Quickie: Top US Rep at UN Mission Afghanistan Pushed Out?

Photo from UNAMA

The Times is reporting that UN chief Peter Galbraith is removed in Afghanistan poll clash (The Times | September 15, 2009): Excerpts:

America’s top diplomat at the United Nations mission in Afghanistan has been ordered out of the country after a row with his boss over how to respond to last month’s fraud-riddled presidential elections, it has been alleged. The alleged quarrel is threatening to spark a mutiny within the UN mission. At least a dozen senior staff are backing the American, Peter Galbraith, in the dispute with his Norwegian superior, Kai Eide.
Mr Galbraith wants the IEC to annul results from 1,000 of the total of about 6,500 polling stations and to recount results from another 5,000, diplomatic sources said. Mr Eide, a former UN envoy in Bosnia, seeks only a face-saving recount of some 1,000 polling places, the sources said.
“The one thing the UN should be doing, which it’s not doing, is speaking up on election fraud,” said a mission insider. “A lot of people in the UN feel that unless there’s space for someone to behave as Peter has behaved, then what are we doing here?”
Farhan Haq, a UN spokesman in New York, said that Mr Galbraith was in Boston “on mission” and would travel to London next week before going to New York to brief the UN Security Council on September 29 with Mr Eide.

Read the whole thing here.

Peter W. Galbraith is Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Afghanistan, with responsibility for political affairs. He served as the first United States Ambassador to Croatia from 1993 to 1998 and was the co-mediator of the 1995 Erdut Agreement that ended the Croatia war.

Updated 9/16/09

Laura Rozen now of Politico reports that Galbraith denies he was booted from Afghanistan. “I left at my own initiative for a brief period of time,” Galbraith told POLITICO, speaking from his home in Vermont.

CWC Hearings: State Dept Security Contracts

US Embassy Kabul Guard Contract Takes Center Stage

The Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) is an independent, bipartisan legislative commission established to study wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Created in Section 841 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, this eight-member Commission is mandated by Congress to study federal agency contracting for the reconstruction, logistical support of coalition forces, and the performance of security functions, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Commission may refer to the Attorney General any violation or potential violation of law identified by the Commission in carrying out its duties under this section.

Two of the eight commissioners have prior associations with the State Department:
Clark Kent Ervin was a State Department Inspector General from 2001-2003 and Grant S. Green was Under Secretary of State for Management from 2001-2005. Had this story broke in 2005 or earlier, Mr. Green would be sitting in Pat Kennedy’s chair facing the Commission’s grilling. One of the co-chairs, Michael J. Thibault also had extensive experience with the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), and another member, Dov S. Zakheim was DOD’s Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer from 2001-2004. I imagine they’ll be looking under a lot of rocks.

Shortly after the POGO story on the US Embassy Kabul security guards broke, the CWC announced its intent to hold public hearings about wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. On September 14 the Commission heard from witnesses representing the State Department and its security contractors. The hearings were split into three panels listed below. As of this writing, only videos of the hearings are available via c-span.org; the statements of witnesses and other committee documents have yet to be posted online here
are now posted online here.

Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Panel 1

Witnesses testified on the U.S. State Department’s selection, management, and oversight of security and other contractors.

Panel 1:

* Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management

* Eric Boswell, Assistant Secretary, Diplomatic Security

* William Moser, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Logistics Management

See video here | 2 hours, 11 minutes

Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Panel 2

Witnesses testified on the U.S. State Department’s selection, management, and oversight of security and other contractors.

Panel 2:

* Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight (testimony)
* Terry Pearson, former Operations Supervisor in Kabul, Afghanistan, for RA International.

See video here | 1 hour, 27 minutes

Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Panel 3

Witnesses testified on the U.S. State Department’s selection, management, and oversight of security and other contractors.

Panel 3:

* Doug Brooks, President of the International Peace Operations Association.

* William Ballhaus, President and CEO of DynCorp International.

* Samuel Brinkley, Vice President, Homeland Security and International Security Services, Wackenhut Services, Inc. (parent company of ArmorGroup North America).

See video here | 1 hour, 57 minutes


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SFRC Hearings: Solomont, Feinstein, White, Fernandez


Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Time: 9:30 A.M.
Place: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Presiding: Senator Shaheen


Alan D. Solomont, of Massachusetts
to be Ambassador to Spain, and to serve
concurrently and without additional
compensation as Ambassador to Andorra

Lee Andrew Feinstein, of Virginia
to be Ambassador to the Republic of Poland

Barry B. White, of Massachusetts
to be Ambassador to Norway

Jose W. Fernandez, of New York
to be Assistant Secretary of State
for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

Related Items:

Officially In: Jeff Bleich to Canberra

Australia, founded July 9, 1900.Image via Wikipedia

On September 12 President Obama announced his intent to nominate Jeff Bleich to be Ambassador to Australia. The official bio released by the WH is below:

Jeff Bleich is the Special Counsel to the President at the White House. From 1995 to 2009 he was a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he was recognized as one of the nation’s top lawyers. Outside of his legal practice, Mr. Bleich has a long-standing commitment to international law. After clerking for Judge Howard Holtzmann at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal and acting as Special Rapporteur to the International Court of Arbitration, he assisted the Special Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the Former-Yugoslavia.

He has taught international human rights at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, and written and lectured extensively on the international criminal court. More recently, Mr. Bleich represented the ABA before the United States Supreme Court in several matters including the Medellin case concerning the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. He recently chaired both the ABA’s Amicus Curiae Committee and the subcommittee on Corporate Social Responsibility. Mr. Bleich served as an officer or member in numerous foreign policy organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations, the ABA Section on International Law, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the International Law Association, the American Society of International Law, and Human Rights Watch. In 2008, he served simultaneously as the Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees and as the President of the State Bar of California.

Mr. Bleich received his B.A. from Amherst College, his Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University, and his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. He received his certificate in Public International Law from the Hague Academy in 1993. Following graduation from law school, he clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist on the United States Supreme Court as well as Judge Abner J. Mikva of the D.C. Circuit.

* * *

has identified Mr. Bleich as one of President Obama’s bundlers raising a minimum of $500,000 during the campaign.

If confirmed Mr. Bleich would replaced another non-career appointee in Canberra, Robert D. McCallum who was appointed Ambassador to Australia during George W. Bush’s second term. Seventeen political appointees and seven career diplomats had previously been appointed ambassador to the US Mission in Australia.

Related Item:

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 9/11/09

Officially In: Cynthia Stroum to Luxembourg

On September 12 President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Cynthia Stroum to be Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The official bio released by the WH is below:

A native of Seattle, Cynthia Stroum has been an angel investor in over twenty successful technology, biotechnology and retail start-up companies, including Starbucks Coffee Company. Over the last 30 years, Ms. Stroum has also been active in civic and charitable activities focusing on philanthropy and community service, establishing two non-profit foundations, with a particular focus on cancer research. Ms. Stroum has helped to bring greater visibility to pancreatic cancer, serving on the board of The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and as the Founding Chairman of the Board of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). She has also served on the board of the Shoah Foundation.

Previous to her business and philanthropic ventures, Ms. Stroum worked in the television and film industries and continues her commitment to the arts. Ms. Stroum made her Broadway producing debut in 2004 with the acclaimed Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun, earning her a Tony nomination.

Ms. Stroum holds a BA in Public Relations and Journalism from the University of Southern California.

* * *
If confirmed Ms. Stroum would replaced another non-career appointee, Anne Louise Wagner who was appointed to Luxembourg in 2005 (Ms. Wagner was Chair of the Missouri Republican Party for six years, from 1999 until 2005, and Co-chair of the Republican National Committee for four years).
Ms. Stroum has been identified by opensecrets.org as one of President Obama’s bundlers, raising a minimum of $500,000. (Bundlers are people with friends in high places who, after bumping against personal contribution limits, turn to those friends, associates, and, well, anyone who’s willing to give, and deliver the checks to the candidate in one big “bundle.”) She has also donated to the presidential inauguration. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, Ms. Stroum was one of the top 25 Obama fundraisers in the United States, and is credited with hooking Barack Obama on Fran’s Chocolates famous sea-salt caramels.

In the last 50 years, there had been 21 US ambassadors posted to Luxembourg. Out of those 21 ambassadors only 3 were career diplomats. I should add that our blog friend, Avuncular American served as Charge d’Affaires ad interim in the country from January 2001-April 2002.

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