Senate Confirms Joel Danies (Gabon) and Peter Vrooman (Rwanda)

Posted: 1:03 am ET

 

On February 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following career nominees to be U.S. Ambassadors to Gabon and to Rwanda:

Executive Calendar #617 – Joel Danies, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Executive Calendar #667 – Peter Hendrick Vrooman, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Rwanda.

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Amb. Kenneth J. Braithwaite Presents His Credentials in Norway, Now Officially on #Olympics2018 Wager

Posted: 9:16 am ET

 

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Career Diplomat Philip Goldberg to be Charge d‘Affaires at U.S. Embassy Havana

Posted: 2:06 am ET

 

Reuters is reporting that Cuba has granted a visa to senior career diplomat Philip Goldberg who will soon take up post as  charge d‘affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana,  “He will head a mission that Washington stripped of many staff four months ago amid a dispute over mystery illnesses among its diplomats on the Communist-run island. He is likely to spend about six months in the position though the length of his stint is not certain, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Ambassador Goldberg was previously Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Bolivia) 2006-2008Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (2010-2013) and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Philippines) 2013-2016.

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Jackie Wolcott to be U.S. Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UN Vienna (UNVIE)

Posted: 1:38 am ET

 

On January 12, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate Jackie Wolcott to be the next U.S. Representative to the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The WH released the following brief bio:

Jackie Wolcott of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States of America with the rank of Ambassador, on the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Also, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the Rank of Ambassador. Ms. Wolcott has served as commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom since 2016, following service as the Commission’s executive director from 2010-2015. She served in the Department of State as Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation (2008-2009), Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador (2006-2008), U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament and Special Representative of the President of the United States for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with Rank of Ambassador in Geneva, Switzerland (2003-2006) and Alternate Representative to the Board of Governors and General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria (2004-2005). Ms. Wolcott earned a B.A. from Bowling Green State University.

Ambassador Walcott was a member of the Trump transition team and was also part of the Agency Landing Team at the State Department following Trump’s election (see Trump Transition: Agency Landing Team For @StateDept Includes Old Familiar Names):

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.

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VPOTUS Swears-in Sam Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large, Also Kansas Refuses to Fast

Posted: 3:03 am ET

 

AND NOW THIS — the comments though are extraordinarily … um blunt. We have no particular favorite but  ‘irony committed suicide in the Potomac” is memorable.

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Related posts:

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Photo of the Day: Tillerson Meets With Ambassadors/CDAs During Regional Chiefs of Mission Meeting

Posted: 12:27 am ET

 

click image for larger view                                                                                 Secretary Tillerson Meets With U.S. Ambassadors and Chargé d’Affaires During a Regional Chiefs of Mission Meeting | U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson poses for a photo with thirteen U.S. Ambassadors and Chargé d’Affaires during a regional Chiefs of Mission meeting (L to R) Kent Logsdon, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Embassy in Germany, Lewis M. Eisenberg, U.S. Ambassador to the Italian Republic, and the Republic of San Marino, Matthew Lussenhop, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Embassy in Belgium, Reece Smyth, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Embassy in Ireland, Thomas Williams, Acting DCM, U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Kerri S. Hannan, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg, Richard Duke Buchan III, U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, Jamie D. McCourt, U.S. Ambassador to the French Republic and Principality of Monaco, Peter Hoekstra, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, George E. Glass, U.S. Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic, Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Edward “Ed” McMullen, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Adam Shub, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., U.S. Mission to the European Union in Paris, France on January 23, 2018. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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Senate Finally Confirms Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large, Kansas Sighs With Relief

Posted: 12:27 am ET

 

On January 24, the Senate finally confirmed the nomination of Governor Samuel Brownback to be the Ambassador-at-Large at the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. The office resides under the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) which in under the umbrella of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. The previous appointees to this position includes David Nathan Saperstein (2015), Suzan Denise Johnson Cook (2011–2013), John V. Hanford 3rd (2002–2009), and Robert A. Seiple (1999–2000). The office is responsible for the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

Via state.gov:

In October 1998, President Clinton signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), passed unanimously by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Act mandated the establishment of an Office of International Religious Freedom within the Department of State, headed by an Ambassador-at-Large who serves as principal advisor to the President and Secretary of State in matters concerning religious freedom abroad.

The Act has been amended a number of times over the years, most recently by the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, which President Obama signed into law in December 2016. 22 U.S. Code Chapter 73.

The IRFA requires the preparation and transmittal to Congress of an Annual Report on International Religious Freedom detailing the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, violations of religious freedom by foreign governments, and United States’ actions and policies in support of religious freedom. Separately, the IRFA also requires that each year the President designate as a “Country of Particular Concern” each country the government of which has engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.

Per annual designation under IRFA, the Secretary of State designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as “Countries of Particular Concern”. On January 4, 2018, the Department of State announced that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017. The Secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom.

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@JonHuntsman and @usconsvlad Jump Into Icy Water For Orthodox Epiphany

Posted: 12:02 am ET

 

The US Ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman and Consul General Michael Keays (and staffers) of US Consulate Vladivostok in separate events marked the Orthodox Ephiphany like millions of Russians by jumping into freezing waters. Take a look. We felt the polar woes just watching. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

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U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley Resigns From the Foreign Service Over Trump Policies

Posted: 4:59 am ET

 

The Foreign Service Act and appropriate personnel regulations require three (3) commitments from candidates for appointment to the Foreign Service: availability for worldwide assignment, willingness to accept out-of-function assignments, and observance of Foreign Service discipline with respect to public support of established United States policy – is a condition of employment with the Foreign Service.  That third commitment refers to this:

In the official performance of their duties as representatives of the United States Government, Foreign Service members may be called upon to support and defend policies with which they may not be personally in full agreement. On such occasions, normal standards of Foreign Service discipline will apply. Ample opportunity is provided within official channels for discussion and dissent with respect to the development and conduct of United States Foreign policy.

On January 12, the U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a 28-year veteran of the Foreign Service did the honorable thing and tendered his resignation over Administration policies he is no longer able to support and defend. The Panama assignment is Ambassador Feeley’s first as chief of mission. He was on the second year of a three-year assignment.

Below is a brief summary of his long career in the diplomatic service:

John Feeley was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Panama on January 15, 2016, and assumed his post in early February. He is a career diplomat who has focused much of his work on Latin American and Caribbean issues, both in Washington and in the region.

Ambassador Feeley most recently served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2012 to 2015, responsible for the daily management of regional policy implementation and the supervision of 50 diplomatic posts across the Americas.

Previously he was the State Department’s Summit of the Americas Coordinator, overseeing the substantive preparation for Secretary Clinton’s engagement in the 2012 Cartagena Summit, a role he reprised for Secretary Kerry during the 2015 Summit in Panama.

From 2009 to 2012, Ambassador Feeley served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he managed a 37-agency country team that implemented the Merida Initiative. He has also been the Department’s Director for Central American Affairs and Deputy Director for Caribbean Affairs. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Feeley served as a Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was responsible for managing information flow to Secretaries Powell and Rice, as well as coordinating their overseas travel.

A 2004 Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, Mr. Feeley’s overseas assignments include two tours in Mexico City, Santo Domingo, and Bogota.

Prior to joining the State Department in 1990, Mr. Feeley served on active military duty as a helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and is married to retired career diplomat, Cherie Feeley. The Ambassador and his wife speak Spanish. The couple has two adult sons and one grandson.

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Amb. Hoekstra Apologizes For Netherlands Comment: “It Was Wrong”

Posted: 4:42 am ET

 

We previously blogged about the new U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands here:

On January 12, two weeks after he first issued his ‘non-apology’ apology, Ambassador Hoekstra finally admitted during an interview with De Telegraaf that what he said about the Netherlands “was wrong.” The apology came after headlines calling the top American representative in the Netherlands “Lying Pete Hoekstra” and the lying Dutchman, and after the State Department “made clear to the ambassador that – that he must move to get this behind him.”

On January 11, U/S Goldstein told members of the press that they “should turn into that interview tomorrow” in reference to the long-form interview that turned out to be one with De Telegraaf.  As of this writing, we have searched but have not been able to locate a transcript of Ambassador Hoekstra’s interview where he offered his apology.  There also is no mention of this interview nor the transcript of the interview on the website of U.S. Embassy The Hague.

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