FBI to Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel: “Do you know any foreigners?” #criminalizingdiplomacy

Posted: 1:29  pm ET

 

We’ve posted previously about Ambassador Robin Raphel in this blog. See Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who’s Gonna Say Sorry?. Also below:

Today, the Wall Street Journal runs an extensive account of what happened and why this case is a concerning one for American diplomats:

The NSA regularly swept up Pakistani communications “to, from or about” senior U.S. officials working in the country. Some American officials would appear in Pakistani intercepts as often as once a week. What Raphel didn’t realize was that her desire to engage with foreign officials, the very skill set her supervisors encouraged, had put a target on her back.

The FBI didn’t have a clear picture of where Raphel fit on the State Department organizational chart. She was a political adviser with the rank of ambassador but she wasn’t a key policy maker anymore. She seemed to have informal contacts with everyone who mattered in Islamabad—more, even, than the sitting ambassador and the CIA station chief.

[…]
State Department officials said that when they spoke to the FBI agents, they had the feeling they were explaining the basics of how diplomats worked.

At times, Raphel’s colleagues pushed back—warning the FBI that their investigation risked “criminalizing diplomacy,” according to a former official who was briefed on the interviews.

In one interview, the agents asked James Dobbins, who served as SRAP from 2013 to 2014, whether it was OK for Raphel to talk to a Pakistani source about information that wasn’t restricted at the time, but would later be deemed classified.

“If somebody tells you something in one conversation, you might write that up and it becomes classified,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean the next time you see them that you can’t talk about what you’d already talked about.”

[…]

Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.

“What happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,” said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department’s most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.’s growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, “we will know less and we will be less secure.”

“Look what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,” said Dan Feldman, Raphel’s former boss at State. “Does that not become a cautionary tale?”

[…]

Diplomatic Security had yet to restore her security clearance. Some of her friends at the State Department said they believed the FBI opposed the idea.

Kerry and Raphel stood close together for only a couple of minutes. On the sidelines of the noisy gathering, Kerry leaned over and whispered into Raphel’s ear: “I am sorry about what has happened to you.”

Read in ful below:

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Trump Transition: Additional Agency Landing Team Members For @StateDept

Posted: 1:25 am ET

We are updating the list of the Trump Transition Landing Team for the State Department as four names have been added since we posted last.  The original post is appended after the update:

 

Robert Blau
Employer (current or most recent): U.S. Department of State (Retired)
Funding source: Volunteer | via greatagain.gov

Robert Blau is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer. He previously served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim (El Salvador) from January 2009 until September 2010.  It looks like he served with Ambassador Charles L. Glazer, previously named as member of the landing team.  Ambassador Glazer was appointed by President George W. Bush as US Ambassador to El Salvador from January 2007 until January 2009. We’ve tagged him under two posts in this blog, here and here.


Catharine O’Neill
Employer (current or most recent): U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee (Formerly)
Funding source: Volunteer | via greatagain.gov

eenews.net notes that Catharine O’Neill is “a recent college graduate, according to her LinkedIn profile. She graduated earlier this year from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and political science. She interned for the summer on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”


Andrew Peek
Employer (current or most recent): Claremont McKenna College
Funding source: Volunteer | via greatagain.gov

Peek was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College (2015).  He is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at AFPC according to this American Foreign Policy Council bio here.


Herman Pirchner
Employer (current or most recent): American Foreign Policy Council
Funding source: Volunteer | via greatagain.gov

Herman Pirchner, Jr. is the founding President of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. He directed the national security team advising the 2012 Presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich. According to his bio, before founding AFPC, Mr. Pirchner served in the U.S. Senate as Director of Legislation for Senator Roger Jepsen (R-IA)  and Legislative Assistant to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) current Chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Originally posted: Nov 20, 4:55 pm ET
Updated Nov 21, 12:51 pm PT

We previously posted about transition names for the State Department (see @StateDept Transition Names: Jim Carafano, Kristie Kenney, Patrick Kennedy, Joseph MacManus). On November 18, President-elect Trump announced the first wave of agency landing teams for the Department of Defense, Department of State, National Security Council, and the Department of Justice. The following are the names for the State Department landing team:


Ambassador Jackie Wolcott – Former Ambassador/Special Representative

Employer (current or most recent): U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Funding source: Volunteer

According to state.gov, Ambassador Wolcott was previously appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council. She also previously served as United States Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and as Special Representative of the President of the United States for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from December 2003 through February of 2006.  She had been Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (State/OI) from 2001 to 2003.  Ballotpedia says that she is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. Click here for her bio from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom where she is commissioner.


Charles Glazer – Former US Ambassador to El Salvador

Employer (current or most recent): Fieldpoint Private
Funding source: Private

Ballotpedia notes that Glazer was previously George W. Bush’s ambassador to El Salvador and with fellow Connecticut delegate Kevin Moynihan served as state finance chairs for the Donald Trump campaign. Click here for his Wikipedia bio.

 

Christopher Burnham – Former A/S for Resource Management
Employer (current or most recent): Cambridge Global Capital, LLC
Funding source: Volunteer

He was originally appointed as Director of the Bureau of Finance and Management Policy and Chief Financial Officer  at the State Department in 2002. History.state.gov lists him as Assistant Secretary of State for Resource Management from 2002-2005. He was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Management in 2005 until his resignation in 2006.  According to Ballotpedia, Burnham is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.


Erin Walsh
Employer (current or most recent): Goldman Sachs (Retired)
Funding source: Volunteer

According to Ballotpedia, she is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. Her bio posted on theantiquitiescoalition.org notes that she served previously as Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department (State/NEA).


Ashley Bell
Employer (current or most recent): Republican National Committee
Funding source: Transition entity

He is the national director of African-American outreach for the Republican National Committee. He was previously elected as a Democrat in Georgia, holding the position of County Commissioner, but later switched to the Republican party in late 2010. Bell supported Sen. Paul for President abut later in the race switched his support to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) according to NBCNews.  According to Ballotpedia, he is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.


Alexander Gray

Employer (current or most recent): Trump for America, Inc.
Funding source: Transition entity 

Gray is a Trump campaign adviser who formerly worked for Republican Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower & Projection Forces Subcommittee.  On the campaign website, he is also identified as a senior military advisor.

Additional name for the State Department landing team announced on November 21:

Steven Groves
Employer (current or most recent): The Heritage Foundation
Funding source: Private

Groves is the Bernard and Barbara Lomas senior research fellow in Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. His Heritage bio notes that “Before joining Heritage in 2007, Groves was senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He played a lead role in the subcommittee’s investigation of the U.N. “oil-for-food” scandal, the most extensive congressional probe ever conducted of the United Nations.”

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Nigel Farage’s Quest For UK Ambassadorship to the US: “No Vacancy”, Ferrero Rocher, An Op-Ed

Posted: 2:36 am ET

 

So then, he had a party at The Ritz with lots and lots of Ferrero Rocher.

Now here he is with an op-ed saying “I’ve never thought of myself as a diplomat but I suppose in the changed world of 2016 anything is possible.”  He’s trying to make the case that he has “better relationships with Trump and his team in America than anybody in Westminster.” And in the most often repeated “people say” version from this election cycle, he writes that  “Fair minded people look at Downing Street’s constant rejections of the idea that I can help as being at best, small-minded, tribal politics and at worst potentially damaging our national interest.”  

If that’s not enough to convince the UK Government, here he is with Russia Today’s Sam Delaney on why he wants Sir Kim Darroch‘s  (@KimDarroch) job as UK Ambassador representing Her Majesty The Queen and the UK government in Washington, D.C. By the way, Ambassador Darroch is a seasoned diplomat with over three decades of diplomatic experience, in case you’re wondering.

The clip below  comes complete with an enlarged photo of Ambassador Darroch and his wife, and job interview questions for Mr. Farage, who obviously, is having the time of his life.

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Will the US Embassy Move From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

Posted: 12:50 am ET

 

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 declares that it is the policy of the United States that (1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and (3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.

Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.  Via CRS (pdf):

Successive U.S. Administrations of both political parties since 1948 have maintained that the fate of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations and have discouraged the parties from taking actions that could prejudice the final outcome of those negotiations. Moreover, the Palestinians envisage East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. However, the House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res. 60 in June 1997, and the Senate passed S.Con.Res. 21 in May 1997. Both resolutions called on the Clinton Administration to affirm that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel.

A related issue is the possible future relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Proponents argue that Israel is the only country where a U.S. embassy is not in the capital identified by the host country, that Israel’s claim to West Jerusalem—proposed site of an embassy—is unquestioned, and/or that Palestinians must be disabused of their hope for a capital in Jerusalem. Opponents say such a move would undermine prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace and U.S. credibility with Palestinians and in the Muslim world, and could prejudge the final status of the city. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-45) provided for the embassy’s relocation by May 31, 1999, but granted the President authority, in the national security interest, to suspend limitations on State Department expenditures that would be imposed if the embassy did not open. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have consistently suspended these spending limitations, and the embassy’s status has remained unchanged.

The State Department Authorization Act for FY2002-FY2003 (P.L. 107-228) urged the President to begin relocating the U.S. embassy “immediately.” The act also sought to (1) prohibit the use of appropriated funds for the operation of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Jerusalem unless such facilities were overseen by the U.S. ambassador to Israel; and (2) allow Israel to be recorded as the place of birth of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. When signing the act into law, President George W. Bush wrote in an accompanying “signing statement” that the various provisions on Jerusalem would, “if construed as mandatory … impermissibly interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs.” The State Department declared, “our view of Jerusalem is unchanged. Jerusalem is a permanent status issue to be negotiated between the parties.”

There are currently two related ongoing construction work at USG properties in Israel. There is a $50M renovation at US Embassy Tel Aviv, and ongoing work at an annex for US Consulate General Jerusalem. As of November 9, we understand that both projects have been put on hold.

Hmmmnn ….

 

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Trump Transition: Agency Landing Team For @StateDept Includes Old Familiar Names

Posted: 4:55 pm ET
Updated 11/21, 12:51 pm PT

 

We previously posted about transition names for the State Department (see @StateDept Transition Names: Jim Carafano, Kristie Kenney, Patrick Kennedy, Joseph MacManus). On November 18, President-elect Trump announced the first wave of agency landing teams for the Department of Defense, Department of State, National Security Council, and the Department of Justice. The following are the names for the State Department landing team:

Ambassador Jackie Wolcott – Former Ambassador/Special Representative
Employer (current or most recent): U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Funding source: Volunteer
According to state.gov, Ambassador Wolcott was previously appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council. She also previously served as United States Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and as Special Representative of the President of the United States for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons from December 2003 through February of 2006.  She had been Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (State/OI) from 2001 to 2003.  Ballotpedia says that she is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. Click here for her bio from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom where she is commissioner.

Charles Glazer – Former US Ambassador to El Salvador
Employer (current or most recent): Fieldpoint Private
Funding source: Private
Ballotpedia notes that Glazer was previously George W. Bush’s ambassador to El Salvador and with fellow Connecticut delegate Kevin Moynihan served as state finance chairs for the Donald Trump campaign. Click here for his Wikipedia bio.

Christopher Burnham – Former A/S for Resource Management
Employer (current or most recent): Cambridge Global Capital, LLC
Funding source: Volunteer
He was originally appointed as Director of the Bureau of Finance and Management Policy and Chief Financial Officer  at the State Department in 2002. History.state.gov lists him as Assistant Secretary of State for Resource Management from 2002-2005. He was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Management in 2005 until his resignation in 2006.  According to Ballotpedia, Burnham is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.

Erin Walsh
Employer (current or most recent): Goldman Sachs (Retired)
Funding source: Volunteer
According to Ballotpedia, she is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team. Her bio posted on theantiquitiescoalition.org notes that she served previously as Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department (State/NEA).

Ashley Bell
Employer (current or most recent): Republican National Committee
Funding source: Transition entity
He is the national director of African-American outreach for the Republican National Committee. He was previously elected as a Democrat in Georgia, holding the position of County Commissioner, but later switched to the Republican party in late 2010. Bell supported Sen. Paul for President abut later in the race switched his support to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) according to NBCNews.  According to Ballotpedia, he is a member of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team.

Alexander Gray
Employer (current or most recent): Trump for America, Inc.
Funding source: Transition entity 
Gray is a Trump campaign adviser who formerly worked for Republican Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower & Projection Forces Subcommittee.  On the campaign website, he is also identified as a senior military advisor.

Additional name for the State Department landing team announced on November 21:

Steven Groves
Employer (current or most recent): The Heritage Foundation
Funding source: Private
Groves is the Bernard and Barbara Lomas senior research fellow in Heritage’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. His Heritage bio notes that “Before joining Heritage in 2007, Groves was senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He played a lead role in the subcommittee’s investigation of the U.N. “oil-for-food” scandal, the most extensive congressional probe ever conducted of the United Nations.”

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Activists Missing in #Zimbabwe, Also the U.S. Ambassador Tweets About Mickey Mouse

Posted: 4:01 pm ET

 

In case deleted, the tweet is here: https://cloudup.com/cVV4BmxzhOj

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And the Ambassadorship Race Is On: Ivana Wants the Czech Republic

Posted: 1:43 am ET

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US Embassy Wellington Issues 7.8 Earthquake and Tsunami Emergency Message For New Zealand

Posted: 5:19 pm PT
Updated: 10:25 pm PT to include the ambassador’s statement

On November 14, the US Embassy in Wellington issued the following Security Message for U.S. citizens traveling or residing in New Zealand:

The U.S. Geological Service has reported a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in North Canterbury, New Zealand on the South Island in the early hours of Monday morning.  Its epicenter was 15 km north-east of Culverden, close to Hanmer Springs, at 12:02 AM local time.  Military helicopters have been dispatched to the town of Kaikoura on the east coast to assess the damage and help those worst hit.  Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that there have been two fatalities.  Wellington City Council has asked workers based in the city center to stay home today “owing to potential damage to buildings and disruptions to public transport”.

At 8:13 AM, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management announced a tsunami marine and beach threat from Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands.  The threat for all other regions has been lifted.  All previous threat regions will experience unusually strong currents for some time.  Areas under ‘Marine and Beach Threat’ can expect unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore.  This means a threat to beach, harbor, estuary, and small boat activities.  The severity of currents and changing water flows will vary within a particular coastal area and over the period this warning is in effect.  People in Napier to north of Dunedin, Cook Straight coastal areas, and The Chatham Islands areas should:

  1. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers, and estuaries, including boating activities).
  2. Stay off beaches and shore areas.
  3. Do not go sightseeing.
  4. Share this information with family, neighbors, and friends.
  5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates.
  6. Follow instructions of local civil defense authorities.
  7. If beach threat is forecasted for your area, take appropriate evasive action.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in New Zealand enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.

U.S. Ambassador Gilbert said that USG employees are all accounted for but they are still trying to locate those who are on vacation.

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Secretary @JohnKerry Swears-In Sung Kim as U.S. Ambassador to the #Philippines

Posted: 1:29 am ET

 

Meanwhile, in the Philippines ….

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U.S Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji Gets a #Gripen Ride

Posted: 12:20 am ET

 

In 2010, we blogged about US Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck who flew on an F18 with the Finish Air Force.  In 2011, US Ambassador to India Tim Roemer and then Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro had their rides of a lifetime in a Lockheed Martin F/16 Super Viper and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet respectively during Aero India.

Yesterday, the U.S ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji got a ride in a  with test pilot Marcus Wandt. We missed this but in 2013, her predecessor, Ambassador Brzezinski also got a Gripen ride.

According to Wikipedia, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force.

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