WH Dobby Devin Nunes Eyes @StateDept For Phase II of His Passion Project

Posted: 3:15 am ET

 

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Tom Shannon’s ‘Dear Friends and Colleagues’ Note Announcing His Foreign Service Retirement

Posted: 1:12 am ET

 

Congress first authorized the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Department of State Organization Act of July 30, 1959. Under Secretary Tom Shannon is¬†the 22nd incumbent to the third highest ranking position in Foggy Bottom since 1959. He¬†is only the 16th career diplomat to be appointed as “P”. ¬†He was nominated by President Obama in September 2015 but he did not get confirmed until February 2016. He officially signed his appointment and assumed post in April 2016, so he’s barely two years on the job. We understand that he recently turned 60 years old and wants to set a new direction in his life but we should also note that he is five years short of the mandatory Foreign Service retirement age inscribed in the Foreign Service Act of 1980.

Signed “Warm Regards, Tom Shannon,” the following is the text of the note addressed to friends and colleagues sent by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs announcing his retirement from the Foreign Service and the State Department:

Yesterday I spoke with the Secretary and informed him of my decision to retire from the United States Foreign Service and the Department of State.  After more than 34 years of service to our great Republic, I have decided that it is time to step aside.  I do so confident in the next generation of Foreign Service leadership, and proud of what we have accomplished across four decades of American diplomacy.

My decision is personal, and driven by a desire to attend to my family, take stock of my life, and set a new direction for my remaining years.

The Secretary has asked me to stay on until my successor is named, and to ensure a smooth transition to the new Under Secretary for Political Affairs.  I have agreed to do so.

I want to express my profound gratitude to the Secretary and the President for the privilege of serving at the highest levels of the Department during this past year.  I have had the honor of serving under six presidents and ten secretaries of state.  All have been extraordinary public servants and great Americans.  As with each of you, my service has been defined by our oath of office and the commitment we make to protect and defend our Constitution, our institutions, and our values.  Underlying this commitment is our deep respect for the will of the American people and a determination to advance the interests and well-being of our nation by ensuring the success of our elected governments.  The sense of duty and obligation that this implies, and the discipline it imparts, has allowed the Department of State and its officers to serve successfully since the earliest days of our Republic.

One of the greatest honors I have been afforded during my career is the opportunity to have worked with all of you.  I am deeply grateful for your friendship and solidarity, and I have been humbled by your generosity of spirit, your courage in confronting the dangers and risks inherent in our profession, and your joyful embrace of a life spent far from home and hearth.

To be an American diplomat is a high calling.  I salute you all, and look forward to having the opportunity to say my farewells to you in the weeks to come.

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@StateDept Releases New Sexual Assault Guidance For COM Personnel & Facilities Outside the United States

Posted: 1:09 am ET
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We’ve written several blogposts (see below) about the lack of sexual assault guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual, most recently in May this year (see¬†A #SexualAssault Reporting Process Foreign Service Members Deserve: How Much Longer Secretary¬†#Tillerson?).

On June 6, the State Department finally issued a new Foreign Affairs Manual sub-chapter 1710 SEXUAL ASSAULTS INVOLVING CHIEF OF MISSION PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES but it was not made available online. On June 20, a FAM revision was made according to the Change Transmittal to correct the subchapter title, specifying that the subchapter pertains to matters outside the United States, as well as to update a few other references. The chapter is now available online for folks to read.

https://fam.state.gov/FAM/03FAM/03FAM1710.html

You may also read it below; use the lower-right hand arrow to maximize the Cloudup page.

We’re still reading though this. We hope to have a follow-up post later. For now we want to say thank you to the FS members who shared their difficult stories with us and our readers; to former U/S Patrick Kennedy for the creation of the¬†inter-bureau taskforce to create this subchapter; to the members of the task force who did the work on this, and Secretary Kerry then, and Secretary Tillerson now who oversees the Department and the Foreign Service.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Secretary of State Hosts an #Iftar in Foggy Bottom #Ramadan

Posted: 1:24 am ET
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Via state.gov

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts an Iftar to commemorate the month of Ramadan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 24, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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#ThrowbackThursday: Secretary of State Addresses Reporters in Saudi Arabia

Posted: 5:35 pm PT
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Via state.gov

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, addresses reporters following a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council member nations on January 23, 2016, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]

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Diplomatic Security Agent With 17-Year Service Resigns Over Trump

Posted: 12:36 am ET
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According to Government Executive more than one in four federal workers, or 28 percent, will definitely or possibly consider leaving their jobs after Jan. 20 when Trump is sworn into office and becomes leader of the executive branch, according to a new Government Business Council/GovExec.com poll. Sixty-five percent of feds say they will not consider ending their federal service.

Fear that the Trump Administration will trample on the Constitution and damage the political and moral fabric of our nation apparently prompted one Diplomatic Security agent to resign. There are approximately 2,000 Diplomatic Security agents. The State Department estimates that security officers will have the largest number of attrition for Foreign Service Specialist from FY2016-2020.

The letter below is by Supervisory DSS Agent TJ Lunardi, a career member of the Foreign Service who until last¬†week was posted overseas. ¬†In a note to friends he shared his resignation letter with, Mr. Lunardi writes that he is sharing it in the hope that friends “might understand and respect” his choice, even if they “do not agree or support it”.¬† Further, he writes, “the letter makes clear that, for me, this is not a question of politics or party, but one of personal adherence to the values I hold most dear”. ¬†We understand that this resignation letter was submitted to the State Department on January 19, 2017. A blog pal shared with us the letter which has been shared internally within the department. ¬†We’ve reached out to¬†Mr. Lunardi who confirmed his authorship and expressed no objection with the publication of the letter in this blog. ¬†Mr. Lunardi’s resignation was effective on¬†March 4, 2017.

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, Northwest
Washington, District of Columbia 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

With deep regret, I must resign from my position as a Supervisory Special Agent of the Diplomatic Security Service.  I cannot in good conscience serve in the Department of State under the incoming President, a man I believe to be a threat to our constitutional order.

For the last 17 years ‚Äď the entirety of my professional life ‚Äď I have been proud to work for the American people as a member of the Foreign Service.¬† Without hesitation, I have done so under Presidents of both parties.¬† Whether in Baghdad or Berlin, Washington or now in Kyiv, it has been an honor to carry the Diplomatic Security badge, a symbol of the special trust and confidence reposed in me by our fellow citizens to enforce our laws and defend our country‚Äôs values and interests.¬† I love this Department, which has been my home, and the extraordinary men and women in it, so many of whom have become like family.

But I take nothing more seriously than my oath to support and defend the Constitution, to bear it true faith and allegiance, to well and faithfully discharge the duties of my office.  Throughout my career, these obligations have guided my every action in service of our country.  They are what compel me now to resign.

As an American, it is an article of my political faith that our Constitution binds the government and its leaders ‚Äď and by extension all of us in public service ‚Äď to guarantee certain unalienable rights:¬† freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, due process, and equal protection of the laws, among others.¬† In his words and his deeds, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he little understands and less respects these tenets of our civic creed.¬† He has threatened the independent media.¬† He has called for the imposition of religious tests and the commission of war crimes.¬† He has incited hatred and violence.¬† He has mocked and bullied the most vulnerable among us.¬† He has empowered racists and emboldened bigots.¬† He has made open league with a despot who seeks to harm our national interests.¬† He disregards and distorts the truth for no other apparent purpose than to maintain his followers in a frenzy of confusion and anger.¬† These are not the acts of a liberal democratic leader.¬† They point the way to authoritarianism, the slippery path to tyranny.

I have thus concluded that defending the Constitution and performing the duties of my office in an Executive Branch under Mr. Trump are incompatible.  An honest adherence to my oath dictates that I withhold support from such a man and from the administration he will head.  For me this is not a career choice, not something I would desire under normal circumstances.  It is among the most difficult and painful decisions of my life.  Nonetheless, it is a moral and ethical necessity in the face of someone I judge to be so clearly inimical to the values I have sworn to protect.

Some may counter that the threat posed by Mr. Trump calls for people of conscience to remain in the Department, to blunt his excesses, to resist his agenda.  This may be a legitimate course for others, but I fear I lack the capacity for such a compromise.  Tyranny encroaches when met with silence, and the graveyard of failed democracies is littered with the epitaphs of those who believed collaboration could moderate the evil of authoritarianism.  Knowing these lessons, I cannot allow tacit accommodation of Mr. Trump’s administration to make me complicit in his assault on our Republic.

It is my fervent hope I will be proven wrong, that Mr. Trump will govern wisely, lawfully, and with respect for the Constitution ‚Äď all of it, and not simply the parts convenient to his purposes.¬† Unless and until he does, however, my place is with those who will oppose him, not those charged to carry out his policies.¬† My oath, my honor, and my conscience demand nothing less of me, even if my heart wishes it could be otherwise.

Traveling the world with the Foreign Service, I have been blessed with the opportunity to reflect on how the fragile nation bequeathed by our Founders has grown to become a beacon of hope and progress, a bulwark against despotism.¬† I am convinced it is the decency of our citizens, and their willingness to put our ideals ahead of their wants, that has made this country both great and fundamentally good.¬† On the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Bastogne, in the jail cells of Occoquan, on Pettus Bridge and Christopher Street ‚Äď ordinary citizens have written our extraordinary story through sacrifice and an unwavering faith in our constitutional principles.

The survival of our grand experiment in democracy once again depends on such acts of courage.  And so I close with a citizen’s request to my friends and colleagues who remain in the Department:  Remember and keep always before you the belief in our shared values which inspired you to serve the American people.  Whenever you can, rise above the all-consuming daily bureaucratic scrum so that its rigors do not distract from an incremental acceptance of the morally unacceptable.  Should the decisive moment come, hear and heed the call of conscience.

Through whatever trials lie ahead, I pray Providence will preserve the people and the Constitution of the United States.

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Goodbye Benjamin F. Kerry, a/k/a @Diplomutt — We Hardly Knew Ye!

Posted: 4:40 pm PT
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In November 2013, Secretary Kerry¬†flew¬†to Maine to pick up¬†his new yellow Labrador puppy, Ben¬†from Frances Plessner of¬†Puddleduck Boarding Kennel¬†who spent two months training the dog.¬†According to the¬†Boston Globe, Ben is named in honor of Ben Franklin, also known as the ‚ÄúFather of the American Foreign Service.‚ÄĚ (Also see¬†Secretary Kerry Gets a New Dog, Now a State Dept. Dog is Tweeting, Who Needs the¬†NSA?) Ben, whose Twitter handle says¬†@Diplomutt¬†has 3,131¬†followers but is not terribly social online. He has only tweeted four six times, and followed only six accounts,¬†all State Department-connected.

Now, he’s off to the beach to watch¬†the sunset. And no goodbye tweets. Sad.

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68 Delivers Farewell and Thanks to Foggy Bottom, See More Goodbyes and Parting Thoughts

Posted: 3:33 pm PT
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U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion Opens With @JohnKerry, @HillaryClinton, @madeleine, and Colin Powell

Posted: 5:47 pm PT
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Secretary of State John Kerry together with former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, Colin L. Powell, and Hillary Rodham Clinton marked the completion of the U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion located at the State Department’s 21st Street Entrance on January 10 with a well-attended reception.

The U.S. Diplomacy Center (@DiplomacyCenter) will be a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art museum and education center dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy. Visitors will explore the role of diplomacy through interactive exhibits, compelling artifacts, hands-on education programs, and diplomatic simulations. ¬†The Center’s¬†goal is “to demonstrate the ways in which diplomacy matters now and has mattered throughout American history.¬† Diplomacy and the work of our diplomats in over 250 embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions are vital to our nation‚Äôs power, image, and ability to advance its interests around the globe.”

The funds used for this project?  The Department of State has a public-private partnership with the Diplomacy Center Foundation (DCF), founded by the late Senator Charles McC. Mathias, Ambassador Stephen Low and others. The costs for the construction of the museum and the fabrication of the exhibits are raised through a private sector capital campaign. The Department of State contributes space, staff and security for the Center. Taxpayers will not be paying for building the USDC; the center makes up less than .003% of the Department of State’s annual budget.

Here is a bit of history on the Center via the Foundation:

Foreign Service Ambassador Stephen Low (1927 — 2010) and Senator Charles ‚ÄúMac‚ÄĚ Mathias, R-MD (1922-2010) formed the Foreign Affairs Museum Council (FAMC), a nonprofit organization, to help build the first facility dedicated to American diplomacy in the United States and to raise funds from the private sector for the project. In 2013 the FAMC Board of Directors changed the name to Diplomacy Center Foundation. […]¬†In 1999, Ambassador Low and Senator Mathias met with Secretary Madeleine K. Albright about their vision for a museum and education center of American diplomacy. Secretary Albright recognized the need and decreed that the museum should be located at the Department of State.

In 2010, Secretary Clinton appointed Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Ambassador to Portugal, retired, to lead the fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Department. Simultaneously, the leadership of the Foreign Affairs Museum Council was assumed by William C. Harrop, a career Foreign Service Officer who had served as United States Ambassador to five countries. To date, $47.5 million of private sector funds have been raised from corporations, foundation and individuals toward the $55 million needed to build the Center. Under this new Pavilion will be the Founding Ambassadors Concourse where educational conferences, symposia and other USDC events will take place. The Founding Ambassadors initiative is led by Stuart A. Bernstein, Ambassador to Denmark, retired.

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@StateDept Apologizes For Past Discrimination Against #LGBTI Employees/Applicants

Posted: 1:32 pm ET
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The 68th Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, today, apologized on behalf of the State Department for the discrimination of employees and applicants based on sexual orientation.  Below is his statement:

Throughout my career, including as Secretary of State, I have stood strongly in support of the LGBTI community, recognizing that respect for human rights must include respect for all individuals. LGBTI employees serve as proud members of the State Department and valued colleagues dedicated to the service of our country. For the past several years, the Department has pressed for the families of LGBTI officers to have the same protections overseas as families of other officers. In 2015, to further promote LGBTI rights throughout the world, I appointed the first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons.

In the past ‚Äď as far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades ‚Äď the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place. These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today.

On behalf of the Department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the Department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTI community.

For the historical discrimination that spanned decades, this has been a long time coming. We are pleased to see this public apology.¬†ADST’s Oral History notes that in the 1950s and 60s, “security within the U.S. government, including the State Department, was on high alert for internal risks, particularly Communists and what were considered to be sexual deviants‚ÄĒhomosexuals and promiscuous individuals. Investigating homosexuality became a core function of the Department‚Äôs Office of Security, which ferreted out more people for homosexuality than for being a Communist.”

In 1950, a subcommittee chaired by Maryland Senator Millard Tydings convened to investigate¬†Joseph McCarthy‚Äôs notorious list of ‚Äú205 known communists.‚ÄĚ Tydings worked to discredit McCarthy‚Äôs claim, but, in the process, the subcommittee concluded¬†that the State Department was overrun with ‚Äúsexual perverts,‚ÄĚ part of the so-called ‚ÄúLavender Scare.‚Ä̬†

During the hearings, Nebraska Senator Kenneth Wherry memorably claimed that as many as 3,000 homosexuals were employed at State. By the end of 1950, 600 people had been dismissed from positions at the State Department on morals charges. In 1973 a federal judge ruled that a person’s sexual orientation alone could not be the sole reason for termination from federal employment; two years later, the Civil Service Commission announced that it would consider applications by gays and lesbians on a case-by-case basis.

Read more here:¬†Being Gay in the Foreign Service¬†and¬†The ‚ÄúLavender Scare‚ÄĚ: Homosexuals at the State Department

 

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