Posted: 3:30 am ET
Some questions have been raised about the gifts from Saudi Arabia, particularly a few specific, high valued items given to Secretary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State. We’ve asked the State Department about this, and we were told that one gift is pending transfer to the GSA but three have been retained for the U.S. Diplomacy Center (@DiplomacyCenter) collection. The United States Diplomacy Center which is scheduled to be completed in 2016 is a public private initiative which will include some 6,000 diplomatic artifacts — via:
The Department of State is providing the space, staff and security, while the private sector will provide the funds to design and build the 40,000 sq. ft. facility. The Center includes a 20,000 sq. ft. exterior Pavilion and its informative exhibits about today’s Department of State in Hall 1, the Founding Ambassador Concourse below Hall I, and two interior Halls both of 10,000 sq. ft. each: one chronicling the history of the American diplomacy, and the other focusing on education. The USDC is located at the Department of State building on 21st Street at Virginia Avenue NW, in Washington, DC. Visit the USDC website www.Diplomacy.State.gov for information on the progress and developments of the creation of the United States Diplomacy Center.
The following response from a State Department spokesperson:
Per GSA guidelines, there is no timeline for reporting gifts of more than minimal value to GSA after they’ve been received. The Department of State reports all gifts of more than minimal value annually in the Federal Register and generally biannually directly to GSA when doing a transfer of gifts. The Department transfers the maximum quantity of gifts GSA has the capacity to accept.
When a gift is no longer being used for official use, it must be reported within 30 days to the Office of the Chief of Protocol, to pend transfer to GSA.
All four gifts in question are in the possession of the Department of State. The first three are in official use, as part of the collection of the U.S. Diplomacy Center. The final is being stored and pending transfer to GSA, and will be transferred when GSA has the ability to accept it.
Here are some gifts currently included in the Diplomacy Center’s online collection:
Posted: 2:50 am ET
Judicial Watch recently released the deposition transcript of Karin Lang, director of the Executive Secretariat staff since July 2015 and designated representative for the State Department. Prior to her assignment at Main State, she was the chief of the American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.
The Lang transcript is available here (PDF) or read below. Lang was designated by the State Department as its 30(b)(6) witness assigned to provide the agency’s testimony on the Clinton email issue.
Posted: 1:14 am ET
On August 30, 2011, there was an email between then HRC deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and Ambassador Steve Mull, who was then the Executive Secretary of the State Department. Following that assignment, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Poland, and last year, he was appointed Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation. The Daily Caller obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed on its behalf by Cause of Action and has reported about the emails here (see ScribD file here).
On June 6, Judicial Watch released the deposition transcript of Ambassador Mull. The transcript is available here. Or read below. According to the transcript, here are the numbers on the following words/phrases:
“Objection” — 124 matches;
“I don’t know” — 32 matches;
“I can’t recall” — 21 matches;
“I can’t remember” — 7 matches;
“I don’t remember” — 6 matches.
Posted: 4:19 am ET
In case you have not seen this, here is a piece via Politico about the State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, a position that was created during the Clinton tenure and one that appears to no longer exist under the Kerry tenure (Gary Hart is listed as Kerry’s Personal Representative for Northern Ireland Issues). Excerpt:
Government employees are typically restricted in their ability to receive outside income. But Hillary Clinton’s State Department expanded the use of “special government employees,” a relatively rare status originally created for scientists and others with unusual technical expertise that cannot be provided in-house. This allowed certain workers chosen by her or her staff, including Kelly, to receive money from private firms, including those who might potentially have business before the federal government.
After his appointment in September 2009, Kelly quickly staffed up by making an unconventional move and hiring five employees using money out of his own pocket. One used the title “deputy to the U.S. State Department’s Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland,” and, according to his current bio, was tasked with “helping to drive investment to the region from U.S. corporations and facilitate bilateral trade.”
Another “adviser” to the economic envoy, was “responsible for executing a number special initiatives to help drive economic development in support of the ongoing peace process,” according to his current bio. And a third was named “senior counsel,” according to her LinkedIn profile, working with two additional employees to start up a mentoring program placing Irish fellows at American companies.
Despite job titles that sounded like State Department positions, and despite their regular interactions with official State Department staff and Irish diplomats, none of them were official government employees, and thus they had no constraints on their outside activities.
“The State Department does not have a record of these individuals being employed by the Department,” reads a State Department statement for this story.
Some of Kelly’s envoy office employees were also doing consulting work for Kelly’s private firm, listing Declan Kelly Consulting on their résumés. They would become among the first Teneo employees. Because they weren’t officially on the State Department payroll, their work would not receive the typical oversight given to State employees. It’s unclear whether they were required to file any sort of disclosure forms, and the State Department would not comment on what obligations they may or may not have had to meet.
- In September 2009, Declan Kelly was appointed as the Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, a new position created by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aimed at expanding Northern Ireland’s relatively small private sector and furthering economic ties between Northern Ireland and the United States. (via)
- 05/11/11 Resignation of Economic Envoy for Northern Ireland Declan Kelly; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Washington, DC
- Staff employed by State Dept. as administrative support for Clinton envoy helped launch Teneo
Following the Clinton tenure, the proliferation of special envoys, special representatives, coordinators and special advisors continued in Foggy Bottom. As of this writing, the State Department has 18 special envoys, 17 special representatives, 6 ambassadors-at-large, 15 coordinators, 7 special advisors, 1 senior advisor, 1 senior official, 1 personal representative, 1 senior representative in addition to the many functional and geographic bureaus in the department. In less than a year, most of them will be gone with Secretary Kerry. But we are certain that all will be replaced by new faces, and next BFFs (or old ones, as the case may be) parachuting into Foggy Bottom’s top floors in January 2017.
We agree with Senator Corker that every secretary of state should be asked to account for these 7th Floor denizens/positions, most especially on their necessity to the effective conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.
- Congress Eyes @StateDept’s Special Envoys, Representatives, Advisors, and Coordinators
- State Department Announces Two New Special Envoys: Stratcom and Colombia Peace Process
- President Obama Appoints James O’Brien as First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs
- While You Were Sleeping, the State Dept’s Specials in This “Bureau” Proliferated Like Mushroom
- The Best Lines From “10 Ways to Fix America’s Ailing State Department”
Posted: 1:01 am ET
In 2009, President Obama nominated Melanne Verveer to be the first ever US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State. Previously, she was Co-Founder, Chair and Co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international nonprofit that invests in emerging women leaders – pioneers of economic, political and social progress in their countries. Prior to founding Vital Voices, Verveer served as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady in the Clinton Administration and was chief assistant to then First Lady Hillary Clinton in her international activities.
The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), is currently headed by Ambassador Catherine M. Russell who was appointed to the position in August 2013. Prior to assuming this position, she served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden focusing on military families and higher education.
Posted: 2:15 am ET
Below is the State Department’s court filing via Politico:
On April 6, this obviously made it to the Daily Press Briefing:
QUESTION: — knowing that you’ll probably refer me to the Department of Justice. But – so yesterday or late yesterday there was a filing in the FOIA – the email FOIA – one of them, on the discovery – the order to grant discovery.
MR TONER: Right.
QUESTION: And I’m just curious about this, because I haven’t actually seen the order, I’ve just read the stories about it. What does the department, through its lawyers, claim to be its standing for trying to limit the scope of questions asked of ex-employees?
MR TONER: So —
QUESTION: I mean, I can understand why you would be making a motion on behalf of current employees. And I could probably even understand why you say that this – they are being asked about their activities while they were in government. But this seems to be something – I mean, shouldn’t their own lawyers be making this kind of a motion? Why is the State Department making it?
MR TONER: So I appreciate the question and understand your interest in the story. You are correct insofar as – well, first of all, we did submit a filing with the court last night on this matter. But I cannot comment on the actual content of that court filing, because this is something that’s already – or that is a matter of ongoing litigation, so I can’t even comment on your question because it would speak to this matter that’s still in litigation.
QUESTION: Can you tell me if it says in there – I mean, maybe I’m just completely naive and ignorant —
MR TONER: I don’t have it in front —
QUESTION: — about this.
MR TONER: Yeah.
QUESTION: But does it explain in this motion how it is that the department has standing to make such a request on behalf of a former employee?
MR TONER: Again, I can’t speak specifically to this matter, but I can say that the department’s engaged on any given year in litigation before federal courts, administrative and arbitral tribunals. And depending on the facts —
MR TONER: — applicable procedures, and nature of the claims, we do – there may be discovery, but it is case by case.
QUESTION: No, I understand that.
MR TONER: And so – yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, the answer to my question could be very, very simple, that it’s – that it – it could be that it’s completely normal —
MR TONER: You’re asking whether it applies to ex-employees?
QUESTION: Well – no, it does. I know that the motion does cover them. I’m just curious as to what the —
MR TONER: What the rationale is?
QUESTION: Right. I mean, it may be very straightforward, that because they’re being asked to talk about stuff they did while they were in government that you do have some kind of standing to speak on their behalf.
MR TONER: And I will see if I can get you any —
QUESTION: And I’m just wondering if —
MR TONER: — more clarity on that.
QUESTION: Right. Thanks.
MR TONER: But I have to just preface that by saying —
MR TONER: — I am restricted in what I can say when something – it’s an ongoing litigation.
Posted: 12:41 am ET
This might be the most thorough reporting we’ve seen on the Clinton email saga. Includes all the familiar names we’ve seen so far. But 147 FBI agents deployed to chased down leads?! If this case ever ends sometime soon, somebody should FOIA the total email tab, not just the FBI agents, their overtime to get this done within a desired time frame but also the FOIA staffers, and their OT, labor hours from legal, labor hours from public affairs, all that paper and ink, and all the hair coloring cost for hair that prematurely turned gray the last couple of years… In any case, here’s something to chew:
“From the earliest days, Clinton aides and senior officials focused intently on accommodating the secretary’s desire to use her private email account, documents and interviews show. Throughout, they paid insufficient attention to laws and regulations governing the handling of classified material and the preservation of government records, interviews and documents show. They also neglected repeated warnings about the security of the BlackBerry while Clinton and her closest aides took obvious security risks in using the basement server.”
Posted: 1:54 pm EDT
On February 23, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District Court of the District of Columbia granted Judicial Watch’s (JW) motion for discovery related to the use of the clintonemail.com system by the former secretary of state and at least one other former State Department employee. The case is Judicial Watch vs. U.S. Department of State (Civil Action No. 13-cv-1363 (EGS)). Court records indicate that that JW need to submit a Discovery Plan To Court and Counsel by 3/15/2016 (see Court Grants Request to Interview Clinton Aides and @StateDept Officials Under Oath Over Email Saga).
In its court filing of March 15, JW submitted its plan to seek testimony from the following former and current officials of the State Department. Names and descriptions are as listed by JW:
Stephen D. Mull (Executive Secretary of the State Department from June 2009 to October 2012 and suggested that Mrs. Clinton be issued a State Department BlackBerry, which would protect her identity and would also be subject to FOIA requests);
Lewis A. Lukens (Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat from 2008 to 2011 and emailed with Patrick Kennedy and Cheryl Smith about setting up a computer for Mrs. Clinton to check her clintonemail.com email account);
Patrick F. Kennedy (Under Secretary for Management since 2007 and the Secretary’s principal advisor on management issues, including technology and information services);
Donald R. Reid (Senior Coordinator for Security Infrastructure, Bureau of Diplomatic Security since 2003 and was involved in early discussions about Mrs. Clinton using her BlackBerry and other devices to conduct official State Department business);
30(b)(6) deposition(s) of Defendant [designated witness(es) for the State Department] regarding the processing of FOIA requests, including Plaintiff’s FOIA request, for emails of Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin both during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and after;
Cheryl D. Mills (Mrs. Clinton’s Chief of Staff throughout her four years as Secretary of State);
Huma Abedin (Mrs. Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and a senior advisor to Mrs. Clinton throughout her four years as Secretary of State and also had an email account on clintonemail.com); and
Bryan Pagliano (State Department Schedule C employee who has been reported to have serviced and maintained the server that hosted the “clintonemail.com” system during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State).
And here’s one we won’t know possibly until after the judge’s expected ruling on April 15 — Judicial Watch also seeks testimony from 30 (b)(6) witness or witnesses who can provide testimony on behalf of the State Department on the following issues:
- the creation or establishment of the clintonemail.com system as well as any maintenance, service, or support provided by the State Department of that system;
- the knowledge or awareness of State Department officials and employees about the existence and use of the clintonemail.com system;
- any instructions or directions given to State Department officials and employees about communicating with Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin via email;
- any inquiries into Mrs. Clinton’s use of the clintonemail.com system as well as any discussions about responding to such inquiries or publicly revealing the existence and use of the clintonemail.com system to the public; and
- the inventorying or other accounting of Mrs. Clinton’s and Ms. Abedin’s email upon their departure from the State Department.
The (b)(6) is in reference to the FOIA exemption which protects information about individuals in “personnel and medical files and similar files” when the disclosure of such information “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Posted: 2:06 am EDT
The coordinator and co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) Berta Cáceres was murdered on March 3 at her home in Intibucá, in Honduras.
The Intercept reports that Cáceres’s activism spanned several issues including Agua Zarca, a proposed hydroelectric dam project, which was to be built on the territory of the indigenous Lenca people. Reportedly with a generating capacity of 22MW, a 300 metre-long reservoir and a 3km long diversion channel between the dam and the turbines, Agua Zarca is being constructed by the Honduran corporation DESA or Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA).
Action Network on its campaign letter says that it is “profoundly concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with DESA’s Social Investment Programming through the MERCADO project, linking US taxpayer dollars to the repression and violence against COPINH.” The group also says it “strongly condemn the role in Rio Blanco of Los TIGRES, a Honduran specialized police unit, which is funded and vetted by the United States, in defending the private interests of DESA.”
According to FedBiz, USAID awarded the MERCADO $24,332,336.00 contract for Honduras on December 16, 2014. The contract is for five years “to support the implementation of the Feed the Future (FTF) initiative and the Global Climate Change (GCC) Presidential Initiative in Honduras” and the contractor is located in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Honduran Tigres reportedly skilled in combating criminal organizations and countering human and narcotic trafficking previously trained with the U.S. Special Forces Soldiers on the ranges of Eglin Air Force Base, in Northwest Florida.
International NGO banktrack.org also notes the following:
The state is not only failing to respect human rights and to assure that the company obeys them, but is actively supporting DESA by sending in the military and police force. They are based at the company´s facilities, drive in the company’s cars, and help out with military equipment and intimidation of the population. This creates the impression that the company has command over the military and police force. Maybe it is no coincidence that the director of DESA, David Castillo, studied in the West Point Military Academy of the US and served as the assistant of the director of the Honduran Army Intelligence.