US Senate Confirms Eleven Ambassadorial Nominees

The United States Senate on its floor wrap up for Friday before leaving town discharged the Foreign Relations Committee and confirmed the following nominees:

PN1680Derek J. Mitchell, of Connecticut, to be Ambassador to the Union of Burma.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Executive Calendar #768 Edward M. Alford, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of The Gambia.

Executive Calendar #769 Peter William Bodde, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Executive Calendar #770 Piper Anne Wind Campbell, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to Mongolia.

Executive Calendar #771 Dorothea-Maria Rosen, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia.

Executive Calendar #772 Mark L. Asquino, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Executive Calendar #773 Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Maldives.

Executive Calendar #774 Douglas M. Griffiths, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique.

Executive Calendar #775 Jay Nicholas Anania, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname.

Executive Calendar #776 Susan Marsh Elliott, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan.

Executive Calendar #778 Richard L. Morningstar, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Senate reconvenes on Monday, July 9, 2012.

Domani Spero

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US Embassy Kenya: Ambassador Scott Gration Quits Over “Differences” Effective July 28

Ambassador Gration’s statement via the US Embassy in Kenya:

It has been a great honor and a profound privilege to be a part of the U.S. State Department team for the

English: Official photograph of U.S. Special E...

English: Official photograph of U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

past three years and to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and as the CEO of Team Kenya since May of 2011.  However, differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it’s now time to leave.  Accordingly, I submitted my notice of resignation last Monday to the Secretary of State and to the President of the United States of America, to be effective as of 28 July 2012.

Being the U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kenya has been a dream job for my wife and me.  This assignment has been the perfect opportunity to use my deep-rooted knowledge of Kenya—its people, its language, and its culture—and my diplomatic, development, security, and humanitarian experience.  Judy and I have been extremely honored to lead Team Kenya, and we wish all of you the very best as Kenya implements its constitutional reforms, holds elections next year, and proceeds with the devolution of political and economic power.

I am very proud of my 35-year career of dedicated and honorable service to our great nation, leading at all times with integrity first and the highest ethical standards.  Judy and I are looking forward to returning to the work about which we are so passionate.  But as we depart, we will deeply miss Kenya, the Kenyan people, our partners in the diplomatic corps, and our colleagues in the U.S. Mission.  Our hearts will remain here with you and with the true friendships that will endure until death.

General Gration was a national security adviser to the Obama Presidential campaign and served as a Special Assistant to the President. He also served as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan from March 2009 to April 2011.

On February 10, 2011, President Obama announced General Gration’s nomination to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.  He was confirmed by the Senate on April 14 and sworn in on April 19, 2011.

The Cable’s Josh Rogin has the scoop:

The impending release of a highly critical report by the State Department’s Inspector General’s office prompted the sudden resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, according to administration and congressional sources.

The report was described to The Cable by multiple people briefed on its contents as one of the worst reviews of an ambassador’s performance written by the IG’s staff in several years. The bulk of the criticisms focused on Gration’s terrible relationship with embassy staff since he took over as ambassador in February 2011 following a controversial two-year stint as President Barack Obama‘s special envoy for Sudan. The report is complete, but Gration still has the opportunity to write a formal response before the report is publicly released, these sources said.

We just checked, OIG has not posted the report online as of 5:44 pm EST. We’ll be in the lookout for that one.

Domani Spero

Officially Out: WH Withdraws Tim Broas’ Nomination as Next Dutch Ambassador

On April 26, 2012, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Tim Broas as the next Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  The WH released the following brief bio at that time:

Tim Broas is currently a partner at Winston and Strawn, LLP.   Mr. Broas also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, having been appointed by President Obama in December 2010.  From 1986 to 1995, he was a partner at Anderson Hibey & Blair.  Previously, Mr. Broas worked as an attorney at Whitman & Ransom from 1983 to 1985, and at Conboy Hewitt O’Brien & Boardman from 1980 to 1983.  From 1979 to 1980, he served as a law clerk for Justice Mark Sullivan of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.   Mr. Broas received a B.A. from Boston College and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary.

On April 27, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Mr. Broas is one of 117 Obama bundlers and has raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts

On June 13, he had his nomination hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

Mr. Timothy M. Broas
of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Download Testimony

On June 19, 2012, the SFRC cleared his nomination and his name was sent to the full Senate for a vote.

On June 28, the WH officially withdrew Mr. Broas’ nomination:

Timothy M. Broas, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was sent to the Senate on April 26, 2012.

As of June 28, the United States Senate officially posted the withdrawal:

Nomination Withdrawn: Senate received notification of withdrawal of the following nomination:
Timothy M. Broas, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was sent to the Senate on April 26, 2012.

Surely, a replacement can be found, and the vetting process can be started once more, but do you really want to be the next political appointee to go through that process when the presidential election in right around the corner? It seems to me like the US Embassy in The Hague may have to do without a politically connected ambassador until spring next year.  Until then, career diplomat, Edwin (“Ned”) Nolan who has been Chargé d’Affaires ad interim since September 2011 and Deputy Chief of Mission of Embassy The Hague since January 2010 will  have to do.

Update: The Center for Public Integrity is reporting that the White House has withdrawn the nomination of Washington attorney Timothy M. Broas following charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest in suburban Maryland earlier last week. He was reportedly pulled over on June 19, and was ticketed for driving 47 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. Read more here.

Domani Spero

 

 

Ron Capps | Back From The Brink: War, Suicide, And PTSD

Ron Capps retired from the Foreign Service and the Army reserve in 2008. During a twenty-five-year career, he served  in Kosovo, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan, just about all the hell holes on earth.  He is founder and director at Veterans Writing Project.  He blogs for the Battleland blog at TIME Magazine and in his personal blog, The Next Lost Generation.

In a 2010 issue of Health Affairs, Mr. Capps wrote, Back From The Brink: War, Suicide, And PTSD. The piece is one of the most poignant agonies of post-traumatic stress disorder I have read.  He imagined the dead coming to talk to him every night asking, “Why didn’t you do more to save us?”  He had memories of “the dead, the mutilated, the burned.”  He wrote a story where the protagonist shoots himself in the head with a pistol.  He borrowed a gun, and put a gun to his head.  A timely phone call from his wife saved him.

“When the phone rang I jumped—startled—and nearly shot myself. This was almost comic, because I was already planning to kill myself and was holding the pistol in my hand. So I would have pulled the trigger while the pistol was pointed at my foot rather than my head. The ringing phone broke the spell.”

He was afraid to ask for help, writing, “I thought I would be ridiculed, considered weak and cowardly.”  This from a man who had two Bronze Star medals and tours in Airborne and Special Ops units.

He also writes about Question 21, the one that keeps many soldiers from asking for help. This was changed under Secretary Gates but apparently some things remain the same.

The magazine won’t allow republication on the web (we asked), so go read it in full at the HA website.
Domani Spero

Quickie | Running Amok: Mental Health in the U.S. Foreign Service

Via Diplo Denizen by James Bruno (author and ex-diplomat comments on foreign affairs & writing). Mr. Bruno is the author of political thrillers Permanent Interest and Chasm and an Afghanistan thriller, Tribe; all available via Amazon Kindle:

In the second year of my Foreign Service career, I was assigned to Vientiane, Laos.  My deployment was accelerated by my predecessor’s seeking and being granted a one-year curtailment of his tour of duty because he was going bonkers.  Moreover, an admin officer had to be removed in a straitjacket after holing himself up in his house and smearing the walls with his own feces, another victim of mental and emotional stress.  I, on the other hand, thrived at this isolated outpost, our only one in Indochina five years following the fall of Saigon.  The setting was a cross between “Heart of Darkness” and “Casablanca.”  My seizure at gunpoint and brief incarceration by the authorities, which prompted a diplomatic row, was just one of the pressures at this surreal place.  Years later, in civil war-torn Cambodia, the State Dept. regularly sent a psychiatrist to post to measure our stress levels amid coup attempts, assassinations, 12-14-hour work days seven days a week and an unhinged ambassador.  At another embassy, one of our largest, the Secretary of State discreetly sent out two senior officials to gently pry our prominent career ambassador out of his job in the wake of his increasingly bizarre behavior, including public denunciations of an American ally.
[…]
In recent years, the number of Foreign Service personnel medevacced for mental health reasons has doubled.  One study revealed 15 percent of FS members suffered from PTSD.  A similar study done by the Defense Dept. found that 17 percent of soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from the same condition.  As the U.S. has gotten involved in more overseas conflicts, the pressures on our diplomats have compounded.

A particularly sad case was documented in the September 2010 issue of the Foreign Service Journal.  A former military officer and tsunami survivor, this FSO was assigned to one of the most dangerous war zones six years into his State Dept. career.  He worked 12-14-hour days amid gun and mortar fire.  After being injured in a roadside bomb attack, a State Dept. psychiatrist prescribed an antidepressant for his PTSD.  But the medication caused lack of sleep, loss of appetite and high blood pressure.  When he complained about the side effects, he was prescribed a different antidepressant.  But the side effects continued and he was evacuated from post and placed in psychiatric hospitalization in Washington.  State Dept’s MED office failed to provide him with a doctor proficient in treating PTSD, so he found one on his own.  He was told he could not return to post.  Further treatment did not resolve his problem and he was medevacced again from another post.  He lives in Washington, separated from his wife, and essentially grounded for medical reasons.  His career prospects don’t look good.  This officer is convinced that, had he received better treatment, his current situation could have been avoided.

Continue reading, Running Amok: Mental Health in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Domani Spero

US Embassy Kabul: Eileen O’Connor Moving from Afghanistan to SRAPistan?

We recently posted about the new and sparkling Ryan C. Crocker Expeditionary Production Studio at the US Embassy at the US Embassy in Kabul.  (See Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker “Dedicates” The Ryan C. Crocker Expeditionary Production Studio – to Whom?)

Our reliable Baghdad Kabul Nightingale amusingly informed us that the Ryan C. Crocker Expeditionary Production Studio is the only building in the complex that actually says what its purpose is, on the outside.  The Baghdad Kabul Nightingale is not counting “New Office Building” or “Existing Office Building,” aka, “Old Chancery Building,” and convinced that those two buildings were clearly not/not named by someone in public affairs.  Apparently, there are many other buildings in the embassy complex with boring names like DFAC, tower, staff housing, etc, or have state names like Michigan, Florida, etc.  The Ryan C. Crocker Expeditionary Production Studio is the only one that says “Broadcast Studio”; it’s the only one (at least for now) that says right on the front and the back exactly what it does.  The Baghdad Kabul Nightingale informs us that the public affairs folks over there clearly knew how to brand.

In a related but not unexpected news, word has it that Eileen O’Connor is leaving post soon, moving to DC and into the Office of the Special Rep for Af/Pak (SRAP); the late Richard Holbrooke’s old office now encumbered by Marc Grossman in Foggy Bottom.

Via US Embassy Kabul/Flickr | Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Khalid greets Eileen O’Connor, Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy, U.S. Embassy, before the inauguration of the Access English program at Rahman Baba High School in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, June 4, 2011. David Ensor is the guy with the red tie.

In any case, in 2010, we had David Ensor (formerly of CNN) over at the US Embassy in Kabul as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy, a newly created title. He had since moved on to VOA in 2011.

He was soon replaced by former CNN/ABC correspondent Eileen O’Connor as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy.  Don’t worry, she’s not leaving government service. If what we’re hearing is true, you will soon rub elbow with Ms. O’Connor at the State Department cafeteria.

So a now vacancy at US Embassy Kabul for a public affairs professional, huh? You can try Wolf Blitzer but you are wasting your time. Or John King who just lost his show, but it is an election year. Who wants to be in Kabul wrestling with the Taliban on Twitter when there is an Obama-Romney face off at the homefront?

We have just the right candidate for you, folks — and she’s somebody familiar, taa-daa! Dr. Liz Colton.

Dr. Colton previously worked as a journalist with firsthand experience abroad. She reported for Asia Week, a Reuters magazine, and was a London-based television producer for both NBC and ABC covering the Middle East and North Africa. She even has an Emmy for two ABC Nightly News pieces on Libya. Later she established Newsweek’s Middle East bureau in Cairo. She covered the Persian Gulf War and was even NPR’s State Department correspondent. And best of all, she is a former Foreign Service officer. One of ours.

Pardon me? Dr. Colton took the State Department to court for age discrimination? Oh heck, that’s like problematic, isn’t it?  Here’s a public affairs professional whose talents they could really use over there, they don’t need six months to get her up to speed, but she took State to court and while in an ongoing legal tussle, she was thrown off the airlock at 66… and …

But…but… DGHR is so full of nice people, surely they did not take that personally.

Domani Spero