Snapshot: Diplomatic Security – By the Numbers (2020)

 

Via State/DS:

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Anne A. Witkowsky Sworn-In as Asst Secretary For Conflict and Stabilization Operations

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Snapshot: Workforce Diversity at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2020)

 

Via State/OIG:

(U) EAP acknowledged the challenge of creating a diverse workforce, citing impediments such as languages that require 2 years of study and the expectation for officers to spend much of their career in the bureau and region. To address the underrepresentation in some categories, EAP established a Diversity and Inclusion Council in January 2020 and created a Senior Advisor for Diversity and Inclusion to recruit both Foreign Service bidders and Civil Service employees. In addition, the PDAS encouraged participation in the Diversity and Inclusion Council and sought to find diverse candidates to fill vacancies. The bureau also issued newsletters and cables to the field on its diversity efforts, provided diversity statistics including gender on bidding and assignments to the Department,15 and conducted outreach to Department affinity groups. EAP officials stated they would continue their efforts to increase diversity in the bureau.

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Senate Releases Burns (China), Toloui (EB), Hussain (IRF), Barrett (Luxembourg) From Confirmation Super Glue

 

On December 16, the U.S. Senate was able to released four State Department nominees from the body’s confirmation tacky super glue. There were logged senate votes for the first three nominees (China, EB, IRF), and for the confirmation of the Ambassador to Luxembourg, a simple voice vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also tweeted “I have filed cloture to start the process on more than 20 of President Biden’s nominees. These nominees are vital to addressing the national security and economic challenges of our nation. We will work until they are all confirmed by this chamber.”
It was for 22 nominations to be exact. 12 out of 22 are @StateDept nominations. 1 of 12 is a career diplomat (going to Vietnam). In the Senate priorities on which nominations should be confirmed first, former senators and widows of senators are obviously on top of the list, followed by the donor class and the friends with connections class, and then if there is still time, they may also confirm the career folks before they end their session for the holidays. Otherwise, it may not look  good; although that does not seem to matter anymore these days.  Phuey! I supposed we can stick with the hamsters’ motto of the more things change, the more things stay the same. Amen.
Related post:

State/OBO Topping Out 2021: Windhoek, Beirut, Nogales, Nassau, Mexico City, Hermosillo

 

 

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US Embassy Ethiopia Urges U.S. Citizens to Depart Now Using Commercial Air

 

On November 21, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa sent another Security Message alerting U.S. citizens of the availability of commercial flights out of the country and urging their departure from Ethiopia.
“The security situation in Ethiopia continues to deteriorate.  The U.S. Embassy urges U.S citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using commercially available options. Although the Embassy continues to process emergency passports and repatriation loans, and to provide other emergency services, the Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable. Please see information on What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis.
U.S. citizens wishing to depart Ethiopia, currently have multiple options via commercial flights from Bole International Airport. If you have difficulty securing a flight or need assistance to return to the United States, please contact AddisACS@state.gov for guidance. The Embassy can also provide a repatriation loan for U.S. citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen and delaying your departure because your non-U.S. citizen spouse or minor children do not have immigrant visas or U.S. passports, please contact us immediately.  Similarly, if you are a non-U.S. citizen parent of a U.S. citizen minor but do not have a valid U.S. visa or other document valid for entry to the United States, please contact us.”
The Level 4-Do Not Travel Advisory released on November 6 notes that “The Department of State urges U.S citizens in Ethiopia to depart now using commercially available options. The U.S. Embassy is unlikely to be able to assist U.S. citizens in Ethiopia with departure if commercial options become unavailable. Although seats on commercial flights currently remain available, we cannot predict when demand will exceed capacity. Please see information on What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis.”
The Department’s What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis” is helpful to U.S. citizens but does not include information on the almost non-existence assistance available to “green card” holders (legal permanent residents) and potential difficulties related to dual nationals.
If U.S. “green card” holders or U.S. permanent residents are arrested overseas (a potential reality given the reported targeted detentions of individuals), 7 FAM 400 on arrest and detention notes specifically that consular officers “do not have the right to demand consular access and visitation for U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Aliens (LPRs)” overseas. It adds that LPRs (who are not U.S. citizens) must “turn to the country of their nationality or citizenship to request and receive consular services.”
Also see 7 FAM 416.37 FAM 416.3-1  Dual National Arrestees In The Non-U.S. Country Of Nationality. “It is a generally recognized rule, often regarded as a rule of international law, that when a person who is a dual national is residing in either of the countries of nationality, the person owes paramount allegiance to that country, and that country has the right to assert its claim without interference from the other country.  Thus, in the absence of agreements to the contrary between the United States and the country of second nationality, if a dual national encounters difficulties in the country of the second nationality while residing there, the U.S. government’s representations on that person’s behalf may or may not be accepted.”
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Blinken Announces New Appointees For #HavanaSyndrome Task Force

 

Last Friday, Secretary Blinken made an on-camera remarks at the State Department  to talk about the “Department’s Health Incidents Response Task Force” including the appointments of  Ambassador Margaret Uyehara as the agency’s senior care coordinator and Ambassador Jonathan Moore as the head of the Health Incident Response Task Force in Foggy Bottom.
Blinken on Ambassador Uyehara as “senior care coordinator”:

“I’m very pleased to share that we recently appointed Ambassador Margaret Uyehara to serve as our senior care coordinator. A career member of the Foreign Service with three decades of experience at the State Department, she has already gotten to work advocating for those affected, including assisting them with workers’ compensation and the benefits process. She’s compassionate; she’s effective. We’re grateful for her and her commitment to this vital issue. Additionally, last month, the State Department began a partnership with Johns Hopkins University to expand the top-tier care available to employees and families who have been affected by Anomalous Health Incidents.Now they can access the university’s outstanding medical professionals and facilities as well.”

There does not appear to be an official bio for her at state.gov right now. It appears that she retired from the Foreign Service so  it is likely that her work hours, like other State Department’s re-employed annuitants will also be capped at no more than 1,040 hours during her appointment year.
A throwback from her Montenegro appointment:

Uh-oh! Also another throwback via ISP-I-17-41 Inspection of Embassy Podgorica, Montenegro:

While embassy employees told OIG that the Ambassador and DCM held themselves to the high ethical standards that 3 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 1214 establishes, American staff consistently evaluated the Ambassador negatively against the leadership principles that are described in 3 FAM 1214. For instance, some employees described the Ambassador as a micromanager which delayed the clearance process for embassy memos and reports. Employees told OIG that rapid-fire taskings, shifting priorities, and the Ambassador’s ambitious agenda hindered their ability to perform their core responsibilities. Further, employees expressed that they hesitated to offer differing points of view as the Ambassador did not proactively solicit their input and was not receptive to dissent. Some embassy personnel described the Ambassador as intimidating in her interactions with American and LE staff, which inhibited staff discourse and negatively affected mission morale.

Such characteristics and interactions as described above are not in accord with the highest standards of interpersonal conduct as outlined in 3 FAM 1214. The Department sets clear expectations for leadership to follow certain principles because it fosters the highest attainable degree of employee productivity and morale, all of which are essential to achieving mission goals and objectives. The Ambassador assured OIG that she valued the Department’s leadership principles and would use her unique position to lead by example.

Blinken on Ambassador Jonathan Moore:

“I’m pleased to announce the new head of our Health Incident Response Task Force: Ambassador Jonathan Moore. Jonathan brings decades of experience grappling with complex policy challenges. His career in the Foreign Service has taken him from posts around the globe, from Bosnia to Namibia, and he’s managed portfolios ranging from Russia policy to engagement with the United Nations.Across each of his assignments, Jonathan has brought a strong analytical capacity and fidelity to the facts.He knows the State Department.He knows the inter-agency process.And he cares about the people he works with, which is particularly important for this assignment, for which treating people with empathy and decency is absolutely key.”

According to his official bio, Ambassador Moore was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, where he oversaw policy regarding the United Nations and UN agencies – including on health, environment, science, and technology – between November 2018 and March 2020. It looks like his tenure overlapped for a year with the infamous tenure of Kevin Moley who was bureau assistant secretary from March 29, 2018 – November 29, 2019 (see IO’s Kevin Moley Accused of Political Retribution Finally Leaves the Building). The OIG report is available to read here:  Review of Allegations of Politicized and Other Improper Personnel Practices in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
Previously, he was DCM at US Embassy Minsk in 2006 and later served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim from March 2008–July 2009. The OIG report for Embassy Minsk had some good things to say about him:

A newly arrived Ambassador and DCM are exercising firm, clear direction at Embassy Minsk. While emphasizing the preliminary nature of their observations and judgments, Americans at the embassy scored both officials highly on OIG questionnaires. In interviews during the inspection, American staff praised the officials for their openness and willingness to engage deeply in the details of all embassy policies and operations.

Embassy Minsk is a small, well-run mission that now attracts a sufficient number of qualified Foreign Service bidders. Operating in a hostile political environment, the embassy is a 25-percent hardship differential post.
[…]
The DCM (sometimes with the Ambassador) meets with the consular section chief in her office weekly, although issues can easily be raised at any time. The DCM reviews the consular chief ’s visa decisions and supports a by-the-book visa referral policy that is reviewed annually.

We’re hoping to see improvements on how these cases are handled.
Let’s see what happens.

 

Related:

 

Snapshot: PP9645 and PP9983 – Affected Nationalities, Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visas

 

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed a Presidential Proclamation (P.P. 10141) titled “Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States.”  This proclamation ended the travel restrictions under Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 under Trump and directed the State Department to pursue the processing of visa applications for individuals from affected countries consistent with applicable law and visa processing procedures.  Guidance on State’s implementation of P.P. 10141 can be found here. Pursuant to President Biden’s Proclamation, the visa restrictions under Proclamations 9645 and 9983 are no longer applicable.
Below is a CA report on the affected nationalities for both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas from December 8, 2017 t0 January 20, 2021. The full report is available here.

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Via Politico: Mark Lenzi Accuses @StateDept’s Leadership, Diplomatic Security of Retaliation #HavanaSyndrome

 

Via Politico:

“One of those victims, current State Department official Mark Lenzi, sustained traumatic brain injuries while on assignment in Guangzhou, China, in late 2017, when he was working as a security engineering officer in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
[…]
Lenzi provided documents to POLITICO that detail his claims that State’s leadership has retaliated against him for speaking out publicly and for working with the members of Congress who have been investigating the matter.”
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“On his first day as secretary of State, Secretary Blinken — who I know and have the utmost respect for — told the Department of State workforce that he ‘would not tolerate retaliation against whistleblowers,’” Lenzi said. “However, under his tenure, retaliation against me by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau for my whistleblowing activities with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and with Congress has actually increased.”
[…]
Since then, Lenzi says, the State Department has retaliated against him in a number of ways. Documents viewed by POLITICO show that the department most recently yanked his administrative leave last month — forcing him to use sick leave or leave-without-pay to participate in medical studies and attend therapy sessions — and has denied him access to his classified computer system, even though he retains his top-secret security clearance.
[..]
The federal agency that handles whistleblower claims previously found “a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing” in the case of Lenzi and his claims of retaliation, according to an April 2020 Office of Special Counsel memo. That retaliation probe is ongoing.

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