Top Colombian Diplomats Talk About a “Destroyed” @StateDept in Secret Recording

 

Via the Miami Herald:

“Colombian newspaper Publimetro earlier this week released a 24-minute audio of Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States Francisco Santos and the country’s Foreign Minister-designate Claudia Blum. The paper said the pair had been recorded last week in a Washington, D.C., café by an unnamed third party.
[…]
“The U.S. State Department, which used to be important, is destroyed, it doesn’t exist,” he said. In particular, he said President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, “salió con un chorro de babas” — a colorful expression that translates literally to “let out a stream of drool,” and which means, roughly, he was all talk and ineffectual.”

The secret recording was reportedly taken during a meeting that took place at a coffee shop close to the Colombian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
They can’t be the only foreign diplomats talking about what’s happening to the State Department, but they might be the only ones caught talking about it openly at a coffee house.  In the meantime, Mr. Pompeo, a valued resident of an alternate universe continues to write his Miles with Mike “all is great” update to his “team” in Foggy Bottom. Yay! More smiling photos for the official scrapbook, please!

The recording is available here:

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@StateDept Releases First Ukraine-Related Documents Under FOIA

 

The State Department is about to get inundated once more with FOIA requests.  Anyone anticipating an “FOIA surge” this time around? You may download the documents here, the first set in a court-ordered document production via American Oversight.
The November 1 court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the State Department must search for and produce by November 22, 2019 records from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl containing any readouts or summaries of President Trump’s July call with the President of Ukraine.
We’ve looked through a hundred pages of these newly released documents, and while the most notable are the telephone calls between Mr. Giuliani and the secretary of state (two calls referred to in the Hale deposition), there does not appear to be any documents specific to readouts and summaries of the July 25 call.
So, how soon do you think before we’ll see those documents?

 

Pompeo Wants to Go Home to Kansas? So When’s the Audition For Next SecState?

 

Impeachment Inquiry: Public Document Clearing House (Via JustSecurity)

 

 

SFRC Clears Sullivan For Moscow, Other Ambassador Nominations, Foreign Service Lists

 

On November 20, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared fourteen ambassador nominations, and a few nominations for State, USAID and IADB. The panel also cleared two FS lists. The nominations will now wait for their full Senate vote.
AMBASSADORS
Ms. Roxanne Cabral, of Virginia, 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 the Marshall Islands
Ms. Carmen G. Cantor, of Puerto Rico, 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 Federated States of Micronesia
Ms. Kelly C. Degnan, 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 Georgia
Mr. Michael George DeSombre, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Thailand
Mr. David T. Fischer, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco
Mr. Robert S. Gilchrist, of Florida, 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 Lithuania
Mr. Peter M. Haymond, of Virginia, 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 Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Ms. Yuri Kim, of Guam, 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 Albania
Ms. Alina L. Romanowski, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait
Ms. Leslie Meredith Tsou, of Virginia, 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 Sultanate of Oman
The Honorable John Joseph Sullivan, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation
Ms. Leslie Meredith Tsou, of Virginia, 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 Sultanate of Oman
STATE DEPARTMENT
The Honorable Kelley Eckels Currie, of Georgia, to be Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues
Mr. Morse H. Tan, of Illinois, to be Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice
USAID
Ms. Alma L. Golden, of Texas, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
IADB
Ms. Andeliz N. Castillo, of New York, to be United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank
FSO LIST: 
Derrick Scott Brown, et al., dated April 10, 2019 (PN 606-1)
Jay P. Williams, dated May 21, 2019 (PN 788-2)

Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) Opens in Blackstone, Virginia

 

On November 14, 2019, Diplomatic Security tweeted a video of the formal opening of the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) located in Blackstone, Virginia.
According to state.gov, the Department of State, working with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), conducted environmental studies at Fort Pickett, which showed that the site was suitable for FASTC. In 2015, GSA purchased property and secured land use agreements for approximately 1,400 acres of publicly held land. On February 25, 2016, construction began for the FASTC project.
The final FASTC construction update notes that Hensel Phelps is the general contractor responsible for building the third and final construction phase of FASTC. The venues for this phase include the High Speed Anti-Terrorism Driving Course (West), Explosive Simulation Alley, Venue Classroom buildings, Indoor/Outdoor Firing Range, Central Warehouse, Armory, Parking Area for Training Vehicles, and a Fitness Center. Turnover of the Contract 03 venues to the State Department reportedly began in summer 2019. The Armory, Warehouse, Mock Urban Driving Track and a Parking Area have already been turned over to State for their use according to the FASTC September newsletter.
According to Diplomatic Security, DSS will train roughly 10,000 students at FASTC, including DSS special agents, other Foreign Service personnel, other U.S. government employees assigned to U.S. embassies and consulates, and some foreign nationals.  The Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) course, required by Department of State personnel assigned to overseas posts was scheduled move to FASTC this year.
For more information about FASTC, visit https://www.state.gov/FASTC

Related posts:

USEU’s Amb Gordon Sondland Gets Portland Protesters (Plus Oath of Office Reading)

 

Official tweet below from @USAmbEU account shows that the protesters are not isolated in Portland;  there are also protesters and commenters online. As of this writing the following single tweet has almost 650 replies.

Open Hearings Week #2: Williams, Vindman, Volker, Morrison, Sondland, Cooper, Hale, Hill, Holmes

 

Related posts: Impeachment Inquiry: Transcripts of Depositions Released (Updated 11/18/19)Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Thursday, November 21

  • WH/NSC: Fiona Hill, Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia
  • State/FSO David Holmes, Political Counselor, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine

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AFSA Issues Guidance on the Use of Diplomatic Passports

 

Via afsa.org:

AFSA has seen an increasing number of Foreign Service employees under investigation for possible misuse of their Diplomatic Passports (DPs). To ensure that our members understand the relevant rules for DPs, AFSA issues the following guidance.

General Guidance:

DPs carry the same message from the Secretary of State as do any other passports, i.e. that their bearers be permitted “to pass without delay or hindrance” and be given “all lawful aid and protection.”  However, they also announce that their bearers are abroad on diplomatic assignment with the U.S. government. While traveling abroad with such passports, DP holders not only have a special obligation to respect the laws of the country in which they are present, but they must abide by U.S. government and agency-specific standards of conduct.

In addition to reviewing the guidance below, we suggest all DP holders review the following material:

  • 8 FAM 503.2, Travel with Special Issuance Passports (updated 6/27/2018)
  • 18 STATE 6032, Proper Use of Special Issuance Passports (1/19/2018)
  • 12 STATE 12866, Official and Diplomatic Passports – Notice to Bearers (2/11/2012)

DP Terms of Use:

  • DPs may only be used while their holders are in positions which require such documents, i.e. during official business travel.
  • A DP attests that the bearer is traveling on diplomatic/official business for the U.S. government or is an accompanying family member of such a person.
  • DPs are authorized for any travel on government orders. For example, DPs may be used for R&R or medevac travel.
  • TDY travel should be conducted with DPs and any required visas. DP holders are advised to check with the post in question regarding requirements for entry.
  • DP holders should practice carrying both regular and diplomatic passports while on travel.
  • DPs must be used when entering and exiting the holder’s country of assignment abroad and returning to the U.S. from the country of assignment. Regular (tourist) passports must be used for all personal travel.
  • For all travel, we strongly advise carrying both diplomatic and regular passports and complying with instructions of local immigration authorities, even if those instructions are not necessarily in compliance with this guidance. If this or any other unusual situation occurs involving the use of diplomatic passports, please document the event for your records.

Examples:

  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A is taking a personal trip (tourist trip) with his/her family to Country B. The U.S. diplomat, and accompanying family members, must use the DPs for entering/exiting Country A. However, they must use their personal passports (“blue book”) for entering/exiting Country B. Whichever type of passport is used to enter a country must be used to exit that country.
  • U.S. diplomat has completed his/her tour in Country A and is returning to the U.S. with his/her family. The U.S. diplomat and accompanying family members will use their DPs for leaving Country A and entering the U.S.
  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A has an official meeting in Country B and then will travel to Country C for tourism. The U.S. diplomat must use the DP to exit Country A and enter and exit Country B. However, the diplomat must use his/her personal passport to enter and exit Country C. The DP will be used to re-enter Country A.

DPs Do Not:

  • Confer diplomatic immunity.
  • Exempt the bearer from foreign laws.
  • Allow the bearer to carry classified or sensitive material across borders.
  • Allow the bearer to avoid questions from foreign immigration or bypass security.
  • Protect their holders from arrest, hazards of war, criminal violence, or terrorism.

To Note:

  • DPs may subject their bearers to increased scrutiny by foreign governments and other entities.
  • Misuse of DPs may be investigated and prosecuted as a violation per 18 U.S.C. 1544.
  • Employees who are found to have misused DPs may also be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Many countries have visa requirements for DPs which exceed those for regular passports.  Guidance can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/special-issuance-agency-home/en/spec-issuance-agency.html
  • Taiwan: All travel to Taiwan by executive branch personnel must be with a regular passport.  In addition, executive branch personnel who plan to travel to Taiwan for official purposes must have prior concurrence from the Office of Taiwan Coordination: (202) 647-7711.

More information can be found at the Special Issuance Agency page here.

We understand that the Department of State will issue its own guidance on this topic shortly.

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CBS News on Possible ‘Pay-to-Play’ Scheme in Withdrawn Doug Manchester Nomination

 

On November 13, the White House formally withdrew its nomination of San Diego Developer “Papa” Doug Manchester to be Ambassador to The Bahamaas.  As we have posted previously, the Nassau Guardian reported in late October that Mr. Manchester  “has stepped back from his bid to become the United States ambassador for The Bahamas.” The report said that when reached for comment, Manchester Financial Group wrote in a statement, “He has withdrawn due to the threats on his and his family’s lives including three infant children under four years old.”  The report also said: “It also noted that Manchester had received “severe” threats on his life.” (see WH Withdraws Doug Manchester’s Nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas).
The report does not include details on who made these threats against the nominee and if there is an ongoing investigation concerning these threats.
LAT article notes that the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego issued a news release on Nov. 5 announcing that Daniel Hector Mackinnon had been sentenced to seven years in prison for politically motivated attacks against Manchester and a Raytheon building.  This was an April incident where a man reportedly attempted to set fire to Manchester’s La Jolla home.
On November 18, CBS New broke the news of a “possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration.”

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.
[…]
The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel’s request for $500,000, “As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!”

SFRC’s Risch reportedly “alerted the White House, which then asked Manchester to withdraw.”