2018 Goodbyes and Resignations

Jim Mattis Quits in Protest Over Trump’s Chaos Strategery
Brett McGurk, U.S. Envoy in ISIS Fight, Quits Over Trump’s Syria Withdrawal
Ex-Amb. to Estonia James D. Melville Writes Why He Quit
Russia Expels U.S. Diplomats, Closes Consulate General @USinStPete
Foggy Bottom Bids Goodbye to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
U.S. Ambassador to Panama John Feeley Resigns From the Foreign Service Over Trump Policies
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State/OIG: Sustained Failure of Leadership at the National Passport Center

The National Passport Center is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. NPC opened in 1992 and this past November, it processed its 100 millionth passport application. Below excerpted from State/OIG’s report,  Targeted Review of Leadership and Management at the National Passport Center:

Backgrounder: NPC, the largest of 29 passport-processing agencies and twice the size of the next largest, issued 7.4 million passports in FY 2017, or 38 percent of all passports issued by the U.S. Government from October 2016 to September 2017. Located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the center was created in 1992, and it grew from 60 employees at its founding to approximately 900 following a 2007 surge in passport demand.

At the time of the inspection, NPC’s staff consisted of a GS-15 Director, 6 GS-14 Assistant Directors, 16 GS-13 Adjudication Managers, and 57 GS-12 Supervisory Passport Specialists who supervised approximately 350 Passport Specialists. Additional staff included Customer Service and Fraud
Prevention employees, Passport Operations Officers, and over 400 contractors who were responsible for passport production and other support services. NPC operates two flexible shifts, which together cover 22 hours per day Monday through Friday. In addition, depending on workload, NPC scheduled overtime shifts on Saturday and Sunday.

Work Environment and CA/PPT Leadership: Senior leaders in CA’s Office of Passport Services (CA/PPT) were aware of concerns regarding NPC’s work environment since at least 2013, when several NPC employees made allegations against NPC leadership. The employees alleged harassment, “bullying,” a lack of trust in leadership, favoritism, abusive behavior to employees, improper hiring procedures, and an overall lack of transparency in the operations of the organization. In response to the allegations, CA/PPT instructed the Director of the Northeast Regional Office, who oversees NPC and other passport agencies, to conduct an internal review of NPC, which he did in January and February 2014. […] To address the internal review’s findings, CA/PPT ordered extensive executive coaching and training for NPC’s Director and senior leaders. The training lasted approximately 2 years and ended in 2016.

How not to solve the problem: OIG also determined that CA/PPT and NPC senior leaders were disengaged and, based on OIG interviews, generally aware of concerns regarding harassment, abuse, and misconduct. During OIG’s review, CA/PPT senior leaders told OIG that they blamed some of the issues at NPC on the fact that employees have known each other for a long time, dismissing the allegations as grudges held from high school and referring to employees as “crusty New Englanders.” CA/PPT’s senior leaders moreover acknowledged inappropriate behavior at NPC, but hoped that “being really busy would solve the problem.”

Being really busy is their hopeful solution? Good lord, who are these people? Are they available to work their magic wand as WH chiefs of staff?

It works! OIG Hotline Complaints: Between February and May 2018, OIG received a series of hotline complaints alleging misconduct, harassment, retaliation, and unfair hiring practices at NPC. […] Hundreds of NPC employees reported to OIG that retaliation, harassment, and “bullying” pervaded the work environment at NPC. OIG found that the reported behavior was widespread and was either condoned or perpetrated by nearly all levels of NPC leadership. Seventeen percent (91) of NPC employees who responded to OIG’s survey reported that they had experienced or observed discrimination and harassment. Of the 156 NPC employees OIG interviewed, 54 (35 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed retaliation, 80 (51 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed harassment, and 61 (39 percent) stated that they had experienced or observed discrimination.

Employees reported to OIG multiple instances of perceived or possible retaliation by Assistant Directors, Adjudication Managers, and other Supervisory Passport Specialists in denying awards, promotions, and special assignments.

Multiple employees reported incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment to OIG, which in some cases, had been ongoing, widely known, and accepted as part of the center’s culture.

Holy Guacamole Alert! NPC’s already problematic workplace environment was exacerbated by the fact that communication was ineffective at all levels within NPC. […] One example of poor communication was the lack of a formal and effective process for explaining and interpreting new guidance with Passport Specialists. When CA/PPT Office of Adjudication (CA/PPT/A) issued new or updated adjudication-specific guidance, its implementation instructions to passport agencies stated that Adjudication Managers must meet with Passport Specialists to discuss the guidance, answer questions, and ensure everyone understands how to implement the new guidance.10 However, NPC’s Adjudication Managers consistently and affirmatively refused to meet with Passport Specialists. 

You read that part above and you think that’s just bonkers. If they’re not meeting regularly to discuss new passport guidance, how would they know if the guidance they have is already outdated?

Security Procedures: In the course of examining the leadership and communication issues described previously, OIG also learned that NPC did not comply with all required Department security procedures. Specifically […] NPC did not follow facility access control measures that govern employee entry and exit, creating an opportunity for individuals without approved access to enter the building.

Admonishment from CA/PPT senior leader and NPC managers: OIG also notes that, after its site visit, a CA/PPT senior leader visited NPC. According to an information memo CA prepared for the Deputy Secretary following the visit, the CA/PPT senior leader communicated  to NPC employees that the Department does not tolerate retaliation. However, OIG subsequently received complaints that CA/PPT senior leaders and NPC managers admonished staff for complaining to and speaking with OIG.

We should note that the OIG report does not include the names of the senior leaders at CA/PPT or the managers at NPC but they’re on LinkedIn, is that right? Please don’t make them lead the Consular Leadership Day festivities next year, hookay?

OSC’s Hatch Act Guidance: No Advocacy For/Against Impeachment, No #Resist, #ResistTrump Use

 

On November 27, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) — not Robert Mueller’s but the federal agency with authorities to investigate cases related to the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) — issued a new guidance regarding political activity. It says that  its Hatch Act Unit has received several questions regarding whether the following constitute “political activity” for purposes of the Hatch Act:

1. Is strong criticism or praise of an administration’s policies and actions considered political activity?

Criticism or praise that is directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group is political activity. Absent evidence that the criticism or praise is so directed, criticism or praise of an administration’s policies and actions is not considered political activity. Whether a particular statement constitutes political activity depends upon the facts and circumstances.

Consider, for example, the administration’s recent decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. An employee who strongly criticizes or praises that decision during a workplace discussion with a colleague in the days immediately following the decision is less likely to be engaging in political activity than one making those same statements in the run-up to the next presidential election—when the decision will likely have been out of the news for several years—to a colleague that the employee knows has strong feelings about
the subject.

Read more here.

2. Is advocating for or against impeachment of a candidate for federal office considered political activity?

Yes. Read more here.

3. Is activity related to “the Resistance” considered political activity?

To the extent that the statement relates to resistance to President Donald J. Trump, usage of the terms “resistance,” “#resist,” and derivatives thereof is political activity. We understand that the “resistance” and “#resist” originally gained prominence shortly after President Trump’s election in 2016 and generally related to efforts to oppose administration policies. However, “resistance,” “#resist,” and similar terms have become inextricably linked with the electoral success (or failure) of the president. During the period when President Trump was not considered by OSC to be a candidate for reelection the terms did not raise any Hatch Act concerns. Now that President Trump is a candidate for reelection, we must presume that the use or display of “resistance,” “#resist,” “#resistTrump,” and similar statements is political activity unless the facts and circumstances indicate otherwise.

Note that this presumption is only relevant to employee conduct that takes place on duty, in the workplace, while wearing an agency uniform or insignia, or while invoking any official authority or influence. Provided that they comply with the Hatch Act’s restrictions, employees are free to engage in political activity while off-duty and away from the federal workplace.

In OSC’s example, if you tweet “I must #resist the temptation to eat another donut from the break room” – you would not/not be engaging in political activity but OSC would presume that “the use or display of the hashtags #resist and #resistTrump, in isolation, is political activity under the Hatch Act.”  Read in full here.

The thing is, Foreign Service folks are considered on duty 24/7, so what does this guidance means in the real world? We’ve asked the OSC; will update if we hear anything back.

You may also call the Hatch Act Unit at 202-804-7002 or send an e-mail to Hatchact@osc.gov  for your Hatch Act-related questions.

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Ex-State/FSI Employee Gets 26 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Production

Last July, we blogged briefly about State/FSI’s digital media administrator who pleaded guilty of child pornography production. On Friday, USDOJ announced that  Skydance MacMahon, 45, was sentenced to 26 years in prison for production of child pornography. Excerpt below:

Former State Department Employee Sentenced for Producing Child Pornography

An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 26 years in prison for production of child pornography.

According to court documents, over at least a two year period, Skydance MacMahon, 45, conspired with an adult in Canada to produce over a thousand sexually explicit images and videos of minor children in Canada. These images and videos were produced at the direction of MacMahon using Skype and hidden cameras as well as overt recording. MacMahon distributed these image and video files to other users and consumers of child pornography by providing access to the files on his cloud storage services and also by directly sending the files to other users.  In addition to the child pornography images and videos MacMahon himself created, he also received and possessed thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

During the time he committed these offenses, MacMahon was a Digital Media Administrator at the Foreign Services Institute of the U.S. Department of State in Arlington.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

This is a case that originated in Ohio when local police interviewed of an individual who admitted to sexually assaulting a five year old minor victim and producing pornographic images. That individual’s phone led to Dropbox links, which then led to a State Department IP address. The Affidavit executed in support of this criminal case notes that MacMahon, a GS-14 employee also used his USG-issued Iphone7 in the conduct of this crime. Excerpt below from the FBI agent’s affidavit:

9. The reponse from Dropbox included, in part, information pertaining to the kvlesil007@protonmail.com User ID: 663651981. This paid account was created on April 15, 2017. A usemame of “Kyle Silvyr” was provided by the registrant. A recurring payment of 99.99 was established using a Mastercard Debit card (521992XXXXXX0894). Multiple IP addresses used for authentification were also provided (IP address 2601:140:8000:61af:2d75:7fef:f243:6dfd on 08/09/2017 at 13:18:19 GMT; IP address 12.28.184.116 on 09/14/2017 at 18:24:55 GMT).

10. An open source search identified IP address 12.28.184.116 as being associated with the US Department of State , 4020 Arlington Blvd, Arlington VA.

13. Database queries identified J.M. as an individual associated with the Menokin Drive, Alexandria, VA address. An open source search located a social networking profile associated with J.M. that contains publicly viewable images of the account holder who visually matches the likeness of J.M.’s Virginia driver’s license photograph. Additional publicly viewable photographs on J.M.’s Facebook profile include those of a Caucasian male identified as “SKYDANCE MACMAHON”. SKYDANCE MACMAHON visually matches the individual appearing in the two (2) non-pornographic images in the material in the kvlesil007@protonmail.com User ID 663651981 Dropbox.com account.

15. An open source search identified a Linkedln.com profile for SKYDANCE MACMAHON who self-identified as a Digital Media Administrator at the Foreign Services Institute (which is associated with the Department of State) in Arlington, VA, and a 1995 graduate of James Madison University. Database queries fully identified SKYDANCE MACMAHON. SKYDANCE MACMAHON’s Virginia driver’s license photograph visually matches the likeness of the male depicted in the images contained in the kvlesil007@Drotonmail.com User ID 663651981 Dropbox.com account and the SKYDANCE MACMAHON Facebook account.

16. On March 16,2018, an administrative subpoena to Kik for usemame kylesilOOT yielded a confirmed email address associated with the account as kvlesil007@protonmail.com. Review of the IP logs provided by Kik yielded a mixture of the IP address (12.28.184.116) resolving to the Department of State facility, Verizon Wireless IP addresses, and a Comcast Communications IP address (73.87.155.249) which resolves to the same address in the 2400 block of Menokin Drive, Alexandria VA 22302, as recently as of March 15, 2018. The Menokin address is the address of J.M., who investigation has revealed is an associate and girlfnend of SKYDANCE MACMAHON.

19. On March 15, 2018, Department of State, Office of Inspector General (OIG) was contacted regarding the employment of SKYDANCE MACMAHON. OIG confirmed SKYDANCE MACMAHON was currently employed as a Federal Grade 14 employee at the US State Department, as a Digital Media Administrator at the Foreign Services Institute in Arlington, VA.

22. SKYDANCE MACMAHON advised that minutes prior to the investigators arriving at his work, he received a telephone call from his wife telling him the FBI/police were at their daughter’s school and they asked that she come over the to the school to talk. Upon hanging up the phone with his wife, SKYDANCE MACMAHON deleted items off of his Iphone 7 cellular telephone, such as the applications “kik”, “Wire”, “Dropbox”, “Box” and inappropriate photographs that consisted of child pornography. SKYDANCE MACMAHON’s Iphone 7 was his Department of State issued cellular telephone that he used to communicate with K.C., and other individuals using apps such as Kik and Dropbox.

The case is USA v. Macmahon; Case Number: 1:18-mj-00218-IDD. Warning, abhorrent and horrifying details.

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State/OIG and OSC Reportedly Looking Into Political Reprisals @StateDept

Via FP:

The U.S. State Department’s Office of the Inspector General has widened an investigation into alleged political retaliation by Trump administration officials against America’s diplomatic corps. It is probing claims that a political appointee in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs has taken action against career officials deemed insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump, according to at least 10 current and former State Department officials.

The Office of Special Counsel, an independent watchdog that oversees the federal government, is also investigating whether Trump’s political appointees—including Mari Stull, the aforementioned senior advisor in the international organization bureau—are carrying out political reprisals against career officials, according to two State Department officials familiar with the matter. The inspector general is also investigating allegations that Stull hurled homophobic slurs at a State Department staffer.

“The inspector general is looking into an allegation that Stull blocked the promotion of one career official to a top human rights post because the official had previously been involved in overseeing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees. The nominee had the backing of the department’s top career officials. But when Stull caught wind of the pending promotion, she convened a meeting with Moley and accused the candidate of having sympathy for Palestinian terrorists. Moley froze the appointment.”

We’ve been away; has AFSA said anything about this? Also if these allegations were true (we should note that allegations of political reprisals and loyalty questions are not limited to IO), we gotta ask – what kind of leadership is there in Foggy Bottom that considers this acceptable behavior? You and I, and all of IO, and Foggy Bottom are looking forward to the results of these investigations. Perhaps, it would also be useful for the oversight committees to look into the turn over and curtailments of career employees specific to IO.

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Catching Up on @StateDept Presidential Appointments – Career Officials

We’re just catching up on Presidential career and non-career appointments (separate post) at the State Department. Let us know if we’ve missed anyone.–D

Career Diplomat Francisco Luis Palmieri of Connecticut, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Honduras | Via

Mr. Palmieri currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State and brings over thirty years of experience as an American diplomat to his position. During his three decades of service as an American diplomat, he spent time at five U.S. Missions overseas and held senior leadership positions in within the Department of State domestically.  Mr. Palmieri earned his A.B. from Princeton University and M.S. from the National War College.  He speaks Spanish fluently.

Career Diplomat Kathleen Ann Kavalec of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Albania  | Via

Ms. Kavalec currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State with over three decades of experience as an American diplomat. Previously, she served as the Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, France, Deputy Coordinator for Assistance in the European Bureau, and Director for Conflict Prevention in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. Ms. Kavalec earned her A.B. from the University of California at Berkeley and M.S. from Georgetown University.  She speaks French, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese fluently.

Career Diplomat Stephanie Sanders Sullivan of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Ghana  | Via

Ms. Sullivan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1986.  She is currently Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs in the Department of State, a position she has held since 2017.  Previously, she served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo and Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources in addition to other senior-level leadership positions at the Department of State.  A seasoned Africa-hand, she previously served in Accra, Ghana as political chief.  First-rate leadership and management skills, together with prior collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development and the United States military, will enable her to promote good governance, economic development, and regional security.  Ms. Sullivan earned a B.A. at Brown University and a M.S. at the National Defense University.  She is the recipient of 20 senior Department of State awards and a Sustained Superior Performance Award from the Peace Corps.  Ms. Sullivan speaks French, Lingala, and basic Spanish.

Career Diplomat Karen L. Williams of Missouri, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Suriname  | Via

Ms. Williams, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  She is currently Senior Advisor, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Department of State, a position she has held since 2016.  Previously, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana from 2008 to 2010.  Ms. Williams has held six overseas diplomatic postings in Afghanistan, South America, Central Asia, and Europe as well serving as Deputy Coordinator in the Counterterrorism Bureau and as the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Florida.  She earned a B.A. from Drury College, in Springfield, Missouri and a M.S. from the National War College.  Ms. Williams is the recipient of several notable Department of State awards, including the Senior Executive/Senior Foreign Service Award, the United States Special Operations Command Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, and a National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  Ms. Williams speaks Spanish, Russian, and Bosnian.

Career Diplomat Derek J. Hogan of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova | Via

Mr. Derek J. Hogan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1997.  He is currently Deputy Executive Secretary of the United States Department of State, a position he has held since 2017.  Mr. Hogan is one of the Department of State’s experts on Eastern Europe, having served five tours working in or on Eastern Europe, including Russia.  He has held senior leadership positions both at United States missions overseas and domestically for the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan most recent overseas tours – as Chargé d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission in Azerbaijan from 2013 to 2016 and as the Department of State Representative on the civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Southern (Uruzgan Province) and Eastern (Kunar Province) Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009 – have demonstrated that he possesses the leadership, management, innovation, and communication abilities needed to succeed in complex operating environments.  Mr. Hogan earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  He is the recipient of multiple Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State.  Mr. Hogan speaks Russian and Spanish.

Career Diplomat Michael A. Hammer of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of the Congo | Via 

Mr. Hammer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1988.  He is currently acting senior vice president of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., a position he has held since 2017.  He previously served as United States Ambassador to Chile from 2014 to 2016, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of State from 2012 to 2013 and Special Assistant to the President as Senior Director for Press and Communications and spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2011.  He has served at five U.S. Missions overseas and in several senior leadership positions in Washington.  Mr. Hammer earned a M.S. at the National Defense University National War College, an M.A. from Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a B.S. from Georgetown University.  He is fluent in Spanish, speaks French and Portuguese, and has a working knowledge of Icelandic.

Career Diplomat Alaina B. Teplitz of Colorado, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Maldives | Via 

Ambassador Teplitz is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and is currently serving as American Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.  Previously she served in senior leadership positions as Director of the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation at the U.S. Department of State and as the Management Minister Counselor of the American Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan.  Ambassador Teplitz is recognized as a talented and experienced manager whose diverse range of Foreign Service assignments have given her a broad-based perspective as a leader and mentor.  Previously, Ambassador Teplitz served as Deputy Executive Director in the Department’s Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs and Director of Management Tradecraft Training at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute.  Ambassador Teplitz earned a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1991.  She is the recipient of numerous notable Department of State awards.  Ambassador Teplitz’s languages are Albanian, Chinese-Mandarin, French, and Mongolian.

Career Diplomat Donald Lu of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kyrgyz Republic | Via 

Ambassador Lu, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1991.  He is currently Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania, a position he has held since 2014.  Ambassador Lu has also served the Department of State as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India from 2010 to 2013; Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan from 2009 to 2010; Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan from 2007 to 2009; and Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from 2003 to 2006.  He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1988 to 1990.  Ambassador Lu is known as one of the Department’s most talented leaders, respected for his strong analytical skills, leadership, mentoring and motivational skills, and broad experience in Central Asia.  He has served at six U.S. Missions overseas, some twice, and in senior leadership positions at the Department of State.  Ambassador Lu earned a M.A. and a B.A. from Princeton University.  He is the recipient of seven notable awards from the State Department, including the Rockwell Anthony Schnabel Award for advancing U.S.-European Union relations.  Ambassador Lu speaks and reads Albanian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, West African Krio, Hindi and Urdu.

Career Civil Servant Daniel N. Rosenblum of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan | Via

Mr. Rosenblum, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, a position he has held since 2014. For more than two decades, Mr. Rosenblum has served in senior United States Government positions managing people and resources, leading negotiations, building consensus, and communicating publicly about United States Government policy toward the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.  A Russian-speaker, Mr. Rosenblum has put together billion-dollar aid packages to stabilize and rebuild countries in crisis, organized and led interagency teams in support of counter-terrorism goals, and forged strong diplomatic ties with key United States partners in Central Asia.  Previously, he served as a Senior Program Coordinator for the Free Trade Union Institute, a Legislative Assistant to United States Senator Carl Levin, and a Research Assistant in the House of Lords in London, England.  Mr. Rosenblum earned a B.A. in history, summa cum laude, from Yale University and a M.A. in Soviet Studies and International Economics from the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  Mr. Rosenblum is the recipient of 8 notable Department of State awards, including a Special Service Award.

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DSS Agent Accused of Sexual Assaults Petitions Court Not to Show His Face — Oops, Too Late

Posted: 10:25 pm  PT

 

On April 9,  the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that DSS Agent David Scharlat’s lawyer petitioned the court to order news media to not show Scharlat’s face as part of any coverage of the case, citing his undercover work for the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. Bucher withdrew the petition Tuesday after it was reported in the Journal Sentinel.

The Journal Sentinel’s  reported that there was some confusion over Scharlat’s employment status:

In court Wednesday, Hulgaard noted that the State Department relieved him of all his duties, made him surrender his weapon and badge, and escorted him from a government building to his home in April 2015.

In an April 9 letter to Hulgaard, an acting deputy assistant secretary with the Diplomatic Security Service said Scharlat is presently employed, but that disclosure of his identity would not adversely affect any open case or investigation.

But wait, a State Department official also told the Journal Sentinel that Scharlat was hired in 2001 and “fired in April 2015.” Also this:

“The Department has zero tolerance for sexual assault and takes any and all allegations of sexual assault very seriously,” and has been cooperating with Waukesha County authorities, the official said in an email.”

Can they please get their story straight? He can’t still be “presently employed” and also “fired in April 2015.”

If he is still employed but has no assigned duties, it is likely that this is now an HR administrative case with appeals and whatnots. But three years on, and this admin case is still ongoing? How did Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Human Resources Conduct, Suitability, and Discipline Division, Office of Employee Relations (HR/ER/CSD) handle this case when one of the victims reported this case to the agency? How are all other cases handled? How many are there? Who keep tabs of these cases?

Isn’t it high time for State/OIG to look into the handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment reports at the State Department?  Or should we all write a daily email to our friends in Congress to get GAO to take a look?  Click here for our previous posts on sexual assaults and here for harassment.

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Ex-Federal Employee Hounded by YouKnowWho Gets a GoFundMe For Legal Defense Fund

Posted: 3:50 am ET

 

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Congress Seeks Documents/Transcribed Interviews in @StateDept “House Cleaning”

Posted: 4:32 am  ET

 

On March 15, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to the White House and State Department releasing new documents obtained by a whistleblower showing high level political appointees targeting career civil servant employees they believed did not adequately support President Donald Trump’s agenda.

We have obtained extremely disturbing new documents from a whistleblower indicating that high-level officials at the White House and State Department worked with a network of conservative activists to conduct a “cleaning” of employees they believed were not sufficiently “supportive” of President Trump’s agenda. They appear to have targeted these staffers despite being fully aware that they were career civil service employees and despite the career employees expressing willingness to support the policy priorities of the Trump Administration.

Over the past year, we have heard many reports of political attacks on career employees at the State Department, but we had not seen evidence of how extensive, blunt, and inappropriate these attacks were until now. In light of this new information, we now request that you produce additional documents regarding these staffing decisions and make several officials available for transcribed interviews with Committee staff.

The congressional representatives say that the documents they have show that political appointees characterized career State Department employees in derogatory terms, including as “a leaker and troublemaker”; “Turncoat , associated with previous policy”; and “Obama/Clinton loyalists not at all supportive of President Trump’s foreign policy agenda.”

The congressional letter requests the following documents and information including transcribed interviews by March 29, 2018:

(1) all documents and communications referring or relating to any reassignment or proposed reassignment that was considered or ordered since January 20, 2017, of career or civil service employees at the Department;

(2) all documents and communications referring or relating to any proposed or actual reassignment or removal of career or civil service employees at the Department since January 20, 2017, based on alleged personal political beliefs, prior service with previous Administrations, or work on prior Administrations’ foreign policy priorities, including any documents authored by, copying, involving, or referring to:

(a) Christine Ciccone;

(b) Makan Delrahim;

(c) Sean Doocey;

(d) Julia Haller;

(e) Brian Hook;

(f) Edward Lacey;

(g) Matthew Mowers; or

(h) Margaret Peterlin; and

(3) all documents and communications referring or relating to proposed or actual personnel actions since January 20, 2017, against Sahar Nowrouzzadch, including the curtailment of her detail to the Policy Planning staff.

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