Officially In: Luis E. Arreaga to Reykjavik

Reykjavík seen from Hallgrímskirkja's steepleImage via Wikipedia

On April 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Luis E. Arreaga to be
Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland.  The WH released the following brief bio below

Luis E. Arreaga, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Iceland, Department of State
Luis Arreaga is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor.  He currently serves as the Director of the Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment in the Bureau of Human Resources. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Panama, U.S. Consul General in Vancouver, Canada and as director of the Executive Secretariat Staff at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.  He has also served as Deputy Director of the State Department’s Operations Center and Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs.  Other overseas postings include United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, the United States Embassy in Spain, and the Agency for International Development Missions in Peru, El Salvador, and Honduras. 

He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee where he received a PhD in economics and a Masters Degree in Management.

Related Posts:
Oops, what happened to Robert Connan’s nomination? | Diplopundit  Aug 11, 2009
Officially In: Robert S. Connan to Reykjavik | Diplopundit  May 28, 2009

Related Item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 4/21/10


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Officially In: Rose Likins to Lima

Plaza San Martín, Lima, PerúImage by heinle via Flickr

On April 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Rose M. Likins to be Ambassador to the Republic of Peru. The WH released the following brief bio below:

Rose Likins is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. She currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute. She was previously Dean of the Foreign Service Institute’s School of Professional and Area Studies. She also served as the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. Washington assignments include Honduras Desk Officer, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State, Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs, Director of the Department’s Operations Center, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs. Overseas posts include Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico, Chief of the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion, Paraguay and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She received a BA in Spanish and International Affairs from Mary Washington College.

Related Item:
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DHS/ICE Lawyer Convicted of Corruption Faces Maximumm Jail Time of 256 Years

From DOJ on April 20, 2010:

Immigration Agency Attorney Convicted of Federal Corruption Charges for Taking Thousands of Dollars in Bribes from Immigrants Seeking Status in U.S.

LOS ANGELES—A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was found guilty today of three dozen corruption-related charges for taking a series of bribes from immigrants who were seeking documentation to remain in the United States.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 39, of Alta Loma, was convicted by a federal jury following a three-week trial. The jury found Kallas guilty of conspiracy, six counts of bribery, two counts of obstruction of justice, seven counts of fraud and misuse of entry documents, three counts of aggravated identity theft, nine counts of making false statements to the Department of Labor, four counts of making false statements to obtain federal employee compensation, and four counts of tax evasion.

“Mr. Kallas was a corrupt government official who abused his position of trust to line his own pockets,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This case should serve as a warning to any public official who might consider trading a quick buck for illegal acts that making this trade could send them to prison.”

Kallas has been in a federal jail since August 2008, about two months after he was arrested by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, where he and his wife accepted a bribe from an immigrant. The June 2008 bribe was the last in a series of incidents in which Kallas and his wife, Maria, told illegal aliens that Kallas was an immigration official—either an immigration judge or some other type of high-level immigration official—and that Kallas could obtain immigration benefits for the aliens in exchange for bribes which ran as high as $20,000.

Kallas took a $7,000 bribe from his housekeeper is return for using his official position at ICE to dismiss removal proceedings against the housekeeper’s daughter. The Kallases took bribes from four other illegal aliens in return for using two companies they had set up—Botno Inc. and Mississippi Valley Consulting Inc—to file Permanent Employment Certification applications with the Department of Labor that falsely claimed the companies had offered employment to the aliens.

According to court documents, the couple’s bank records show that, beyond Constantine Kallas’ salary, approximately $950,000 had been deposited in the couple’s bank accounts since 2000. When investigators searched the Kallas residence in June 2008, they discovered a hidden floor safe that contained more than $177,000 in cash and two dozen official immigration files.

As a result of today’s convictions, Kallas faces a statutory maximum sentence of 256 years in prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. on August 9.

Read more here.

Quickie: Senators Call for Changes to Troubled, Costly Afghan Police Training Program

We could not cover the congressional hearing on the Afghan Police Training in Congress last week but ProPublica did.  I am republishing below Ryan Knutson’s piece under Creative Commons with additional active links.  You can read the testimonies from the four officials in my prior post here:

Senators Call for Changes to Troubled, Costly Afghan Police Training Program
by Ryan Knutson, ProPublica – April 15, 2010 6:54 pm EDT

State and Defense department officials took a tongue-lashing today, trying to explain to a Senate subcommittee how the government has poured $6 billion since 2002 into building an effective Afghan police force with disastrous results.

ProPublica and Newsweek examined the problems [1] with police training in Afghanistan in a story published last month. The program, managed under a contract with DynCorp International, has faced challenges on every front, from recruitment to inadequate training periods to corruption to poor officer retention.

“Everything that could go wrong here, has gone wrong,” Gordon S. Heddell, the inspector general of the Department of Defense, acknowledged to an ad hoc subcommittee [2] of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Heddell’s office, along with the State Department’s Inspector General, completed a six-month audit in January of the program that found significant lapses.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the subcommittee chair, and others on the panel were less interested in rehashing the program’s well-known shortcomings and more interested in hearing about solutions. “What you laid out was a problem we knew in 2001,” said Sen. Edward Kaufman, D-Del., in response to comments from Heddell. “What are the two or three things you can spend $6 billion on and not end up with essentially nothing?”

Defense and State Department officials agreed that clearer guidelines for the contractor and more oversight are needed to improve the program. Currently, the State Department has just seven contract overseers in Afghanistan, said David T. Johnson, an assistant secretary for the State Department. The agency hopes to have 22 in place by September, Johnson said.

Another key would be to make training ongoing, rather than just the six weeks that police recruits are getting now, said David S. Sedney, a deputy assistant secretary with the Defense Department. “This is not a weeks- or months-long [process] — it’s a years-long process,” he said, adding that police need to be partnered with American military and more experienced Afghan troops on whom they can model their behavior.

Even if the program makes headway, some senators questioned whether it would be sustainable without a massive ongoing commitment from U.S. taxpayers. The Afghan police and army are slated to receive $11.6 billion to fund their operations for 2011, with just over half going to the police, Sedney said. McCaskill pointed out that’s only $2 billion less than the entire country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“It’s obvious that Afghanistan is not going to be able to afford what we’re building for them,” she said. The U.S. has made a “billion-dollar commitment for years to come.”

The government is already exploring whether a change in contractors might benefit the police-training program. DynCorp’s contract has been extended for several months, but the State Department has issued a call for new bids, hoping an array of companies will step up to compete for the job, Johnson said. McCaskill was skeptical, however.

“I will be shocked — like winning the lottery — if we end up with anybody other than DynCorp,” she said.

Write to Ryan Knutson at Ryan.Knutson@propublica.org [3].


Senate Hearing on Afghan Police Training Contracts

An Afghanistan National Police (ANP) instructo...Image via Wikipedia


Date: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Time: 02:30 PM
Location:  Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 342

The purpose of the hearing was to examine Defense Department and State Department contracts for police training in Afghanistan, including the State Department’s Civilian Police (CIVPOL) Program contract in support of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A). The hearing will review the recently released joint audit of this contract by the Defense Department and State Department Inspectors General and explore concerns related to management and oversight of the contract.

The hearing also address GAO’s recent decision sustaining the contractor DynCorp’s protest of the Defense Department’s plans to transfer management of the contract to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office (CNTPO).

Additional information and materials relating to this hearing are available at http://mccaskill.senate.gov/?p=soco_documents
Witnesses

Panel 1
  • The Honorable Gordon S. Heddell (view testimony)
    Inspector General
    U.S. Department of Defense

  • Evelyn R. Klemstine [view testimony]
    Assistant Inspector General for Audits
    U.S. Department of State

  • The Honorable David T. Johnson (view testimony)
    Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
    U. S. Department of State

  • David S. Sedney (view testimony)
    Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia
    Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense