Senate Confirms 14 Ambassador Nominees, Others Are Stuck For Now

Posted: 7:31 pm EDT
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In the early evening of August 5, 2015, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following executive nominees by voice vote:

Executive Calendar # 198 David Hale, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Executive Calendar #199 Atul Keshap, of Virginia, to be Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to the Republic of Maldives.

Executive Calendar #200 Alaina B. Teplitz, of Illinois, to be Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Executive Calendar #201 William A. Heidt, of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Executive Calendar #202 Glyn Townsend Davies, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Executive Calendar #203 Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, of Colorado, to be Ambassador to Mongolia.

Executive Calendar #256 Sheila Gwaltney, of California, to be Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic.

Executive Calendar #257 Perry L. Holloway, of South Carolina, to be Ambassador to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Executive Calendar #258 Kathleen Ann Doherty, of New York, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus.

Executive Calendar #259 Hans G. Klemm, of Michigan, to be Ambassador to Romania.

Executive Calendar #260 James Desmond Melville, Jr., of New Jersey, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia.

Executive Calendar #261 Peter F. Mulrean, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti.

Executive Calendar #262 Laura Farnsworth Dogu, of Texas, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Nicaragua.

Executive Calendar #264 Paul Wayne Jones, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Poland.

Executive Calendar #265 Michele Thoren Bond, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Consular Affairs).

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That’s it until September.  The Senate notes that “By unanimous consent, all the nominations received by the Senate during the 114th Congress, first session, remain in status quo, notwithstanding the provisions of rule XXXI, paragraph 6, of the Standing Rules of the Senate.” The following nominees were cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but were not confirmed by the full Senate at this time:

  • Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (cleared by the SFRC on May 21)
  • Azita Raji, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden. (cleared by the SFRC on June 10)
  • Brian James Egan, of Maryland, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State, vice Harold Hongju Koh, resigned. (cleared by the SFRC on June 25)
  • Dr. Sarah Mendelson, of the District of Columbia, to be Representative of the U.S. on the Economic and Social Council of the U.N., with the rank of Ambassador, and Alternate Representative of the U.S. to the General Assembly of the U.N. (cleared by the SFRC on July 29)
  • Mr. Samuel D. Heins, of Minnesota, to be Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway (cleared by the SFRC on July 29)
  • Ms. Gayle Smith, of Ohio, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (cleared by the SFRC on July 29)
  • Thomas O. Melia, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Paige Eve Alexander, resigned. (cleared by the SFRC on July 29)

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Senate Judiciary Sets Sight on Allegations Over Huma Abedin’s State Dept Employment, Senate Hold On

Posted: 4:33  pm EDT
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On July 30, Senator Charles E. Grassley , the Judiciary Committee chairman  wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry saying it has learned that State/OIG has opened an investigation to examine the circumstances of Ms. Abedin’s work arrangements, leave status, and conversion from a full-time Department of State employee to a Special Government Employee (SGE) and Senior Advisor to former Secretary Clinton. He writes that the “OIG found at least a reasonable suspicion of a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, theft of public money through time and attendance fraud, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 208, acts affecting a personal financial interest related to conflicts of interest connected to her overlapping employment as an SGE and her employment at Teneo and at the Clinton Foundation. The Judiciary Committee first inquired about related issues in June 2013.”

The letter outlines questions and allegations related to Conflicts of Interest and Special Treatment, and Improper Designation as an SGE (special government employee). The letter is quite particular, using specific terms like “baby moon,” “out of the office,” “going out of town,” “maternity leave,” and inquiring about Ms. Abedin’s stay at the US Ambassador’s residence in Rome. Here’s a list of what the Committee is interested in:

To aid the Committee in its investigation of these allegations, please provide the following:

  1. All documents and communications referring or relating to time and attendance for Ms. Abedin, all approved timesheets, leave requests, and any requests for paid or unpaid excused absences or administrative leave.
  2. All documents and communications referring or relating to Ms. Abedin having applied for or having received approximately $33,000 for unused leave.
  3. All documents and communications referring or relating to Ms. Abedin having applied for or having received compensation for unused leave.
  4. All documents and communications between or among Ms. Abedin and any employees, clients, or other affiliates of Teneo.
  5. All documents and communications referring or relating to time and attendance for Ms. Mills, all approved timesheets, leave requests, and any requests for paid or unpaid excused absences or administrative leave.
  6. All documents and communications between or among Ms. Abedin and any employees or other affiliates of the Clinton Global Initiative.
  7. All documents and communications between or among Ms. Abedin and any employees or other affiliates of the Clinton Foundation.
  1. All documents and communications forwarded by Ms. Abedin to a non-State Department e-mail address.
  2. All documents and communications between or among Ms. Mills, Ms. Abedin or Secretary Clinton referring or relating to Ms. Abedin’s leave requests or time and attendance, including the mentioning of Ms. Abedin being “out of the office,” “going out of town,” “maternity leave,” “annual leave,” “sick leave,” “baby moon,” or other similar statements.
  3. All documents and communications referring or relating to the Office of Inspector General investigation into Ms. Abedin.
  4. A description of Ms. Abedin’s duties at the Department of State before her designation as an SGE.
  5. A description of Ms. Abedin’s duties at the Department of State after her designation as an SGE.
  6. All documents and communications previously requested by this Committee relating to communications between or among the Department of State, Teneo, and Mr. Band. Additionally, please provide a written explanation as to why these records have been withheld to date.
  7. All documents and communications referring or relating to Ms. Motley’s meeting with Secretary Clinton that allegedly resulted in the granting of Ms. Abedin’s SGE designation.
  8. All documents and communications referring or relating to Ms. Abedin’s stay at the U.S. Ambassador to Italy’s residence in Italy and her trip to France in 2011.
  9. Did the Department search for or consider any other candidates besides Ms. Abedin for the SGE-expert position requiring expert knowledge on policy, administrative, and other matters? If so, please provide the supporting documentation. If not, why not?
  10. A list of all other instances in which a Department of State employee converted from a regular, full-time position to an SGE, and subsequently became simultaneously employed by a private company.
  11. All work papers, background documents, and communications relating to whether Ms. Abedin’s employment as an SGE presented any ethical concerns or conflicts of interest with her multiple private sector jobs.

The full letter is available to read here: CEG to State (Abedin Annual Leave SGE), 7-30-15-3

And because this is not going to end anytime soon, the HuAb investigation has now turned into a Senate hold for the nomination of the Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operation (State/CSO); a bureau which appears to be in fundamental crisis. Having the top nominee snared in a Senate hold is not going to help the already problematic bureau, is it?

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According to time.com, the State Department has provided five letters since 2013 in response to Grassley’s inquiries about everything from its use of SGE designations to Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. But Grassley says those letters have been incomplete and that the department has willfully withheld responsive materials, demonstrating “a lack of cooperation and bad faith in its interaction with Congress.”

Grassley filed a “Notice of Intent to Object” in the Congressional record on August 4 signifying his intent to block the  nomination of career foreign service officer David Malcolm Robinson , of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations).

Senator Grassley is quoted in the Time’s report as saying that Robinson was “an innocent victim” of the State Department’s “contemptuous failures to respond to Congressional inquiries.” Grassley also said the department “has engaged in unreasonable delay in responding to Judiciary Committee investigations and inquiries” including the Abedin issue.

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Related posts: 

 

Tick Tock: Ambassador Nominees Cleared by SFRC Still Waaaaaaaiting For Senate Votes

Posted: 12:54  pm EDT
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The Senate will head out for its five-week August recess this week. According to the calendar, the recess would kick off on August 10 and run through Labor Day. The following nominees are currently waiting for a full Senate vote. Unless they get confirmed this week, they’re stuck in confirmation purgatory for another month.
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Cleared by the SFRC on May 21:

  • Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Cleared by the SFRC on June 10:

  • Azita Raji, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

Cleared by the SFRC on June 25:

  • David Hale, of New Jersey, 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 Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Atul Keshap, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America 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.
  • Alaina B. Teplitz, of Illinois, 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 Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
  • William A. Heidt, of Pennsylvania, 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 Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • Glyn Townsend Davies, of the District of Columbia, 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 Kingdom of Thailand.
  • Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, of Colorado, 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 Mongolia.
  • Brian James Egan, of Maryland, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State, vice Harold Hongju Koh, resigned.

Cleared by the SFRC on July 29

  • Sheila Gwaltney, 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 Kyrgyz Republic.
  • Perry L. Holloway, of South Carolina, 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 Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
  • Kathleen Ann Doherty, of New York, 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 Cyprus.
  • Hans G. Klemm, of Michigan, 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 Romania.
  • James Desmond Melville, Jr., of New Jersey, 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 Estonia.
  • Peter F. Mulrean, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.
  • Laura Farnsworth Dogu, of Texas, 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 Nicaragua.
  • Samuel D. Heins, of Minnesota, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Norway.
  • Paul Wayne Jones, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland.
  • Michele Thoren Bond, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Consular Affairs), vice Janice L. Jacobs, resigned.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Mendelson, of the District of Columbia, to be Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Mendelson, of the District of Columbia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Also cleared by the SFRC are the two USAID nominees and one Foreign Service list with 181 names:

FOREIGN SERVICE

PN573 – 1 FOREIGN SERVICE nominations (181) beginning Maura Barry Boyle, and ending Anthony Wolak, which nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record of June 10, 2015.

UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Gayle Smith, of Ohio, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Rajiv J. Shah, resigned.
  • Thomas O. Melia, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Paige Eve Alexander, resigned.

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The Iran Hostages: Long History of Efforts to Obtain Compensation

Posted: 12:22  pm EDT
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We’ve previously blogged about the Iran hostages here (see Supremes Say No to Appeal from US Embassy Iran HostagesJanuary 20, 1981: The Iran Hostages – 30 Years LaterNovember 4, 1979: Iranian Mob Attacks US Embassy Tehran; Hostages Compensated $50/Day).  The following CRS report dated July 30, 2015  outlines the history of various efforts, including legislative efforts and court cases, and describes one bill currently before Congress, the Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act of 2015 (S. 868) on the bid to compensate the hostages.

Excerpted from CRS report via Secrecy News:

Even today, after the passage of more than three decades, the 1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis remains an event familiar to most Americans. Many might be unaware that the 52 American mostly military and diplomatic personnel held hostage in Tehran for 444 days or their survivors continue to strive for significant compensation for their ordeal. The former hostages and their families did receive a number of benefits under various civil service laws, and each hostage received from the U.S. government a cash payment of $50 for each day held hostage. The hostages have never received any compensation from Iran through court actions, all efforts having failed due to foreign sovereign immunity and an executive agreement known as the Algiers Accords, which bars such lawsuits. Congress took action to abrogate Iran’s sovereign immunity in the case, but never successfully abrogated the executive agreement, leaving the plaintiffs with jurisdiction to pursue their case but without a judicial cause of action.

Having lost their bids in the courts to obtain recompense, the former hostages have turned to Congress for relief.
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The Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act of 2015, S. 868, a bill similar to S. 559 (113th Cong.), was introduced in the Senate at the end of March and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Like its predecessor bill, S. 868 would establish the American Hostages in Iran Compensation Fund in the U.S. Treasury to be funded through a 30% surcharge on penalties, fines, and settlements collected from violators of U.S. sanctions prohibiting economic activity with Iran. The 2015 bill, however, would permit payments from the fund to be administered by the plaintiffs’ representative and principal agent in Roeder I, under the supervision of the Secretary of the Treasury. The surcharge would apply to sanctions administered by Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, or the Department of Energy. Surcharges would be required to be paid to the Secretary of the Treasury without regard to whether the fine or penalty is paid directly to the federal agency that imposed it or it is deemed satisfied by a payment to another federal agency.

The purpose of the fund would be to make payments to the former hostages and their family members who are members of the proposed class in Roeder I, as well as to settle their claims against Iran. The proposed class in Roeder I appears to consist of “Representatives, administrators and/or executors of the estates of all diplomatic and military personnel and the civilian support staff who were working at the United States Embassy in Iran during November 1979 and were seized from the United States Embassy grounds, or the Iranian Foreign ministry, and held hostage from 1979 to 1981.”

Accordingly, it is unclear whether all spouses and children of the former hostages qualify for payments from the fund.

Payments would be made in the following amounts and according to this order of priority:

(A) To each living former hostage identified as a member of the proposed class described in subsection (a)(1), $10,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage [$4.44 million per former hostage].

(B) To the estate of each deceased former hostage identified as a member of the proposed class described in subsection (a)(1), $10,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage [$4.44 million per estate of a former hostage].

(C) To each spouse and child of a former hostage identified as a member of the proposed class described in subsection (a)(1) if the spouse or child is identified as a member of that proposed class, $5,000 for each day of captivity of the former hostage [$2.22 million per qualifying spouse or child of a former hostage].

The bill would not appear to provide compensation for former hostages who were released from captivity prior to 1981.

Under the bill, once a class member consents and receives payments from the fund, the recipient would be barred from bringing a lawsuit against Iran related to the hostage crisis. Once all payments are distributed according to the above plan, all such claims against Iran would be deemed waived and released.

Read in ful here: CRS R43210: The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation.

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