Blinken Attends Inaugural Meeting of @StateDept’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council

 

 

Secretary Blinken reportedly delivered remarks at the inaugural meeting of the State Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council. State.gov does not appear to carry a transcript of those remarks, and it looks like the members of this leadership council are not publicly available.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken delivers remarks at the inaugural meeting of the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on July 21, 2021. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley joined Secretary Blinken. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

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U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland Visits Tripoli

 

On July 26, the State Department announced U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland’s visit to Tripoli:

U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland visited Tripoli, Libya July 26 where he met with interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, attended a signing ceremony for a new 5G telecommunications contract between Libyan company Hatif and U.S. company Infinera, and held other meetings with Libyan and international representatives.  Ambassador Norland underscored the need for Libya’s leaders to make key preparations to ensure successful nationwide elections in December, including determining a constitutional basis and the election law that will govern them.  He emphasized that Libya’s leaders must make the necessary compromises to meet the Libyan peoples’ expectation of free and fair elections, an essential step towards a stable, unified, and democratic Libya.  Ambassador Norland also reaffirmed that stability and continued progress on the political and security track will lead to greater economic opportunities, foreign investments, and prosperity for Libyans.  Ambassador Norland was accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury Eric Meyer.

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@StateDept Appoints Ambassador Daniel Foote as Special Envoy For Haiti

 

 

This is a follow-up to our July 8 post @USEmbassyHaiti Remains Closed Following President Moïse’s Assassination (Updated). On July 22, the State Department announced the appointment of Ambassador Daniel Foote as Special Envoy for Haiti:

The Department of State is pleased to announce that Ambassador Daniel Foote, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, will serve as its Special Envoy for Haiti. The Special Envoy will engage with Haitian and international partners to facilitate long-term peace and stability and support efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections. He will also work with partners to coordinate assistance efforts in several areas, including humanitarian, security, and investigative assistance. Additionally, the Special Envoy will engage stakeholders in civil society and the private sector as we pursue Haitian-led solutions to the many pressing challenges facing Haiti.

The Special Envoy will, along with the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, lead U.S. diplomatic efforts and coordinate the effort of U.S. federal agencies in Haiti from Washington, advise the Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and coordinate closely with the National Security Council staff on the administration’s efforts to support the Haitian people and Haiti’s democratic institutions in the aftermath of the tragic assassination of Jovenel Moïse.

Special Envoy Foote brings extensive diplomatic experience to this role – including as Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti and as the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia. The Department congratulates Special Envoy Foote as he takes on his new role and thanks him for his continued service to his country.

Related posts:

 

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US Mission Brazil: Ambassador Todd Chapman Tenders Resignation, to Retire From @StateDept

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Thanks — DS

 

On June 10, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd C. Chapman announced that he informed President Biden of his decision “to retire from government service after a 30-year career with the Department of State.” Excerpt:

“Following careful consideration, my wife Janetta and I are convinced that this is the right time, for several positive personal reasons, to move to Denver, Colorado – to live closer to our two sons and daughter-in-law and pursue new professional opportunities and longstanding personal interests about which we are genuinely excited.
[…]
In my letter to President Biden, I wished him God’s blessings of wisdom and strength as he leads the American people. May the strong friendship between the American and Brazilian people continue to flourish in the years ahead, a task to which I will remain devoted for the rest of my life.”

Ambassador Chapman was nominated by President Trump on October 30, 2019. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 20, 2020 and arrived in Brazil on March 29, 2020. Ambassador Chapman previously served as President Obama’s Ambassador to Ecuador from 2016 – 2019.

Related news:

SFRC Clears Several @StateDept Nominees, Multiple AF/NEA Ambassadorships

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Merci — DS

On June 24, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nominations of several ambassadorships to posts in Africa (AF) and Near Eastern Affairs (NEA):
State/AF Posts

Larry Edward Andre, Jr., of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia

Maria E. Brewer, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Christopher John Lamora, of Rhode Island, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.

Tulinabo S. Mushingi, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Angola, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Eugene S. Young, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Congo.

State/NEA Post

Elizabeth Moore Aubin, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.

STATE DEPARTMENT

June 24, 2021

Michele Jeanne Sison, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs), vice Kevin Edward Moley, resigned.

Todd D. Robinson, of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs), vice Kirsten Dawn Madison.

Daniel J. Kritenbrink, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (East Asian and Pacific Affairs), vice David Stilwell.

Other nominees who were previously cleared by the Senate panel and are also awaiting the full Senate vote:
May 26, 2021 (Reported by Mr. Warner, Select Committee on Intelligence):

Brett M. Holmgren, of Minnesota, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research), vice Ellen E. McCarthy.

May 25, 2021

Bonnie D. Jenkins, of New York, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, vice Andrea L. Thompson, resigned.

Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be an Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment), vice Keith Krach.

Apr 21, 2021

Uzra Zeya, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights), vice Sarah Sewall, resigned.

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US Embassy Ottawa Announces Arrival of Chargé d’Affaires Arnold Chacon, in Self-Isolation Until 6/29

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On May 28, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Arnold Chacon as Chargé d’Affaires at US Mission Canada (see Amb Arnie Chacon Heads to U.S. Mission Canada as Chargé d’Affaires (a.i); What’s going on at U.S. Mission Canada?).
On June 15, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa announce the arrival of Chargé d’Affaires Arnold Chacon.

“I’m delighted that Secretary of State Blinken selected me to serve as Chargé d’Affaires in Canada and am honored to take on this important role working with the United States’ closest friend, partner, and ally.  We are active across Canada, not only at the Embassy in Ottawa, but also through our seven consulates that stretch from Vancouver to Halifax.  The U.S.-Canada relationship is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration as we revitalize and strengthen our historic alliance and steadfast friendship. I am committed to continuing the exceptional work already being done by my colleagues and Canadian government officials under the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership.  We will continue to make progress together in the key areas of trade, climate change, COVID-19 response and recovery, diversity, inclusion, and equity, and global and regional security issues,” said Chargé d’Affaires Chacon.

Chargé d’Affaires Chacon succeeds Katherine Brucker who has been acting in the role since September of 2020.  Ms. Brucker will continue to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa as Deputy Chief of Mission.

In keeping with public health requirements, Chargé d’Affaires Chacon will self-isolate for the next 14 days.

We’re wondering if folks are ready to do the Bhangra dance.

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FSJ/Speaking Out: The president can nominate anyone. True, but …

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Via FSJ/Speaking Out: The Case Against Political Ambassadors by Edward L. Peck, former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania and Iraq:
“The president can nominate anyone. True, but the Founding Fathers, in a far less complicated world, required the Senate to consent after considering nominees’ qualifications. In theory, the only criterion would be national interests; but political nominations reflect the importance of money, friendship and patronage, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has long since abandoned its constitutional responsibility. The committee has also abandoned the requirements and restrictions included in the 1980 Foreign Service Act written by Congress, rubber-stamping all but the most egregious candidates, knowing that their party will have its turn.”
Read in full here.

 

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State/OIG Reports to Congress: Investigations Into Mrs P’s Travels, Ambassadors, Senior Advisors, FSOs and More

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On June 1, 2021, State/OIG published online its Semiannual Report to the Congress (October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021).
On  accountability and independence, the OIG reports:
“OIG did not encounter any attempts to interfere with Inspector General independence—whether through budgetary constraints designed to limit its capabilities, resistance or objection to oversight activities, or restrictions on or significant delays in access to information—for the reporting period from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.
OIG encountered a three-month delay in scheduling an interview with Secretary Michael Pompeo as part of its review of allegations of misuse of Department resources. OIG initially requested an interview on September 11, 2020, but then-Secretary Pompeo did not agree to the interview (which was scheduled for December 23, 2020) until December 16, 2020.
During a mandated review of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ (INL) reporting related to National Drug Control Program activities, INL was not sufficiently responsive to OIG’s requests for information. At the conclusion of fieldwork, OIG determined that it could not complete its review because it did not have sufficient, appropriate evidence to be able to draw a conclusion about whether the Department’s management assertions in its Accounting and Authentication of FY 2020 Drug Control Funds and Related Performance Report were fairly stated.”
The Office of Evaluations and Special Projects (ESP):
“From October 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, ESP issued one unclassified report on Department programs and operations. Management Assistance Report: Representational Travel by the Spouse of the Secretary of State (ESP-21-01, 12/2020) In 2019, OIG received a whistleblower complaint related to travel by the spouse of the Secretary of State that the Department considered official travel. To investigate this complaint, OIG requested and reviewed documentation related to official representational family travel by Susan Pompeo from April 2018 to April 2020. Generally, Department policy permits such travel by relatives of Department officials for appropriate representational purposes. However, both Department guidance and principles of internal control require documentation of both the official purpose and the approval of the travel. The Secretary’s spouse took eight trips that were declared official from April 2018 to April 2020. Of the eight trips, OIG found documentation of an authorized purpose for all eight trips, but only found written approval for two of the trips.
OIG recommended that the Office of the Secretary seek and gain written approval for all representational travel, and that the Under Secretary for Management or other authorizing official document in writing the approval for all representational trips by any family members. The Department concurred with these recommendations.”
ESP Substantiation of Allegations of Non-Criminal Misconduct Involving Senior Government Employees, 10/1/2020–3/31/2021
— A case closed in January 2021 involved a U.S. Ambassador. “OIG found that the official committed several violations of Department policy, including involving a household member in official duties, using personal social media accounts for official activities, and failing to comply with 3 FAM 1214.1 “Leadership and Management Principles for Department Employees” and “The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch,” issued by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. OIG referred its findings to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs and the Bureau of African Affairs. Shortly after OIG issued its findings, the Ambassador left office as part of the presidential transition.”
— A case closed in March 2021 involved a USAGM Senior Advisor.  “OIG found that the official violated Federal recordkeeping regulations by instructing employees to communicate with her on official matters using a mobile messaging application and then deleting the messages without properly preserving them in agency recordkeeping systems. OIG referred its findings to USAGM, which reviewed the matter and notified the National Archives and Records Administration of the improper disposal of Federal records.”
The Office of Investigations conducts worldwide investigations of criminal, civil, and administrative misconduct related to programs and operations of the Department. During the reporting period, OIG conducted a number of investigations involving senior Government employees.
Investigations Involving Senior Government Employees Where Allegations Were Substantiated, 10/1/2020–3/31/2021
— On June 12, 2015, OIG opened an investigation based on information that a senior Administrative Officer and two of her subordinates violated procurement rules and regulations related to the use of U.S. Government purchase cards. The investigation substantiated the allegation and revealed the officer instructed her employees to engage in the practice of split purchasing. As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the officer resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in January 2021.
— On October 28, 2019, OIG opened an investigation based on information that the senior advisor to a U.S. Ambassador serving overseas may have received supplemental compensation from a private company while serving as a U.S. Government employee. The investigation revealed the advisor transmitted Sensitive But Unclassified information to non-U.S. Government personnel and received gifts of airfare and a gift card valued over $8,000 from a private business entity. As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the officer resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in February 2021.
— On May 29, 2019, OIG opened an investigation regarding multiple allegations of misconduct by a U.S. Ambassador. The investigation revealed the Ambassador inappropriately used his position to try to influence the move of a professional sporting event to a different venue. He also knowingly allowed his special assistant to conduct personal matters that fell outside of her scope of official duties, and while using non-Department email accounts, he did not courtesy copy or forward to his official Department email account at least 62 official emails in the span of approximately 6 months.As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the Ambassador resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in February 2021.
Under notable resolutions, State/OIG/INV’s list includes the following:
— In March 2021,  two Foreign Service Officers agreed to pay more than $13,033 to the U.S. Government to resolve issues related to fraud allegations regarding Department travel vouchers. OIG special agents determined that the married couple engaged in a scheme to defraud the Department by filing four travel vouchers that claimed lodging expenses they were not entitled to under Federal Travel Regulations. The fraud was committed from approximately September 2014 through April 2019. OIG’s Office of General Counsel coordinated the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act action that resulted in the settlement.
–In October 2020, three individuals were indicted for using a business email compromise scheme, or BEC, to defraud the Department. OIG and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents determined the individuals tricked the Department and a nonprofit agency into wiring at least $575,000 into bank accounts they controlled for the purpose of enriching themselves and their co-conspirators.
Under employee misconduct:
— In November 2020, former Seabee Martin Huizar was sentenced to 109 months’ incarceration and ordered to pay $40,100 in fines and $10,000 in restitution, along with serving a 10-year term of supervised release, for transportation of images of child sexual abuse on his phones and tablet computer. The OIG Special Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.
 

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Charges Unsealed Against Former Chadian Ambassador and DCM to U.S. For Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme

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On May 24, the Justice Department unsealed charges against two diplomats from Chad who were previously assigned to WashDC and Canada for international bribery and money laundering scheme.
Excerpt from DOJ’s announcement:

An indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. was unsealed on May 20, 2021, charging the Republic of Chad’s former Ambassador to the United States and Canada and Chad’s former Deputy Chief of Mission for the United States and Canada with soliciting and accepting a $2 million bribe from a Canadian start-up energy company, and conspiring to launder the bribe payment in order to conceal its true nature.

According to court documents, Mahamoud Adam Bechir and Youssouf Hamid Takane engaged in this scheme between August 2009 and July 2014, while serving as diplomats based out of the Embassy of Chad located in Washington, D.C. According to the indictment, Bechir and Takane demanded the bribe from the Canadian start-up energy company in exchange for a promise to misuse their official positions and their influence with the government of Chad to assist the start-up energy company in obtaining oil rights in Chad. Naeem Tyab, a citizen of Canada and founding shareholder of the start-up energy company, who served as a director of the company from 2009 through 2011, is also charged in the indictment for allegedly arranging for the bribe to be paid to Bechir’s wife, co-defendant Nouracham Bechir Niam, via a sham contract for consulting services that she never actually provided. In addition to the $2 million bribe payment, the start-up energy company also issued shares in the company to Niam, to Takane’s wife, and to a third Chadian individual, as part of the bribe, according to the indictment.
[…]
All four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Bechir, Takane, and Niam are also charged with money laundering, each of which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Niam and Tyab are also charged with conspiracy to violate the FCPA, which carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The indictment in this case was returned by the grand jury in February 2019. Tyab was arrested in the Southern District of New York on Feb. 9, 2019, and subsequently, on April 30, 2019, he entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. As part of his guilty plea, Tyab agreed to forfeit criminal proceeds of approximately $27 million. The Honorable Richard J. Leon will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The remaining three defendants remain at large.
[…]
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Read here in full.

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In Seoul, a Spouse Blows Up Husband’s Diplomatic Career With a Slap

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Via the Embassy of Belgium in Seoul:

Mr. Peter Lescouhier has served as Ambassador of Belgium to the Republic of Korea with dedication for the past three years. During his time, he contributed to a very successful State visit in March 2019. It has however become clear that the current situation doesn’t allow him to further carry out his role in a serene way. Now that Mrs Xiang Xueqiu has personally presented her excuses and cooperated with the police, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès has decided that it is in the best interest of our bilateral relations to end Ambassador Lescouhier’s tenure in the Republic of Korea this summer.

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