PR Strategery? State Dept Deputy A/S Philippe Reines, Profiled as Main Course, Served with Sauce Hot Enough to Strip Paint

Political reporter Jason Horowitz, once with The New York Observer and now Washington Post writer on political features and profiles has this long piece about Clinton-insider and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Public Affairs Philippe Reines.  (See Longtime keeper of Hillary Clinton’s image has forged a loyal badge of his own). 

WaPo’s Reliable Source writes, “Why read this long story?”

“Because Philippe Reines is Washington: a “dysfunctional family of politicos, operatives, staffers, reporters, TV bookers, media types, government officials and frosted society scenester. And he bears some of their less appealing traits: an addiction to background dish, media recognition and proximity to power.”

Better than reality teevee?  Some excerpts from the sizzling profile:

Hillaryland‘s Ultimate Survivor

“The self-promoting 41-year-old bachelor and the press-scarred senior stateswoman share a bond forged by political civil wars, distrust of the media and an absolute reliance on allegiance. Reines (pronounced RYE-ness), a master practitioner of self-preservation and the beneficiary of Clinton’s almost maternal protection, is Hillaryland’s ultimate survivor.”

The author writes, “He is, he says, part of the “family” ….

“He is, he says, part of the “family” of Clinton lifers. But the famously boyish native New Yorker also belongs to a more extended and, if possible, more dysfunctional family of politicos, operatives, staffers, reporters, TV bookers, media types, government officials and frosted society scenesters. And he bears some of their less appealing traits: an addiction to background dish, media recognition and proximity to power. “

The Peter Pan of Hillaryland?

“Now, as Reines issues public — and often disregarded — denials that Clinton will either leave office to lead the World Bank or take another shot at the White House in 2016, the operatives who make Washington work have a more pressing question: Will the Peter Pan of Hillaryland move on?”

On making money — oh, me too, Phillipe, me, too.

“I need to start thinking about it,” Reines said, sitting in a courtyard at the State Department. His self-deprecating wit and youthful charm remain intact, but he no longer looks younger than his years. Reines filled out his pinstriped suit. The darkness under his eyes suggested years of internecine turf battles and hundreds of thousands of Clinton air miles.  “I’d like to finally make some money,” he said. “Which I have not done working for the federal government for nine years.”

He “encourage” the hiring of Ambassador Nuland as spokeswoman? Wow!

“He’s a master of courting power but is not respected by Senate policy experts and State Department career folks; he’s good with a zinger but a loose cannon. Reines insists that he encouraged the recent hiring of Victoria Nuland as the department’s new top spokeswoman. His passion, he said, is guarding Clinton’s political image. “

Channeling LeBron James:

“I was promoted in other ways,” he said, adding of his critics among Clinton’s former colleagues: “It’s interesting to me that they don’t exist anymore. They don’t have any job.”

Townterviews? Who in heavens name dream up of that dreadful moniker? He did.

“He dreamed up what he called “townterviews” — a hybrid of town hall and talk show — that cast Clinton as the star in front of tough foreign audiences.”

A bad rap, except from the one person that matters

“At the home office, Reines slowly earned the trust of his subordinates. But he also earned a bad rap among colleagues for condescending to career staff and undercutting his superior and rival, P.J. Crowley, in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs.”

If you remember, Mr. Reines is also credited for the “Reset”/“Peregruzka” snafu, an error that appalled State Department hands because the button – inscribed in Latin script, not Cyrillic was put together by Clinton’s small political team without help from State’s Russian speakers and professional translators.

On contributing to your own profile:

“Reines knows full well that, in the image-building business, a wealth of humanizing details can make a character more sympathetic. Even as he shipped out with Clinton to an Arctic summit in Greenland, he e-mailed his profiler: “Would it be helpful if I sent you random factoids, pieces of color? For instance, I don’t ever drink D.C. tap water.”

Um, what’s wrong with D.C. tap water?

The Press Secretary’s Commandment, Out.The.Window:

“Clearly, Reines flouts the press secretary commandment: Thou shalt not distract from the boss. For his 35th birthday bash in November 2004, Reines decorated the walls of the Dupont Circle house of David Lane, currently a top aide to Obama’s chief of staff, William M. Daley, with photocopied clips of his own quotes. In July 2007, an e-mail in which Reines campaigned to win Fishbowl’s “Hottest Media Types” contest was leaked online.”

I have to admit, the preceding part left me stunned for a moment, self-quotations as decorative items? How come I never thought of that for my bathroom? I mean, my quotes, of course ….

And how was it that I failed to cover that “hottest” contest? Oh, that was before he became a DAS, was it? But I’ve been able to dig up that campaign, because what’s online lives on forever …

Via FishbowlDC

Oh, dear! I hope he won that contest. 

This profile actually shows just how Washington, D.C. is kind of an alternate universe of sorts, some abnormal place where we talk of merit but don’t practice it … where even the congressional sports club cannot be shown/revealed in the 6 o’clock news for “national security” reasons — “pumping irony” says one of the media guys … and I agree but  I digress. Just saying — DC is a a place where the rules are different … I think that’s how best I can put it.

One day you’re soliciting votes to be the “Hottest” guacamole and less than five years later, you are a Deputy Secretary of State. There are several deputies out there at Foggy Bottom, but still that is pretty high up the chain and nothing to sneeze at.  The best part — you did not have to slog through the lengthy, anxiety-laced Foreign Service application process. And no doubt you did not have to wrestle with the idiocy of the application process. All you had to do was bet on the right horse, and carry his/her bag, if needed.

Now I know what was wrong with my  career plan.

Hamilton Nolan of Gawker offers his ruthless suggestions on What Not to Do When Being Profiled by the Media. I read it and went oh-uh! But you gotta read the whole thing, in case somebody wants to profile you, too. Excerpts below,

[A]fter all these years, Reines still has no idea how to not come off like an asshole.

1. Don’t be profiled by people who have already developed a deep dislike of you.
If you are asked to be the subject of a profile, and you know that the person or institution that wants to profile you already hates you, you must either 1) decline to participate, and write it off as creative differences, or 2) try to charm the writer so much that he changes his opinion of you somewhat. Philippe Reines was clearly very much disliked by the WaPo’s Jason Horowitz (and many others!) before this profile ever came about.

2. Don’t try to write the profile yourself.

3. Don’t be an egg-sucking self promoter.

He did not actually call the DAS an asshole, did he?

Perhaps somebody should diplomatically suggest to Bob Sutton that it’s now time to update his book and write an inside the beltway version —  “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized WashDC and Surviving WashDC That Ain’t”

Iraq Transition: The Civilian Medical Support Services on Paper

I have posted previously about the transition to a civilian-led mission in Iraq. The planned 17,000 civilian personnel (including personal security contractors) will be a lot less than what DOD has in country right now, but it is larger than the entire Foreign Service which has approximately 6,500 Foreign Service Officers and 5,000 Foreign Service Specialists.

Think about it, a workforce larger than the entire Foreign Service, deployed to one country alone.

I’ve posted previously about the transition and the medical support function here, here, here and here.

U/S Patrick Kennedy during his appearance at the Commission on Wartime Contracting last June 6 states that “a medical contract was awarded to Medical Support Services – Iraq on May 15, 2011 for $132 million for five years.”

I don’t know why there is a discrepancy in the amount and the name of the contractor but according to FedBiz the medical support services contact number: SAQMMA11D0073 is in the amount of $61,427,699.00 and has been awarded to CHS Middle East LLC, a company based in Reston, Virginia on May 19, 2011.

I went digging for the solicitation in FedBiz to see what to expect. Excerpts below on what the medical support services look like on paper. Excerpted from the publicly available statement of work:

C.1 Purpose and Objectives

This is a non-personal services contract to provide for Health Service Support to U.S. personnel and authorized foreign nationals serving for the United States in Iraq. The Contractor will provide trained and certified health care professionals and administrative service support to U.S. and U.S. sponsored beneficiaries working and residing in Iraq. The Contractor will staff, operate, equip, and supply health care facilities in locations prescribed by the Department of State to meet operational requirements as identified in this Performance Work Statement. Mission capable status (all sites listed in table C.1) is 1 December 2011. Mission capable means able to perform all requirements under this PWS.

C.2 Background

The health care support mission will transition from the U. S. Department of Defense to the U. S. Department of State over a period of time as denoted in Attachment A. Transition Timeline, beginning on or about June 2011 with complete transfer completed by December 2011 coinciding with majority of the U.S. forces’ departure.

After the U.S. military forces withdraw from Iraq, the U.S. Embassy and constituent posts and sites will be comprised of approximately 14,000 to 17,000 U.S. Government personnel under the U.S. Ambassador which includes U.S.G. civilians, military and local national employees; and supporting Contractors (U.S. third country, and local national). All U.S. and third country personnel will require medical care (local nationals only in emergencies or work related injuries).

The Department of State will establish a network of Contractor operated facilities in three regional support areas (see Attachment B for map of the facility locations and support regions) consisting of seven Health Units (HU), one large Diplomatic Support Hospital (DSH), and three small DSHs that provide patient care. A description of the capabilities required of each of the three types of facilities may be found in the Scope of Work of this PWS.

Health care facilities will be in secure compounds within each of the three geographical support regions with general logistics, utilities, and housing support provided by separate contracts.

The Contractor will be responsible establishing facilities as indicated in Table C.1 below:
Table C.1 Facility Type, Locations, and Population Supported

C.3.2 Health Unit (HU) Capabilities.

The Contractor shall provide on-site primary, urgent and initial emergency care for general medical, surgical, orthopedic, gynecologic (GYN) and mental health conditions; triage, stabilize and evacuate patients to the next level of medical care; and keep up to two patients in the HU for up to 24 hours until stabilized or medically evacuated. Staffing shall be continuous and uninterrupted; coverage for illness and vacations shall be the
responsibility of the Contractor.

The Contractor shall designate a medical director for appropriate medical oversight at each facility. This medical director shall be named in the resultant task orders. Routine care shall be provided during regular working hours, and on an emergency basis after normal working hours based on COM requirements. At least one physician with expertise in all aspects of emergency care shall be available 24 hours daily. All providers shall be licensed to US or equivalent standards and physicians shall be qualified by US or  equivalent specialty boards. All primary care providers (Physician(s), Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners) shall hold current credentials in trauma care (e.g. ATLS, CALS or equivalent) and cardiac care (ACLS or equivalent).

The Contractor shall also provide the following supplies and services at each HU facility:

• Medical and medical emergency equipment.
• Basic formulary and vaccines to include, but not limited to:
• Thrombolytic therapy.
• Medical supplies.
• Laboratory equipment and supplies and maintenance thereof,
• Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) waived lab capabilities to include, but not limited to: basic hematology, blood chemistries, urine analysis, cardiac enzymes, d-dimer testing.

C.3.3 Small Diplomatic Support Hospital DSH Capabilities.

In addition to the capabilities outlined above for a HU facility, the Contractor shall establish a medical/trauma care hospital with the following capabilities:

• Basic x-ray, diagnostic ultrasound (to include Focused Abdominal Sonogram for Trauma (FAST) Right Upper Quadrant (RUQ), renal, OB (tubal pregnancy), GYN, testicular, and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) evaluations).
• Appropriate number of trauma bays in the emergency medical and trauma unit for care and stabilization.
• Overnight bed capabilities for up to four patients (8 beds total ( 4 ICU beds + 4 regular beds))
• Post operative / intensive care capabilities for up to four patients to be stabilized until medically evacuated
• One operating room table with anesthesia and supplies.
• Laboratory with blood bank.
• Computerized Tomography (CT) Scanner with the capability to conduct non-contrast, contrast (oral and IV), and the ability to do PA-grams (ideally with venous run-off).

Staffing shall reflect that necessary to manage a single surgical patient with the required operating room (OR) techs, nurses, anesthetists and the possibility of multiple injured or ill patients. The professional staff, when time permits, shall be integral to all aspects of the facility. Physicians, surgeons, anesthetists, OR tech, EMTs, laboratory technologist and nurses shall meet the requirements outlined below in the Staffing section.

C.3.4 Large Diplomatic Support Hospital (DSH) Capabilities.

Sather Air Base will have the same common items as the Small DSH facilities and Health Units, but will have:

• staffing that reflects the requirements to manage two surgical patients and the possibility of multiple injured or ill patients
• staffing to include competency in performing and interpreting ECG stress tests
• possess a total of 2 OR tables with anesthesia and supplies
• overnight bed capabilities for up to six patients (12 beds total (6 ICU beds + 6 regular beds))
• post operative / intensive care capabilities for up to six patients to be stabilized until medically evacuated
• It is anticipated that full occupancy would be a rare occurrence.

According to the solicitation, which has now been awarded, the US Government estimates the following staffing: Health Units-5, Small District Support Hospitals-16, Large District Support Hospitals -31.

If I got my math right, and I’m atrocious at math — this comes out to 1 medical support provider for every 326 of the deployed population.

Related info:

1-21-2011 PRE-SOLICITATION CONFERENCE final.pptx (1,054.90 Kb)
January 21, 2011 slides from Presolicitation Conference(FedBiz)




It’s Me Kristie: Ambassador Kenney Returns with a Photo Blog

Ambassador Kristie Kenney then the US Ambassador to the Philippines was one of the early adopters of social media among chiefs of missions. In addition to the social media platforms used by the embassy in Manila, she had an official blog carried by, and her own Twitter account with some 18,000 followers. Read more here from prior posts.

She was nominated and confirmed quickly for her third ambassadorial post and was shipped to her new assignment as chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. While our attention was riveted elsewhere, she has started a personal photo blog, “It’s Me Kristie.”  The blog, which is in Tumblr is partly managed by the Social Media Team of US Embassy Bangkok. The mission also uses the following for its public outreach:

Twitter: @USEmbassyBKK
YouTube: USEmbassyBangkok Channel
The embassy’s YouTube channel is #3 in the EAP region in terms of subscribers, its Facebook page is #6 in followers in the EAP region, and the official embassy Twitter account is #5 worldwide among State Department Twitter accounts. The embassy appears to have ditched, at least for now its Flickr account, which is disappointing.  Of course, we have Ambassador Kenney’s photo blog except that we can’t put together an easier slideshow as we would have had they stayed in Flickr.

In any case, some photos below of Ambassador Kenney (rumored to be under consideration as the next Assistant Secretary for WHA) — straight from the “city of angels”…. (all photos/captions from the ambo’s blog; used with permission):

During an interview with ASEAN TV, we talked about US engagement with ASEAN, how a unified ASEAN market will be attractive to investors and how the US can work with ASEAN countries to build capacity to respond to natural disasters.
Embassy Bangkok is lucky to have a group of great volunteers to help with our community and charity events. Some are people who work at the Embassy, some are married to Embassy staff. Today we had coffee and muffins to thank this great crowd for being such super volunteers!
At lunchtime, many US Embassy Bangkok staff step outside to buy food from local sellers on the nearby streets. From fresh fruit to cooked dishes, there is lots of good Thai food for everyone. In this picture, we are getting food to bring back to the office to share. All those bags aren’t just for me to eat!

The perfect Memorial Day photo. While visiting Bangkok, Senator John McCain
(a decorated US veteran and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee)
pauses for a photo with our Embassy Marines.
Ford Motor Company is building a new state-of-the-art vehicle manufacturing plant in Thailand. Ford execs gave me a tour of the new environmentally friendly plant. It will open next year and will support 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in Thailand.

Posing in Issan costumes after the charming hosts from
Phuying Teung Phuying taught me a traditional Thai dance

I spent hours at Mae La refugee camp while visiting Mae Sot. I met humanitarian workers who provide services from food distribution to rehab for the handicapped. The United States provides more than $40 million each year for the 150,000 (mostly Burmese) who live in refugee camps in Thailand.