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@StateDept: Ambassador Friedman’s comment “does not represent a shift in U.S. policy”

Posted: 4:25 am ET

 

Via DPB:

QUESTION: And my other question pertaining to Ambassador David Friedman, he gave us an interview to the Jerusalem Post last week, last Friday.

MS NAUERT: Okay.

QUESTION: And he termed the Palestinian territories as allegedly occupied. Has there been any departure from the standard U.S. position that these territories are occupied?

MS NAUERT: Our position on that hasn’t changed. The comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy.

QUESTION: Okay. But he is the ambassador of the United States of America.

MS NAUERT: His comment does not represent a shift in U.S. policy. Okay?

 

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@StateDept Awards $422M Contract For New Consulate Compound in Erbil, Iraq

Posted: 3:49 am ET

 

On June 30, the State Department awarded a $422,470,379.00 contract to B.L. Harbery International, LLC of Alabama for the construction of the New Consulate Compound in Erbil, Iraq (NCC Erbil).

The new Consulate Compound will be constructed on U.S. Government property located in Erbil, Iraq. The site is approximately 50 acres and is located 8.1 miles from the city center.  The scope includes: New Office Building, Marine Security Guard Residence (MSGR), Consulate General Residence (CGR), shops, storage, and maintenance facilities (SPX), perimeter security, vehicle and pedestrian access control pavilions (CACs), utility building (UTL), and vehicle parking. Staff Housing, Visitor Accommodations, a Community Center with bathhouse/cabana and compound landscaping are also part of the project.

Delal Bridge, Zakho City, Duhok Province
Photo via USCG Erbil/FB

Consulate General Erbil serves the four provinces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Dohuk, Erbil, Halabja and Sulaimaniya. The Consulate General consists of an executive office headed by the Consul General and sections covering political affairs, economic affairs, public diplomacy, rule of law, management, and security. Co-located with the U.S. Consulate General is the USAID office serving the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

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Related posts:

@StateDept Notifies Foreign Countries of New Information Sharing Standards Required For U.S. Travel

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Posted: 12:12 pm PT

 

President Trump issued E.O. 13780 on March 6 (Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States). It revoked the January 27 order, and reissued the ban for the same six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, with Iraq excepted (see Trump Revokes Travel Ban EO, Reissues New Executive Order For Six Muslim Countries Minus Iraq).

There’s something else in EO 13780 that did not get as much attention as the travel ban.  Section 2 (a) and (b) of the E.O. requires the review of immigration-related information sharing by foreign governments.

Sec. 2.  Temporary Suspension of Entry for Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern During Review Period.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall conduct a worldwide review to identify whether, and if so what, additional information will be needed from each foreign country to adjudicate an application by a national of that country for a visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat.  The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the worldwide review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed from each country for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 20 days of the effective date of this order.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence.

(d)  Upon submission of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed from each country for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request that all foreign governments that do not supply such information regarding their nationals begin providing it within 50 days of notification.

The report required under Section 2(b) has apparently been submitted recently to the President. The report reportedly includes standards that foreign governments are required to meet for sharing information with the United States. We understand that the State Department has now sent a guidance cable to all posts worldwide to help foreign governments understand the requirements and how they can start meeting them. Posts have been told to request a response from their host government counterparts to enable them to respond to the State Department by July 21.

Below is the unclassified “talking points” that posts are asked to deliver to all countries:

  • In accordance with Executive Order 13780, the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, has established a new set of standards regarding the information all foreign governments should share with the U.S. Government in order to allow the U.S. Government to verify the identity of all foreign travelers and immigration applicants and ascertain that they do not pose a threat to U.S. security or public safety. This is the first time that the U.S. Government is setting standards for the information that is required from all countries specifically in support of immigration and traveler vetting. We are asking all countries to look at areas to better enhance our collective security.
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, has established the following standards for identity- related information-sharing by foreign governments whose nationals seek to travel to the United States:

— Countries should issue, or have active plans to issue, electronic passports that conform to ICAO specifications and include a facial biometric image to enable verification of travel documents;

— Countries should regularly report lost and stolen passports, whether issued or blank, to the INTERPOL Stolen and Lost Travel Document Database to maintain the integrity of travel documents; and

— Countries should make available any other identity information at the request of the U.S. including, as appropriate, additional biographic and biometric data and relevant immigration status.

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, has also established the following standards for measuring information-sharing related to terrorism or public safety threats by foreign governments whose nationals seek to travel to the United States:

–Countries should make available information, including biographic and biometric data, on individuals it knows or has reasonable grounds to believe are terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters, through appropriate bilateral or multilateral channels;

–Countries should make available through appropriate bilateral or multilateral channels criminal history record information, including biographic and biometric data, on its nationals, as well as permanent and temporary residents, who are seeking U.S. visas or border or immigration benefits;

–Countries should provide exemplars of all passports and national identity documents they issue to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Forensic Laboratory, including applicable date ranges and numbering sequences, as required, in order to improve U.S. Government fraud detection capabilities;

–Countries should not impede the transfer to the U.S. Government of information about passengers and crew traveling to the United States, such as Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records; and

–Countries should not designate individuals for international watchlisting as national security threats or criminals solely based on their political or religious beliefs.

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, also identified three security risk indicators relevant to the USG’s ability to vet a country’s nationals for admissibility to the United States:

–Countries should take measures to ensure that they are not and do not have the potential to become a terrorist safe haven;

–Countries should accept the repatriation of their nationals who are subject to a final order of removal in the United States and provide travel documents to facilitate their removal;

–Visa Waiver Program countries should meet the statutory and policy requirements of the Visa Waiver Program.

  • After 50 days, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, must submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a presidential proclamation prohibiting the entry of designated categories of their nationals because those countries do not meet the new standards or have an inadequate plans to do so.
  • These standards build upon our existing partnerships with other countries and multilateral organizations such as ICAO and INTERPOL to increase the reliability of travel documents and the sharing of information about known or suspected terrorists and known criminals. They also reinforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1624, 2178, and 2322, which call on all member states to cooperate in sharing information on the movements of terrorists and require all states to prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorists groups through effective border controls and controls on the issuance of identity papers and travel documents.

On repatriated nationals, we blogged about this earlier in 2017 (see On Invocation of Visa Sanctions For Countries Unwilling to Accept Their Deported Nationals. We should also note that the Trump Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States include section 12 on countries who refused to accepted their nationals who are subject to removal by the United States:

Sec. 12.  Recalcitrant Countries.  The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State shall cooperate to effectively implement the sanctions provided by section 243(d) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1253(d)), as appropriate.  The Secretary of State shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.

The clear stick here is countries are formally notified that non-compliance with the new standards could lead to sanction such as “inclusion on a presidential proclamation prohibiting the entry of designated categories of their nationals because those countries do not meet the new standards or have an inadequate plans to do so.”

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New Report on Tillerson-Miller Battle Over Visa and Refugee Functions

Posted: 12:40 pm ET

 

The Bureau of Consular Affairs via history.state.gov:

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Jun 27, 1952; P.L. 82-414; 66 Stat. 174) established within the Department of State a Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, headed by an Administrator with rank equal to that of an Assistant Secretary. From Mar 1 to Dec 30, 1954, the Bureau was renamed “Inspection, Security, and Consular Affairs.” From 1953 to 1962, the Secretary of State designated incumbents to this position. The Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (Jun 28, 1962; P.L. 87-510; 76 Stat. 123) made the Administrator a Presidential appointee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. In 1962, the Department transferred the security function to the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration, but the title remained unchanged until 1977, when the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1978 (Aug 17, 1977; P.L. 95-105; 91 Stat. 847) changed the Administrator’s title to “Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.” This title has been given in full in all subsequent commissions to this office.

WaPo’s John Rogin reported on Sunday about the internal administration debate over which part of the government should be charged of deciding who gets into the United States.  WH policy adviser Stephen Miller has reportedly been pushing Secretary Tillerson to get “tougher” on immigration, vetting and refugee policy at the State Department.   Rogin writes that a White House official told him that if Tillerson doesn’t go along with the changes that Miller and others (???) in the White House are pushing the State Department to implement internally, the plan to strip Foggy Bottom of its role supervising these functions could gain traction.  Rogin’s report quotes State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert saying that Tillerson believes that two bureaus should remain where they are and the Secretary of State reportedly views consular and refugees work “as essential to the Department’s mission to secure our borders and protect the American people.” We linked to Rogin’s report below.

Stephen Miller is widely regarded as the principal author of Trump’s travel ban.  We have a feeling that the only “tougher” vetting that Miller and company will find acceptable is shutting down the U.S. border.

We know that some folks are already distressed with the news about the the potential transfer of consular function to DHS. It doesn’t help that Secretary Tilleron’s “listening tour” recommended it (see @StateDept Survey Report Recommends Moving Issuance of Visas, Passports, Travel Docs to DHS).  Neither is it helpful to discover that the nominee to be the next Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs is on the record supporting this move (see Ex-FSO Who Once Advocated Moving Visas to DHS May be the Next Asst Secretary For Consular Affairs. And we haven’t forgotten that the nominee to be the next “M” is a seasoned GOP budget aide (see Trump to Nominate Top GOP Budget Aide Eric Ueland to be Under Secretary for Management #StateDept).

But take a deep breath.

Last March, OPM released a publication titled, Workforce Reshaping Operations Handbook (pdf). Under Transfer of Function, OPM writes:

An interagency transfer of a function and/or personnel requires specific statutory authorization. Without a specific statutory basis, there is no authority for an agency to permanently transfer a function and/or personnel to another agency on the basis of a memorandum of understanding, a directive from the Executive Office of the President, a reimbursable agreement, or other administrative procedure.

So Congress would have a say whether or not consular function should be stripped from State and moved to DHS. We anticipate that Congressional representatives — especially those with oversight responsibilities are already aware of the many improvements over the visa and refugee vetting process — would need a compelling justification for moving both functions to another agency.  Like how would DHS make it better, with Agatha and a pre-crime division?

Per historical record, on April 18, 1997 then President Clinton announced the reorganization of foreign affairs agencies. In December 1998, he submitted a report to Congress on the reorganization as required by the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, the Act that provided authority to reorganize the foreign affairs agencies. On March 28, 1999, the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) was integrated into the State Department. The United States Information Agency (USIA) was integrated into State on October 1, 1999.  The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), part of USIA, became a separate federal entity. The Act also provided that USAID remained a separate agency but on April 1, 1999, the USAID Administrator reported to and came under the direct authority and foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State.  Shrinking State’s budget started in 1993 during the first Clinton term under Warren Christopher. The reorganization did not get completed until halfway through Clinton’s second term.

We cannot say whether or not this is going to happen. After all, during the Clinton years, GOP Senator Jesse Helms was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. So we need to pay attention where this is going, but would not do any good to panic over something that appears to be a floated idea at this time. It would, of course, be helpful if we can hear directly from Secretary Tillerson.

G20 Trump Keywords: Disharmony, Decline, Isolation, Plus Vlad’s CyberSecurity Ha! Ha!

Posted: 3:09 am ET

 

AND NOW THIs …

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America’s Redefinition as the Foreign Relations Equivalent of a Sociopath

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Posted: 1:55 am ET

 

The following is an excerpt from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman‘s lecture on Reimagining Great Power Relations – Part 1.

America has now chosen publicly to redefine itself internationally as the foreign relations equivalent of a sociopath[1] – a country indifferent to the rules, the consequences for others of its ignoring them, and the reliability of its word.  No nation can now comfortably entrust its prosperity or security to Washington, no matter how militarily powerful it perceives America to be.

In the United States, there has been a clear drift toward the view that outcomes, not due process, are the sole criteria of justice.  Procedures – that is, judicial decisions, elections, or actions by legislatures – no longer confer legitimacy.  The growing American impatience with institutions and processes is reflected in the economic nationalism and transactionalism that now guide U.S. policy.  Washington now reserves the right to pick and choose which decisions by international tribunals like the World Trade Organization (WTO) it will follow or ignore.

The idea that previously agreed arrangements can be abandoned or renegotiated at will has succeeded the principle of “pacta sunt servanda” (“agreements must be kept”).   The result is greatly reduced confidence not only in the reliability of American commitments but also in the durability of the international understandings that have constituted the status quo.  In the security arena, this trend is especially pronounced with respect to arms control arrangements.  As an example,, Russia has cited American scofflaw behavior to justify its own delinquencies in Ukraine and with respect to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

When a hegemon fails to pay attention to the opinions of its allies, dependencies, and client states or to show its adversaries that it can be counted upon to play by the rules it insists they follow, it conjures up its own antibodies.  In the absence of empathy, there can be no mutual reliance or collective security.  Without confidence in the reliability of protectors or allies, nations must be ready to defend themselves by themselves at any moment.  If covenants are readily dishonored, the law offers no assurance of safety.  Only credible military deterrence can protect against attack.
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[1]Mental health specialists define a “sociopath” as someone who exhibits a lack of empathy and a disregard for community norms, the rules both written and unwritten that help keep the world safe and fair for all. A sociopath is someone with no conscience who ignores reality to lead an uncaring and selfish life. The sociopath cares only for himself and lacks the ability to treat other people as worthy of consideration.

Read in full here. See Part II Reimagining China and Asia, and Part III Reimagining the Middle East.

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Trump and Tillerson Show Off Incoherent Qatar Policy in 90-Minute Cliffhanger

Posted: 3:10 am ET

 

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Tillerson to Appear 6/13 Before Senate Panel For FY2018 @StateDept Budget Request

Posted: 3:10 am ET

 

Mark your calendar — Tuesday next week, Secretary Tillerson is scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) for a Review of the FY 2018 State Department Budget Request.  The hearing will be chaired by SFRC Chairman Bob Corker. This will be Secretary Tillerson’s first public Senate appearance since his confirmation as Secretary of State. Questions will be specific to the FY18 budget but we expect that there will also be questions on the planned agency reorganization, staffing gaps, morale, and a host of items that have surfaced on the news since he was confirmed in February. Get the popcorn ready!

Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

The prepared statement and live video will be posted here when available.

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Trump Pulls Out of Paris Accord – Some Reactions From Around the World

Posted: 1:57 am ET
Updated to correct headline.

 

On June 1, President Trump officially announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Below is a round-up of reactions from around the world.  We have to say that we are living in a golden age for political cartoonists. Take a look!

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Tillerson Joins U.S. Embassies in Marking #LGBTI Pride Month

Posted: 3:14 am ET

 

On June 7, Secretary Tillerson released a statement recognizing LGBTI Pride Month and affirming the State Department’s “solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom.”

Also on Wednesday, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv wish “Happy Pride Week to Tel Aviv.” Below with a round-up of Pride Month around the Foreign Service starting on June 1st.

Happy Pride Month to our friends in the LGBTI community!

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