That #SwedenIncident ūüėß–America First, Sweden Second–Listen, But Don’t ‘Bomb Ikea’

Posted: 2:19 am  ET





Trump EO Results in Provisional Revocations of Valid Visas, Chaos For Dual Nationals

Posted: 1:38 am ET


On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order¬†suspending the entry of refugees to the United States for FY2017 for 120 days. The E.O also proclaimed the entry of certain aliens as ‚Äúdetrimental to the interests of the United States‚ÄĚ and declared the suspension of their entry into the United States for 90 days. ¬†The aliens referred to are from countries cited under Section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C.1187(a)(12) according to the executive order. ¬†These are the same countries cited under the¬†Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015:¬†Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.

Urgent Notice

The State Department issued an urgent notice on January 27:

Per the Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals signed on January 27, 2017, visa issuance to nationals of the countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been suspended effective immediately until further notification. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. If you already have an appointment scheduled, please DO NOT ATTEND. You will not be permitted entry to the Embassy/Consulate. We will announce any other changes affecting travelers to the United States as soon as that information is available.

Provisional Revocations

It appears that not only has the U.S. Government suspended the entry and processing of visas for this seven Muslim-majority countries, it also¬†made the State Department “provisionally revoked” (with exceptions) the valid visas issued to citizens from these seven countries.¬†If the travel ban is lifted after 90 days, the rules allow for the reinstatement of visas, presumably with whatever “extreme vetting” the government will have in place by then.

Provisional revocation via the Federal Register:

In cases where the person subject to a provisional revocation is found to be eligible for the visa, the visa will be reinstated with no need for reapplication. However, with the exception of provisional revocations, an applicant whose visa has been revoked must apply for another visa, at which time his or her eligibility for the visa will be adjudicated.

Questions for the State Department

We asked the State Department how the EO affects dual-nationals, green card holders and travelers from these seven countries.  We also asked previously if travelers issued visas on the day the EO was issued now expect that those visas no longer have validity. We wanted to know if consular posts are canceling all visa appointments/refunding all visa application fees from applicants in the affected countries. We requested an estimate of how many applicants were in the pipeline when the ban took effect.

We get to ask our questions but we don’t always get the response we need. For travelers who are nationals/dual-nationals of the seven countries, a State Department official speaking on background offered the following:

Beginning January 27, 2017, travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of one of these countries [Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen] will not be permitted for 90 days to enter the United States or be issued an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.

Those nationals or dual nationals holding valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visas will not be permitted to enter the United States during this period. Visa interviews will generally not be scheduled for nationals of these countries during this period.

So the suspension affects not only the entry to the U.S. but also the issuance of immigrant (green card) and nonimmigrant (temporary) visas. An SBU cable reportedly went out to all posts last Saturday explaining the executive order. ¬†The State Department official says,¬†“As¬†we would for any operational change, we communicated instructions to our consulates in affected countries and around the world.”

The State Department official cites an exception to the ban on a “case-by-case” basis and when “in the national interest.”

The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or allow entry to nationals of countries for which visas and entry are otherwise blocked under this Executive Order.

Asked specifically about dual-nationals, the State Department official only notes about dual-national Americans:

This Executive Order should not affect dual-nationality Americans at all. U.S. citizens (although they might also have another nationality) are required to use their U.S. passport when entering and departing the United States. They do not receive visas or enter the U.S. as a foreign national, so this Executive Order does not apply to them.

The EO clearly does not apply to American citizens but it appears to be a different story in our airport terminals:

We also asked the State Department about third country dual nationals with the seven countries, for instance Canadian-Iranians or British-Iraqi citizens.  The State Department directed us to check with Homeland Security. As of this writing, we have not heard a response. Meanwhile, the chaos continue.

Israeli Dual Nationals With Seven Restricted Countries

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv posted the following message which contradicts the information we received from the State Department on dual nationals:

Travelers with an existing valid visa in their Israeli passport may travel to the United States, even if they are also a national of or born in one of the seven restricted countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). Embassy Tel Aviv will continue to process visa applications and issue visas to eligible visa applicants who apply with an Israeli passport, even if born in, or a dual national of, one of the seven restricted countries. Final authorization to enter the United States is always determined at the port of entry.


UK Dual Nationals With Seven Restricted Countries

The US Embassy in London said that “Dual nationals of the United Kingdom and one of these countries are exempt from the Executive Order when travelling on a valid United Kingdom passport and U.S. visa.” But the UKFCO has additional guidelines that seems to indicate point of origin as a factor, too, which adds to more confusion:

  • the Presidential executive order only applies to individuals travelling from one of the 7 named countries
  • if you are travelling to the US from anywhere other than one of those countries (for instance, the UK) the executive order does not apply to you and you will experience no extra checks regardless of your nationality or your place of birth
  • if you are a UK national who happens to be travelling from one of those countries to the US, then the order does not apply to you ‚Äď even if you were born in one of those countries
  • if you are a dual citizen of one of those countries travelling to the US from OUTSIDE those countries then the order does not apply to you
  • The only dual nationals who might have extra checks are those coming from one of the 7 countries themselves ‚Äď for example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US.

Canadian Dual Nationals With Seven Restricted Countries

Media reports citing DHS and the State Department says that dual nationals with the seven countries will be refused entry. This is the same thing we were told.   Meanwhile, the Canadian Ambassador to the US said exactly the opposite. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on Twitter also release a statement citing confirmation from NSA Mike Flynn that Canadian citizens including dual citizens will not be affected by the ban.

Welcome to big time confusion and chaos!


House Democrats Call on @StateDept to Resist Potential Political Witch-Hunts

Posted: 1:12 am ET


In October 2016, then candidate Donald Trump retweeted an editorial by the NYPost about what it calls the “State Department’s shadow government.” Trump’s Twitter archive also includes a few tweets about the “State Department”¬†here, “embassy”¬†here, and the term “ambassador”¬†here. Given the tenor of his typical tweets, these tweets are normal in their abnormality, that is, they’re not unique in themselves.

Last week, there were reports that the¬†Trump Transition asked¬†the¬†Department of Energy for a list of¬†agency employees or contractors who attended meetings or conferences on climate change. The 74-point questionnaire (PDF) includes questions like “Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any lnteragency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, EPSA emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?”

The Department of Energy had since responded¬†saying,¬†¬†‚ÄúWe will be forthcoming with all publically-available information with the transition team.¬†We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.‚ÄĚ

The report was concerning given the department¬†history with¬†the red scare and the lavender scare;¬†we wondered¬†where else the Transition Teams were seeking names.¬†On December 14, CNN reported that Donald Trump’s transition team disavowed¬†the¬†questionnaire sent to the Energy Department requesting the names of employees working on climate change issues.¬†“The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” a Trump transition official told CNN.

We are not aware that a similar request was sent to the State Department. However, the¬†Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) have already called on Secretary Kerry “to resist any attempt by the incoming Administration to single out individual employees who have worked in support of Obama Administration priorities.”¬† In their letter,¬†18 Committee members urged Secretary Kerry¬†to follow suit with their Energy Department counterparts and refuse any such request.

In a¬†letter to Secretary Kerry, the Members wrote, ‚ÄúWe believe your Department should work to ensure a smooth transition of power.¬† However, individual civil servants, Foreign Service Officers, and other staff should not be singled out for their work in support of policy objectives that clash with the next Administration‚Äôs goals, leaving them vulnerable to retribution by the incoming Administration. In our view, gathering names in this manner bears striking resemblance to dark chapters in our history marked by enemies lists and political witch hunts.‚ÄĚ

The letter also informed the State Department that the HFAC website will soon have a link that State Department and USAID personnel can use securely to report¬†unethical or illegal practices. ¬†The new tool¬†is provided reportedly to help ensure that “employees feel safe when reporting evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse of authority, including discrimination and other civil rights violations.”



More on Trump’s Taiwan Call Plus Video Clips From Secretary of State Candidates #suspense

Posted: 2:07 am ET


A view from Taiwan, a Trump-Tsai Ing-wen tag team, watch:

Now for the auditions, with some exciting clips below:


UN Amb Samantha Power Refers to the “Genocide Denial Against the Armenians” in Elie Wiesel Tribute

Posted: 1:29  pm PT
Updated: Dec 7, 9:01 am PT


Excerpt from Ambassador Power’s statement,¬†as delivered:

“… How cruel was it, then, that young Elie Wiesel, who was taunted by his perpetrators that nobody would ever know or care what had happened to him and his people, how cruel was it that he encountered a world that again didn‚Äôt seem to care what he had gone through. When he was hawking that manuscript, did he feel somehow like Moshe the Beadle, a man who possessed the truth, but was ignored?

And yet none of this appears to have tamed the determination ‚Äď or even the spark and sparkle ‚Äď in and of Elie Wiesel.¬†Night¬†of course did eventually find its publishers and after several years, its readership did begin to grow, at first gradually, and then exponentially. Indeed, arguably no single work did so much to puncture the silence that had previously enveloped survivors, and bring what happened in the¬†Night¬†out into the light, for all to see. And yet. Injustice was still all around. Genocide denial against the Armenians, the horrors of his lifetime ‚Äď Pol Pot, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Syria, in his later years. He lived to see more and more people bear witness to unspeakable atrocities, but he also saw indifference remained too widespread.”

We should note that¬†Ambassador John M. Evans, a career diplomat who was appointed¬†to Armenia from 2004-2006¬†lost his job¬†during the Bush II administration after calling the Armenian killings a genocide. ¬†In the waning days of the Obama Administration, we doubt if any reference to the Armenian Genocide as she did here in her tribute to Elie Weisel would make a difference career-wise. She will ¬†leave her post on/around January 20, so it’s not like they’re going to fire her between now and then. Also, that’s a public speech she delivered, which means it has been through a clearance process,¬†and not an accidental or even rogue¬†reference.

For folks who want to read about the Armenian Genocide, also known as the “Events of 2016¬†1915,” the place to start is the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) from Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1915, Supplement, The World War¬† >¬†Page 981

Click here for Samantha¬†Power and what she said about the Armenian Genocide back in¬†2008 when she was campaigning for then candidate, Barack Obama. Ambassador Power is also the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for¬†“A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”¬†published in 2003.

Turkey has been there many times before, of course, below are some sample reactions just from 2016 alone:



Related items:

Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1915, Supplement, The World War  > Page 981

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power

1915 Armenian Genocide ‚ÄĒ The ‚ÄúG‚ÄĚ Word as a Huge Landmine, and Diplomatic¬†Equities¬†(April 2015)

John M. Evans: The diplomat who called the ‚ÄúEvents of 1915‚ÄĚ a genocide, and was canned for¬†it¬†(Aril 2015)

$4.2 million to dispute a single word (August 2009)

FBI to Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel: ‚ÄúDo you know any foreigners?‚ÄĚ #criminalizingdiplomacy

Posted: 1:29  pm ET


We’ve posted previously about Ambassador Robin Raphel in this blog. See¬†Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who‚Äôs Gonna Say¬†Sorry?. Also below:

Today, the Wall Street Journal runs an extensive account of what happened and why this case is a concerning one for American diplomats:

The NSA regularly swept up Pakistani communications ‚Äúto, from or about‚ÄĚ senior U.S. officials working in the country. Some American officials would appear in Pakistani intercepts as often as once a week. What Raphel didn‚Äôt realize was that her desire to engage with foreign officials, the very skill set her supervisors encouraged, had put a target on her back.

The FBI didn‚Äôt have a clear picture of where Raphel fit on the State Department organizational chart. She was a political adviser with the rank of ambassador but she wasn‚Äôt a key policy maker anymore. She seemed to have informal contacts with everyone who mattered in Islamabad‚ÄĒmore, even, than the sitting ambassador and the CIA station chief.

State Department officials said that when they spoke to the FBI agents, they had the feeling they were explaining the basics of how diplomats worked.

At times, Raphel‚Äôs colleagues pushed back‚ÄĒwarning the FBI that their investigation risked ‚Äúcriminalizing diplomacy,‚ÄĚ according to a former official who was briefed on the interviews.

In one interview, the agents asked James Dobbins, who served as SRAP from 2013 to 2014, whether it was OK for Raphel to talk to a Pakistani source about information that wasn’t restricted at the time, but would later be deemed classified.

‚ÄúIf somebody tells you something in one conversation, you might write that up and it becomes classified,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBut that doesn‚Äôt mean the next time you see them that you can‚Äôt talk about what you‚Äôd already talked about.‚ÄĚ


Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.

‚ÄúWhat happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,‚ÄĚ said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department‚Äôs most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.‚Äôs growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, ‚Äúwe will know less and we will be less secure.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLook what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,‚ÄĚ said Dan Feldman, Raphel‚Äôs former boss at State. ‚ÄúDoes that not become a cautionary tale?‚ÄĚ


Diplomatic Security had yet to restore her security clearance. Some of her friends at the State Department said they believed the FBI opposed the idea.

Kerry and Raphel stood close together for only a couple of minutes. On the sidelines of the noisy gathering, Kerry leaned over and whispered into Raphel‚Äôs ear: ‚ÄúI am sorry about what has happened to you.‚ÄĚ

Read in full below:


Will the US Embassy Move From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

Posted: 12:50 am ET


The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 declares that it is the policy of the United States that (1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and (3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.

Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.  Via CRS (pdf):

Successive U.S. Administrations of both political parties since 1948 have maintained that the fate of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations and have discouraged the parties from taking actions that could prejudice the final outcome of those negotiations. Moreover, the Palestinians envisage East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. However, the House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res. 60 in June 1997, and the Senate passed S.Con.Res. 21 in May 1997. Both resolutions called on the Clinton Administration to affirm that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel.

A related issue is the possible future relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Proponents argue that Israel is the only country where a U.S. embassy is not in the capital identified by the host country, that Israel‚Äôs claim to West Jerusalem‚ÄĒproposed site of an embassy‚ÄĒis unquestioned, and/or that Palestinians must be disabused of their hope for a capital in Jerusalem. Opponents say such a move would undermine prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace and U.S. credibility with Palestinians and in the Muslim world, and could prejudge the final status of the city. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-45) provided for the embassy‚Äôs relocation by May 31, 1999, but granted the President authority, in the national security interest, to suspend limitations on State Department expenditures that would be imposed if the embassy did not open. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have consistently suspended these spending limitations, and the embassy‚Äôs status has remained unchanged.

The State Department Authorization Act for FY2002-FY2003 (P.L. 107-228) urged the President to begin relocating the U.S. embassy ‚Äúimmediately.‚ÄĚ The act also sought to (1) prohibit the use of appropriated funds for the operation of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Jerusalem unless such facilities were overseen by the U.S. ambassador to Israel; and (2) allow Israel to be recorded as the place of birth of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. When signing the act into law, President George W. Bush wrote in an accompanying ‚Äúsigning statement‚ÄĚ that the various provisions on Jerusalem would, ‚Äúif construed as mandatory … impermissibly interfere with the president‚Äôs constitutional authority to conduct the nation‚Äôs foreign affairs.‚ÄĚ The State Department declared, ‚Äúour view of Jerusalem is unchanged. Jerusalem is a permanent status issue to be negotiated between the parties.‚ÄĚ

There are currently two related ongoing construction work at USG properties in Israel. There is a $50M renovation at US Embassy Tel Aviv, and ongoing work at an annex for US Consulate General Jerusalem. As of November 9, we understand that both projects have been put on hold.

Hmmmnn ….



For Foreign Diplomats, Trump WashingtonDC Hotel Is the Place To Be

Posted: 12:25 am ET


For those interested in the subject of conflicts of interest and the presidency, here is a good read from the Congressional Research Service:

Does federal law require the President to relinquish control of his or her business interests? Federal regulation of financial conflicts of interest is aimed at preventing opportunities for officials to personally benefit from influence they may have in their official capacity. As a general rule, public officials in the executive branch are subject to criminal penalties if they personally and substantially participate in matters in which they (or their immediate families, business partners or associated organizations) hold financial interests. However, because of concerns regarding interference with the exercise of constitutional duties, Congress has not applied these restrictions to the President. Consequently, there is no current legal requirement that would compel the President to relinquish financial interests because of a conflict of interest.

Read more:


Duterte Announces Break-Up With America Before Applauding Chinese Audience

Posted: 3:23 pm ET

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited China recently, and the Chinese rolled out the red carpet. See the video here of the grand arrival ceremony complete with children waving the Philippine and Chinese flags. This video¬†cites Chinese respect for the Philippines by displaying the Philippine flag above the Chinese flag. ¬†Also below¬†is an interesting take from a Filipino writer describing a prior presidential visit to China as he watched the Duterte visit and¬†what he calls China’s ¬†“dragon dance of celebration.”

While in China, Duterte was famously quoted for saying he is “separating” from the United States. Below is the video where the president of America’s longest ally in Asia is¬†lambasting all Americans and their character during his October 20, 2016 speech in China. He calls Americans — and not just Americans he dealt with — but basically all Americans and westerners as discourteous, and loud, “their voice in their larynx not well adjusted to civility.” He said, he did not really like Americans because long ago¬†¬†he¬†had an experience with American idiotic arrogance. He proceeds to retell a story about being stopped at¬†LAX by an African-American immigration official who he describes in detail and then says no racial slur intended. It sounds like he was taken to a secondary interview which he recalls as an interrogation. ¬†(By the way, according to WaPo’s David Nakamura, Duterte has reportedly told aides to be sure he doesn’t go thru US airport en route to Peru for APEC¬†next month). So at some point during this China talk, he complains about Filipinos going to the U.S. who are berated and humiliated when applying for visas while Americans are allowed to¬†visit the Philippines without visas. ¬†Would not be surprised if he would soon want Americans visiting the Philippines to¬†get visas.

He offers to collect whatever debts the U.S. owe China ¬†as long as he can keep some of it and says ¬†“Duterte of the Philippines is very towards China because China has a character of an oriental.” He gives the reason why he decided to “shift-gears.” There is also a portion here where he talks about US aid to the Philippines and how it has not really changed the lives of the people in his country. ¬†The speech is delivered mostly in English. We have not been able to find a¬†transcript of¬†this speech, but if there is one, it would read exactly like a convoluted Trump speech. He complimented China for its “sincerity” and complains that Americans and President Obama never apologized to him. At the end of this speech, he says, “In this venue, I announced my separation from the United States” to great applause.

Here is a quick recap if you were not following this break-up:

On October 24, China announced that it has donated millions to the Philippines after Super Typhoon Lawin (Haima). ¬†According to,¬†the Chinese embassy said it donated P50 million to the Philippine government on Monday “for the disaster relief of farmers and fishermen in the affected regions.”¬†China also committed around P35 million to Philippine anti-disaster efforts.¬†The Red Cross Society of China “will also provide humanitarian aid of $100,000 to the Philippines.”

Here is President Duterte with his new best friend in Manila,¬†Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua while the former calculates all that money donated by China “with no strings attached.”

Earlier, the State Department announced that EAP Assistant Secretary Russel will travel to the Philippines on October 22‚Äď25, to meet with government officials and have lunch with Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) participants. ¬†While in Manila A/S¬†Russel said he had candidly told Philippine Foreign Minister Yasay that Manila’s friends were concerned about the high loss of life in Duterte’s campaign against drugs and reiterated the importance of due process, according to Reuters. ¬†Russel said “a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions had created consternation in many countries,” including the United States. He said that worry extended beyond governments to corporate boardrooms and warned that it was “bad for business” in “a very competitive region.”

Here are some¬†clips with A/S Russel, whatever he says, we expect it would not go down well in Manila. Note that A/S Russel says: “It’s a mistake to think that¬†improved relations between Manila and Beijing somehow come at the expense of the United States, that’s not the way we think about it…”¬†¬†It looks like the Duterte comments spliced in the clip below were made on October 19, so before the Russel visit to Manila. But we’re posting this clip here because¬†the Duterte comments are relevant,¬†nonetheless.

Of course, as can be expected,¬†President Duterte delivered another rant. ¬†Below¬†is President Duterte with comments mostly in¬†Tagalog and a sprinkling of English. From what we could tell he is talking about chop-suey and “historical hurts that will not go away” when Manila was bombed in World War II. ¬†This is undated but he is citing comments from A/S Russel and Ambassador Goldberg. ¬†You want to know his intention in terms of military cooperation? Here ¬†he is¬†talking about not/not wanting “any military man of any other nation, except the Philippine soldier” in the country. And when America talks about defending the Philippines, he asks, who from — citing the bogeyman of¬†wars. ¬†The AFP quotes him separately as saying¬†“I want them out and if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, I will,” he added. (If tweeps want to help translate the Tagalog part of the video below, email us here).

As a background to¬†Duterte’s anti-American stance, read the clips below about the Philippines, starting with James Fallows ‘A Damaged Culture’ following Corazon Aquino’s People Power Revolution in 1986. Also a useful list of grievances below via WSJ that goes back years for Mr. Duterte — from America’s ¬†invasion of the Philippines in 1898 to the visa denial for Duterte and the cancellation of a work visa for his partner in 2002, and that’s just for starters.

We think A/S Russel’s message will not get though the noise. We also doubt that the next ambassador to Manila¬†if confirmed,¬†will find a friendly face¬†at the presidential palace. Duterte’s beef is not with specific individuals, or even a specific American administration, it is with Americans as a whole. It sounds like he perceived all his encounters with Americans as bad. ¬†We kept waiting for him to scream “Yanquis go home!”¬†Meanwhile,¬†the State Department continues to be deluded with what is now a one-sided love affair.

The official spox says that¬†¬†they’re taking the “long view.” “The long view, in our mind, is a sustained, healthy, vibrant bilateral relationship with the people and the government of the Philippines.”¬†¬†Mr. Duterte’s term¬†doesn’t end until 2022, can we actually expect the United States to simply go around the country’s¬†head of state? How would that work? Maybe before things totally go off the rails, the¬†administration ought to consider deploying¬†Ambassador Michele Sison,¬†Foggy Bottom’s highest ranking Filipino-American diplomat¬†to give an assist at APEC in November and even in Manila?



Why Did Diplomatic Security Compile a Short-List of DS Agents Leaving For the U.S. Marshals Service?

Posted: 3:30 am ET


On October 4, we wrote about¬†DS agents fleeing Diplomatic Security in droves for the U.S. Marshals¬†Service. ¬†On October 14, we did a follow-up piece,¬†Is Diplomatic Security, the State Department‚Äôs Law Enforcement Arm Trying to Break the¬†Law?¬†Today, we’ll talk about the list.

As we’ve previously reported, in addition to the alleged¬†warning that¬†DS agents who leave for the U.S. Marshals will¬†not be allowed back into the agency (contrary to 5 USC ¬ß 2302(b) and 3 FAM 2130), a¬†State Department official speaking on¬†background shared with us a short-list of DS agents leaving the bureau for the U.S. Marshals Service. The list is allegedly¬†compiled at the direction of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)¬†Front Office. We were given the names of the people allegedly involved in this mess but we do not have a paper trail of who said what to who, or¬†who did what for whom so we are not publishing those names at this time. There should be record¬†emails if/when Inspector General Linick decides to look¬†into this matter.

The List:  Where did it come from?

A source with detailed knowledge of the USMS lateral hiring program told us that USMS HR sent out an email but did not blind carbon copy (BCC) the distribution.  It was therefore easy to recognize many names as well as identify agency affiliation as some folks did use their email addresses. Our source suggested that this same email could have made its way to the DS Front Office and may have been the origin of the list. Even granted that this might have been what actually happened, somebody still had to compile that list.

The 30 names on the list includes 19¬†Special Agents (SA) assigned domestically, 6 Assistant Regional Security Officers (ARSO) assigned overseas, 1 agent from¬†an unidentified office and 4 agents with the Mobile Security Deployments (MSD). ¬†We don’t know how many agents from this list have now successfully transferred to USMS but we’ve since learned that two of the¬†first agents to leave were just given Superior Honor awards for a human trafficking case. So let’s dispel with the notion that these folks walking out the door are ¬†low-performers.

The¬†list is on a 6-column spreadsheet, and includes each DS agent’s name, current assignment, future rotational assignment and/or TED dates. ¬†While there is great concern that the list has a retaliatory intent, we have to grant that there could¬†be other reasons for the bureau to compile such a list. But what? That’s why we asked Diplomatic Security 1) why this list was compiled, 2) what is its purpose, and 3) why DS/IP is reportedly consulting this list during pre-assignment deliberations? But the bureau was mum on this and we received the same non-response to our¬†questions:

‚ÄúThank you for your query. We will have no additional comments on this.‚Ä̬†

We’ve sharpied out the last names and all locations outside of DC from the list below because these folks could be easily identifiable in overseas posts and non-DC domestic locations. ¬†If the list was born from a USMS HR email, the other details below particularly rotation information could have only come from State Department systems.



The List: What is it for?

It is¬†alleged¬†that the purpose of this list is¬†retaliation. Whether real or perceived, we understand that there are agents with conditional offers who are now considering withdrawal from the USMS process for¬†fear of being blacklisted or blackballed when it comes to¬†promotions and assignments. ¬†The State Department official who shared the list with us¬†also mentioned assignments and promotions as real concerns and said that¬†though this may sound petty, the bureau can¬†retaliate against these agents through denial of domestic assignments to areas where their families live, denial of overseas assignments, denial of extensions to those assignments, as well as denial of tenure or¬†promotions, etc. The official¬†admits that there is “nothing¬†concrete to support this assumption, just the overall experience of how the game goes.”¬† That comment in itself is concerning. ¬†It indicates that¬†retaliation is not an isolated action within the bureau, but something that employees view as part of the system and even come to expect as part of a “normal” institutional reaction.

We’ve learned that as¬†concerns for this list mounted later this summer, one official¬†associated with the compilation of this list was removed from his position and a¬†DS Broadcast announced that “effective immediately” a new agent was filling his position. Whether the removal was just coincidence,¬†it did¬†not seem to abate the concerns and fears about the list.

One might argue — and we’re trying hard to find¬†a good argument here — that perhaps the list is just a heads up to the top leadership about¬†folks the bureau is losing to the U.S. Marshals Service. ¬†Or maybe the list was just a harmless “hey look at these co-workers we have to send congratulation¬†cards¬†to.”¬†Okay. Fine. But as far as we know, no one from the top leadership has explained the reason for the list even as it has roiled its rank and file. And there was that alleged warning at UNGA.

Also two things:

#1. ¬†The compiled list is¬†not/not of all DS agents leaving the bureau, but specifically, of all agents leaving the bureau for¬†the U.S. Marshals Service. So they’re not looking at say, a projected¬†attrition data but at a clearly defined group of employees.

#2. DS/IP, the office who has a final say on where agents end up overseas is allegedly¬†consulting this list during pre-assignment consultations/deliberations. Whether true or not, that’s the story racing down the corridors.

So why did Diplomatic Security compile a short-list of DS agents leaving for the U.S. Marshals Service? ¬†We have no good answer. And Diplomatic Security refuses to say. If¬†¬†there’s a perfectly good reason for all this, the top leadership at Diplomatic Security has not done anything to address the real concerns that people have.

Blowing Up¬†the Security Officers’¬†Attrition Rate

We were previously told by PA that the overall Special Agent attrition rate for 2015 was 3.66%.  We have since learned that this attrition rate is incorrect as this does not include the number of agents who leave DS for other federal agencies.

According to the State Department’s recently published data, the average annual attrition rate for security officers between 2011-2015 is 58 employees. This is the highest among Foreign Service specialists, by the way, followed by Office Management Specialists (OMS). ¬†With a total force of approximately 2,000 special agents (including nearly 800 special agents posted in regional security offices at over 250 posts worldwide) that makes the average attrition rate in the last five years at 2.9%. The State Department projected that it will have an overall attrition of 296 (retirements and non–retirements) from¬†FY2016¬†to FY2020;¬†an annual average the next five years of 59 individuals or 2.9%. Note that since we’re using approximate and not the¬†exact number of security officers, these numbers may be slightly off.

The departures for the U.S. Marshals Service would certainly spike that attrition number. ¬†The USMS departures if/when concluded this year would already constitute 55% of the average annual attrition rate and could bump up this year’s attrition rate to 4.4%. ¬†Except that if unconfirmed reports are true, these departures could go higher. ¬†Apparently, there are also agents taking GS-9 and GS-10, entry-level positions with other law enforcement agencies. ¬†We believed that¬†the largest pool¬†of security officers is in the ¬†FS-03 rank which is equivalent in pay to¬†GS-12/13. So if true that folks¬†are taking a pay cut just so they¬†could transfer to other agencies, there’s an even bigger problem at play here. Also how Diplomatic Security handle these departures could potentially have an impact on its projected attrition in the next five years.