Posted: 1:06 am ET
Posted: 1:06 am ET
Posted: 1:29 pm ET
We’ve posted previously about Ambassador Robin Raphel in this blog. See Case Against Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel Ends Without Charges, Who’s Gonna Say Sorry?. Also below:
Today, the Wall Street Journal runs an extensive account of what happened and why this case is a concerning one for American diplomats:
The NSA regularly swept up Pakistani communications “to, from or about” senior U.S. officials working in the country. Some American officials would appear in Pakistani intercepts as often as once a week. What Raphel didn’t realize was that her desire to engage with foreign officials, the very skill set her supervisors encouraged, had put a target on her back.
The FBI didn’t have a clear picture of where Raphel fit on the State Department organizational chart. She was a political adviser with the rank of ambassador but she wasn’t a key policy maker anymore. She seemed to have informal contacts with everyone who mattered in Islamabad—more, even, than the sitting ambassador and the CIA station chief.
State Department officials said that when they spoke to the FBI agents, they had the feeling they were explaining the basics of how diplomats worked.
At times, Raphel’s colleagues pushed back—warning the FBI that their investigation risked “criminalizing diplomacy,” according to a former official who was briefed on the interviews.
In one interview, the agents asked James Dobbins, who served as SRAP from 2013 to 2014, whether it was OK for Raphel to talk to a Pakistani source about information that wasn’t restricted at the time, but would later be deemed classified.
“If somebody tells you something in one conversation, you might write that up and it becomes classified,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean the next time you see them that you can’t talk about what you’d already talked about.”
Over the past two years, diplomats in Pakistan and the U.S. have scaled back contacts, according to officials in both countries. U.S. diplomats say they are afraid of what the NSA and the FBI might hear about them.
“What happened to Raphel could happen to any of us,” said Ryan Crocker, one of the State Department’s most highly decorated career ambassadors. Given the empowerment of law enforcement after 9/11 and the U.S.’s growing reliance on signals intelligence in place of diplomatic reporting, he said, “we will know less and we will be less secure.”
“Look what happened to the one person who was out talking to people,” said Dan Feldman, Raphel’s former boss at State. “Does that not become a cautionary tale?”
Diplomatic Security had yet to restore her security clearance. Some of her friends at the State Department said they believed the FBI opposed the idea.
Kerry and Raphel stood close together for only a couple of minutes. On the sidelines of the noisy gathering, Kerry leaned over and whispered into Raphel’s ear: “I am sorry about what has happened to you.”
Read in full below:
Posted: 2:13 am ET
Updated: 11:47 am PT
For victims/survivors of sexual assault, please see Sexual Assault in the Foreign Service — What To Do? Consider below as a follow-up post to The State Dept’s Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure Appears to Be a Black Hole of Grief.
The following is provided for general information that is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and up-to-date. Please do not consider the following legal advice as we are not lawyers; read the full necessary disclaimer below.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has the following sexual violence statistics:
Rape notification rates differ depending on whether the victim know the perpetrator — those who knew a perpetrator were often less likely to report the crime, according to RAINN. A report (PDF) published by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that many survivors experience great difficulty in disclosing a sexual assault, especially when the perpetrator is known to the victim. The study is focused on rural America where “the propensity to not report may be reinforced by informal social codes that dictate privacy and maintaining family reputation. Sexual assaults in rural areas are mostly hidden crimes, hidden both intentionally and unintentionally by characteristics of a close-knit culture or an isolated lifestyle.” Rural communities like small towns as places where “everybody knows everybody.” Sounds familiar?
A victim will have little anonymity. It means she, or a friend or family member is likely to be acquainted with or related to the perpetrator and that she may reencounter the perpetrator, even on a regular basis. Furthermore, “the closer the relationship between victim and assailant, the less likely the woman is to report the crime” (Hunter, Burns-Smith, Walsh, 1996). Studies have quite consistently pointed to the importance of the victim-offender relationship in affecting the propensity to report (Pollard, 1995; Ruback, 1993, Ruback & Ménard, 2001). In rural areas, law enforcement is likely to be part of the social network (Sims, 1988; Weisheit, Wells & Falcone, 1994; Weisheit, Wells & Falcome, 1995). This compounds the problem of reporting non-stranger sexual assaults.
We need to point out that in the Foreign Service, particularly overseas, Diplomatic Security law enforcement –as in rural communities and small towns — is part of the social network.
We should also note that a 2002 study by Lisak-Miller indicates (PDF) that a majority of the undetected rapists were repeat rapists. The repeat rapists averaged 5.8 rapes each.
According to the Callisto Project, which provides survivors with a confidential and secure way to create a time-stamped record of an assault in American campuses less than 10% of survivors will ever report their assault. Survivors wait an average of 11 months to report their assault to authorities and up to 90% of assaults are committed by repeat perpetrators. Callisto’s CEO Jess Ladd told us that someday she would like to make available their product within other institutions (including companies and agencies) and to have a free version that anyone can use to store what happened. But Callisto is not there yet.
Among the concerns we’ve heard so far are: 1) lack of clear reporting process, 2) confidentiality, 3) sexual assault response training, 4) potential conflict/undue pressure on investigators/managers who may be friends, colleague, or subordinates of perpetrators, and 5) lack of sexual assault data.
As we’re written here previously DOD and Peace Corps provide restricted and unrestricted reporting for victims, but that does not appear to be the case in the Foreign Service. The State Department has over 275 posts in about 180 countries. The agency’s Diplomatic Security has Regional Security Offices in most locations but not all. The State Department has previously told this blog that Diplomatic Security’s Office of Special Investigations “receives and catalogues allegations and complaints. Allegations are neither categorized by location nor by alleged offense.” Which begs the question, how will the State Department know if it has sexual predators living among its various communities particularly overseas if it does not track these types of offenses?
Due to the lack of clear reporting process — except “report to RSO” or “contact OSI,” victims (as well as this blog) have no way to independently assess what reporting entails. We don’t know what kind of confidentiality is afforded the victims. Among other concerns and questions:
As readers here know, there is no official guidance in the FAM on reporting sexual assault in the Foreign Service (see The State Dept’s Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure Appears to Be a Black Hole of Grief). We’ve requested the unclassified cables that were released by DS/OSI in 2015 and earlier this year on sexual assault reporting (15 State 71370; 15 State 79760; and 16 STATE 56478 all reportedly available at DS/OSI intranet). Since the information is unclassified and it could be useful information, we thought we could save time and money by requesting these through regular channels without having to FOIA them. We appreciate the efforts of those who were trying to obtain these for us through regular channels; we understand some folks worked through the weekend to attend to this requests. Thanks, folks! Late Monday, we got word from a State Department spokesperson:
“Our thanks for your patience while the Department reviewed the practice of releasing State Department internal cables to members of the public or media. At this stage, a decision has been made that we are unable to release cables in this manner.”
Unbelievable! But it is what it is. We need, therefore, to FOIA these unclassified cables. Given State’s FOIA processing record, we don’t expect to see these cables until 1-2-3-4 years down the road. We might be dead of heartbreak by then.
State/OIG has reiterated to us that that their office takes allegations of rape and sexual harassment very seriously and repeated the response they provided us back in August here. Note that we have already been told that cases like this should not be reported to the OIG Hotline. Read more here: Another Note About the Burn Bag–There’s No Easy Way of Doing This, Is There?. State/OIG told us that Department employees who believe they have been subjected to whistleblower retaliation may contact OIG or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). OIG can help the individual in understanding their rights and may investigate the retaliation, as well as alert the Department to any illegal reprisal. State/OIG also said: “By no means do we want to discourage anyone from contacting our Hotline, but such a serious crime as a rape needs to be dealt with immediately and that’s why we recommend a call to local law enforcement.”
Posted: 12:45 am ET
Below is a redacted version of the Burn Bag we received. The red scissor indicates the parts of the Burn Bag that we purposely snipped (see explanation below):
I am a ✂️ FSO who was ✂️ raped, in ✂️
It has been an extremely painful ….. ✂️
Continuing on has been an (sic) incredibly difficult.
To have to continue to go ✂️ with this threatening and frightening person still present and looming around, has been terrifying.
In addition to not feeling safe with this violent criminal down the hallway, I have been grappling in fear and lost about what to do.
Like the grim picture your recent article on sexual assault reporting paints, it’s been hard to gather information on what to do.
I’ve heard of two accounts of other FSOs who’ve been sexually assaulted and these violent criminals are still serving as diplomats, with no apparent justice served despite their efforts to address the issue through HR.
I have many specific questions. ✂️
Is there some place outside of the State Dept and other than the police where one can make a report?
✂️ [W]hat about when the assailant is of equal “rank,” particularly, also a FSO? I’ve heard that in these situations, although both the victim and perpetrator were both FSOs, that it tends to discount the crime overall because it’s “embarrassing” to the Department that a FSO would do this. In the end, the female FSO who was assaulted seems to get no real justice. ✂️
What about AFSA? Is there anyone we can talk to at AFSA who has past experiene or specializes in Sexual Adsault (sic) and Harrassment issues in the FS?
I know that this is sent anonymously and that I can’t get these answers directly.
So I hope that Diplopundit will consider an update to the Sexual Assault blog around the questions I’ve raised ✂️
You have at least one oerson (sic) here in the FS family suffering greatly who would appreciate any information or guidance. Thank you.
Redacted Burn Bag – a Rare Exception
As we’ve previously written here, we received this Burn Bag submission regarding sexual assault in the Foreign Service. We have no way to contact the sender directly but we know that she reads this blog (90% of adult rape victims are female, so we will use the feminine pronoun in this blogpost). She wanted us to have the information for publication since she did send the information via Burn Bag. While we almost never redact/edit the Burn Bag submissions we post in this blog, we are making a rare exception here. We are doing so because we have serious concerns that posting all details and locations contained in the Burn Bag submission could identify the victim/assault survivor or alert the perpetrator. While the Burn Bag is clearly intended for publication, we do not wish to place the victim/survivor in potential additional jeopardy, and that’s why this version is redacted.
We should note that this is the second anonymous FSO who reported to us their sexual assault while in the Foreign Service. A third employee who did not want us to use her name has also recently reached out to this blog about her assault while posted in a war zone. She shared the fallout from her reporting and we will post that account separately.
Posted: 1:25 pm ET
Note: In an ideal, healthy organization, this letter would be signed by the author and you’d be reading this and discussing creative solutions on the Secretary’s Sounding Board. What is clear to us is that the fears of reprisal/retaliation are real. This anonymous letter is one more proof of that. Except for the four active hyperlinks we’ve added to help readers, the text and photo below are published below as received — Follow @Diplopundit
A poignant piece in the President’s Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce was the conclusion that “In broad comparison with the wider Federal Government, the federal workforce dedicated to our national security and foreign policy is – on average – less diverse, including at the highest levels.” Unfortunately, when it comes to the highest levels of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) diversity is not only less than the average – – it is nonexistent!
A review of the facts.
DS senior leadership is composed of an Assistant Secretary, a Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, seven Deputy Assistant Secretaries, an Executive Director, and a Coordinator for Security Infrastructure. Four years ago all of these positions with the exception of the AS were held by active Senior Foreign Service and Senior Executive Service officers. Two positions were held by female officers and one by a African-American officer. In the past three years, all three minority members either retired or moved into other positions outside of DS. Eight of the ten senior leadership positions have become vacant during that time, some more than once, and the current PDAS – Bill Miller, who became subject to Time-in-Class (TIC) restrictions and left active service – was appointed into the PDAS role.
Of the ten opportunities that DS has had to select officers to fill vacancies at the Bureau’s senior-most positions it has consistently selected Caucasian male officers. DS went from a Bureau that from a diversity standpoint was about where the rest of the government is now – less diverse than the average – to one that is now all white, all male, all the time.
We have witnessed the cleansing of DS over the past three years. It is troubling, and, it should be raising alarm bells throughout the Department.
But is it not.
Instead, the Department is preparing to reward DSS Director Miller with a third appointment year as PDAS of DS. Furthermore, DS is now expanding the practice of appointing officers subject to TIC up or out restrictions into positions formerly held exclusively by active SFS officers with the appointment of the outgoing Overseas Security Advisory Council Office Director into his own position, as an appointee. This was accomplished quietly, with the Department’s concurrence, devoid of any semblance of transparency.
The lack diversity is not limited to the FE-MC/OC and SES level officers who make up DS’s Senior Leadership. It also extends to the subordinate staffs. Unlike the Assistant Secretary’s DS Front Office, which to Gregory Starr’s credit has consistent been composed of a highly qualified and richly diverse staff, the PDAS’ DSS FO has been anything but. To this day, the DSS FO staff with the exception of the Office Manager consists of…all white males. One DS Senior sets a model for the Bureau to emulate, the other projects a do as I say not as I do standard.
In May, PDAS Miller brought most of the DS leadership from around the globe to the Department for a two-day leadership forum. On day two he showcased his all-white, all-male team of seniors on the dais for a full day of Q&As. The one area the PDAS and the rest in the dais were unprepared to discuss were the stream of questions on the topic of diversity that were raised throughout the day and which went largely unaddressed.
It is difficult to reconcile Director General Arnold Chacon’s statements about Department values and principles, and ensuring that the Department’s workforce reflect the nation’s richness and diversity, when matched against the reality of the past three years within DS. Even more difficult considering that all senior-most assignments in DS require the approval of Department Seniors.
In response, the Department should:
Posted: 1:56 pm ET
Updated: Oct 18, 3:47 PT
Back in August, we wrote about the State Department’s “M” (see The State Department’s Mr. Fix-It of Last Resort Gets the Spotlight). On October 17, with the released of more FBI interview summaries (not transcripts), Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is back in the spotlight. Click here to read the lengthy discussion about this during the Daily Press Briefing. Two congressional reps, you can guess who, have called for his removal. The State Department and Secretary Kerry have expressed their full confidence on U/S Kennedy according to the official spokesperson. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail in Wisconsin …
Posted: 3:11 pm PT
PredictIt is a real money site that tests your knowledge of political and financial events by letting you make and trade predictions on the future. The website says it is an educational purpose project of Victoria University, Wellington of New Zealand, a not-for-profit university, with support provided by Aristotle International, Inc., a U.S. provider of processing and verification services. It involves real money so the consequences of being wrong can be bad for your pocket.
One of its current contracts is Who will be Secretary of State on Jan. 31, 2017? Right now the prediction market is favoring career diplomat, William Burns as the next SecState with Wendy Sherman and John Kerry following at second and third place. The other names making the list is Senator Bob Corker, Senator Rob Portman, and Ron Paul.
The names above are not the only ones going around these days, take a look:
Posted: 1:47 am ET
On October 5, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce. Below is an excerpt:
Currently, more than three million military and civilian personnel in the U.S. Government are engaged in protecting the country and advancing our interests abroad, through diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security. In broad comparison with the wider Federal Government, the federal workforce dedicated to our national security and foreign policy is – on average – less diverse, including at the highest levels.
While this data does not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, the Presidential Memorandum outlines a number of actions that will allow departments and agencies to better leverage the diversity and inclusion of the federal workforce, consistent with the existing merit system and applicable law, including:
#Collection, analysis, and dissemination of workforce data: Data is an essential tool to help departments and agencies identify workforce talent gaps, assess the efficiency and effectiveness of their diversity and inclusion efforts, and promote transparency and accountability. The memorandum provides guidance for departments and agencies to make key workforce data available to the general public, provide an annual report to their leadership and workforce on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts, expand the use of applicant flow data to assess the fairness and inclusiveness of their recruitment efforts, and identify any additional demographic categories they recommend for voluntary data collection.
#Provision of professional development opportunities and tools consistent with merit system principles: Providing access to professional development opportunities consistent with merit system principles is a key element to retaining and developing a diverse and inclusive workforce. The memorandum directs departments and agencies to engage their workforce through regular interviews to understand their views on workplace policies and why they choose to stay or leave, prioritize the expansion of professional development opportunities including programs specifically designed to develop the next generation of career senior executives, and implement a review process for decisions related to certain assignment or geographic restrictions.
# Strengthening of leadership engagement and accountability: The memorandum recognizes the critical role that senior leadership and supervisors play in fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce and cultivating talent consistent with merit system principles. It encourages departments and agencies to reward and recognize efforts by senior leaders and supervisors to participate in mentorship, sponsorship, and recruitment; to disseminate voluntary demographic data for external committee and boards that advise the leadership of an agency; and to expand the provision of training on implicit or unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies.
The full text of the memo is available here.
The State Department’s top HR person Arnold Chacon forwarded President Obama’s message to agency employees encouraging them to read the memo and learn of government-wide efforts:
Today the President issued a new Presidential Memorandum providing guidance on the implementation of policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the national security workforce. Under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Higginbottom the Department has been an integral part of this effort. It’s consistent with our values and the principles enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and other legislation. As outlined in the QDDR under Secretary Kerry’s leadership, we’ll continue to work to promote a diverse, capable, agile workforce that can advance America’s interests and values in the 21st century.
I believe strongly that we have no greater resource than our people. As the face of America to the world, we have a responsibility to ensure the Department’s workforce reflects our nation’s richness and diversity. I encourage you to read the White House fact sheet below and the Presidential Memorandum to learn more about government-wide efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion at all levels.
Waaaaa! When the State Department sounds like Baghdad Bob!
The statement says, this has been so “consistent with our values and the principles enshrined in the Foreign Service Act of 1980” that it was impossible to pry the gender and diversity data from the State Department (a 2013 stats was made available to AFSA). For years we’re been looking at the State Department to make available publicly its diversity statistics, most particularly the gender and race component of its promotion statistics (see related posts below). Somebody from Secretary Kerry’s office once told us he would look into it and then we never heard anything back despite periodic reminders. Data is available annually, just not available publicly.
Last April 2016, the Senate passed a bill (introduced in June 2015) that would require the State Department to report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion. That same month, just days before the Senate passed S.1635, the State Department dumped online its promotion data for 2015 (see @StateDept Dumps Online the 2015 FS Promotion Statistics Including Diversity Data, Have a Look!). The way HR presented this data –particularly the one on diversity and cone — is enough to give you migraine. But what happened to the previous years’ data? Is the State Department going to wait until Congress forces it to publish promotion data going back three fiscal years?
Patricia Kushlish of WhirledView wrote two posts Lies, Damned lies and non-comparable statistics: reporting diversity at the State Department and More than Undiplomatic Moments: State’s Diversity Record Remains Behind a Hard Line that are both worth a read.
Talking the Talk, But Where’s the Walk?
The DGHR cites “the leadership of Deputy Secretary Higginbottom” his boss’s boss and the State Department as “an integral part of this effort.” He further cites “the QDDR under Secretary Kerry’s leadership” as the State Department “continue to work to promote a diverse, capable, agile workforce that can advance America’s interests and values in the 21st century.”
Look, first — remember back in 2014 we posted about FSO Margot Carrington’s paper on Advancement for Women at State: Learning From Best Practices? That report was written during a sabbatical sponsored by the Una Chapman Cox (UCC) Foundation and the State Department (see Advancement for Women at the State Department: Learning From Best Practices). The paper includes multiple recommendations including the collection of detailed attrition data and exit interviews to better understand the factors leading to attrition/retention; training and other assistance to women to help them learn to network more effectively and solicit sponsors to help them in their career development and advancement; mitigating unconscious bias; mentoring requirement for all SFS officers and making them accountable for their performance as mentors, to cite a few. Wasn’t the State Department’s “integral” participation in this WH effort informed by the report done by Ms. Carrington? Yes? No? Never heard of it?
WhirledView once asked, “Why is it that Foreign Service recruitment is able to recruit entry level classes that are far more representative of the American population as a whole but the further an individual advances up the career ladder the fewer the women and minorities are found.” That is a really good question and top officials at State should be able to answer that. And what would have been most useful in that DGHR statement? Had DGHR included information on what the State Department has done or is planning to do in support of promoting diversity and inclusion. What programs and accommodations is it doing to improved D&I at the agency? Since the State Department was an “integral” part of President Obama’s effort why not talk about what is the State Department doing in terms of collection, analysis, and dissemination of workforce data? What is it doing in support of strengthening leadership engagement and accountability? What is it doing in support of professional development to improve opportunities for women and promote a more diverse leadership?
Because after reading and admiring the government-wide D&I efforts– then what?
Posted: 3:44 am ET