@StateDept Opens Swastika Incident Investigation in Foggy Bottom

 

 

Following reports that a swastika was found etched into the wall of an elevator in Foggy Bottom, the State Department has reportedly opened an investigation into the incident. Axios which broke the news of the incident writes:

“The defacement raises troubling questions about security inside the nation’s foreign policy nerve center, and the potential for antisemitism within an outward-facing element of the United States government.”

While the State Department has over 76,000 employees worldwide, the latest June 2021 data from State/GTM indicates that there are some 15,279 Foreign Service and Civil Service Domestic Employees.  There are also various federal contractors working in Foggy Bottom but we do not have a good estimate for those type of employees.
Axios points out that most employees are working from home and that “All of elevators within “Main State” are within a secure perimeter, and security cameras — and, in many cases, uniformed guards – cover entrances to all secure areas.” The investigation including the availability of camera footage would be under Diplomatic Security’s responsibility.
One unintended consequence of this incident is it has raised further awareness among the State leadership and the general workforce that this scourge exists and should not be tolerated. And that, as one employee told us, “when it’s detected anywhere – domestic or overseas — within our midst and work environments, there needs to be tangible and swift consequences.” It has also been pointed out to us that State has an “occasional propensity” to sweep things under the rug because it’s embarrassing and/or inconvenient.
Well, hopefully, not this time. Too many people are paying attention for that to happen.
When the culprit is caught, what might be the penalty? Where would this offense be in the penalty list for 3 FAM 4540? Or 3 FAM 4370?
There is also 18 U.S. Code § 1361 which says “If the damage or attempted damage to such property exceeds the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; if the damage or attempted damage to such property does not exceed the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.”
And of course, there is always notoriously disgraceful conduct.
Let’s pay close attention to what happens next.

 

Here is Secretary Blinken’s note:
'Hate Has No Place Here' note, Secretary Blinken, July 27, 2021

‘Hate Has No Place Here’ note, Secretary Blinken, July 27, 2021

 

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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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@NewYorker: Vienna Is the New Havana Syndrome Hotspot

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. Gracias — DS

 

Via New Yorker:
Since Joe Biden took office about two dozen U.S. intelligence officers, diplomats, and other government officials in Vienna have reported experiencing mysterious afflictions similar to the Havana Syndrome. U.S. officials say the number of possible new cases in the Austrian capital—long a nexus of U.S. and Russian espionage—is now greater than the number reported by officials in any city except for Havana itself, where the first cases were reported.
[…]
The first possible syndrome case in Vienna was reported a couple of months after Biden’s Inauguration. That case and subsequent ones were reported to officials in Washington soon after they occurred. But the Biden Administration decided not to announce the Vienna outbreak—officials were concerned that any public disclosure about the cases would hamper ongoing U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement investigations, which are still under way in Vienna. The Austrian Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the cluster of cases.
CNN quotes a State Department spox:
“In coordination with our partners across the U.S. Government, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents (UHI) among the U.S. Embassy Vienna community or wherever they are reported,” a State Department spokesperson said. “Any employees who reported a possible UHI received immediate and appropriate attention and care.”
On May 25, 2021 U.S. government workers and their spouses who say they were injured by Havana Syndrome sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon (via NBC)

 

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Acting EUR A/S Philip Reeker to Serve as Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy London

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. Grazie — DS

On July 15, the State Department announced the appointment of the Acting Assistant Secretary for EUR Philip Reeker as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim at the US Embassy in London.

Ambassador Philip T. Reeker will serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the Embassy of the United States of America to the Court of St. James’s, as of August 1, 2021. A career diplomat with the rank of Minister Counselor, Ambassador Reeker is currently the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Prior to leading the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Reeker was Civilian Deputy and Policy Advisor to the Commander of U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and from 2008-2011 he was the U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia.

The United States has no closer Ally than the United Kingdom, and Ambassador Reeker is dedicated to continuing to advance this special relationship.

Ambassador Reeker has served as Acting A/S for EUR since March 2019.With him off to London, who will mind the EUR shop? Biden’s nominee for EUR Karen Erika Donfried was announced in spring; her nomination received by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 29, 2021. She is scheduled to have her confirmation hearing on July 20. Calculation must be that Dr. Donfried will get confirmed before the Senate’s August recess.
The current CDA for Embassy London Yael Lempert became Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. in January 2021 when Woody Johnson left post. Lempert previously took up her assignment as Deputy Chief of Mission in London in January 2019.  These are typically three year assignments, so her successor as DCM would not have been expected to arrived in London before January 2022.  Lempert is reportedly leaving post in two weeks.  She previously worked at the National Security Council during President Obama’s second term. She has also been the subject of attacks in the media for that tenure.
During Secretary Blinken’s May visit in London, he said, “…I’m particularly grateful to Yael Lempert for her extraordinary leadership of this mission. We’ve been colleagues for a long time. I’m grateful to have you here at this time.”

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Pride Month At Posts Where Consensual Same-Sex Acts Could End In Death Penalty

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According to the State-Sponsored Homophobia 2020: Global Legislation Overview Update (PDF):

“As of November 2020,
there is full legal certainty that the death penalty is the legally prescribed punishment for consensual samesex sexual acts in six (6) UN Member States, namely Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (12 Northern states only), Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There are also five (5) additional UN Member States where certain sources indicate that the death penalty may be imposed for consensual same-sex conduct, but where there is less legal certainty on the matter. These countries are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia (including Somaliland) and the United Arab Emirates.

….“full legal certainty” is understood as the absence of disputes about whether the death penalty can be legally imposed for consensual same-sex conduct. This legal certainty may be derived from the existence of written, codified laws unequivocally prescribing the death penalty for same-sex conduct, as it is the case in Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Yemen. This list also includes Saudi Arabia, where fundamental laws mandate courts to apply Sharia law “as derived from the Qur’an and the Sunna”. In this particular case, even if the death penalty is not codified in black letter law (in a formal piece of legislation), a broad consensus—supported by judicial practice and ancillary sourceshas made it legally certain that Saudi Arabia’s legal system considers the death penalty a possible and appropriate punishment for same-sex conduct.

Conversely, the lack of clear provisions mandating thedeath penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts, the existence of disputes between scholars and experts with regard to the interpretation of ambiguous provisions, and the need for judicial interpretation of certain “generic” crimes to encompass consensual same-sex sexual acts has led ILGA World to classify the remaining five UN Member States as jurisdictions where there is no full legal certainty. Additionally, the lack of evidence of enforcement couldto a certainextentbe considered as an argument potentially supporting the idea that the death penalty is not considered to be the appropriate legal punishment for these acts by local authorities. However, this argument can be easily rebutted by a mere reluctance to enforce such harsh penalty, even when the possibility exists.

Nonetheless, there is still avenue for advocacy even regarding countries where it is not legally certain that the death penalty is imposed. For example, it may be worthwhile to clarify the ambit of zina (adultery) laws, as the threat of the death penaltyeven if only a theoretical possibilitycan still be an affront to human dignity and equality”


We’ve poured over the Twitter feed of FS posts at the 10 countries cited  in the report. Of the 10 posts, only US Embassy Afghanistan tweeted directly about June as (LGBTI) Pride Month. US Embassy Yemen tweeted a canned Share America piece about the LGBTQI officials serving in the Biden Administration. The US Mission to Saudi Arabia tweeted that “Saudi women are leading in the tech revolution…..” And US Embassy Pakistan remembered to tweet about “Pollinator Week.”

Brunei

Mauritania

Nigeria

Saudi Arabia

Yemen

__

Afghanistan

Pakistan

Qatar

Somalia

United Arab Emirates

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POTUS Joe Biden’s First Overseas Trip/2: Brussels, Belgium For NATO and US-EU Summits

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President Biden is on his first overseas trip from June 10-16. He was at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K. from June 11-13. He will be in Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Summit on June 14, and the U.S.–EU Summit on June 15. He will then travel to Geneva, Switzerland for a bilateral summit with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin on June 16.

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POTUS Joe Biden’s First Overseas Trip/1: UK (Cornwall) For #G7 Summit

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President Biden is on his first overseas trip from June 10-16. He will be at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K. from June 11-13; in Brussels, Belgium for the NATO Summit on June 14, and the U.S.–EU Summit on June 15. He will then travel to Geneva, Switzerland on June 16 for a bilateral summit with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.

 

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Blinken With US Consulate Nuuk Staff #Greenland

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Secretary Blinken Departs Greenland and Thanks U.S. Consulate Nuuk Personnel Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departs from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. Before departing, the Secretary took a photo with U.S. Department of State personnel from U.S. Consulate Nuuk. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Secretary Blinken Departs Greenland and Thanks U.S. Consulate Nuuk Personnel
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departs from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. Before departing, the Secretary took a photo with U.S. Department of State personnel from U.S. Consulate Nuuk. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Secretary Blinken Visits Black Ridge in Greenland
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visits Black Ridge, in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

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US Embassy El Salvador: New Charge d’Affaires Jean Manes Arrives in San Salvador

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@StateDept on Pride Month: Recognition, Advance LGBTQI+ Rights, Fly the #Pride Flag

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