Do You Like Senate Holds and Jams?


Do you like senate holds and jams?
I do not like them,
Sam-I-am.
I do not like senate holds and jams.

If you don’t like senate holds and jams
Go Email Sam, email Sam, stop the logjams!

That goes rather well, doesn’t it? Thank you, thank you, my rhyming dictionary is not so useless after all :-). I’ve recently written about the Hill nomination here and here and elsewhere. Why? It bugs me silly that a career public servant has to go through this crap for doing his job.

Anyway, today in the National Journal’s Lost in Transition section, Kirk Victor reports that Brownback Promises Battle On Iraq Nominee. Asked what he intends to do when Christopher Hill’s nomination to be ambassador to Iraq reaches the Senate floor, Senator Brownback gave the following response:

Brownback:We are going to fight hard against Chris. I met with him [on March 18] in my office and he did not allay any of my concerns. When he was conducting six-party talks, I asked him to involve the special envoy for human rights. He didn’t want to do it. So I held up an ambassadorial nominee to South Korea. The State Department really wanted that ambassadorial nominee.

Finally [former Virginia GOP Senator] John Warner brokered a deal in the Armed Services Committee where Chris Hill was testifying and Warner had me ask questions. One of them was, “Will you invite the special envoy for human rights to the six-party talks?” He said yes, he would. That didn’t happen. On his word of doing that, in front of open committee, I lifted my hold on the South Korea ambassador. So he misled me.”


That’s the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights (huh?) by the way, who was publicly rebuked by then Secretary of State Rice in January 2008 for criticizing international negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program. “Rice said that Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights, “doesn’t know what’s going on in the six-party talks, and he certainly has no say on what American policy will be in the six-party talks.” Read more here.

Here’s an idea — maybe the good senators would like a conference call with Dr. Rice? She’s currently over at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, phone number (650) 725-7293. She probably will confirmed to them that Hill did not go “rogue” on her and that he did exactly what she told him to do. Because that’s what career diplomats do — they follow orders or they get fired or they quit (yes, that, too). Since he did not quit and was not fired, he most probably certainly followed orders. Seriously? Diplomats get to pick their own ties, but they are not freelancers; they do not negotiate on their own without instructions from the mother ship. Oh, damn! But he did negotiate, didn’t he? Ewww — qué barbaridad!

Meanwhile, Laura Rozen reports what the U.S. military’s chief spokesman, Geoff Morrell, told The Cable Thursday: “Generals Odierno and Petraeus have come out very publicly and very forcefully in support of Ambassador Hill’s nomination. I know they support it. “With regards to [Senate] members who have issue with him, I would say this,” Morrell added. “We appreciate their steadfast support of the Iraq mission. But you can’t be bullish in support of that mission and not send an ambassador in a timely fashion.”

As good old Mal would say, “Holy testicle Tuesday!” More later…


Related Item:
Is This the Hill Sam Brownback Wants to Die On?

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Do You Like Senate Holds and Jams?


Do you like senate holds and jams?
I do not like them,
Sam-I-am.
I do not like senate holds and jams.

If you don’t like senate holds and jams
Go Email Sam, email Sam, stop the logjams!

That goes rather well, doesn’t it? Thank you, thank you, my rhyming dictionary is not so useless after all :-). I’ve recently written about the Hill nomination here and here and elsewhere. Why? It bugs me silly that a career public servant has to go through this crap for doing his job.

Anyway, today in the National Journal’s Lost in Transition section, Kirk Victor reports that Brownback Promises Battle On Iraq Nominee. Asked what he intends to do when Christopher Hill’s nomination to be ambassador to Iraq reaches the Senate floor, Senator Brownback gave the following response:

Brownback:We are going to fight hard against Chris. I met with him [on March 18] in my office and he did not allay any of my concerns. When he was conducting six-party talks, I asked him to involve the special envoy for human rights. He didn’t want to do it. So I held up an ambassadorial nominee to South Korea. The State Department really wanted that ambassadorial nominee.

Finally [former Virginia GOP Senator] John Warner brokered a deal in the Armed Services Committee where Chris Hill was testifying and Warner had me ask questions. One of them was, “Will you invite the special envoy for human rights to the six-party talks?” He said yes, he would. That didn’t happen. On his word of doing that, in front of open committee, I lifted my hold on the South Korea ambassador. So he misled me.”


That’s the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights (huh?) by the way, who was publicly rebuked by then Secretary of State Rice in January 2008 for criticizing international negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program. “Rice said that Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights, “doesn’t know what’s going on in the six-party talks, and he certainly has no say on what American policy will be in the six-party talks.” Read more here.

Here’s an idea — maybe the good senators would like a conference call with Dr. Rice? She’s currently over at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, phone number (650) 725-7293. She probably will confirmed to them that Hill did not go “rogue” on her and that he did exactly what she told him to do. Because that’s what career diplomats do — they follow orders or they get fired or they quit (yes, that, too). Since he did not quit and was not fired, he most probably certainly followed orders. Seriously? Diplomats get to pick their own ties, but they are not freelancers; they do not negotiate on their own without instructions from the mother ship. Oh, damn! But he did negotiate, didn’t he? Ewww — qué barbaridad!

Meanwhile, Laura Rozen reports what the U.S. military’s chief spokesman, Geoff Morrell, told The Cable Thursday: “Generals Odierno and Petraeus have come out very publicly and very forcefully in support of Ambassador Hill’s nomination. I know they support it. “With regards to [Senate] members who have issue with him, I would say this,” Morrell added. “We appreciate their steadfast support of the Iraq mission. But you can’t be bullish in support of that mission and not send an ambassador in a timely fashion.”

As good old Mal would say, “Holy testicle Tuesday!” More later…


Related Item:
Is This the Hill Sam Brownback Wants to Die On?

Related Posts:

Officially In: Philip Gordon to the EUR Bureau

EUR Bureau Map from state.gov

I almost missed this one. On March 6, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Philip H. Gordon, of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for the European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR). He would be successor to career diplomat, Daniel Fried (the newly appointed Special Envoy on Gitmo).

The nomination was sent to the senate on March 11, 2009 but as far as I could tell, this is not in the SFRC calendar yet.

The announcement has the following details:

Dr. Philip Gordon is Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, D.C., where he has worked since 2000. Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Gordon was Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. At the NSC he played a key role in developing and coordinating NATO policy in the run-up to the Alliance’s 50th Anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. He has held teaching and research posts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC; INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France and Singapore; and the German Society for Foreign Affairs in Bonn.

Dr. Gordon has a Ph.D. and M.A. in European Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) and a B.A. in French and Philosophy from Ohio University. His working languages include French, German, Italian and some Spanish. He has published a number of books and articles on international relations and foreign policy and is a frequent contributor to major publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and Financial Times. From 2007-08 he was a foreign policy advisor and leader of the Europe expert group for the Obama for America campaign.

He is currently on leave from the Brookings Institution; read more here.

Related Item:
President Obama Announces Key State Department Appointments 3/6/09

Officially In: Philip Gordon to the EUR Bureau

EUR Bureau Map from state.gov

I almost missed this one. On March 6, 2009, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Philip H. Gordon, of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for the European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR). He would be successor to career diplomat, Daniel Fried (the newly appointed Special Envoy on Gitmo).

The nomination was sent to the senate on March 11, 2009 but as far as I could tell, this is not in the SFRC calendar yet.

The announcement has the following details:

Dr. Philip Gordon is Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, D.C., where he has worked since 2000. Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Gordon was Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. At the NSC he played a key role in developing and coordinating NATO policy in the run-up to the Alliance’s 50th Anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. He has held teaching and research posts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC; INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France and Singapore; and the German Society for Foreign Affairs in Bonn.

Dr. Gordon has a Ph.D. and M.A. in European Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) and a B.A. in French and Philosophy from Ohio University. His working languages include French, German, Italian and some Spanish. He has published a number of books and articles on international relations and foreign policy and is a frequent contributor to major publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, and Financial Times. From 2007-08 he was a foreign policy advisor and leader of the Europe expert group for the Obama for America campaign.

He is currently on leave from the Brookings Institution; read more here.

Related Item:
President Obama Announces Key State Department Appointments 3/6/09

66+ Ambassadorships Still Up for Grabs

Extracted from the state.gov’s published
List of Chiefs of Mission (as of March 2, 2009)

Newsweek recently reported about the strict vetting imposed by the Obama administration on its prospective candidates. “Over-the-top ethics rules are disqualifying or driving away some of the best and the brightest,” it concludes. If you have ever filled out those national security forms, you know it’s enough to turn your hair and whiskers purple! Now there’s more:

“The White House’s basic vetting questionnaire for a top federal job is now close to 100 pages long. A separate national-security vetting form can be filled out only by typewriter. The questioning by White House lawyers can be excruciatingly personal. One job dropout told NEWSWEEK he just couldn’t bear to get into the messy lives of his children.”

If this does not turn you off, I should point out that 66 plus ambassadorships are still up for grabs (see list above). The USNATO and Kabul positions are currently encumbered by career FS officers and are not included in this list of vacancies. USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker, career member of the Foreign Service will be succeeded by administration nominee Ivo Daalder. US Embassy Kabul Ambassador William Braucher Wood, a career member of the Foreign Service will be succeeded by administration nominee Lt. General Karl Eikenberry. Both nominees are political appointees.


As of March 2, out of a total of 173 ambassadorships — 105 post (61%) currently have career diplomats serving as Ambassadors, 12 (7%) are filled by non-career ambassadors (hold-overs from the previous administration) and 56 (32%) are still vacant. I removed Iraq and Ireland from this list (so the number is 54) since the nominees have been announced, although yet to be confirmed. The plus sign is simply a recognition that the president has the prerogative of filling in each of the embassy top post with a career diplomat or a political appointee as his personal representative abroad.

It is possible that some embassies currently staffed with career ambassadors will end up having political appointees when this is all over (Timor-Liste, anyone?). And the 54 current vacancies plus the 12 posts currently staffed with political appointees from the Bush administration may get career diplomats as ambassadors (The Last Time I Saw Paris Was in 1981). Or not…

In the meantime, all the Chargés d’affaires ad interim get a chance to show the stuff they are made of — in the absence of our accredited ambassadors. And down the line it has a cascading effect. Somebody else has to serve as acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and the losing section could have an acting chief of section. I figure that for every post headed by a Chargé right now, about 2-3 career employees get to do a temporary stretch assignment — until the new ambassador clears the confirmation hurdles and get to post.

Related Post:
Who’s Going to Our Top Diplomatic Vacation Spots?

66+ Ambassadorships Still Up for Grabs

Extracted from the state.gov’s published
List of Chiefs of Mission (as of March 2, 2009)

Newsweek recently reported about the strict vetting imposed by the Obama administration on its prospective candidates. “Over-the-top ethics rules are disqualifying or driving away some of the best and the brightest,” it concludes. If you have ever filled out those national security forms, you know it’s enough to turn your hair and whiskers purple! Now there’s more:

“The White House’s basic vetting questionnaire for a top federal job is now close to 100 pages long. A separate national-security vetting form can be filled out only by typewriter. The questioning by White House lawyers can be excruciatingly personal. One job dropout told NEWSWEEK he just couldn’t bear to get into the messy lives of his children.”

If this does not turn you off, I should point out that 66 plus ambassadorships are still up for grabs (see list above). The USNATO and Kabul positions are currently encumbered by career FS officers and are not included in this list of vacancies. USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker, career member of the Foreign Service will be succeeded by administration nominee Ivo Daalder. US Embassy Kabul Ambassador William Braucher Wood, a career member of the Foreign Service will be succeeded by administration nominee Lt. General Karl Eikenberry. Both nominees are political appointees.


As of March 2, out of a total of 173 ambassadorships — 105 post (61%) currently have career diplomats serving as Ambassadors, 12 (7%) are filled by non-career ambassadors (hold-overs from the previous administration) and 56 (32%) are still vacant. I removed Iraq and Ireland from this list (so the number is 54) since the nominees have been announced, although yet to be confirmed. The plus sign is simply a recognition that the president has the prerogative of filling in each of the embassy top post with a career diplomat or a political appointee as his personal representative abroad.

It is possible that some embassies currently staffed with career ambassadors will end up having political appointees when this is all over (Timor-Liste, anyone?). And the 54 current vacancies plus the 12 posts currently staffed with political appointees from the Bush administration may get career diplomats as ambassadors (The Last Time I Saw Paris Was in 1981). Or not…

In the meantime, all the Chargés d’affaires ad interim get a chance to show the stuff they are made of — in the absence of our accredited ambassadors. And down the line it has a cascading effect. Somebody else has to serve as acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and the losing section could have an acting chief of section. I figure that for every post headed by a Chargé right now, about 2-3 career employees get to do a temporary stretch assignment — until the new ambassador clears the confirmation hurdles and get to post.

Related Post:
Who’s Going to Our Top Diplomatic Vacation Spots?

Officially In: Johnnie Carson to the AF Bureau

African Affairs Bureau Map from state.gov

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department. His NIC biography as National Intelligence Officer for Africa is below:


Ambassador Johnnie Carson joined the NIC as National Intelligence Officer for Africa in September 2006 after a 37-year career in Foreign Service. Prior to this appointment, Carson served as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. (2003-2006).

Carson’s Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997-1999). Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982-1986), Botswana (1986-1990), Mozambique (1975-1878), and Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971-1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978-1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives (1979-1982).

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Drake University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies at the University of London.

Ambassador Carson is the recipient of several Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State and a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Centers for Disease Control presented Ambassador Carson its highest award, “Champion of Prevention Award,” for his leadership in directing the US Government’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.


Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 3/20/09

Officially In: Johnnie Carson to the AF Bureau

African Affairs Bureau Map from state.gov

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department. His NIC biography as National Intelligence Officer for Africa is below:


Ambassador Johnnie Carson joined the NIC as National Intelligence Officer for Africa in September 2006 after a 37-year career in Foreign Service. Prior to this appointment, Carson served as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. (2003-2006).

Carson’s Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997-1999). Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982-1986), Botswana (1986-1990), Mozambique (1975-1878), and Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971-1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978-1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives (1979-1982).

Before joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-1968. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Drake University and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the School of Oriental and Africa Studies at the University of London.

Ambassador Carson is the recipient of several Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State and a Meritorious Service Award from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Centers for Disease Control presented Ambassador Carson its highest award, “Champion of Prevention Award,” for his leadership in directing the US Government’s HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Kenya.


Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 3/20/09