Champion of US Diplomacy Announces Political Donor to be Principal Officer at US Consulate General Bermuda

Updated 1135 am PDT

On January 2018, we posted about the nomination of Leandro Rizzuto to be U.S. Ambassador to Barbados (Prominent Businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr to be Ambassador to Barbados, But Wait – #ForgotSomething?). The nomination was not acted by the Senate and was resubmitted for renomination by the White House in 2019 (see White House Submits Some @StateDept/Related Agencies Re-nominations to the Senate). This nomination was sent to a GOP majority Senate in the 115th Congress and the 116th Congress with no action from the Senate.  The last actions according to congress.gov for PN136:
01/16/2019: Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations
01/03/2020: Returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6 of the Standing Rules of the Senate;
On May 27, 2020, Mr. Pompeo announced the appointment of Lee Rizzuto to be the next Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Bermuda, a post typically held by career diplomats. Actually, we could not recall a political  appointee at this level in more than a decade of blogging. This position does not require Senate confirmation, which means, they could chuck out the current consul general this week and have this guy packed out and  sent down to the island before the month is over.
Foggy Bottom’s top champion of diplomacy strikes again!
According to its website, “the American Consulate General in Hamilton plays an integral role in Bermuda’s political, social and cultural communities.  The main office is located at “Crown Hill,” a historic property, just outside the city of Hamilton, that is owned by the US Government.  Approximately 40 employees, including the Consul General, Deputy Principal Officer, Consul, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director and officers are assigned to the Consulate General.”
Updated: We understand that the Reagan Administration started the tradition of a political appointee in Bermuda (Thanks K!). In December 1981, Max L. Friedersdorf an assistant to the President for legislative affairs resigned and was announced simultaneously as the next consul general to Bermuda, “a post that usually goes to career Foreign Service employees rather than to political appointees.” 
In 2005, George W. Bush appointed Gregory Slayton as U.S. Consul General to Bermuda (Thanks K2). He was sworn in by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on August 15, 2005.
Note that Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. That’s right. The U.S. Consulate General in Hamilton is part of the United States Mission to the United Kingdom.
Anyone told Mr. Rizzuto, a billionaire that he will be reporting to another billionaire, Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson in London?
Also quick question, once Pompeo is done installing a political donor to USCG Hamilton, which post is next? The U.S. Virtual Presence Post in Wales may also be available. For the record, there are 75 more consulates general in the U.S. Foreign Service, and there are still 160 days till election day.
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Former FSO James Gibney: Mike Pompeo Has Poisoned the State Department

 

James Gibney is an editor for Bloomberg Opinion. Previously an editor at the Atlantic, the New York Times, Smithsonian, Foreign Policy and the New Republic, he was also in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1989 to 1997 in India, Japan and Washington. Follow him on Twitter at @jamesgibney.

On Again Buzz: McConnell Reportedly Pushing Pompeo to Run For Kansas Senate Seat #June1Deadline

 

We previously wrote about this last summer. Mike Pompeo’s Kansas Run: He’s Running, He’s Not …He’s Running, He’s … He’s ….  So, if he’s staying put in Foggy Bottom and this Admin ends after one term in November, he’ll be the ex-70th secretary of state by January 2021. If Admin gets a second term, not sure this guy would hang around for another four years. Well, he could, obviously, and leave in the middle of the term, then run for higher office. No, not the Kansas seat, silly.
If he runs for the Kansas seat this election cycle, there’s a high likelihood that he could win that seat. We understand that Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since the 1930s. The last Democrat to serve in the U.S. Senate from Kansas is George McGill; he served from 1930-1939.  He apparently is also one of only three Democrats to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate. Anyways, if Pompey runs for the Senate and wins, he’ll be on a six-year term from January 3, 2021 until January 3, 2027 whether Trump is reelected or not. But he’ll be the junior senator from Kansas, in a majority or minority party, no longer fourth in the presidential line of succession, and no more official planes!
Where can he best position himself for a potential run in 2024?

Related Posts:

Pompeo Hosts Game of Distraction: From “Enormous Evidence” to “Somewhere in the vicinity of the lab” #cliffhanger

 

 

Pompeo, May 7, 2020:

“I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan.  Where exactly it came from, it matters.  We want to know the answers to that.  There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.”

Pompeo, May 3, 2020:

And Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  “Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began.  We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.  We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now.  Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.  These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.  And so while the Intelligence Community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”

A Tanka For Michael R. Pompeo, 70th Secretary of State

I Agree To All That

A Tanka For Michael R. Pompeo, 70th Secretary of State

That’s right. I agree
        with that. And that. I agree
                           with me, I agree.
Even when I disagree.
I do swaggerly agree.

*

US v. China: Dueling COVID-19 Donations in Namibia

 

On March 18, the Chinese Ambassador to Namibia had an official hand-over of reportedly a thousand COVID-19 test kits donations with Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula. Kalumbi Shangula is a Namibian doctor and politician of SWAPO Party who has been Minister of Health and Social Services since December 2018.
On March 19, the US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson had an official hand-over of donations with Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services Executive Director Ben T. Nangombe, the number #3 ranking official at the Ministry of Health. The USG donated three ambulances, hospital beds, and other medical supplies per U.S. Embassy Namibia.

Is @StateDept Actively Discouraging US Embassies From Requesting Mandatory Evacuations For Staff? #CentralAsia? #Worldwide?

Updated: March 24, 12:54 am PDT

Updated: March 24, 2020 10:47 pm PDT

Updated March 26, 12:07 am PDT

SSDO Special Briefing, March 24, 2020

QUESTION:  [… ] And then secondly, I’m sure you’ve seen these reports that there are numerous embassies, or at least several embassies, where people are basically clamoring for order departure status, and that they are being discouraged from that.  Can you address that?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Oh, no.  All help is appreciated.  On the second part of your question, Matt, so our embassies overseas have their emergency teams meet regularly to discuss the situation at post, and they have a process and procedure in place where they can really evaluate the transportation system, the healthcare system, and not just the status of COVID in the country.  And when they reach a certain point where they feel like, okay, maybe time to request authorized ordered departure, they submit a request to the undersecretary of management, and those are coming in regularly, and the undersecretary reviews them and then makes decisions on what to approve.  At this point, I think one of the biggest issues is the travel restrictions that countries are instituting around the world.

MODERATOR ONE:  If I could just add on to that, those decisions are made against a robust set of criteria and decisions made based to – based on a consistent set of principles, all which are geared towards maximizing the safety for our employees.

On March 19, we received an email from a post in Central Asia with the subject line: “Abandoned in Central Asia.” We learned that “after weeks of internal debate with Main State” authorized (voluntary) departure was finally approved for their Embassy on March 17. Apparently, last week, the Embassy’s Emergency Action Committee (EAC) also agreed that it was time to go OD”, that is, go on ordered departure, a mandatory evacuation from post except for emergency staffers. Note that the OD was not for suspension of operations.

Ordered Departures: Talking Ambassadors “out of it”

Sender A said that the Embassy’s EAC recommended “OD on Wednesday (March 18)” and then something happened. The South Central Asia (SCA) top bureau official reportedly “talked the AMB out of it.”  As to the rationale for this development, we were told that embassy employees were not informed. 
“We just know that on Sunday [March 15] EACs at two posts said they wanted OD” and by Monday, March 16, the respective chiefs of mission “had refused based on input” from the top bureau official, according to Sender A. 
So curious minds would like to know if these OD requests have actually been refused or if ambassadors were under pressure not to formally request it so the bureau will not have to refuse it in writing? Anyone know?
The frustrated employee writes: U.S. diplomats are now stuck in countries where U.S. citizens are specifically advised not to use local medical facilities and the Embassies only have small medical units for minor issues. Even if they’re needed, there are zero local hospital beds available. Best case, it sounds like multiple OIG complaints waiting to happen. But when did the administration’s image at home become more important than people’s lives? How much Swagger will SecState have when his people start dying?”

A Snapshot on Medical Facilities

We thought we’d checked the information on medical facilities for several countries in the region. For example, Turkmenistan is a Level 3 Reconsider Travel country. The State Department’s Travel Advisory says:
Medical protocols in Turkmenistan are not consistent with U.S. standards and some travelers have been required to undergo medical testing unrelated to COVID-19 including but not limited to HIV testing.  Consider declining any medical procedures including testing unrelated to COVID-19. Due to the possibility of quarantine of unknown length, carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage.”
According to Diplomatic Security’s 2020 Crime and Safety Report on Uzbekistan:
The country’s “health care system is not adequate to meet the needs of many serious emergencies. There is a lack of basic supplies and limited modern equipment. Emergency medicine is very basic. Some medication sold in local pharmacies may be counterfeit. Elderly travelers and those with pre-existing health problems may be at particular risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Most resident U.S. citizens travel to North America or Western Europe for their medical needs.”
Tajikistan’s “inadequate public healthcare infrastructure has given rise to private medical facilities offering varying degrees of quality care in some specialties. Also:
“Medical first responders (ambulance crews) do not meet Western standards, and are not widely available, likely poorly equipped, and often poorly trained.”
On Kyrgyzstan: Medical care is often inadequate in the country.
 “There is a shortage of basic medical supplies. Health care resources are limited and often below U.S. standards. Doctors and medical industry staff rarely speak English, and prices for treatment are not fixed. Use a translator or Russian/Kyrgyz speaking friend or family member to assist with medical treatment. U.S. citizens often travel outside of Kyrgyzstan for medical treatment, including most routine procedures.”
In Kazakhstan, medical care options are limited and well below U.S. standards.
“U.S. citizens often depart Kazakhstan for medical treatment, including many routine procedures. Serious long-term care is not a viable option in Nur-Sultan.”

An Ambassador’s Town Hall Meeting

Last Friday, a U.S. Ambassador at a post in South Central Asia held a town hall for embassy employees; held outdoors on the steps of the Embassy, we were told. 
The U.S. Ambassador, citing what he was told by the top SCA bureau official, informed embassy employees the following (provided to us in direct quotes by Sender A):
  • “Ambassador, you need to understand the United States is the red zone, it is not the safe haven that you think it is.”
  • “The U.S. has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the world.”
  • “It has not peaked in the United States, incidents are rising rapidly, it is out of control.”
  • “The ability to get a test for COVID-19 even with symptoms or comorbidities is extremely difficult.”
  • “The healthcare infrastructure of the United States is not capable of helping.”
This ambassador reportedly further told embassy employees that “500,000 Americans are overseas seeking assistance for getting home.” And that “We are taking down the American economy to fight this enemy.”

(March 25 Special Briefing with CA PDAS Ian Brownlee: “Our posts around the world have received requests for assistance with getting back to the United States from over 50,000 U.S. citizens and we’re committed to bring home as many Americans as we possibly can.”  Wowow!

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Tracking COVID-19 Cases at State Department and Foreign Service Posts (Updated)

Updated: March 22, 9:41 PDT

To-date, the State Department has not been forthcoming about COVID-19 cases among employees and family members.  Except for Pompeo’s quip at a presser on March 17  “We’ve had a couple of employees – count them on one hand – who have positive tests” we don’t have any idea how many employees and family members have actually been infected, how many have recovered from the virus, or even how many were tested, or how many have been medically evacuated for COVID-19. The total number we have heard is significantly higher than the one we have below.
On US Mission Geneva cases, we learned of two confirmed positive cases on March 13. Today, we learned from a second source that there are three confirmed COVID-19 cases at post.
Unlike State, DOD has been able to provide regular updates on its COVID-19 cases.  According to DOD, as of 7 p.m. on March 19, the U.S. Army has 45 cases of COVID-19, including 21 soldiers, six civilians, eight family members and 10 contractors.
We’re calling on the State Department to provide similar updates on COVID-19 status of personnel and family members.
Below is our effort to put together a public list of posts and cases as well as posts under quarantined around the Foreign Service. This is not an exhaustive list and we hope to update this as we learn more. Except for cases confirmed by host government or by an FS post’s public statement, all cases listed below came via tips and blog sources.
We have not asked the State Department to officially confirm the numbers below as it has a standing policy of not responding to this blog. However, since we are in a pandemic, if the State Department would like to give us or reporters covering Foggy Bottom an official count, we would be happy to update these numbers.

COVID19 TRACKER

STATE DEPARTMENT

FOREIGN SERVICE POSTS

Updated: March 22, 2020

COUNTRY POST

STATUS

REMARKS
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou 1+ (AMB) Confirmed 3/22/2020
Via Twitter
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou UNK (staffers) Quarantined
Affected staffers
Via Twitter
Jamaica Kingston 1 (FSN) Individual return from the UK

Confirmed by GOJ

Kingston 14 (staffers) Self-Quarantined
/Post statement
Switzerland USMission Geneva 1 (USDH) Internal source
USMission Geneva 1 (FSN) Internal source
US Mission Geneva 1 (UNK) Internal source
South Africa Pretoria 1 (AMB + family) Self-quarantined

Via Twitter

Israel Tel Aviv Staffers (UNK) Self-Quarantined due to infected visa applicant
/Post statement
Spain Madrid 6 (staffers and family members Internal source
/Unconfirmed
Afghanistan Kabul 1(UNK) External source
/Unconfirmed 
Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa 1 (UNK) Internal source
/Unconfirmed
Pakistan Islamabad 1+ (UNK) Confirmed
/2 unofficial sources
Islamabad 1 (UNK) Suspected Case
/1 unofficial source
Islamabad 10 (UNK) Under quarantined

DOMESTIC

HQ CA/CST – SA-17

1

Confirmed

Via Twitter

HQ M/FSI

1 (FSN)

Internal source