On the Record: David Ensor’s New Gig at AmEmbassy Kabul

Last week, I posted about former CNN correspondent, David Ensor joining the US Embassy in Afghanistan.  I sent an email to the press office inquiring about his new position in Kabul.  I understand that there will be no formal  announcement on this appointment but below is embassy spokesperson Caitlin Hayden’s response:      

“David B. Ensor will shortly join the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to serve as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy.  In this capacity, he will oversee and unify the communication activities of all the U.S. civilian departments and agencies in Afghanistan, and he will be the counterpart to the Director of Communication for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A). His portfolio includes support for the development of Afghanistan’s independent media and government-media relations, building people-to-people ties between the United States and Afghanistan, and countering extremist voices.”
David Ensor’s military counterpart would be Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith, a career Navy public affairs officer who is the Director of Communication for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF-NATO)  and United States Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) and responsible for synchronizing efforts of Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Key Leader engagement.
I have to add that one great thing about the Public Affairs shop at the US Embassy in Kabul is that they actually respond to email inquiries (maalasef, they are the exception, not the rule). On top of that, they run an up-to date Facebook page, a tri-lingual website (English, Pashto, Dari), Twitter  and a Flickr page (with photos that are, you know — actually usable because they have not been reduced to thumbprint size for elves). 

Now, if that PA office in a warzone can do that, what good reason is there why the PA office at the US Embassy in Baghdad or anywhere else from Algiers to Harare cannot take the time to respond to a public inquiry? Can you think of one?


Who wants well-aged diplomats well-refined?

Old, Old WineImage by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

BLT Update on Colton v. Clinton
The Blog of Legal Times has an update on the Colton v. Clinton case:
The State Department filed its motion to dismiss a case challenging the U.S. Foreign Service’s mandatory retirement policy, arguing the age cutoff was a valid piece of Congressional decision making.
Elizabeth Colton, a 64-year-old Foreign Services officer, sued the State Department in September alleging she had been denied an overseas assignment because of her age.
The government shot back yesterday, arguing that Colton was trying to upend long-settled law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has already found that the retirement policy at issue, which is contained in the Foreign Services Act, was exempt from the ADEA, the government said. It added that the Supreme Court has also ruled that the age cutoff does not violate equal protection.
“Congress viewed the mandatory retirement provision as critical to maintaining the highest level of performance by ‘the corps of public servants who hold positions critical to our foreign relations,'” the government’s filing states.
Because the retirement policy is valid, Colton’s claims of discrimination are meritless, the government argued.
“It should come as no surprise that the range of assignments available to plaintiff (or any other foreign service officer) may diminish as she approaches the mandatory retirement age of 65 – the most obvious example being an increasingly limited range of assignment opportunities in positions that would require her to serve past her 65th birthday,” the government stated.
Brrrr…. Is it just me or does that sound like freezer time out there?  I supposed that means when you get closer to 65 you should what — expect a work life of fewer options? Lesser choices? More broccoli instead of asparagus tours?  One-year hardship assignments? Short-short assignments? Bridge assignments? Hanging from the ceiling assignments? 
(Just now — this makes me wonder if there are near-65 folks working in the hot, AfPak “bureau?”)
This kind of reminds me of, well — throwing out a well-aged wine just when it’s well-refined and in its prime.

Hebrew prophet Isaiah says “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”  Sounds like a great party but even the new 40 won’t get invites.

Who wants well-aged diplomats well refined? It seems — not the State Dept. despite suffering from staffing and experience gaps. 
Unfortunately, aging is in all our fates; well refined, not.    
Prior BLT coverage of the case is here.  We have written previously about this case (see related posts below). 
Related Posts:  

US Emb Haiti Amcit Services Reopens

Ten Arrest Cases Already Waiting …
The US Embassy in Port au Prince announced the resumption of routine American Citizens Services (but not visa services), effective today, February 1:
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has issued this message to advise U.S. citizens in Haiti of the resumption of routine American Citizens Services, effective February 1, 2010.  U.S. citizens seeking services including passports, Reports of Death of Americans Abroad, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and notarials should contact the American Citizens Services unit to make an appointment, by calling 509-2229-8000 Monday through Friday between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. or by sending an email to acspap@state.gov
Please note that this resumption of services applies only to American Citizens Services, and not to visa services.  All visa services remain suspended until further notice. 
Evacuation flights continue to depart the International Airport in Port-au-Prince.  U.S. citizens wishing to depart Haiti should make their way to the airport during early daylight hours, in as safe a manner as possible.  They are encouraged to bring their passport and identification, if available, and food, water and supplies, if possible, as facilities at the airport are limited to nonexistent. 
Read the full announcement here.
Meanwhile, ten members of American Baptist church group New Life Children’s Refuge were arrested and charged with child trafficking over the weekend as they allegedly tried to take 33 children out of the country.
AFP reported that “Border police “saw a bus with a lot of children. Thirty-three children. When asked about the children’s documents, they had no documents,” Haitian Culture and Communications Minister Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said.”
The WSJ reported that “Mr. Ham, the assistant pastor, said, “From what we understood, they had all the paperwork they thought they needed. But they got to the border and they did not have one of the pieces of paper they apparently needed, and next thing they knew they were being arrested.”
They  can’t both be right. 
BBC News in PaP asks if the Haiti ‘orphans’ case: Misunderstanding or kidnap?
[I]nternational law is very clear: taking children and trying to cross an international border without permission or documentation is child smuggling, regardless of your intentions.
“You can’t just go and take a child out of a country – no matter what country you are in,” said Kent Page, a spokesman for Unicef in Haiti.

“There are processes that have to be followed, you can’t just pick up a child and walk out of a country with a child, no matter what your best intentions are,” he added.

And then – as Sunday wore – a new development.
The orphanage in Port-au-Prince that is now looking after the 33 children has been talking to them, and it appears that not all of them are even orphans.
USA Today reports that “U.S. diplomats met with the detained Americans and gave them bug spray and rations.”  It also says that the ten Americans arrested are scheduled to have a hearing today.   
Are there even local lawyers who can assist them there when so much of the city is still in chaos? 

Related articles by Zemanta

Diplopundit’s Blog Index | January 2010

US Navy via Flickr

Diplopundit’s Blog Index | January