In previous positions as a Management Officer and senior official at the State Department, she is known for her leadership, crisis management skills and knowledge of Africa. She earned a M.S. from the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort McNair and both a M.B.A. and B.A from The George Washington University. She speaks Spanish and Greek.

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View of Maseru, Lesotho via US Embassy Maseru/FB

Former Senior Diplomats Urge Tillerson to Make Public @StateDept’s Reorganization Plan

Posted: 2:14 pm PT

 

On September 18, the American Academy of Diplomacy released a letter from Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Ronald Neumann asking that Secretary Tillerson make to the State Department’s reorganization plan public.  Below is the text of the letter, the full letter is posted at www.academyofdiplomacy.org.

We understand that the State Department reorganization plan forwarded to OMB has been deemed “pre-decisional” and will therefore not be made public.

On behalf of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a non-partisan and non-governmental organization comprising senior former career and non-career diplomatic practitioners, we ask that you reconsider this decision and make your recommendations available for public comment.  The Academy, whose only interest is in strengthening American diplomacy, is already on record supporting many needed changes in the State Department’s structure and staffing.  Indeed, we would hope to make the Academy’s extensive experience available and relevant to any conversations about the future of the Department so that we might be able to support the outcome of this process, just as we supported your decision on reducing special envoys.  We cannot do so if your vision and plans remain publicly unavailable.

As the recent report prepared by your consultants very properly highlighted, the Civil Service and Foreign Service employees who work for you are patriotic, dedicated, public servants.  Many have gone in harm’s way and more will do so.  For nearly eight months these employees, and many of their families, have lived in a state of suspended animation, not knowing how reorganization will affect their lives and careers.  In light of their sacrifices for our Country, it strikes us as unfair to ask them to remain in this limbo for additional months while the Administration considers in private your recommendations for change.

Keeping your decisions from public view will only fuel the suspicion and low morale which now affects so many in the Department.  We ask that you be transparent with those most affected by your efforts to build efficiency and expertise.  Not doing so prejudices their future support.  Your leadership and America’s diplomacy would be better served by allowing public comment.  It is on that basis that we respectfully ask that you reconsider this decision.

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Related to this, Politico reported last week that “as part of his plan to restructure the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pledging not to concentrate more power in his own hands — for now.” See Tillerson vows State Dept. redesign won’t concentrate power in his hands. Click here or image below to see the State Department-USAID Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief via Politico’s Nahal Toosi. Note the slide titled “What Redesign is Not.” There is no intention at this time to dismantle State or USAID at this time. Whewww! That’s a relief, hey?

Click on image to view the document.

Click on image to view the document: Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief, September 2017 via Politico

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