US Embassy Juba Minimizes South Sudan Presence Due to Deteriorating Security (Photos)

— Domani Spero

On January 3,  the Department of State ordered the departure of most remaining U.S. government personnel from South Sudan due to “deteriorating security situation.”  The new travel advisory notes that the U.S. Embassy is “only able to offer very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Republic of South Sudan.”  @USMissionJuba tweeted Ambassador Susan D. Page saying that “We are not suspending operations, we are just minimizing our presence.” 

Below are some photos posted by USMC:

“A squad-size element of U.S. Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response successfully evacuated more than 20 personnel from the U.S. Embassy in coordination with the East Africa Response Force, and under the command and control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The Marines from Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response are specifically trained for scenarios in which they provide support to a U.S. Embassy in the form of fixed-site security, Embassy reinforcement, support to non-combatant evacuation, and other missions as directed.”

Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

A procession of vehicles arrives at an airfield in South Sudan during an evacuation of personnel by Marines from the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 3, 3014.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Sgt. Andrew Rodriguez, a team leader with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, leads the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, the Honorable Susan D. Page, down the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.

Sgt. Andrew Rodriguez, a team leader with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, leads the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Susan D. Page, down the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Juba_USMC5

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Susan D. Page, shakes hands with a local delegate on the flight line in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response help U.S. citizens into a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules airplane in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.

Saying goodbye. During an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy Juba on Jan. 3, 2014.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response help U.S. citizens into a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules airplane in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.

Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response help U.S. citizens into a Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules airplane in Juba, South Sudan, during an evacuation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy, Jan. 3, 2014.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

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What Does the Spox Say? Go Get a Dictionary — Now in GIF Version

— Domani Spero

At the Daily Press Briefing on December 30, there was this exchange:

QUESTION: So you have no differences between “regret” —

MS. HARF: Us and the White House?

QUESTION: No, I mean the differences between “disappointed, “regret,” or “concern.”

MS. HARF: I’m happy for you to get a dictionary and look up what the difference is. I think it’s pretty clear what I mean when I say “disappointed.”

And here it made the Internets: Abe’s Yasukuni Shrine Visit and the “Disappointed” US: State Dept Spokesperson Tells Chinese Reporter to Go Get a Dictionary

We could not find a GIF for it. So we made one, take a look:

GIF_getadictionary

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State/OIG Semi-Annual Report to Congress (Apri 1-September 30, 2013)

— Domani Spero

State/OIG submitted its last semi-annual report to Congress signed by Harold Geisel in September. Steve A. Linick took charge of the OIG on September 30, 2013.  The report was not published online until late December.

Via State/OIG

Via State/OIG

Under Oversight Review, State/OIG tells Congress it is conducting an in-depth review of Diplomatic Security’s investigative process.  This is in connection with last year’s allegations that several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. (See CBS News: Possible State Dept Cover-Ups on Sex, Drugs, Hookers — Why the “Missing Firewall” Was a Big Deal):

The Office of Investigations (INV) is conducting an independent oversight review of certain investigations conducted by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Investigations and Counterintelligence, Special Investigations Division (DS/ICI/SID). This is an in-depth review of the DS/ICI/SID investigations to assess the adequacy of the investigative process.

State/OIG also informs Congress that it audited seven posts under the purview of AF that had threat levels ranging from medium to critical. The audit was conducted “to determine to what extent the selected embassies in Africa complied with current physical security standards, and whether management officials at these posts used available authorities to effectively implement the posts’ security programs.” The audit identified physical security deficiencies at Embassy N’Djamena, Chad; Embassy Monrovia, Liberia; Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania and Embassy Dakar, Senegal.  A brief summary of the audit is posted here but the reports are not publicly available.

The semi-annual report includes an item about the non-compliance of the local guard contractor for Embassy Lilongwe, Malawi, who was required to pay local guards $100 per month supplemental pay in addition to the guards’ regular wages and benefits, based on a provision in the contract. OIG estimated that the amount invoiced by the contractor and not paid to the local guards as of June 2013 could be as much as $1,489,200.

Other items of note:

  • OIG conducted an investigation after receiving allegations of improper activities being committed by a major contractor that provides survey services to the Department and other agencies. The investigation determined that the contractor provided false pricing information to the Department during negotiations for a 5-year, sole source contract worth $25,000,000. OIG led a multi-agency investigation which resulted in the contractor agreeing to pay a $10.5-million civil settlement for improperly inflating Department and U.S. Mint contract prices and engaging in prohibited employment negotiations with a Federal Emergency Management Agency official.
  • OIG conducted a joint investigation with the OIG for USAID into allegations that two foreign real estate companies paid bribes to two LE staff members at the local embassy in order secure U.S. Embassy lease agreements. During the investigation, the company presidents admitted to paying the bribes and both employees were terminated from employment at the embassy. On May 9, 2013, the Office of the Procurement Executive issued six contracting debarments for a period of 3 years in connection with the case, two for each former employee, two for the two firms, and two for the presidents of each firm.
  • OIG conducted an investigation of an assistant regional security officer who submitted a false reimbursement voucher in connection with an extended hotel stay. The investigation determined that the officer knowingly submitted two fraudulent vouchers for reimbursement to the Department and received $14,630.83 to which he was not entitled. On March 11, 2012, The Department of Justice declined criminal prosecution of the officer. On March 28, 2012, the Bureau of Resource Management initiated a collection action against the officer for the full amount of the false claims, and on April 23, 2013, the Bureau of Human Resources issued a 10 day suspension to the officer.

See more Semiannual Report to the Congress April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013  [1990 Kb]  | Posted on December 30, 2013.

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