DOJ: Jury Convicts Foreign Service Officer and Former Spouse for Obtaining U.S. Citizenship by Fraud

 

Via USDOJ/September 13, 2021
Jury Convicts Foreign Service Officer and Former Spouse for Obtaining U.S. Citizenship by Fraud
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a California woman and Russian-born man on Friday on charges of conspiracy and obtaining U.S. citizenship by fraud.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Laura Gallagher, 32, a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, and Andrey Kalugin, 36, originally of Russia, conspired together to obtain lawful permanent residence and U.S. citizenship for Kalugin through his marriage to Gallagher. 
“The jury’s verdict holds these two defendants accountable for orchestrating a scheme to defraud the United States and obtain unlawful citizenship and passports,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Gallagher disregarded her responsibilities to the public as a federal government employee and licensed attorney when she engaged in this fraudulent scheme with Kalugin. Thanks to the dedication of the trial team and our partners at the State Department, these defendants have been brought to justice.”
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the defendants met in law school in 2013. Kalugin was in the United States on a student visa that was due to expire in July 2015. The defendants married in June 2015 and submitted applications for Kalugin to obtain his “green card.” The defendants moved from California to Virginia in March 2016, but split up soon thereafter. However, they continued with the immigration process.
“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate allegations of crime related to naturalization fraud and to bring those who commit these crimes to justice,” said Jessica Moore, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. “When a Department employee in a position of trust is alleged to have committed a federal felony involving naturalization fraud by exploiting their status, we vigorously investigate claims of corruption.” 
Gallagher, who is also a California-licensed attorney, then prepared for Kalugin an application for 319(b) expeditious naturalization, which is a benefit available to spouses of citizens who are regularly stationed abroad for their employment. The defendants provided materially false responses in the application, including that Kalugin was still in a good-faith marriage and intended to reside with Gallagher abroad and return with her to the United States. Kalugin appeared for an interview on Feb. 5, 2018 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Fairfax, where he repeated the false statements to the adjudicating officer. After USCIS approved the application and he received his citizenship, Kalugin fraudulently obtained U.S. Diplomatic and tourist passports. Shortly thereafter, Gallagher filed for divorce.
Gallagher and Kalugin each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 4, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Kalugin additionally faces mandatory revocation of his U.S. citizenship. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jessica Moore, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis, III accepted the verdict.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Raizza K. Ty and Morris R. Parker, Jr. are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-43.

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FSGB: A Separation For Cause Case That Will Make You Weep

The FSGB Annual Report for 2020 includes a brief summary of a separation for cause case:
“In FSGB Case No. 2019-034, the Board found that the agency did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official did not consider evidence of personality problems or more serious mental issues as a mitigating circumstance in determining whether separation was appropriate, as required by the Douglas Factors.2 The employee in the case was charged with improper personal conduct with a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues. The agency’s Bureau of Medical Services determined that the charged employee exhibited behavior or symptoms that impaired his reliability, judgment, or trustworthiness which was reported to management in a report of security investigation. The Deciding Official did not take into consideration those findings when proposing separation. The agency filed a motion for reconsideration which was ultimately denied. The Board suggested that the Department consider whether the charged employee was eligible for disability retirement.”
Excerpts below from the Record of Proceeding (ROP) posted via FSGB (multiple files related to this case).
FSGB Case No. 2019-034/July 2, 2020:

Held – The Board found that the Department of State (the “Department” or “agency”) did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official (“DO”) did not consider evidence of his personality problems as a mitigating circumstance. The Board was persuaded by evidence in the record that the agency should exercise its authority to initiate, as an alternative to separation, the option of a disability retirement, pursuant to 3 FAM 6164.3(a).

Case Summary – The Department charged the employee with Improper Personal Conduct based upon a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues, primarily hundreds of unwanted emails and text messages with sexual content. The Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) had conducted a mental health evaluation of the charged employee and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of certainty,” the charged employee exhibited “behavior or symptoms (which may not rise to the level of formal diagnosis) of an emotional, mental or personality condition that may impair his reliability, judgment or trustworthiness.”

The DO determined that the charged employee committed the charged offenses and that there were no mitigating circumstances. In finding no mitigating circumstances, the DO attested in the separation hearing that she did not take into consideration either the charged employee’s emotional, mental or personality condition that MED identified or the charged employee’s emails to coworkers that included references to his communications with divine beings as well as references to his own possible mental illness. The DO notified the charged employee of her proposal to separate him from the Foreign Service and provided him the opportunity to reply in person or in writing. The DO recommended separating the charged employee to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee did not respond in person or in writing to the DO’s notification of her proposal to separate him from the Service recommendation or participate in the separation hearing.

The Board found the Department did not establish cause to separate the charged employee because the DO did not consider the so-called Douglas Factor #11 on the agency’s checklist that relates to mitigating circumstances surrounding personality problems, and did not exercise the agency’s authority under 3 FAM 6164.3(a) to initiate a disability retirement on behalf of the charged employee as an alternative to disciplinary action.

Background via FSGB Case No. 2019-034R/September 24, 2020

Prior to the conduct that gave rise to the Department’s proposal to separate the charged  employee, he had 19 years of distinguished service.

In March 2015, the Department issued a Letter of Reprimand to the charged employee on  a charge of Improper Personal Conduct (“IPC”) for allegedly making “unwelcome comments of an inappropriate and sexual nature” to an intern at post. In January 2016, the charged employee was alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment. The Ambassador involuntarily curtailed the charged employee from an overseas post in February 2016. After his curtailment, the charged employee sent numerous personal emails to a former post colleague that she foundoffensive. Despite her request that he stop sending her messages, he continued to do so. Consequently, the former colleague filed a request for a protective order with a court and the request was granted.

The FSGB filing does not indicate what treatment resulted from MED’s evaluation.

— In January 2018, the DS Office REDACTED issued another ROI (involving different preliminary allegations), finding, inter alia, that the charged employee had demonstrated a predilection for self-aggrandizement, and had indicated his belief of hearing voices and instructions from God, the Devil, and the Virgin Mary.

— In October 2018, the charged employee’s security clearance was revoked.

— On March 21, 2019, the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of the Bureau of Human Resources3 (the “DG”) notified the charged employee that the Department proposed to separate him for cause to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee was charged with IPC based upon 87 specifications of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct and comments toward colleagues, primarily in emails and text messages with sexual content. The separation proposal was not based upon the charged employee’s loss of security clearance.

— Although the charged employee was offered an opportunity to provide an oral or written response to the DG’s March 21, 2019 proposal, he did not provide a response.

(Also see Secretary Mike Pompeo Swears-In New DGHR Carol Perez on March 15, 2019)

On June 20, 2019, the DG completed the so-called Douglas Factors Checklist, a compilation of aggravating and mitigating factors drawn from 3 FAM 4137 and from the decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (the “MSPB”) in Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 5 MSPB 313 (1981). On that Checklist, the DG wrote “none” next to so-called Douglas Factor #11, “Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems . . . .”

(Also see  Snapshot: Douglas Factors)
(Also see 3 FAM 4138)

On August 18, 2019, the Department filed a Separation for Cause Proposal with the Board. The charged employee did not file a response to the proposal or participate in the hearing that the Board conducted by telephone on May 14, 2020. AFSA participated as amicus curiae.

The Board issued its Decision on July 2, 2020, finding that the Department had established by a preponderance of the evidence that the charged employee had engaged in the unprofessional and inappropriate conduct of which he was accused and that the charged employee’s conduct had a nexus to the efficiency of the Service. However, the Decision concluded that the Department had not established cause for separation of the charged employee when the DG did not comply with 3 FAM 4138 because she did not consider the Department’s version of Douglas Factor #11:

 Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, harassment or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of other(s) involved in the matter.

The Decision noted that the DG had written the word “none” next to Factor #11, yet in her testimony at the May 14, 2020 hearing, she opined that the charged employee “had abnormal behavior,” and that it was obvious “his behavior was not normal.”

[…]

In the instant case, the Department failed to establish cause for separation by a preponderance of the evidence because the Deciding Official (in this case the DG) had failed to consider a significant relevant factor, i.e., Douglas Factor #11 as embodied in the Department’s Douglas Factors Worksheet, which the Department applies in determining whether to propose separation of an employee or a disciplinary penalty.10
In a separate FSGB document: 2019-034 – 07-02-2020:

In her testimony at the May 14, 2020 hearing, however, when asked whether concerns were raised in her mind in relation to the DS decision to revoke the charged employee’s security clearance due to several factors, including psychological conditions, the DG opined that the charged employee “had abnormal behavior,” and that it was obvious “his behavior was not normal.” The DG added, however, that she did not consider personality problems as a mitigating circumstance for the charged employee because she is not a medical professional, thus not in a position to understand if he had a personality defect for “his entire life.” She pointed out that DS ROI #2 indicated that there were allegations that the charged employee had a recurring pattern of sexual harassment, beginning during his college years, but she had no evidence of that conduct in the record to consider. The DG emphasized that in cases of threats to employees in the workforce, it is DS that makes decisions about what they would like to do in terms of an employee’s ability to access agency facilities and information. She also stressed that she had no access to the Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) Memorandum of Opinion concerning the charged employee to which DS referred in ROI

Diplomatic Security’s two Reports of Investigation (ROIs)

The Board found that two Reports of Investigation (“ROIs”) issued by the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (“DS”) contained sufficient information for the DG to deduce that the charged employee had, at least, personality problems and that the emails and text messages the charged employee sent to former colleagues, which formed the basis of the separation proposal, indicated that he had personality problems and possibly more serious mental impairment or illness. The Decision noted that Douglas Factor #11 required the DG to consider and weigh the charged employee’s apparent personality problems in determining the appropriate discipline.

The DG’s failure to consider personality problems as a mitigating factor was the basis for our conclusion that the Department had not established cause for separation.

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Non-Update on the Swastika Investigation in Foggy Bottom

 

Related: @StateDept Opens Swastika Incident Investigation in Foggy Bottom
An insider previously pointed out to us that there are very few visitors in Foggy Bottom these days and those few are always accompanied by someone from State. There are also cameras everywhere.  So unless a gremlin etched the Nazi symbol in the elevator and somehow escaped the cameras, we should know the culprit soon, shouldn’t we? It is true that the HST building is a large place; it has 1,400,000 square feet of floor space but the Pentagon has 6,500,000 square feet of office space and their door to door sweep almost found Yuri! So, c’mon!
By the way, Diplomatic Security just got a new assistant secretary. The Senate, just this week, confirmed Gentry O. Smith as Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.  We’re sure his plate will get full pretty quickly as soon as he is sworn-in but this is not just a simple case of vandalism.  Did somebody just walked in and etched a hateful sign inside the building then walked out? No? Given the reaction of the State Department leadership and the WH on this incident, our assumption is that this investigation would be on top of Mr. Smith’s list as he assumes charge of the diplomatic security bureau.
Below via State Department Briefing | August 10, 2021:

QUESTION: Just in time. I have a – one housekeeping item that I want to start with and then go to Afghanistan. It’s now been a little bit over two weeks – 15 days, I think – since the swastika was discovered in the elevator. Secretary came out, obviously condemned it, said there would be an investigation into it. What’s the result of the investigation?

MR PRICE: Well, Matt, as you know, shortly after the swastika was discovered, the Secretary sent a note to the entire workforce. And he made clear in that note that hate has no home here. And nowhere is that tolerated, everywhere is it abhorrent, but here in this department, the – a department that stands for defending human rights, human dignity, the values of pluralism and inclusion around the world, that symbol is especially repugnant, and repugnant to the women and men of the department and to everyone who works here.

In the days after – and you heard directly from Secretary Blinken, I guess it was a week ago yesterday, on this – of course, President Biden has put forward a nominee for a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, put forward a nominee for – to be an envoy for international religious freedom. And as Secretary Blinken noted in his message to the workforce, there is an investigation underway. I know this is a priority on the part of the investigators who are looking closely into this. I don’t have an update that I’m able to provide at the time, but if and when we do, I will certainly be able give you that.

QUESTION: Well, far be it from me to say that something is taking a long time or not taking a long time, because I – but an elevator is a pretty small place, right? This building has got controlled access. It would seem to me that two weeks is more than enough to come up with a – to come up with some kind of explanation. And while you’re correct in saying that this kind of hate has no place and that the Secretary said that, this building also stands for accountability and transparency. So —

MR PRICE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And —

QUESTION: So are you really telling me that two weeks after the fact, they can’t – they got no leads —

MR PRICE: The elevator is a small place. This building, as you know, is a large place.

QUESTION: I —

MR PRICE: So —

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s not that big, Ned. Come on. It’s not that big. All right. If you don’t have anything, you don’t have anything.

MR PRICE: I don’t have anything to offer now, but we —

QUESTION: All right, let’s go on —

MR PRICE: — of course, do believe in the value of transparency. That’s why we’re out here every day.

QUESTION: Yes.

MR PRICE: And, of course, as soon as we have an update, we’ll be able to share that.

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Grand Jury Indicts FS Employee For”Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct” in the Philippines

 

 

Via USDOJ:
U.S. Foreign Service Member Indicted for Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct in the Philippines and Possession of Child Pornography

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment today charging a member of the U.S. Foreign Service with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and possession of child pornography.

According to the indictment and court documents, Dean Cheves, 61, was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service serving at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines between September 2020 and February 2021. While in the Philippines, Cheves allegedly met a 16-year-old online. Court documents further detail that Cheves allegedly engaged in sexual activity with the minor on two occasions, knowing the minor’s age, and produced cell phone videos of himself engaging in the sex acts each time. The videos were found on Cheves’s devices seized from his embassy residence while in the Philippines. Between February 2021 and March 2021, he also allegedly possessed child pornography.

Cheves is charged with one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and one count of possessing child pornography in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or on lands owned or leased by the United States. Cheves previously made his initial court appearance on July 6 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison on count one, and up to 10 years in prison on count two. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement and Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Mark Sullo of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement.

The State Department, Diplomatic Security Service, is investigating the case.

Trial Attorney Gwendelynn Bills of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Pomerantz Halper of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

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, 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.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

We have not been able to locate Cheves’s congress.gov records. The DOJ statement describes him as a”U.S. Foreign Service Member.”  An archived 2007-2017 version of DipNote noted that he was a Foreign Service Officer and new media strategist with the IIP Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE). A June 2019 issue of State Magazine (PDF) includes a notation that he was the Director of Global Publishing Solutions (GPS) in Manila. GPS, an office under the Bureau of Administration provides design, print, and copier management services to the State Department domestically and overseas. In addition to WashDC, GPS has offices in Manila and Vienna.
The government’s motion filed on July 2 originally requested that records be sealed, noting that “Premature disclosure of the charges against the defendant would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation threatening our ability to locate and arrest the defendant. The defendant has ties to the Philippines, where his wife and daughter reside, and to California.”
Cheves was arrested on July 6, 2021 in Alexandria, VA. His offense was  listed as “18 U.S.C § 2423(c): Illicit Sexual Conduct in a Foreign Place.”

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@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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US Embassy Eswatini Confirms Shots Fired at Embassy Vehicle, @USMC Augments Internal Security

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. Thanks — DS

 

The US Embassy in Mbabane, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) issued a Security Alert, the sixth alert since late June following the continuing civil unrest in the country. The Embassy has also confirmed that shots were fired at a U.S. Embassy vehicle on July 1st and that U.S. Marines have augmented its internal security. @USMC has released a statement that a team of 13 Marines deployed on short notice to the embassy to support on-ground embassy security personnel along with the Diplomatic Security Service Mobile Security Deployments team.

Event:  The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini announced a nationwide curfew from 1800 – 0500 hours.   Communication disruptions, including internet and cell phone service, are occurring.  Security forces are actively patrolling the streets during curfew hours.

The international airport, KMIII, is now operational.  U.S. citizens wishing to depart Eswatini should take advantage of commercial options available.

The U.S. Embassy has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Eswatini.

Citizens are urged to respect the government curfew and exercise caution.

US citizens who require assistance should contact +268 2417 9000 and then PRESS TWO.

The South African land borders are currently open and antigen tests are available at the border at a cost of 300 Rand, payable in Rand only.  For citizens flying out of OR Tambo, PCR testing labs are available.  Citizens are required to have a negative PCR test in order to travel to the United States.

The U.S. Embassy is operating with reduced services. U.S. citizens needing emergency services should call the Consular Section using the contact information below.

Actions to Take: 

    • Monitor local media for updates on changing conditions.
    • Expect communication disruptions; contact family and friends to let them know you are safe.
    • If safe, stock up on groceries and water and then stay home.

 

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@StateDept Updates 12 FAM 233.4 Suspension of Security Clearance #NoTDYs

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🆕 12 FAM 233.4  Suspension of Security Clearance
(CT:DS-359;   04-27-2021)
a. When derogatory information is received regarding an employee with access to classified information, the director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS/DSS), based on a recommendation from the senior coordinator for Security Infrastructure (DS/SI), will determine whether, considering all facts available upon receipt of the initial information, it is in the interests of the national security to suspend the employee’s access to classified information on an interim basis.  A suspension is an independent administrative procedure that does not represent a final determination and does not trigger the procedures outlined in 12 FAM 234.
b. Suspension of a security clearance may be appropriate in, but may not be limited to, the following situations:
(1)  Additional time is needed to resolve adverse information that may require additional investigation or for the individual to complete certain requirements to maintain his or her clearance;
(2)  Preparations are being made to revoke an individual’s existing access to classified information and access is suspended while the review of the determination to revoke takes place;
(3)  The individual is pending removal or separation from employment under 5 U.S.C. 7532; or
(4)  The individual has failed to submit required security forms or releases in a timely manner.
c.  In all cases where access is suspended, the individual must be notified, in writing, that his/her security clearance has been suspended.  Upon notification, the individual must turn in his or her Department-issued credentials that provide logical or physical access to classified systems or designated classified spaces/facilities and any and all Special Issuance Agency-issued passport(s) to the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/SI/PSS).  DS must in turn notify the appropriate human resource personnel or the Industrial Security Division (DS/IS/IND), Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division (DS/PSP/DEAV), and regional security officer/post security officer, as appropriate, of the suspension.  The executive office within the individual’s employing bureau is responsible for collecting any and all classified devices issued to the employee.
d. Personnel whose security clearances have been suspended may not be placed on temporary duty (TDY) statusExceptions to this policy may be considered on a case-by-case basis by DS/DSS, but are unlikely to be granted, barring exceptional circumstances.  An exception request must be submitted in writing from the individual’s bureau executive director to DS/DSS via DS/SI/PSS.
e. Suspension of a security clearance is an interim measure, and is not a substitute for the revocation procedures described in 12 FAM 234.
f.  The length of the suspension process can vary according to the nature and complexity of the case.  If, for example the suspension of a clearance is based on preliminary facts from a DS criminal investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) counterintelligence or other law enforcement investigation, or an Inspector General investigation, in many cases, those matters must be resolved and prosecutorial decisions rendered before the Department can use the information for administrative action.  Often, relevant evidence and witnesses are located abroad, which can also add time to the investigative process.  Recognizing these constraints, DS will work to resolve suspension cases as quickly as possible.
g. Where deemed appropriate, the director (DS/DSS) may reinstate a suspended clearance subject to conditions, which may include limitations of TDY or regular assignment, or with a warning that future incidents of a similar character may result in revocation of a security clearance.

 

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Permission to Speak Freely: End the Shame and Stigma

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According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for more than 47,500 deaths in 2019. In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.
Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Town Hall with U.S. Mission Nigeria and U.S. Embassy Nairobi Employees and Family Members, April 9, 2021:

“We had the recent news of the death of a member of our State Department family on temporary assignment in Kenya, which is deeply saddening and distressing, and a reminder of how important it is for us to be there for each other and to seek help if we need it without shame.  The global authorized departure policy meant that many of you were separated and isolated from your family members as well as from each other, and Kenya is dealing with heightened security concerns.  In Lagos and Abuja, your movements outside the city centers are restricted, now even more so.”

This is the closest the secretary of state come to acknowledging the reported suicide of a State Department employee in Kenya (see US Embassy Kenya: USG Employee Found Deceased at a Nairobi Hotel). We understand that a diplomatic courier assigned at a post in Germany, temporarily stayed two weeks at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, prior to his next permanent assignment in Nairobi. He was found deceased at the hotel on April 7, 2021.
We don’t know how people can “seek help if we need it without shame” if the top official could not even give what happened in Kenya a name. Somebody died. True. It was “saddening and distressing”.  True. But we can help by acknowledging what happened there has a name and it has its own realities. A struggle in a dark world of  despair and hopelessness that is as real to those who suffer as the great blue skies you and I live in.
The fight to make it every day, to keep going despite the pain is a valiant battle. We need to remember that the fight is often painful, solitary, and seemingly hopeless. To get rid of shame and end the stigma, we need to talk about this in the open, not in whispers, not by skirting its name. But it has to start at the top. Otherwise, as a blog pal once asked, What FSO is going to risk losing their security clearance by going to MED and saying they are thinking about suicide?” 
Read: 5 Common Myths About Suicide Debunked
Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Suicide
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255.
If you are overseas, please seek help by calling or visiting the health unit or call the Military Crisis Line  or a local Suicide Hotline .

 

Related posts:

 

Snapshot: Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR)

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Via State/OIG:

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) established the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response (SPEAR) in 2014 to address post-Benghazi Accountability Review Board-identified weaknesses in host nation capacity to protect U.S. personnel and facilities at high-threat posts. SPEAR falls under the Specialized Programs Division (SPD) of the DS Training Directorate, Office of Antiterrorism Assistance (DS/T/ATA).

SPEAR is designed to enhance the security of high-threat, high-risk posts by providing training and loaning equipment to host nation law enforcement security units assigned to respond to emergencies at U.S. diplomatic facilities.

The annual SPEAR budget is approximately $33 million. The SPEAR Office has 20 domestic personnel (5 U.S. direct-hire staff and 15 third-party contractors) in Dunn Loring, VA, that support broader SPEAR operations as well as 13 third-party contractors who serve as SPEAR mentors overseas. Regional Security Officers (RSOs) at post supervise the overseas contract mentors.

SPEAR is funded through the Worldwide Security Programs-Overseas Contingency Operations account. There are 29 Department employees and contractors supporting SPEAR; 20 work solely on SPEAR while the remaining 9 also handle other SPD-supported programs.

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Inbox: What’s going on at the Frankfurt Regional Diplomatic Courier Office?

The fundraising campaign is closer to its goal today than yesterday, but it’s not quite there yet. We are grateful to the more than 450 donors who have supported our annual fundraising to-date. We will not run an indefinite campaign, just a few weeks out of the year.  Help us meet our goal so we can get back to our regular blogging programming. If you are able to help, you may pitch in at GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27. Thanks – DS

 

— A deteriorating situation in April 2021
— Historically low morale

The U.S. Diplomatic Courier Service (DS/C/DC) provides safe, secure, and expeditious delivery of classified, sensitive, and other approved material to and between U.S. diplomatic missions, the Department, and other customers it serves. According to the State Department, it has more than 100 diplomatic couriers in the service. DS/C/DC has regional divisions in Washington, D.C., Miami, Bangkok, and Frankfurt and courier hubs in Abidjan, Dakar, Manama, Pretoria, Sao Paulo, and Seoul.

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