Laura Rozen of The Back Channel has the Buzz on Obama 2.0 Middle East team. Excerpt below related to the ARB fallout:
Among the top questions is whether acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Affairs Beth Jones will be formally nominated for the post under Secretary of State-nominee John Kerry , or whether someone new will be tapped. Jones, a career foreign service officer, is, like Kerry, the child of US Foreign Service parents, who spent much of her childhood living abroad accompanying them on foreign assignments, including in Germany and Moscow.
Jones, who previously served as Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (2001-2005), came out of retirement in the private sector (APCO Worldwide) to assist in the Near East bureau in 2011. She assumed the Acting Assistant Secretary job for the bureau after Jeff Feltman retired to take the number three job at the United Nations last May.
Department sources said, however, that some State rank and file officers are troubled that the Benghazi investigation resulted in the departure of Jones’ deputy, Raymond Maxwell, who had come out of retirement to serve as deputy assistant secretary of state for Libya in 2011, department sources told the Back Channel. The perception among some in the ranks is that Jones let Maxwell take the fall, while escaping blame herself, in part because of her relationship with Tom Pickering, the veteran diplomat who chaired the Benghazi Accountability Review Board investigation, a department source who declined to speak for attribution said. Jones and Maxwell did not immediately return requests for comment.
Read in full here.
So that’s the question of the week.
We have previously blogged about the ARB fallout on personnel at State, both in the DS and NEA bureaus here and here. We do not think that Ms. Jones will be formally nominated for a couple of reasons:
- While it is true that she has been on the job for about three months as acting Assistant Secretary at NEA when the September 11 attack occurred, she was the incumbent sitting at the top of the accountable regional bureau during the Benghazi Attacks. Formally nominating her for the job would look like a promotion despite the deadly fiasco inside the bureau in the lead up to the attacks. That’s not good optics and the conspiracy sector will have a field day. Frankly, we can’t even imagine what that confirmation would be like at the SFRC with Senators John McCain and Rand Paul plus newly minted senator from Arizona named Flake, joining in the fun, if she is nominated.
- If rank and file officers were troubled with the departure of NEA DAS Raymond Maxwell in the aftermath of the ARB report, imagine what the morale would be like if she formally assumes the job. With a new secretary of state, not sure, this is something he would really want to deal with at the start of his tenure. The incoming SecState has an opportunity to start with a new slate, we think that’s what he’ll do — not because of inside knowledge (we have none) but because that makes the most sense.
Besides — what’s this proclivity with calling people back from retirement? How about these folks? None of them qualified to run the bureau with lots of countries in the hotzones? Where’s the next generation of State Department leaders coming up the ladder? Zap us an email if you know their undisclosed locations.
- How long will the State Dept’s bureaucratic firewall hold at the bureau level? (diplopundit.net)
- Accountability Review Board Fallout: Who Will be Nudged to Leave, Resign, Retire? Go Draw a Straw (diplopundit.net)
- Benghazi Attack: Closed-Door Briefings and Hearings All This Week (diplopundit.net)