Officially On: Revocation/Denial of Passport For Americans With Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt

 

The IRS has now posted a notice on its website indicating that it has began sending certifications of unpaid tax debt to the State Department in February 2018. Americans with seriously delinquent tax debt (totaling more than $51,000 (including interest and penalties) , per IRC § 7345 will be certified as such  to the State Department for action. The State Department reportedly will not issue passports to to individuals after receipt of certification from the IRS.

Back in December 2015, we first reported in this blog  about the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” or “FAST Act” which includes Section 7345 that provides for the revocation or denial of U.S. passports to applicants with certain tax delinquencies considered ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’ –that is, a tax liability that has been assessed, which is greater than $50,000 and a notice of lien has been filed. That law was passed and the IRS was supposed to start certifying in early 2017 but that did not happen.

According to the recent IRS notice, upon receiving certification, the State Department shall deny the tax delinquent individual’s  passport application and/or may revoke his/her current passport. If the passport application is denied or the passport is revoked while said individual is overseas, the State Department may issue a limited validity passport but only for direct return to the United States. Read more here via IRS.gov

Note that the guidance also says that the State Department is held harmless in these matters and cannot be sued for any erroneous notification or failed decertification under IRC § 7345.  Affected individuals can file suit in the U.S. Tax Court or a U.S. District Court to have the court determine whether the certification is erroneous or the IRS failed to reverse the certification when it was required to do so. “If the court determines the certification is erroneous or should be reversed, it can order the IRS to notify the State Department that the certification was in error.”

The State Department’s statement on this issue is available here with IRS contact details.

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Burn Bag: @StateDept’s Reasonable Accommodation For a Pregnant Diplomatic Courier?

Via Burn Bag:

Pregnant diplomatic courier told to use a portable travel toilet, undress in the presence of LES driver and urinate in the back of the truck. This is the best accommodation her supervisor and DRAD* could come up with. Another example of **pregnancy discrimination that is running rampant in the State Department.

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Physical requirements  via careers.state.gov:

A Diplomatic Courier must have the physical endurance to withstand the physical stresses from working long hours, lack of sleep, extremes of heat or cold, and other discomforts and the physical strength to lift and move heavy and/or oversized items such as diplomatic pouches and crates that may weigh as much as 70 pounds or carry heavy equipment. A Diplomatic Courier is required to perform work that requires regular and recurring periods of prolonged sitting, standing, bending, and stretching and is often required to physically move and transport heavy items; that could involve climbing ladders and working in and around aircraft, trucks, trains, aboard ships, etc. Related activities include crawling, maneuvering, and working in cramped spaces.

3 FAM 3350 | LEAVE AND REASSIGNMENT OF DUTIES FOR MATERNITY AND PATERNITY REASONS

* HR/OAA/DRAD is the Disability and Reasonable Accommodations Division in the Office of Accessibility and Accommodations, Bureau of Human Resources at the State Department

** The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. See more: https://fam.state.gov/fam/03fah03/03fah030110.html#H112

 

What did we miss?

 

Ambassador Steve Mull Back in Foggy Bottom

In June, former Ambassador Steve Mull was appointed Acting Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P) at the State Department. Until this appointment, he was a Resident Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.  Props to Secretary Pompeo for bringing him back to Foggy Bottom. Unless.  a new crop of career ambassadors were nominated and confirmed while we were gone, Ambassador Mull is the last remaining career ambassador in active service as of this writing.

EAP’s Susan Thornton to Retire After 27 Years in the Foreign Service

EAP’s Acting Assistant Secretary Susan Thornton is set to retire at the end of July after a 27-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service. The retirement was reported by Reuters on June 30.  (see Career Diplomat Susan A. Thornton to be Asst Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP)Tillerson Signals No Career Nominees For Regional Bureaus? #FoggyBottomBlues). Senator Rubio was reportedly prepared to place a hold on the Thornton nomination.

Still No Nominee for Director General of the Foreign Service?

So hey, it’s now July, and the U.S. Foreign Service still does not have a nominee for Director General. U.S. law dictates the nominee must be a member of the career Foreign Service.

US Ambassador to Estonia James Melville Pens Resignation on FB Over Trump Policies

On June 29, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, Jim Melville, announced on Facebook his intent to retire from the Foreign Service after 33 years of public service. Ambassador James Desmond Melville, Jr., of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor was nominated by President Obama as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia in the spring of 2015. He was  confirmed by voice vote on August 5, 2015. Prior to his appointment in Estonia, Ambassador Melville was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany.  Previous to that, he served as Executive Director of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs from 2010 to 2012. Ambassador Melville also served at the U.S. Embassies in London, Moscow, Paris, and at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.  His earlier positions with the Department of State include service as a Foreign Service Examiner, Senior Watch Officer in the Executive Secretariat Operations Center, and Legislative Management Officer in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs.  Ambassador Melville received a B.A. from Boston University and a J.D. from Rutgers University. He joined the Foreign Service in 1985 during the Reagan Administration. Below via Eesti Ekspress:

 

Confirmations

On June 28, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominees:

  • Robin S. Bernstein, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Dominican Republic.
  • Joseph N. Mondello, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Gordon D. Sondland, of Washington, to be Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
  • Harry B. Harris, Jr., of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Korea
  • Ronald Gidwitz, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Belgium
  • Brian A. Nichols, of Rhode Island, 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 Zimbabwe
  • Tibor Peter Nagy, Jr., of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs)
  • Francis R. Fannon, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources)

On May 24, U.S. Senate confirmed the following :

  • James Randolph Evans, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg
  • Jonathan R. Cohen, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be the Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Deputy Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.
  • David B. Cornstein, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Hungary

On April 26, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominees:

  • Andrea L. Thompson, of South Dakota, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
  • Yleem D. S. Poblete, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Verification and Compliance)
  • Kirsten Dawn Madison, of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs).
  • Thomas J. Hushek, of Wisconsin, 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 South Sudan
  • Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

US Embassy Germany: New Ambassador’s Rocky Start

On June 25, Politico Magazine did a lengthy piece on the new U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and his rocky start. “It is hard to overstate just how brashly he has charged onto the Berlin political scene during his first month in town.” Read Letter From Berlin: “‘He Does Not Understand What the Role of an Ambassador Should Be’

 

State/FSI’s Digital Media Administrator Pleads Guilty of Child Pornography Production

On July 2, Skydance MacMahon, 44, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to production of child pornography. During the time he committed these offenses, MacMahon was a Digital Media Administrator at the Foreign Services Institute of the U.S. Department of State in Arlington.  According to court documents, over at least a two year period, MacMahon, 44, conspired with an adult in Canada to produce over a thousand sexually explicit images and videos of minor children in Canada. These images and videos were produced at the direction of MacMahon using Skype and hidden cameras. MacMahon distributed these image and video files to other users and consumers of child pornography by providing access to the files on his cloud storage services and also by directly sending the files to other users.  In addition to the child pornography images and videos MacMahon himself created, he also received and possessed thousands of images and videos of child pornography. See more State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography.

US Embassy London’s Inside the American Embassy Airs on Channel 4

The American Embassy, the previous TV series set at the U.S. Embassy in London in 2002 had six episodes but the show was canceled by Fox after only 4 episodes being broadcast.

It looks like the new show is only up for three episodes. Radio Times reports that Channel 4 has roughly 300 hours of behind-the-scenes footage and says in part: “Perhaps the most surreal part of the documentary comes when the cameras follow various British MPs attempting to garner Johnson’s attention, apparently unaware of the small mic attached to the ambassador’s lapel.” Whatthewhat?!

One TV review says: “Woody’s big problem, like everybody else’s, is the mad badger in the White House”. HIDE EVERYTHING!

US Embassy Costa Rica Sub-Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft of $2Million Visa Fees

On June 14, a Department of State contractor pleads guilty to theft of government funds after evidence established that he stole more than $2 million of government funds that were supposed to be transferred to a bank account maintained by the Department of State’s Global Financial Services Center in Charleston. Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Mauricio Andulo Hidalgo, age 43, of Costa Rica used his position as President of SafetyPay-Central America to steal over $2,000,000 of government funds.  SafetyPay-Central America had been hired as a subcontractor to handle the processing of visa application fees for the United States Embassy in Costa Rica.  As part of the scheme, Hidalgo diverted the funds from a SafetyPay bank account in Costa Rica to another Costa Rican account under his sole control. See more Department of State Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds.

 

USCG Guangzhou Security Engineering Officer Mark Lenzi Disputes State Department Statement on Mystery Illness

On June 6, WaPo wrote about Mark Lenzi and his family who  started noticing noises in April 2017 at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China. “A few months later, the headaches started — pain that lasted for days at a time. Lenzi and his wife experienced the same symptoms, which soon included chronic sleeplessness as well. Lenzi says he asked his superiors for help but they dismissed his concerns. Consulate doctors prescribed painkillers and Ambien, which did nothing to address the underlying causes of the problem. And then, last month, Lenzi was shocked to learn another neighbor, a fellow Foreign Service officer, had been evacuated from their building and flown back to the United States for a thorough medical assessment, which soon determined that the person in question was suffering from “mild traumatic brain injury.”  

They gave him painkillers and Ambien but medevaced the FSO next door?

The State Department reportedly issued a statement but said it is unaware of any other cases — a point “strongly disputed by Lenzi, who insists he had repeatedly informed both the embassy in Beijing and State Department headquarters in Washington of his family’s predicament.”  Lenzi, who has reportedly called for the resignation of the US Ambassador to Beijing  told WaPo that the State Department “restricted his access to the building where he normally worked after he began to speak up more forcefully about the treatment of his family, essentially neutralizing his capacity to continue his work at the consulate”.

We understand that Mark Lenzi is a specialist who was assigned as a Security Engineering Officer (SEO) in Guangzhou until he and his family were evacuated from post. Given the reported restriction to post access for speaking out about this incident, this is a case that bears watching.

State/ECA Official Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds in Sports Visitors Program

On May 25,  Kelli R. Davis, 48, of Bowie, Maryland, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and engage in honest services wire fraud before U.S. Senior District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Davis was a Program Specialist for the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges.  She also served as the Program Manager and Grants Officer Representative for the Sports Visitors Program, which sponsored foreign exchanges for emerging youth athletes and coaches from various countries.  The exchange program was managed by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, through a federal grant and cooperative agreement with the State Department.  See State Department Official Pleads Guilty to Honest Services Wire Fraud and Theft of Federal Funds

Forced Repayment of Previously Approved Special Needs Education Allowance (SNEA)?

There were lots of talk some weeks back about people being forced to pay back special needs funding for their children that was already previously authorized and paid.  Folks were wondering if MED’s Office of Child and Family Programs (MED/CFP) previously highlighted by media reporting is responsible in getting this rolling. Anybody got some special insights on the whys and hows of this?

 

Who owns your medical and mental health records?

It has come to our attention that the State Department’s Medical Bureau can deny/restrict employees and family members overseas assignments over erroneous entries in their medical/mental health records. Of particular note is access to mental health records.  Employees can ask for an amendment to their records but how does one go about doing that without access to those records?

Apparently, State’s internal guidance doesn’t say that employees have the right to have inaccurate information removed – just that they can make the request to have it removed: “If you believe that the information we have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may request an amendment to your protected health information as long as we maintain this information. While we will accept requests for amendment, we are not required to agree to the amendment.”

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Catching Up on @StateDept Presidential Appointments – Career Officials

We’re just catching up on Presidential career and non-career appointments (separate post) at the State Department. Let us know if we’ve missed anyone.–D

Career Diplomat Francisco Luis Palmieri of Connecticut, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Honduras | Via

Mr. Palmieri currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State and brings over thirty years of experience as an American diplomat to his position. During his three decades of service as an American diplomat, he spent time at five U.S. Missions overseas and held senior leadership positions in within the Department of State domestically.  Mr. Palmieri earned his A.B. from Princeton University and M.S. from the National War College.  He speaks Spanish fluently.

Career Diplomat Kathleen Ann Kavalec of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Albania  | Via

Ms. Kavalec currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State with over three decades of experience as an American diplomat. Previously, she served as the Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, France, Deputy Coordinator for Assistance in the European Bureau, and Director for Conflict Prevention in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. Ms. Kavalec earned her A.B. from the University of California at Berkeley and M.S. from Georgetown University.  She speaks French, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

Career Diplomat Stephanie Sanders Sullivan of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Ghana  | Via

Ms. Sullivan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1986.  She is currently Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs in the Department of State, a position she has held since 2017.  Previously, she served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources in addition to other senior-level leadership positions at the Department of State.  A seasoned Africa-hand, she previously served in Accra, Ghana as political chief.  First-rate leadership and management skills, together with prior collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development and the United States military, will enable her to promote good governance, economic development, and regional security.  Ms. Sullivan earned a B.A. at Brown University and a M.S. at the National Defense University.  She is the recipient of 20 senior Department of State awards and a Sustained Superior Performance Award from the Peace Corps.  Ms. Sullivan speaks French, Lingala, and basic Spanish.

Career Diplomat Karen L. Williams of Missouri, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Suriname  | Via

Ms. Williams, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  She is currently Senior Advisor, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Department of State, a position she has held since 2016.  Previously, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana from 2008 to 2010.  Ms. Williams has held six overseas diplomatic postings in Afghanistan, South America, Central Asia, and Europe as well serving as Deputy Coordinator in the Counterterrorism Bureau and as the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Florida.  She earned a B.A. from Drury College, in Springfield, Missouri and a M.S. from the National War College.  Ms. Williams is the recipient of several notable Department of State awards, including the Senior Executive/Senior Foreign Service Award, the United States Special Operations Command Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, and a National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  Ms. Williams speaks Spanish, Russian, and Bosnian.

Career Diplomat Derek J. Hogan of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova | Via

Mr. Derek J. Hogan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1997.  He is currently Deputy Executive Secretary of the United States Department of State, a position he has held since 2017.  Mr. Hogan is one of the Department of State’s experts on Eastern Europe, having served five tours working in or on Eastern Europe, including Russia.  He has held senior leadership positions both at United States missions overseas and domestically for the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan most recent overseas tours – as Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Azerbaijan from 2013 to 2016 and as the Department of State Representative on the civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern (Uruzgan Province) and Eastern (Kunar Province) Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 – have demonstrated that he possesses the leadership, management, innovation, and communication abilities needed to succeed in complex operating environments.  Mr. Hogan earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  He is the recipient of multiple Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan speaks Russian and Spanish.

Career Diplomat Michael A. Hammer of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Via 

Mr. Hammer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1988.  He is currently acting senior vice president of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., a position he has held since 2017.  He previously served as United States Ambassador to Chile from 2014 to 2016, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of State from 2012 to 2013 and Special Assistant to the President as Senior Director for Press and Communications and spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2011.  He has served at five U.S. Missions overseas and in several senior leadership positions in Washington.  Mr. Hammer earned a M.S. at the National Defense University National War College, an M.A. from Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a B.S. from Georgetown University.  He is fluent in Spanish, speaks French and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of Icelandic.

Career Diplomat Alaina B. Teplitz of Colorado, 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 the Maldives | Via 

Ambassador Teplitz is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and is currently serving as American Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.  Previously she served in senior leadership positions as Director of the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation at the U.S. Department of State and as the Management Minister Counselor of the American Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan.  Ambassador Teplitz is recognized as a talented and experienced manager whose diverse range of Foreign Service assignments have given her a broad-based perspective as a leader and mentor.  Previously, Ambassador Teplitz served as Deputy Executive Director in the Department’s Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs and Director of Management Tradecraft Training at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute.  Ambassador Teplitz earned a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1991.  She is the recipient of numerous notable Department of State awards.  Ambassador Teplitz’s languages are Albanian, Chinese-Mandarin, French, and Mongolian.

Career Diplomat Donald Lu of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kyrgyz Republic | Via 

Ambassador Lu, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  He is currently Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, a position he has held since 2014.  Ambassador Lu has also served the Department of State as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India from 2010 to 2013; Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan from 2009 to 2010; Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan from 2007 to 2009; and Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from 2003 to 2006.  He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1988 to 1990.  Ambassador Lu is known as one of the Department’s most talented leaders, respected for his strong analytical skills, leadership, mentoring and motivational skills, and broad experience in Central Asia.  He has served at six U.S. Missions overseas, some twice, and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State.  Ambassador Lu earned a M.A. and a B.A. from Princeton University.  He is the recipient of seven notable awards from the State Department, including the Rockwell Anthony Schnabel Award for advancing U.S.-European Union relations.  Ambassador Lu speaks and reads Albanian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, West African Krio, Hindi and Urdu.

Career Civil Servant Daniel N. Rosenblum of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan | Via

Mr. Rosenblum, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, a position he has held since 2014. For more than two decades, Mr. Rosenblum has served in senior United States Government positions managing people and resources, leading negotiations, building consensus, and communicating publicly about United States Government policy toward the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.  A Russian-speaker, Mr. Rosenblum has put together billion-dollar aid packages to stabilize and rebuild countries in crisis, organized and led interagency teams in support of counter-terrorism goals, and forged strong diplomatic ties with key United States partners in Central Asia.  Previously, he served as a Senior Program Coordinator for the Free Trade Union Institute, a Legislative Assistant to United States Senator Carl Levin, and a Research Assistant in the House of Lords in London, England.  Mr. Rosenblum earned a B.A. in history, summa cum laude, from Yale University and a M.A. in Soviet Studies and International Economics from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  Mr. Rosenblum is the recipient of 8 notable Department of State awards, including a Special Service Award.

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Catching Up on @StateDept Presidential Appointments – NonCareer Officials

STATE DEPARTMENT

Brian J. Bulatao of Texas, to be an Under Secretary of State for Management | Via 

Mr. Bulatao has served as the chief operating officer of the Central Intelligence Agency since 2017 and as a senior advisor to then-CIA Director Pompeo.  Mr. Bulatao also served for seven years as an officer in the United States Army from 1986 to 1993.  Following his honorable discharge from the military, Mr. Bulatao was the president and chief operating officer of a number of private sector companies, including Thayer Aerospace, Wichita, Kansas, Nefab America, Coppel, Texas, and Niteo Products, Dallas, Texas.  Mr. Bulatao was a distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, receiving his B.S. in 1986.  He received his master of business administration  from Harvard Business School, in 1995.  Mr. Bulatao was the recipient of the CIA Director’s Award for Distinguished Service and was an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

On June 18, the WH sent its withdrawal of the nomination of Eric M. Ueland, of Oregon, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management), vice Patrick Francis Kennedy, which was resubmitted to the Senate on January 8, 2018.

Related posts:

 

Tibor Peter Nagy Jr. of Texas, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs | Via 

Ambassador Tibor Peter Nagy, Jr., a retired career member of the Senior Foreign Service, formerly class of Minister-Counselor, served as an American diplomat from 1978 to 2003.  Twice a U.S. Ambassador—to Ethiopia from 1999 to 2002 and to Guinea from 1996 to 1999—he also served as Deputy Chief of Mission three times—in Nigeria from 1993 to 1995, Cameroon from 1990 to 1993, and Togo from 1987 to 1990.  In all, he served eight tours of duty at U.S. Embassies in Africa.  Ambassador Nagy served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University from 2003 to 2017.  He currently serves as Ambassador-in-Residence, Institute for Peace and Conflict, and Honors College Adjunct Faculty at Texas Tech University, where he teaches about Africa.  Ambassador Nagy was born in Budapest, Hungary, and arrived in the United States as a political refugee in 1957.  He received a B.A. from Texas Tech University and a M.S.A. from George Washington University.  Ambassador Nagy speaks Hungarian and French, and has received numerous awards from the Department of State.

Ellen E. McCarthy of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research | Via

Ms. McCarthy has been president of Noblis NSP since 2016.  She has experience in the intelligence community including service as the chief operating officer of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2016.  Before joining NGA, Ms. McCarthy served as president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance from 2009 to 2013.  She was also director of the human capital management office from 2005 to 2009 and the acting director of security within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2003 to 2005.  Ms. McCarthy also served as the  Director of Intelligence Operations, Strategy and Policy for the United States Coast Guard from 1998 to 2003 and an intelligence research specialist for the U.S. Atlantic Command from 1991 to 1998.  Ms. McCarthy earned a B.A. from the University of South Carolina, and she holds a Master’s Degree in public policy from the University of Maryland.  She is the recipient of  a Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, a National Intelligence Superior Service Medal, and a Presidential Rank Award, Meritorious.

R. Clarke Cooper of Florida, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs | Via

Mr. Cooper currently serves as the Director of Intelligence Planning for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force – National Capital Region.  A combat veteran, Mr. Cooper’s active duty assignments include tours with United States Africa Command, Special Operations Command Africa, Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans-Sahara, and Special Operations Command Central.  His background in intergovernmental affairs, foreign policy, counter-terrorism, and rule of law is coupled with his extensive operational experience.  Mr. Cooper’s civilian and military postings include security cooperation and capacity building in Africa, the Levant, and the Middle East.  He served in the Department of State as United States Alternate Representative to the United Nations Security Council and as the United States Delegate to United Nations Budget Committee from 2007 to 2009, Senior Advisor in Near Eastern Affairs Bureau from 2006 to 2007, and Advisor at United States Embassy-Baghdad from 2005 to 2006.  Mr. Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. The WH announcement omits mentioning Cooper’s tenure as head of Log Cabin Republicans from 2010 to 2012. The Washington Blade notes that under Cooper’s tenure at Log Cabin, the organization oversaw a lawsuit challenging “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and assisted with legislative effort to convince Republicans to vote to repeal the military’s gay ban.

Robert A. Destro of Virginia, to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor | Via 

Mr. Destro is a human rights advocate and a civil rights attorney with expertise in elections and employment law.  He is also professor of law and director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.  Mr. Destro has been on the faculty at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law since 1982 and served as its Interim Dean from 1999 to 2001.  He served a six-year term as Commissioner of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.  Mr. Destro’s legal work includes collaboration with the Peace Research Institute Oslo in a fifteen-year dialogue among Muslim, Christian, and Jewish legal, business, and religious leaders in the United States and the Middle East and efforts promoting the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the Middle East.  He has also served as voting rights counsel for the Ohio Secretary of State and advocated for the First Amendment rights of individuals and organizations.  He earned a B.A. from Miami University, Ohio, and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.  He is an active member of the Bar in Ohio and California.

Denise Natali of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operation | Via

Dr. Denise Natali is the Director for Strategic Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense University, where she specializes on the Middle East, Iraq, trans-border Kurdish issues, and post-conflict stabilization.  Prior to joining INSS in January of 2011 as the Minerva Chair, Dr. Natali spent more than two decades researching and working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria, and was also engaged in post-conflict relief and stabilization.  She served as the director of cross-border operations for a non-governmental organization in Peshawar, Pakistan, a specialist for the American Red Cross Gulf Relief Crisis Project in Washington D.C., and an information officer for the Disaster Assistance Relief Team, U.S Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in northern Iraq.  From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Natali supported a university start-up and taught at public and private universities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, including the American University of Iraq Sulaimania (AUI-S).  She received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, a M.I.A. from Columbia University and a B. A. from Franklin & Marshall College.  She speaks French and is conversant in Kurdish and Farsi.

John Cotton Richmond of Virginia, to be the Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking at the Department of State | Via

Mr. Richmond is the founder of the Human Trafficking Institute, a nonprofit that works inside criminal justice systems to decimate modern slavery by empowering police and prosecutors to stop traffickers. Previously, he served as the Special Litigation Counsel with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and as a founding member of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. Additionally, he served as Field Office Director at the International Justice Mission in Chennai, India and is a two time recipient of the Department of Homeland Security’s Outstanding Investigative Accomplishments in Human Trafficking Award. Mr. Richmond earned his B.A. from the University of Mary Washington and J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Robert Charles O’Brien of California, to be the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs | Via 

Robert C. O’Brien, an attorney, diplomat, and author, is a founding partner of Larson O’Brien LLP.  His practice focuses on complex litigation and international arbitration.  Mr. O’Brien has extensive government and private sector experience in national security and foreign policy matters.  He has served as an arbitrator in over twenty international proceedings and been appointed by the Federal courts to serve as a Special Master in over a dozen complex cases.  Mr. O’Brien has been named one of the top 100 lawyers in California and one of the top 500 lawyers in America. Mr. O’Brien was appointed as a Representative to the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, served as Co-Chairman of the Department of State’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2011 and was appointed to serve as a member of the U.S. Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2008.  He was a senior legal officer with the United Nations Security Council in Geneva, Switzerland from 1996 to 1998.  Mr. O’Brien served as a major in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve.  Mr. O’Brien received a B.A. degree from UCLA and a J.D. degree from Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley School of Law.

CHIEFS OF MISSION

Harry B. Harris Jr. of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Korea | Via 

Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr. currently serves as the 24th commander of U.S. Pacific Command.  A highly decorated, combat proven Naval officer with extensive knowledge, leadership, and geopolitical expertise in the Indo-Pacific region, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and was designated a naval flight officer in 1979.  He earned a M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a M.A. from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and attended Oxford University.  During his 40-year career, he served in every geographic combatant command region, and he has held seven command assignments, including the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and VP-46.  He and his wife, Bruni, live in Hawaii.

On May 23, the WH sent to the Senate its withdrawal of Admiral Harris’ nomination to be Ambassador  to the Commonwealth of Australia, which was sent to the Senate on February 13, 2018.

Lynda Blanchard of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia | Via 

Ms. Blanchard co-founded 100X Development Foundation in 2004, an organization dedicated to fostering creative solutions to eradicate poverty and improve the lives of children around the world.  Concurrently, she co-founded and is currently senior advisor at B & M Management Company, a real estate investment management company.  Ms. Blanchard has worked in Africa, Asia, and South America, engaging with local partners to further 100X Development Foundation’s mission.  As an advocate for people with special needs for more than 20 years, Ms. Blanchard has voluntarily served on boards of non-profit organizations and supported numerous education programs in Alabama, as well as helped families who are interested in adoption.  She is the mother of seven children, four of which were adopted internationally.  Ms. Blanchard earned a B.S. in mathematics and a minor in computer science from Auburn University.

Christine J. Toretti of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta | Via

Ms. Toretti is an accomplished businesswoman, philanthropist and civic leader.  She was President and CEO of the S.W. Jack Drilling Company for over two decades.  She has served as vice chair of the Rural Telephone Bank, U.S. Department of Agriculture, as a member of the National Petroleum Council, and on the advisory board for the U.S. Secretary of Energy.  Ms. Toretti was also a director of the Pittsburgh branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.  Ms. Toretti has been Republican National Committeewoman from Pennsylvania since 1997 and founded the Anne Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series and the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series, to educate, empower and advance women in politics.  She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia.

Ronald Gidwitz of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Belgium  | Via 

Mr. Gidwitz is a partner in GCG Partners and previously led Helene Curtis Industries as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Mr. Gidwitz is also Chicago regional chair of the Business Executives for National Security and, for almost thirty consecutive years, and led three important public institutions; the Chicago Economic Development Commission, the City Colleges of Chicago, and the Illinois State Board of Education.  In addition, Mr. Gidwitz chaired the Illinois Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Workforce Development and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  Mr. Gidwitz earned a B.A. from Brown University, Providence Rhode Island.  He has received numerous honors and awards including the Bertha Palmer Distinguished Civic Leadership Award from the Chicago Historical Society and been named Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Donald Ray Tapia of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica | Via 

Mr. Tapia served as Chairman and CEO of Essco Group Management, the largest Hispanic owned business in Arizona, for over three decades. Mr. Tapia’s philanthropic efforts include serving on the Board of Directors for the Sun Angel Foundation and Endowment at Arizona State University, the Tau Kappa Epsilon Educational Foundation Board of Indianapolis, Indiana, and as Chairman of Board and Trustee at Saint Leo University. Additionally, he served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix, Teen LifeLine Phoenix, the Advisory Council of the Arizona Animal Welfare League, and the Advisory Board for the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Tapia is a U.S. Army veteran and received his B.A. and M.B.A. from Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida, where he was later awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Gordon D. Sondland, of Washington, to be Representative of the United States of America to the European Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary | Via 

Gordon D. Sondland is the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Aspen Lodging Group, LLC, d.b.a. Provenance Hotels, in Portland, Oregon.  For almost 15 years Mr. Sondland managed the Aspen Group, an investment fund and he has served on the Advisory Board of U.S. Bancorp for more than a decade.  Additionally, Mr. Sondland was the Senior Republican advisor to the Democratic Governor of Oregon.  He also served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Portland Art Museum.  Mr. Sondland attended the University of Washington in Seattle, and has maintained an Airline Transport Pilot License since 1978.

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July 4, 2018: Celebrations, Boycotts, Lies, Cages, Profiteers, One Fired Cartoonist

 

Meanwhile — we understand that it was a spectacular show on teevee. Apparently, one story changed more than a dozen times, and ratings were like nothing ever seen before.

And then a cartoonist was fired for his catalog of brutal realities. If you’ve lived in developing countries ruled by dictators (who typically, take over media outlets in the name of protecting their people), you will quickly realize that media outlets run by pals and cronies is a perilous cliff. Before long, the only cartoons and news fit to print are friendly litanies of the life of the country. There are no dissenters in fairytales, of course. We don’t want to be that country. I don’t think we will … but it doesn’t help my troubled soul tonight.

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Foreign Service Posts Mark Memorial Day 2018 #NoHappyMemorialDayPls

Posted: 2:40 pm PT

 

Here are two posts sending out “happy” Memorial Day greetings. Cemeteries, dead loved ones do not make for a happy day. We remember them, we honor them, we thank the families for the sacrifice of their dead loved ones, but there is nothing happy about it. This is not unique to this two posts, of course, but it bothers us more than it should this year. We don’t think they meant ill but we  hope posts would give some thought about why this is not a “happy” day and tweet accordingly.

Something from 2016 from former FSO Kael Weston about Memorial Day:  “For those who have lost loved ones in battle, a different and quieter sort of memorializing is likely to take place in homes, churches and neighborhood cemeteries. “I miss you” posts will be left on Facebook pages remembering lost sons and daughters. Veterans will gather with their former units, recalling buddies over beer and burgers. Parents, children and spouses will lay wildflowers, notes and bottles of liquor near simple grave sites in remote towns. These are the places where so many service members come from and where so many return to in death.”

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U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou – What’s Going On?

Posted: 11:56 am PT

 

A State Department employee posted at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou is reported to have some “abnormal” “sensations of sound and pressure” which is similar to those reported by personnel at U.S. Mission Cuba. We did hear about this prior to MSM reporting the incident and asked the agency’s US Asia Pacific Media Hub to connect us with Guangzhou but — you guessed it — their black hole inbox also worked really, really well, and we never heard anything back. We are pleased to see the news is out, and folks are not waiting months to react. 

USCG Guangzhou is headed by Principal Officer Charles Bennett. We understand that USCG Guangzhou did a townhall for post employees/families 2-3 hours after it sent out the health alert. Another townhall was also supposed to be held on May 25 but we have not heard if that actually happened. 

Via USCG Guangzhou: “Throughout the past two centuries, dating back to the presidency of George Washington, Consulate Guangzhou (Canton), as America’s oldest diplomatic post in China and one of America’s oldest posts in the Far East, has played a pivotal role in promoting America’s relationship with China.  Today, the Consulate promotes trade and commercial ties, engages China across-the board on key American policy objectives, and promotes public diplomacy through visitor exchanges.  The Consulate General is the only U.S. mission in China to process American adoptions and immigrant visas, making it one of the U.S. Department of State’s busiest consular-related posts.”

Note that as of May 2017, the U.S. China Mission (Embassy Beijing, and Consulates General Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan) had representatives from 33 U.S. Government agencies and an authorized staff of 729 U.S. direct-hire American employees, 168 local-hire Americans and 1,807 non-American locally employed (LE) staff members.

In FY2016 Consulate General Guangzhou processed more than 54,000 immigrant visas, making it the third busiest immigrant visa unit in the world. It also had approximately 210 First and Second Tour (FAST) employees, among the largest number of any U.S. overseas mission.

According to State/OIG, Mission China’s Consular Sections provide services to a community of U.S. citizens, both residents and visitors, which the embassy estimated to be as many as 800,000 on any given day. “Factors affecting American citizen services included a growing demand for notarial services and chronic difficulties in obtaining Chinese government permission to visit the approximately 100 U.S. citizens imprisoned in China.”

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Quote of the Day: Where are the diplomats? … “We got rid of them in a fire sale.”

 

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