@StateDept Appoints Career Diplomat Matt Murray as U.S. Senior Official For APEC

 

Via state.gov:

The Department of State is pleased to announce that Matt Murray will be the new U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Senior Official Murray brings a wealth of experience to this position as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Throughout his 23 years in the Foreign Service, he has served primarily in economic policy roles both in Washington and at diplomatic posts in the Asia-Pacific region.

Senior Official Murray most recently led the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs as Senior Bureau Official following an assignment as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Negotiations.  His service in the Asia-Pacific region includes leadership roles both as Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra.  He also directly supported U.S. engagement in APEC while working in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment during the U.S. host year in 2011.

The United States fully supports APEC’s mission to advance a free, fair, and open economic policy agenda that benefits U.S. workers, businesses, and families.  The 21 APEC member economies account for approximately 47 percent of global trade, and the region is the destination for more than 62 percent of U.S. goods exports.  Through engagement at APEC, the United States supports U.S. innovation and the digital economy; helps U.S. companies do business and support jobs and families here at home; expands women’s participation in the economy; and promotes healthy, resilient, and sustainable economies.  APEC is a forum for the United States to help the region’s economies recover from the pandemic, enhance climate action, and support economic prosperity for our workers and all our people.

***

###

US Amb. to Ethiopia Geeta Pasi to Retire, Amb. Tracey Ann Jacobson to be CDA

 

The State Department just announced that the US Ambassador to Ethiopia Geeta Pasi “plans to retire to pursue other opportunities.” Foggy Bottom has appointed Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ambassador Pasi was nominated ambassador in June 2020. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2020.
The official statement says “The Department of State expresses its great appreciation to Ambassador Pasi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, for her distinguished public service in advancing the values and interests of the United States around the globe, a career marked by three ambassadorial assignments and senior State Department leadership positions in Washington, D.C. We are particularly grateful for her stewardship of Embassy Addis Ababa during an exceptionally complex period.”
Ambassador Jacobson retired from the State Department in 2017. She was most recently appointed as Afghanistan Task Force Director in July 2021 during the Department’s Operation Allies Refuge.

 

Related posts:

Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn to be Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Khartoum

 

 

###

@StateDept’s Vacant Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Who Cares?

 

Via Mountainrunner:

Here we are on January 14, days away from the end of the first year of the Biden Administration, and there is still no nomination for the office of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. There were rumors of a forthcoming nomination around last autumn and recently I heard a nomination could be announced later this year. At this point, who would want a job that has been broadly neglected, often treated as an inconsequential sideshow, and whose authority, already slight, has been substantially reduced over the past couple of years?
[…]
Nine months ago, Cole Livieratos and I tried to get an article published on the unrealized potential of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs as the government’s well-placed central international information officer for US foreign policy (which includes national security, though I sense some feel the two are distinctly separate). As Cole – an active duty US Army Major, trained strategist, Georgetown Ph.D., and currently teaching at West Point – tweeted this week about our earlier effort, “Can’t emphasize enough what that says about how unserious we are about global inform/influence efforts.”

 

***

Blinken Announces New Appointees For #HavanaSyndrome Task Force

 

Last Friday, Secretary Blinken made an on-camera remarks at the State Department  to talk about the “Department’s Health Incidents Response Task Force” including the appointments of  Ambassador Margaret Uyehara as the agency’s senior care coordinator and Ambassador Jonathan Moore as the head of the Health Incident Response Task Force in Foggy Bottom.
Blinken on Ambassador Uyehara as “senior care coordinator”:

“I’m very pleased to share that we recently appointed Ambassador Margaret Uyehara to serve as our senior care coordinator. A career member of the Foreign Service with three decades of experience at the State Department, she has already gotten to work advocating for those affected, including assisting them with workers’ compensation and the benefits process. She’s compassionate; she’s effective. We’re grateful for her and her commitment to this vital issue. Additionally, last month, the State Department began a partnership with Johns Hopkins University to expand the top-tier care available to employees and families who have been affected by Anomalous Health Incidents.Now they can access the university’s outstanding medical professionals and facilities as well.”

There does not appear to be an official bio for her at state.gov right now. It appears that she retired from the Foreign Service so  it is likely that her work hours, like other State Department’s re-employed annuitants will also be capped at no more than 1,040 hours during her appointment year.
A throwback from her Montenegro appointment:

Uh-oh! Also another throwback via ISP-I-17-41 Inspection of Embassy Podgorica, Montenegro:

While embassy employees told OIG that the Ambassador and DCM held themselves to the high ethical standards that 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 1214 establishes, American staff consistently evaluated the Ambassador negatively against the leadership principles that are described in 3 FAM 1214. For instance, some employees described the Ambassador as a micromanager which delayed the clearance process for embassy memos and reports. Employees told OIG that rapid-fire taskings, shifting priorities, and the Ambassador’s ambitious agenda hindered their ability to perform their core responsibilities. Further, employees expressed that they hesitated to offer differing points of view as the Ambassador did not proactively solicit their input and was not receptive to dissent. Some embassy personnel described the Ambassador as intimidating in her interactions with American and LE staff, which inhibited staff discourse and negatively affected mission morale.

Such characteristics and interactions as described above are not in accord with the highest standards of interpersonal conduct as outlined in 3 FAM 1214. The Department sets clear expectations for leadership to follow certain principles because it fosters the highest attainable degree of employee productivity and morale, all of which are essential to achieving mission goals and objectives. The Ambassador assured OIG that she valued the Department’s leadership principles and would use her unique position to lead by example.

Blinken on Ambassador Jonathan Moore:

“I’m pleased to announce the new head of our Health Incident Response Task Force: Ambassador Jonathan Moore. Jonathan brings decades of experience grappling with complex policy challenges. His career in the Foreign Service has taken him from posts around the globe, from Bosnia to Namibia, and he’s managed portfolios ranging from Russia policy to engagement with the United Nations.Across each of his assignments, Jonathan has brought a strong analytical capacity and fidelity to the facts.He knows the State Department.He knows the inter-agency process.And he cares about the people he works with, which is particularly important for this assignment, for which treating people with empathy and decency is absolutely key.”

According to his official bio, Ambassador Moore was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, where he oversaw policy regarding the United Nations and UN agencies – including on health, environment, science, and technology – between November 2018 and March 2020. It looks like his tenure overlapped for a year with the infamous tenure of Kevin Moley who was bureau assistant secretary from March 29, 2018 – November 29, 2019 (see IO’s Kevin Moley Accused of Political Retribution Finally Leaves the Building). The OIG report is available to read here:  Review of Allegations of Politicized and Other Improper Personnel Practices in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
Previously, he was DCM at US Embassy Minsk in 2006 and later served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim from March 2008–July 2009. The OIG report for Embassy Minsk had some good things to say about him:

A newly arrived Ambassador and DCM are exercising firm, clear direction at Embassy Minsk. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of their observations and judgments, Americans at the embassy scored both officials highly on OIG questionnaires. In interviews during the inspection, American staff praised the officials for their openness and willingness to engage deeply in the details of all embassy policies and operations.

Embassy Minsk is a small, well-run mission that now attracts a sufficient number of qualified Foreign Service bidders. Operating in a hostile political environment, the embassy is a 25-percent hardship differential post.
[…]
The DCM (sometimes with the Ambassador) meets with the consular section chief in her office weekly, although issues can easily be raised at any time. The DCM reviews the consular chief ’s visa decisions and supports a by-the-book visa referral policy that is reviewed annually.

We’re hoping to see improvements on how these cases are handled.
Let’s see what happens.

 

Related:

 

USG to End Travel Restrictions on 11/8/21 EST, Announces Global Vaccination Requirement

 

A week from today, the United States will officially end the travel restrictions imposed under four Presidential Proclamations. In its place, the U.S. Government will require a global vaccination requirement for all adult foreign national travelers coming to the United States. The State/CA announcement notes that “does not necessarily mean that your local U.S. embassy or consulate is able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews.”
Via travel.state.gov:
On October 25, President Biden announced a Presidential Proclamation titled “A Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  This proclamation, which takes effect at 12:01 am Eastern Standard Time on November 8, 2021, will end the travel restrictions under Presidential Proclamations (P.P.) 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199 as they relate to the suspension of entry into the United States of persons physically present in Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.  In place of these restrictions, the President announced a global vaccination requirement for all adult foreign national travelers.   This proclamation applies to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departs after 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 8, 2021.  More information about this global vaccination requirement, including details on exceptions and waivers due to humanitarian concerns, is available at Non-U.S. citizen, Non-U.S. immigrants: Air Travel to the United States | CDC.
Pursuant to President Biden’s proclamation, as of November 8, the Department can process visa applications for individuals physically present in the affected countries.
Please note that the rescission of these P.P.’s does not necessarily mean that your local U.S. embassy or consulate is able to immediately schedule all affected applicants for visa interviews. Please see the embassy/consulate website for information on what services they are offering at this time and instructions on how to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.

###

CA Appointment Eligible Family Members Subject to Suitability Review Determination

 

The State Department made an administrative change to 3 FAM 8210 to add supplementary guidance on the Suitability and Security Clearance Determinations process in 3 FAM 8215.1. It now includes suitability determination requirement for Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFM) working for Consular Affairs.
3 FAM 8215  Suitability and Security Clearance Determinations
3 FAM 8215.1  Suitability Determination
(CT:PER-1063;   09-14-2021)
(State Only)
(Applies to Appointment Eligible Family Members Only)

a. In all cases, individuals to be appointed under a family member appointment will be subject to appropriate investigation to determine suitability for employment.
b. Except as noted in c. below, in the event that information is developed that raises a question of suitability for employment, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/SI/PSS) will refer the case to the Personnel Review Panel (as established under 3 FAM 2150), which will make a suitability determination as to whether an individual may be appointed under a family member appointment.
c.  In all cases, individuals to be appointed to positions under the Consular Affairs Appointment Eligible Family Members Program will be subject to a suitability determination by a Suitability Review Panel (SRP), as stipulated in 3 FAM 2215.1a.

3 FAM 2215.1  Suitability Review Panel
(CT:PER-1062;   09-14-2021)
(State Only)
(Applies to all Foreign Service applicants)

a. A Suitability Review Panel (SRP) makes suitability determinations for appointment of career candidates in the Foreign Service, for the reappointment of a career member to the Foreign Service, for the recall of a career member to the Foreign Service (except in cases where the recalled individual is also the subject of a Presidential or other political appointment), for Civil Service candidates converting to the Foreign Service and for limited non-career appointments to the Foreign Service.  A Suitability Review Panel does not make determinations for family member appointments, except for individuals to be appointed to positions under the Consular Affairs Appointment Eligible Family Members Program.  A Suitability Review Panel will also review the candidacies of any current Foreign Service employee converting to another skill code if derogatory information arises prior to the candidate’s conversion.  Except as provided below, candidates, except those applying for a position with Diplomatic Security (DS), who have been found suitable for appointment by a SRP within the previous two years do not require a new suitability review.

b. After the medical examination clearance has been issued, and the background investigation, which is not more than three years old, is received, a candidate’s entire file (except the medical records) is reviewed and evaluated by a SRP to determine the candidate’s suitability for the Foreign Service under the standards set forth in 3 FAM 2215.  DS will re-submit applicants to the qualifications panel (3 FAM 2216.2-3) if they are found to have falsified information on their application or are found to have other disqualifying factors.

c.  Suitability Review Panels for the Department of State must consist of two or more assessors from the Board of Examiners, or, in the case of Diplomatic Security or Medical Specialist candidates, one of the assessors may be a subject matter expert appointed to the Suitability Review Panel (SRP) by the Director of GTM/TAC/BEX.  In the case of a candidate for appointment to the Senior Foreign Service, the SRP must consist of at least three Assessors who are career Senior Foreign Service Officers (FSO).  The majority of the officers on the Senior Foreign Service Officer SRP, including the panel chairperson, must be career Senior FSOs.

d. Candidates found suitable for appointment will have their names forwarded to the Office of the Registrar in the Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM/TAC/REG).  Prior to appointment in the Foreign Service, the Department of State may, at its discretion, elect to review once again the candidate’s suitability for employment should information become available that the Suitability Review Panel had not previously had access to that raises questions about the Suitability Review Panel’s original suitability determination.

e. The candidacy of any candidate who is not found suitable for appointment by a Suitability Review Panel will be terminated and the candidate will be informed of the termination and the right to appeal in writing.  An unfavorable suitability determination for a Foreign Service candidacy, other than a candidacy for a Diplomatic Security position based solely on reasons found in 3 FAM 2215.2-6 (15), terminates other pending Foreign Service candidacies.  An unfavorable suitability determination for a Diplomatic Security candidacy solely under 3 FAM 2215.2-6 (15) may not necessarily terminate other pending, non-DS Foreign Service candidacies.

f.  Candidates, other than candidates for Diplomatic Security positions whose candidacy was terminated solely under 3 FAM 2215.2-6 (15), not found suitable for appointment by a Suitability Review Panel are ineligible to apply for Foreign Service positions for a period of two years from the date of the unfavorable suitability determination.  Candidates for Diplomatic Security positions whose candidacy was terminated solely under 3 FAM 2215.2-6 (15) will remain eligible to apply for non-Diplomatic Security positions.

3 FAM 2215.2  Suitability Standards for Appointment to the Foreign Service
3 FAM 2215.2-1  Applicability
(CT:PER-1062;   09-14-2021)
(State/USAID)
(Applies to all Foreign Service Applicants)

This section applies to all applicants for employment in the Foreign Service.  This section does not apply to family member appointments, except for individuals to be appointed to positions under the Consular Affairs Appointment Eligible Family Members Program.  Standards of conduct for continued employment in the Foreign Service are found in 3 FAM 4130.

Read more: 3 FAM 2210 Appointments (CT:PER-1062;   09-14-2021)
(Office of Origin:  GTM/TAC)

Fairy Godfathers in Congress Cast Their Riddikulus Spell For Ambassadorships

 

We are the only country in the developed world that does this over and over and over again. Remember when Russia sent one of its top diplomats to the UN and we sent our amateurs? Yep, that wasn’t fun to watch.  The Russians must have wondered, “how did we get this lucky?”
The Gordon Sonland episode during the first impeachment trial may have shocked people to attention but it did not dampen the interests of political donors, nor that of the current administration.  In fact, this is a tradition gleefully shared by the Democratic and Republican administrations. Of course, promises will be made, now and again but in the end, this will never get fixed. Why? Both parties benefit from the practice of using plum ambassadorships as rewards to friends, donors, political allies, and supporters. Also if you’re a congressional representative, would you really shut the door on a potential new career in diplomacy when the time comes for you to retire from politics?  Nah, that would be silly!
Obviously, Congressional representatives think the job is easy peasy it does not require diplomatic experience, and it can be done by anyone with good manners and a nice bark.
Now, we’re just wondering which party would be the first to award an ambassadorship to man’s best friend! Because why not?
Wouldn’t a well trained dog like Major could do just as well?  Just get Major an excellent DCM who will not crash his party!  And really, Major is the President’s best pal in DC, who wouldn’t want to be friends with him?
Somebody give that dog an agrément!
Note that Palmerston did run Whitehall for a bit, and Larry, the Cat, well, he does lord over 10 Downing Street and poor Boris. They’re two nice  inspiration; Palmerston and Larry, that is, not Boris. Pardon me? Incitatus, too? Well, that horse was never made a consul contrary to ancient rumors.
Listen. Here’s the thing. If you recommend Major for an ambassadorship and senator cruz barks about everything (except the insurrection), Major could just as quickly bark back about doggy biscuits or anything at all under the sun.  The Senators could then have their bark-a-bark marathon, and it’ll be on a double pay-per view at C-SPAN and DOGTV.
In any case, who can blame entry level diplomats considering their career options with this reality in mind (not the doggy ambassador, silly!). Not that all career diplomats get to become ambassadors, of course.  But most of them will get to babysit most amateur ambassadors unless Elon Musk develops an FSD for ambassadorships.  When that happens, folks can just skip FSI’s three-week Ambassadorial Seminar, and get the George Kennan chip (with two ambassadorships). Or level up to a Thomas Pickering chip (with seven ambassadorships). You can’t cram 30 years experience into a three-week seminar, how could you? But Elon can put all that in an embedable chip!
You think we’re making fun of the Senate? Nah, won’t dream of it. But don’t you think Congress is now just having fun with us since elected reps don’t really think the general public cares?

Somehow, the folks over at Share America are missing a few important steps; who’s going to tell them that their infographic needs more work?

Zalmay Khalilzad Out, Thomas West In as Special Representative for Afghanistan

 

Via state.gov:
As Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad steps down from his role, I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people. 
Thomas West, who previously served as the Deputy Special Representative, will be the Special Representative for Afghanistan.  Special Representative West, who served on then-Vice President Biden’s national security team and on the National Security Council staff, will lead diplomatic efforts, advise the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and coordinate closely with the U.S. Embassy Kabul presence in Doha on America’s interests in Afghanistan.  
I thank Ambassador Khalilzad for his service and welcome Special Representative West to the role.
Below is a longer bio via Carnegie where Thomas West previously served as a Nonresident Scholar for the South Asia Program:
Tom West was a nonresident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an associate vice president at the Cohen Group.
West served for ten years in the U.S. Department of State and at the White House, working on South Asia and Middle East issues. From 2012 to 2015, he served on the National Security Council (NSC) as director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as a special adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden. He served a concurrent stint as the NSC’s director for Yemen. From 2011 to 2012, West served as the State Department’s senior diplomat in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, where he managed the civilian staff of a U.S.-led provincial reconstruction team. He worked at the State Department in Washington on a variety of issues, including the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative, Washington’s response to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and U.S.-Pakistan relations. He also served as a political officer in Islamabad and Karachi.
West received his BA in international studies from the Johns Hopkins University and an MA in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 

Diplomatic Security Gets Career DSS Special Agent Carlos F. Matus as New DS/PDAS and DSS Director

 

Last month, the State Department named career DSS agent Carlos F. Matus as PDAS for Diplomatic Security  (DS) and director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Below is his official bio:

Carlos F. Matus, a career Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agent and DSS senior official, was named principal deputy assistant secretary (PDAS) of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Department of State, on September 13, 2021. He previously served as acting DSS director.

As PDAS and DSS director, Matus is responsible for the operations of the most widely represented law enforcement and security organization in the world, with offices in 33 U.S. cities and 275 U.S. diplomatic posts overseas. DSS is the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State and is responsible for protecting U.S. diplomacy and the integrity of U.S. travel documents.

Matus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, joined DSS as a special agent in 1987. Throughout his 34 years of service, Matus has served around the world at U.S. embassies in Honduras, Panama, Afghanistan, Austria, Haiti, Pakistan, Brazil; DSS field offices in Washington, D.C., and Miami; and at DSS headquarters.

Among his most recent career highlights, Matus served as director of protective intelligence investigations, 2016; senior regional security officer, U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, 2016-17; deputy assistant secretary for the high threat programs directorate, 2017-19; and acting deputy assistant secretary for threat investigations and analysis until he assumed the position of acting DSS director in 2020.

Matus is an individual recipient of multiple State Department meritorious and superior honor awards. The U.S. Marine Corps recognized him twice as Regional Security Officer of the Year for D Company. Most recently, he received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive.

Before joining DSS, Matus graduated from the University of Maryland and the Inter-American Defense College. He holds a Master’s degree in Security and Hemispheric Defense from the University of Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. More information about Carlos Matus is available at: https://www.state.gov/biographies/carlos-f-matus/

In 2016, we published  an submitted letter from a Diplomatic Security employee about the lack of diversity in the top ranks of the bureau leadership (see Dear @JohnKerry: One of Your Foggy Bottom Folks Is Asking — Is This Diversity?).   At that time, there were two senior positions held by female officers and one by an African-American at the bureau.
Today, the leadership at Diplomatic Security remains overwhelmingly male and white, with but ONE senior female official occupying the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Director Training Directorate. There are currently , three African Americans in its leadership positions including the assistant secretary. Given that Diplomatic Security is one of the top five bureaus with the highest number of sexual harassment complaints, you’d think that the bureau would work harder in growing the ranks of senior female officials in its leadership ranks.
It looks like that’s not happening anytime soon. So will Diplomatic Security ever appoint a senior female agent anywhere besides the International Programs Directorate or the Training Directorate? (see Inbox: A belief that there’s no place for a female in Diplomatic Security agent ranks especially at HTPs?).  As DSS Director? Or as a Principal Deputy? No?
Well, now, we’d like to know why. Why are female officials hard to find in the bureau’s senior leadership ranks?

###

Related posts: