SFRC Clears Gast, Richard, Sonenshine, Whitehead, Palmer, Farrar, Powers, Powell

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following nominees on Feb 14, 2012. All nominations will now go to the full Senate vote:

  • Earl W. Gast, of California, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Katherine Almquist, resigned
  • Anne Claire Richard, of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Population, Refugees, and Migration), vice Eric P. Schwartz, resigned.
  • Tara D. Sonenshine, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, vice Judith A. McHale
  • Robert E. Whitehead, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Togolese Republic.
  • Larry Leon Palmer, of Georgia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Jonathan Don Farrar, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama.
  • Phyllis Marie Powers, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Republic of Nicaragua.
  • Nancy J. Powell, of Iowa, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Personal Rank of Career Ambassador, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to India.

Domani Spero

Wanted: US Contractor for Embassy Baghdad Maintenance Services

The State Department recently issued a presolicitation for a contractor to provide Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services for the Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC) in Iraq. The services required include but are not limited to:

Ø Electrical Generation and Distribution;
Ø Heating Air Conditioning and Ventilation (HVAC);
Ø Water Supply, Purification and Distribution;
Ø Fire Alarm and Suppression System;
Ø Complete Sanitary Sewer and Waste Water Treatment Plant;
Ø Elevator Maintenance;
Ø Fuel Storage and Distribution for generators and gas/diesel station;
Ø Refuse and HAZMAT removal;
Ø Grounds maintenance;
Ø Facilities maintenance;
Ø Swimming pool maintenance;
Ø Structural inspections and repairs.

The Baghdad Embassy Compound (BEC) is located in the heart of Baghdad, IRAQ adjacent to the Tigris River, within the International Zone (formerly known as the Green Zone). It consists of 38 buildings, one service station and 16 guard towers on approximately 104 acres with three primary sites as follows:  1) BEC,  2) Diplomatic Security Man Camp (Camp Condor), and 3) East End.

Related to this, the department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs is  also conducting a Pre-Award Site Survey at the US Embassy Compound in Baghdad, Iraq. The notice posted at FedBiz says that contractors who are considering the submission of a proposal as the Prime Contractor for the Operations and Maintenance Support Services contract are strongly encouraged to make plans to attend this three day event as space is limited and the time required to apply for and receive a visa from the Government of Iraq may be extensive.

The notice also says:

The purpose of this visit is to provide specific information to interested companies on the work and living environment, the program scope and schedule, and the specific facilities, grounds, utilities and equipment requiring operations, upkeep, maintenance and repair.

Participation in the Site Survey is not a mandatory requirement for submission of a proposal or to be considered a qualified company in the evaluation of a proposal. However, this level of information sharing by DOS cannot be replicated in any other form.

Due to the requirement that a company either possess a Top Secret Facility Clearance or be able to obtain a Top Secret Facility Clearance, a Prime Contractor can only be a company based in the United States.

In an impromptu press briefing reported by The Cable last week, Deputy Secretary Tom Nides was quoted saying, “Contrary to some of the news reports, we are not reducing our operations by 50 percent… To be honest with you, I don’t know where the 50 percent number came from.” Apparently, the more “normalized” operation is focused on “switching from contractors to local hires and sourcing embassy goods from the local marketplace.”

But the embassy’s operation and maintenance services does not look like part of what they’re calling “normalized” operations; the presolicitation above excludes non-US based companies and requires the contractor to have a Top Secret Facility clearance.

In what might be a test of mettle for prospective American contractors, the State Department provides the following logistics information to assist potential contractors in planning their trip to Iraq for this site survey:

  • Air Transportation – Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) is the airport within Baghdad, Iraq, and is serviced by numerous international airlines. Attendees are expected to make their own arrangements to arrive and depart from Baghdad.
  • Housing – Attendees should make reservations to stay at the Parks Edge Inn, within the International Zone in Baghdad.
  • Ground Transportation –. Attendees are responsible for arrangement and transportation from BIAP to lodging destination and back; and from lodging site to U.S. Embassy and back. U.S. Embassy staff will meet attendees at the main gate of US Embassy Compound each morning.
  • Meals – Attendees will be allowed to take lunch and dinner at the Dining Facility (DFAC) at the Embassy Compound on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The lunches may be working lunches. Dinner starts at 5:00 pm. Please allow time for dinner before departure pick up.
  • Status – Attendees will be visitors to the Embassy Compound and require escorting at all times.
  • Schedule – The specific schedule of events will be provided to authorized attendees directly at a later date. Once daily time and schedule are released, attendees should begin planning to secure transportation accordingly that assure timely arrival and departure.

At least, potential contractors on this site visit are allowed lunch and dinner at the dining facility at the US Embassy compound. It would be interesting to see if Tony Stark of Stark Industries will show up at the main gate.

Domani Spero

Diversity Visa Scam: Anywhere in the US for $879 Only, and “No Discount for Childrens”

English: 'USCIS To Issue Redesigned Green Card'

Image via Wikipedia

A reader from the Philippines sent us this email scam on diversity visa. Apparently it’s been going around.  For $879, the potential victim is offered accommodation, health insurance, education and a guaranteed job in the United States! Potential victims are also told they can bring everyone in the family including cousins, as long as they each pay $879.  But apparently, there is “no discount for childrens.” Potential victims have to pay via Western Union and they have to send that money all the way to London!

Your registered name  [REDACTED] is included to show this message originated from U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State notifies [REDACTED]of being selected as a winner of the Diversity Visa program.

Dear  [REDACTED] , You are one of the 50,000 winners selected by the computer random draw from the 12.1 million entries registered in the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program . The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card. It is also known as the Green Card Lottery.

Winner Details
Acceptance Date:    Friday 18th of November 2011 08:46:19 PM
Winner Name:         [REDACTED]
Country of Birth:    Philippines
Phone Number:      [REDACTED]

Diversity Visa Details
With the Diversity Visa (also known as Green Card) you will enjoy all the advantages and benefits of a U.S. permanent resident, including health and education benefits, and employment opportunities along with guidance in your new country, orientation sessions and programs to integrate into mainstream American society. Once received you can use it at any time you want to move in the United States or just travel. The visa must be renewed after 10 years.

U.S. Government helps you with the accommodation and offers you Health Insurance (Freedom HSA Direct Individual Health insurance for 1 year), Dwelling (Apartment in any city you prefer, 1 bedroom for 3 months ), a guaranteed job (in the field that you are are currently qualified so you can start working even from the first week you arrive in the United States and get paid as U.S citizen. ) and education (for U.S. Students or Higher Education through EducationUSA. It includes transfer to a U.S college or University so you can continue your educational study. More details can be found at .)

Processing fees

Type of Residence Card Status Amount (per person)
United States Permanent Resident Card Granted! – Waiting for payment of processing fee $879
Processing fees Included
Total $879

Although the Diversity Visa participation was free, the law and regulations require to every diversity visa winner to pay a visa processing fee of $879. The Diversity Visa(Green Card) is guaranteed upon receiving the payment. The per person fee for each Diversity Visa is $879, payable in U.S. dollars or equivalent of your local currency. This $879 fee is the only fee a winner needs to pay throughout the entire relocation process.
Accompanying family members(wife/husband, fiancee, brothers, sisters, childrens, cousins) may be included in the program and their visas will be provided at the same time with yours so you can travel/move together in the same time. However the fees must be paid per person and each member(e.g wife, brother, parents, childrens, cousin) must pay $879. There is no discount for childrens. Please note that you are allowed to take with you as many family members you want. However for each person you must pay an additional amount of U.S $879. For example if you decide to move in the United States with your wife and a kid the total fee is US$879(your fee) + US$879(your wife) + US$879(your kid) = US$2637.

PURPOSE: The U.S. Department of State uses the fee payment primarily to process your visa related documents and verify your identity.

Visa Payment processing instructions
The fees must be paid using Western Union money transfer and will be processed by the U.S. embassy in the United Kingdom.

Western Union is a leading provider of International person-to-person money transfer. With more than 150 years experience and 245,000 Agent locations in over 200 countries and territories, Western Union is recognized for sending money quickly, reliably, and safety. You can send the payment in U.S. dollars or equivalent of your local currency .

Click on the following link to find the nearest Western Union agency and send the fees payment :

Find Western Union Agency

If you are unable to find a Western Union agency near your location, you may ask a relative or friend to pay the fee on your behalf.

After you find a Western Union agency you need to go with cash money, an identity card(e.g passport or national identity card) and send the payment to the U.S. embassy agent address in United Kingdom:

Name   : Kevin Wine
Address:  73 Queens Avenue
London, N20 0JB
United Kingdom

The payment must be sent to the above U.S. embassy agent address in United Kingdom because the U.S. Department of State decided this based on the diplomatic relations with your country.
After you send the payment follow the next steps:
Fax the Western Union receipt at +44 2080434497 !

Then wait for the confirmation that the payment was received.

Within 48 hours, you will receive a confirmation via email with your Case Number/Confirmation Number and exact date and time(approx. 2 days) of the final interview. Upon successful interview you will receive your documents and travel information to move in the United States. Under no circumstances your visa status won’t be affected by the interview. After you have paid the processing fees your visa is guaranteed !

Please Note!

The payment must be sent via Western Union in maxx 5 working days after you have received and read the email from U.S. DEPARTMENT of STATE. You are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last day to pay. Heavy demand may result in system delays . The visa processing fee(US $879) is mandatory for each person and the U.S. Government doesn’t offer any discount, loan or exception. You have been selected winner of the Diversity Visa lottery so the visa is guaranteed upon receiving the payment fees on time. A hard copy of this letter will be mailed to your postal address upon receiving the payment fees.

Please be advised that even through you are a winner of Diversity Visa your Case Number/Confirmation Number will be provided only after you send the payment confirmation of the fees. Please do not contact us to ask for the Case Number/Confirmation Number.

If it would be necessary to contact the U.S. Department of state YOU MUST ALWAYS REFER TO YOUR NAME. The email is !

CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT: AUTHORITIES: The information asked for on this form is requested pursuant to Section 222 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 222(f) provides that the records of the Department of State and of diplomatic and consular offices of the United States pertaining to the issuance and refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States shall be considered confidential and shall be used only for the formulation, amendment, administration, or enforcement of the immigration, nationality, and other laws of the United States. Certified copies of such records may be made available to a court provided the court certifies that the information contained in such records is needed in a case pending before the court.

It is worth noting that is a real website run by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  That and the exclamation marks are the only things right with this email.  The State Department on its website says:

The scammers behind these fraudulent emails and letters are posing as the U.S. government in an attempt to extract payment from DV applicants. All applicants should be familiar with information about DV scams provided by the Federal Trade Commission. Applicants are encouraged to review the rules and procedures for the DV program so that you know what to expect, when to expect it, and from whom.

Don’t get scammed, send no money, read up!

Domani Spero