Officially In: Jose W. Fernandez to be A/S at EEB

On June 22, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jose W. Fernandez to be Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs (EEB).

Jose W. Fernandez is a partner at the law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP. For nearly three decades, his practice has focused on international commercial and banking law, chiefly in the areas of foreign investments, acquisitions and financings. Mr. Fernandez has also advised corporations, private equity firms and state-owned enterprises in privatizations, securities offerings, joint ventures and arbitrations in many emerging markets. A substantial part of his work has involved infrastructure projects in the telecommunications, oil and gas, electricity, water, aviation and mining sectors in Europe, Latin America and Africa.

Mr. Fernandez has been chair both of the American Bar Association’s Interamerican Law Committee and the Committee on Interamerican Affairs of the New York City Bar Association, and co-chair of the Cross Border M&A and Joint Ventures Committee of the New York State Bar Association. He currently heads the Latin American and Caribbean division of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative. Mr. Fernandez serves on the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College, and on the Board of Directors of Accion International, the Council of the Americas and TeatroStageFest (which he co-founded), among others. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a Commissioner in the New York City Latin Media and Entertainment Commission.

Mr. Fernandez is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School.

Related Item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 7-22-09

Officially In: Alberto Fernandez to Malabo

On June 22, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Alberto M. Fernandez, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Official bio released by the WH below:

Alberto M. Fernandez has served as US Charge d’Affaires to the Republic of Sudan from June 2007 to May 2009. He has served as Director for Near East Public Diplomacy from 2005-2007, Director for Iraq Public Diplomacy from 2004-2005.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Fernandez has also held senior public diplomacy positions at the US embassies in Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria and Guatemala. Mr. Fernandez was also a foreign service officer in Iraq, Kuwait, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and the United Arab Emirates and as USIA Desk Officer for Egypt, Yemen and Sudan. He is a graduate of the 46th (2003-2004) Senior Seminar, the State Department’s premier senior management course.

Mr. Fernandez served in the U.S. Army and is a graduate of the University of Arizona and the Defense Language Institute.

Related Item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 7-22-09

Horn v. Huddle: A Cable, A Table, and Something in the Middle?

I did not make up that title — just tweaked it from the Court of Appeals decision on the Horn v. Huddle case heard before ROGERS, BROWN and GRIFFITH, Circuit Judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I am reprinting excerpts from the decision below. This seems like a convoluted way to get somebody’s assignment involuntary curtailed, don’t you think?

Concurring and dissenting opinion filed by Circuit Judge B

Once the privileged material is removed, Horn is essentially left with three pieces of circumstantial evidence — a cable, a table, and Huddle’s apparent lie. I question whether a reasonable person would seriously entertain the possibility, based on that evidence alone, that Huddle learned of Horn’s statement via a wiretap. One wonders if the atmosphere of government intrigue in this case — an atmosphere carefully cultivated by Horn and unfortunately only exacerbated by the government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege — is in fact doing much of the work in the majority’s determination that Horn has established a prima facie case on such skimpy evidence. Would a reasonable person really think Horn had established a prima facie case with the same circumstantial evidence if he was an OSHA inspector in Hoboken?

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge ROGERS (excerpt).

[…] Horn’s basic claim is straightforward: Late at night on August 12, 1993, he placed a phone call from his personal residence to a DEA subordinate, David Sikorra. He expressed concern that Huddle was trying to expel him from Burma and that DEA might respond by closing its Burma office. Soon thereafter, Horn learned of a cable, since declassified in part, that Huddle sent to State Department officials in Washington, D.C. This cable, which is dated August 13, 1993, contains an unclassified paragraph that reads:

Finally, Horn shows increasing signs of evident strain. Late last night, for example, he telephoned his junior agent to say that “I am bringing the whole DEA operation down here.” “You will be leaving with me . . . We’ll all leave together.” In this context, he then went on to note talks with [DEA officials] Greene and Maher without explicitly drawing a connection.

Cable from Franklin Huddle, American Embassy, Rangoon, Burma, to Secretary of State, Washington, D.C. ¶ 6 (Aug. 13, 1993) (“Huddle Cable”) (ellipses in original). On the basis of this cable, which Horn claims quotes him verbatim, Horn concluded that someone was eavesdropping on his personal conversation with Sikorra.

In an unclassified and unprivileged affidavit submitted to the district court, Huddle insisted instead that Horn’s conversation had spread by word of mouth. Huddle averred that he told the IG investigators that the information in the cable was provided to him by DEA Special Agent Bruce Stubbs. Special Agent Stubbs, for his part, denied, in the declassified portion of the IG report, telling anything to Huddle about Horn’s conversation with Sikorra. According to unclassified and unprivileged information, Stubbs was on official travel during the relevant time period and told IG investigators that he neither saw Huddle in person nor contacted him by telephone. Stubbs insisted that he did not learn of Horn’s conversation with Sikorra until he returned to Rangoon on August 26, 1993, almost two weeks after Huddle sent the cable to the State Department.

Further, Stubbs swore in an unclassified and unprivileged affidavit that Huddle had contacted him while the IG investigation was pending to discuss how Stubbs had told Huddle about Horn’s statement. Stubbs averred that he had no such recollection and that Huddle’s telephone call was improper, to which Huddle responded that he was merely “prescreening [Stubbs] to determine [his] recollections of Horn’s allegations.” Stubbs Aff. para. 8. This aspect of Stubbs’ affidavit is supported by a file memorandum that he wrote on September 22, 1994, the day after he was contacted by Huddle. When confronted with Stubbs’ affidavit, Huddle told investigators in writing that he “stand[s] by [his] statement.” Huddle Stmt. (Nov. 7, 1995).

Horn thus contends, in view of the unclassified and unprivileged materials, that he has demonstrated a prima facie case because the district court found that the redacted cable showed eavesdropping as the source of information, and the declassified interviews with personnel then stationed at the Embassy in Rangoon establish that Huddle did not learn of Horn’s conversation, either verbatim or otherwise, from Stubbs or anybody else, leaving unconstitutional surveillance as the only remaining option. Although Horn has no direct evidence that Huddle participated in an unlawful surveillance, he relies on the following circumstantial evidence:

First, in November 1992 there was a suspicious entry into
his apartment in Burma when, unsolicited, his government issued rectangular coffee table was swapped for an oval replacement while he was out of town. He was advised that his “original coffee table was needed to complete a sofa set at another residence.” Memorandum from Richard A. Horn on Questionable Furniture Movement para. 3 (Feb. 27, 1995). Horn characterized this conduct as “peculiar” and notes that “[a] telephone was located in this room within close proximity to the aforementioned coffee table.” Id. para. 4.

Second, Horn traces the limited spread among Embassy personnel of his conversation with Sikorra, emphasizing that Huddle’s source was specific enough to allow Huddle to use quotation marks and ellipses in the cable. In declassified statements, Sikorra explained that he told only a secretary, Mary Weinhold, about the disturbing telephone call; Mrs. Weinhold explained that no one could have overheard her conversation with Sikorra and that she does not recall having told her husband, who also worked at the Embassy, about Horn’s conversation; Mr. Weinhold corroborated his wife’s recollection; and Huddle’s deputy at the Embassy stated his belief that Huddle was aware of the conversation between Horn and Sikorra before he was.

The district court “verified that indeed, [the Huddle cable] is a verbatim reproduction of parts of Horn’s conversation with Sikorra, using quotation marks and ellipses, and a paraphrasing of other parts — evidence that Horn’s conversation had been wiretapped.” Mem. Op. of Feb. 10, 1997, at 4. Nonetheless, the district court found Horn’s allegations insufficient to establish a prima facie case. Mem. Op. of July 28, 2004, at 10. The district court reasoned that Defendant II’s identity is protected and that there is no unprivileged evidence connecting him to Horn’s allegations.

Related Item:

No. 04-5313 IN RE: SEALED CASE | Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 94cv01756)
Argued December 14, 2006 | Decided June 29, 2007 | Unsealed July 20, 2007

PDF file

Virtual Advisory Committees for AFSA

The new AFSA Governing Board has been seated. Daniel Hirsh, the new State VP has a revamped AFSA page where interested volunteers can sign up for the newly formed virtual advisory committees (see list below).

There are currently eleven committees open to all interested AFSA members regardless of location. The committees meet by e-mail, and advise the State Vice President on issues of interest to members.
Additional committees may be created depending on member interest. The newly elected State Reps are also easily accessible via email here.

Due Process Issues
Committee Chair and POC: Les Hickman


Overseas Family Member and Parenting Related Issues
Committee Chair and POC: VACANT
Members: Robert Tibbetts
, Patricia Linderman, Anat Gelb, Lynne Madnick, Mari O’Connor, Vandana Stapleton, Sara Craig, Jelena Mastilovic Cali

GLBT Issues
Committee Chair and POC: VACANT

Issues Affecting Entry Level and Junior Officers
Committee Chair and POC: Corky Gilbert


Assignment-Related Issues
Committee Chair and POC: Joyce Namde

Members: Mike Unglesbee

Issues Affecting Employees with Disabilities
Committee Chair and POC: Andrea V Strano


Issues related to Iraq/Afghanistan Service
Committee Chair and POC: VACANT

Specialist Issues – Diplomatic Security
Committee Chair and POC: VACANT

Specialist Issues – General
Committee Chair and POC: Jorge Delfin


Specialist Issues – Information Management/related fields
Committee Chair and POC: Robert Popchak


Specialist Issues – Office Management Specialists
Committee Chair and POC: VACANT
Members: Kelly Taylor

If you are interested in participating or in chairing a committee, contact the State VP or the Committee Chair for the committee of interest to you.

FS Blog: Calling a Spade a Spade

The Consular Officer writing under the name NoDoubleStandards has been blogging since April 2009 so his blog Calling a Spade a Spade (Rants of a Foreign Service Officer on the things that matter to you — and matter to you not at all) is not really new. But in case you missed some of his great posts particularly on the consular trade or his advice for new FSOs, check out these links below:

“These Faces and These Places Are Getting Old” – Daughtry

The Challenge of Effective Consular Management of Locally-Employed Staff

Visa Interview Pet Peeves

Advice for New FSOs from Someone Who Has No Business Giving It