Trump Threatens Retaliation Against Countries That Issue Travel Warnings For USA #GetReady

 

 

On August 10, USA Today reported that the president has threatened retaliation Friday against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence (see Amnesty International Issues Travel Advisory For the United States of America).
The president said during the gaggle “We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.”
Oh, Lordy, that’s going to be the end of the State Department’s Travel Advisories, wouldn’t it? Better not show him the other countries’ color coded map of the United States where these gun violence is happening, or that’s going to blow up the State Department’s travel advisory travel map, too.

But seriously, per Foreign Affairs Manual, the travel advisories are part of the Consular Affairs’ Consular Information Program (CIP). It is a public outreach program through which the Department of State, through the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA), and U.S. embassies and consulates, “inform U.S. citizens and nationals of potential threats to their health or safety abroad and provide information about consular services.” Also this:
“All information provided to the public through the CIP represents the Department’s objective assessment of conditions in a given country based on reliable information available at the time of publishing, as reported by posts, various Department bureaus, other U.S. government agencies and departments, foreign governments, and credible open sources.”
Most importantly is this:
“Information provided through the CIP, including Travel Advisories and Alerts for U.S. citizens, is based on the overall assessment of the situation in country.  By necessity, this analysis is undertaken without regard to political or economic considerations.”
The Travel Advisory Review Committee (TARC) brings Department stakeholders together to discuss security information and how it is relayed via Travel Advisories.  TARC includes representatives from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, (DS/TIA/ITA); Post’s regional bureau; the Office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; the Office of the Under Secretary for Management; Representatives from other bureaus as appropriate based on the threat, to include: 1) Coordinator for Counter Terrorism (CT), when the threat is terrorism related; 2) Medical Services, when the threat is health related; 3) Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB/TRA/OP), if there are aviation issues; 4) Legal offices (OCS/L/CA), when there are legal issues; 5) The Office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T), when there is a nuclear issue; 6) Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), when the threat is environmental; and 7) Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), if threat presents human rights concerns, such as LGBTI issues.
The TARC is chaired by CA’s Overseas Citizen Services, an office that reports to the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Carl Risch. Mr. Risch, however, has overall responsibility for the Consular Information Program (CIP), to include supervising and managing the program, and is authorized to determine the final wording of all products. CA’s Carl Risch reports to the Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao. U/Secretary Bulatao in turn reports to the Deputy Secretary John Sullivan and Secretary Mike Pompeo.
So, if this president starts retaliating against countries that issue Travel Warnings for the United States, who’s going to tell him “no”?  We’re ready to borrow the rules from the World Rock Paper Scissors Society, if needed.

 

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@StateDept Policy Planning’s Kiron Skinner Reportedly Out Over “Abusive” Management Style

 

In late June, Bloomberg reported on the impending resignation of Chief of Protocol  Sean Lawler over allegations of discrimination and harassment. Bloomberg said that he was pulled off AF1 manifest after his staff complained of intimidating behavior, including reportedly, carrying a horsewhip in the office. (see @StateDept’s Protocol Chief Sean Lawler to Quit Before G-20 Summit #horsewhip #wherearethehorses).
Also in June, we posted U.S. Embassy Gabon: State/OIG’s Ode to All Things Dreadful in a Small Post. In that case, the embassy’s top two officials departed post prior to the release of a State/OIG inspection report.
On August 2nd, Politico reported that Kiron Skinner, the head of Policy Planning at the State Department has been “fired over ‘abusive’ management style.” Just a year ago, Secretary Pompeo described Dr. Skinner as “a national security powerhouse” and “a one-woman, strategic thinking tour de force” in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “I’m confident that she will enhance our influence overseas, protect the American people, and promote our prosperity,” he said.  Politico said it learned of the firing from a Trump administration official. A senior State Department official reportedly confirmed the firing to Politico, saying that several members of Skinner’s staff had threatened to quit if she wasn’t removed.
In July, Secretary Pompeo appointed Skinner as head of the executive secretariat of the controversial Commission on Unalienable Rights.
On August 11, Newsmax, the conservative website has a piece on Skinner that includes her denials, and multiple quotes from friends and allies. She will reportedly return to teaching at Carnegie Mellon University and will also rejoin as a Fellow at the Hoover Institution
According to the state.gov website, S/P members include 22 staffers and two staff writers. As of this writing, Skinner is still listed as director of S/P. The State Department’s telephone directory (though not always current) also has a different version of the office’s composition as of August 9, 2019.

 

Snapshot: @StateDept’s Redesign Timeline and USAID’s Suspended Cooperation

 

 

 

State and USAID submitted a joint reform plan to OMB in September 2017. According to USAID documents, USAID suspended its coordination with State in January 2018 because State could not articulate the objectives for the joint reform effort. GAO has ongoing work reviewing the status of USAID’s reform efforts.

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