Pompeo: Heat-Seeking Missile Comment Offensive, Also Great to Lead Org of “70,000-Plus Great Americans”

Secretary Pompeo was in New York for a UN gig and had a couple of interviews with transcripts now posted on state.gov.  Asked about the New Yorker profile with a former ambassador’s quip heard around the world, the secretary told CBS’s Gayle King, “I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.
Also Secretary Pompeo basically touting 70,000-plus great Americans working for him (he doesn’t).
In the interview, Pompeo actually said, “It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world …”
He might like to think that for his “One Team, One Mission” motto but that’s not accurate.
Can somebody please tell the Secretary that he does not/does not have 70,000 plus Americans working for him? He obviously doesn’t know that 50,839 of those “70,000-plus great Americans” are Locally Employed Staff (also known as LES) who are Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) and Personal Service Agreements (PSA) working hard in over 270 posts overseas in support U.S. interests (see HR PDF). It is by far, the largest largest employee group within the State Department which, as FSN Eddy Olislaeger points out as recently as 2018, has “no organization to represent them, to safeguard their interests, and to promote excellence and professionalism among their ranks.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks on “One Team, One Mission: Introducing our Ethos” to State Department employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Excerpt below via state.gov:

QUESTION:  You were the cover story in The New Yorker, 21 pages devoted to you, called, “Secretary of Trump.”  And it’s interesting because it takes the evolution of you, Mike Pompeo, who grew up in Orange County, who – I was surprised to see you like AC/DC.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  My younger days.

QUESTION:  I did not see that coming.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I still like them today.

QUESTION:  They call you – you’ve been called an old-fashioned American.  Your dogs, golden retrievers, are named after generals.  General —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sherman and Patton are the last two.

QUESTION:  Sherman and Patton.  But the point I’m making is that people that know you and love you and support you say, “Look, this is a guy who loves his country.”  And I think people are surprised to see the evolution of where you were in the beginning in 2016 when you supported Marco Rubio – and at one point said it’s time to turn the lights down on the circus to the Donald Trump campaign – to now being very closely aligned with Donald Trump.  Somebody said, “He actually gets Donald Trump.”  What is it that you get about Donald Trump that others don’t?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  He cares deeply about America.  And in the world that I’ve worked – I worked for him first as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, now as the Secretary of State.  He wants to see the American people secure, he wants to grow our economy, he wants better lives for them.  I see that.  I’ve had lots of chances to engage with him.

QUESTION:  But you see it now though.  In the beginning you said authoritarian, trying to turn the – time to turn the lights out in the circus.  I’m curious because they say about you, you are very patriotic, you get this country.  The President is not always accused of telling the truth.  He’s very loose with his tweets.  It seems to be opposite of how you run your life.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working for President Trump.  No, the comments from back in 2016 – it was a tough political campaign, and when I’m on your team, I am all in, as I was.  And when my candidate left, I was all in for President Trump then as well, and I’m in for America today.

QUESTION:  You have a lot of support, Mr. Secretary.  They say that State Department morale is better under your watch.  People feel good about what they do, but you’ve got critics.  One former American ambassador who shall not be named – this is delicate – describes you like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s bottom, except he used the other word.  When you hear stuff like that to compare how you are with this President, what do you think?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.  I work hard.  I work hard for the President of the United States, who was constitutionally elected.  He is my leader.  My task is to share with him the best information.  If we disagree, my duty is to go share with him our disagreements.  I do that with great frequency.  But when he makes a decision and it’s legal, it is my task to go execute that with all the energy and power that I have.

QUESTION:  If he wins a second term, will you continue to be Secretary of State?  You know there are calls for you to run for Senate in Kansas.  Don’t expect you to say, “Yes, I’m going to run here, Gayle.”  But if he does, if he wins again, do you want to be Secretary of State?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I would love to serve for him just as long as I can.  It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world taking real risk for themselves and their families and delivering good, solid American diplomacy everywhere they are.

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GAO to @StateDept: Psst! Leadership Attention and Focus, Please!

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its report  on Tillerson’s redesign projects (although those projects were no longer called that).  GAO looked into the status of the reform efforts that the State Department reported to Congress in February 2018 and also looked at the extent to which State addressed key practices critical to the successful implementation of agency reform efforts.
GAO has determined that “State leadership has not provided the focus necessary to support the officials responsible for implementing all these reform projects.”
Uh-oh! Some excerpts below.

Remember the Listening Tour?

In response to the March 2017 Executive Order 13781 and the ensuing OMB memo, State launched a “listening tour” intended to gather ideas and feedback from State and USAID employees. As a key component of this outreach effort, State hired a contractor to design and administer a confidential online survey, which was sent to all State and USAID employees in May 2017. According to the contractor’s report, the survey had a 43 percent response rate, with 27,837 State employees and 6,142 USAID employees responding to the survey. The contractor also conducted in-person interviews with a randomly selected cross section of personnel, which included 175 employees from State and 94 from USAID.

17 Reform Projects Plus

The planning teams developed specific reform projects, listed below in table 2 (17 reform projects, see page7-8 of report), which State described in the fiscal year 2019 budget justification it submitted to Congress in February 2018.9  According to implementing officials, all these projects predated the Executive Order and OMB memo issued in the spring of 2017. They also noted, however, that the administration’s reform-related directives helped advance State’s preexisting efforts by focusing management attention and agency resources on these projects.  (9 In addition to these reform projects, State’s Congressional Budget Justification also reported seven changes related to its reform efforts that are complete or underway. State reported that it is (1) expanding employment opportunities for eligible family members; (2) implementing cloud-based email and collaboration; (3) increasing flexibilities for employees on medical evacuations; (4) streamlining the security clearance process; (5) simplifying the permanent change-of-station travel process; (6) improving temporary duty travel options and experience; and (7) integrating USAID and State global address lists.

Status: Completed-1, Continuing-13, Stalled-2, Discontinued-1

As of April 2019, according to State officials and status reports, State had completed one of its 17 reform projects; 13 projects were continuing; two projects were stalled pending future decisions or actions; and one project was discontinued.
[…]
According to State officials, as of April 2019, although 13 of the reform projects described in the fiscal year 2019 Congressional Budget Justification were considered by State to be continuing, some had been scaled back, slowed down, or both as a result of senior leadership’s shifting priorities and attention.

Leadership Focus and Attention

In February 2018, State reported to  Congress in its fiscal year 2019 budget justification that it was pursuing the reform projects we described above. In March 2018, the first transition affecting the implementation of those projects occurred when the President removed the then Secretary of State and nominated the then CIA director to replace him; in April 2018, the Senate confirmed the current Secretary. According to senior State officials, when the new Secretary took office, his top priority was ending the hiring freeze and restarting a concerted recruitment effort because vacancies in key positions and a general staffing shortfall would otherwise have led to what one senior official described as a “cataclysmic failure” at State. These senior officials noted that the new Secretary decided some of the existing reform projects were not well designed and that he wanted greater emphasis on cybersecurity and data analytics. They said he also wanted to pursue other initiatives, including a new proposal to create a Global Public Affairs Bureau by merging two existing bureaus. The senior officials told us that the Secretary authorized responsible bureaus and offices to determine whether to continue, revise, or terminate existing reform efforts or launch new initiatives. However, State did not formally communicate other changes in its reform priorities to Congress, such as its plan to no longer combine State and USAID’s real property offices.
[…]
State initiated another transition in leadership of the reform efforts in April 2018 when it disbanded the dedicated planning teams overseeing the reform efforts and delegated responsibility for implementing the reform projects to relevant bureaus and offices. As the planning teams finished working on their particular reform efforts and prepared to transfer these projects to the bureaus, some planning teams provided memos and reports on the status of their efforts and offered recommendations for the bureaus to consider when determining next steps in implementing the projects. Some implementing officials, however, reported that they received little or no direction regarding their projects or any other indication of continued interest in their project from department or bureau leadership aside from the initial notification that the project had been assigned to them.
[…]
Various State officials noted that the prolonged absence of Senate confirmed leadership in key positions posed additional challenges. We have previously testified that it is more difficult to obtain buy-in on longterm plans and efforts that are underway when an agency has leaders in acting positions because federal employees are historically skeptical of whether the latest efforts to make improvements are going to be sustained over a period of time

Leadership Transition Effects:

Taken together, the leadership transitions at State had two significant effects on State’s reform efforts. First, the transition of departmental leadership and lack of direction and communication about subsequent changes in leadership’s priorities contributed to uncertainty among implementing officials about the future of individual reform projects. Second, according to implementing officials, the transition of project responsibility from dedicated teams to bureau-level implementing officials resulted in fewer resources and a lack of senior leadership involvement and attention for some projects. Absent leadership decisions, implementing officials will continue to struggle with understanding leadership priorities with regard to State’s reform efforts. Similarly, for any projects that are determined to be leadership priorities, day-to-day implementation activities will continue to be hampered by the lack of a dedicated team to guide and manage the agency’s overall reform effort.

Don’t Forget USAID: Continuing Projects? Where? What?
GAO has not made any recommendations to USAID and yet, the agency has submitted a written response to highlight the State Department’s unwillingness to coordinate with them. What’s this about? (see Appendix III-Comments from the U.S. Agency for International Development – PDF/page25-26):

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Mike Pompeo’s Kansas Run: He’s Running, He’s Not …He’s Running, He’s … He’s …

 

We don’t usually post about politics but since it’s about Secretary Pompeo, we’ll make an exception. Bloomberg is reporting that “Republican political donors have been told to hold off contributing to the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Kansas in the expectation that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo may decide to run, according to two people familiar with the matter.” 
The Kansas run was reportedly ruled out in late winter, but by mid-summer, it appeared to have been re-opened.
Bloomberg adds that “While Pompeo has been equivocal about a possible run, his actions and speeches have only fueled speculation that he’s laying the groundwork for a Senate bid — and possibly a presidential run in 2024.”

U.S. Secretary of State MIchael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo wave as they depart, Brasila, Brazil, January 2, 2019. Secretary Pompeo is on travel to Brasilia, Brazil, and Cartagena, Colombia, from December 31, 2018, to January 2, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Pryzsucha/ Public Domain]

Ballotpedia says that voters in Kansas will elect one member to the U.S. Senate in the election on November 3, 2020.  The election will fill the Class II Senate seat held by Pat Roberts (R). Roberts was first elected in 1996.  Apparently, some folks in the GOP are concerned that former Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius will run — and win — if Kobach is the GOP Senate nominee.” Yeah, that guy.
Senator Roberts was reelected in 2014 with 53.1% of the votes.  Senator Jerry Moran, the junior senator from Kansas was re-elected in 2016 with 62.2% of the votes.  Roberts has held his seat for 22 years, Moran for 8 years. So.
Basically Mr. Pompeo has two glaring choices: stay and face the possibility of firing by a tweet, by a volatile, thin-skinned president, or run for an almost sure seat with a 6-year term extending from January 3, 2021 until January 3, 2027.  If elected to the U.S. Senate, could he run for president in 2024?  Well, he could. We don’t know if he’d win but sixteen senators went on to become presidents. Four of them served just three years in the U.S. Senate before running for president: Obama, Barack (2005-2008); Nixon, Richard M. (1950-1953); Harrison, William Henry 1825-1828; and Jackson, Andrew  1797-1798; 1823-1825. Senate.gov says that G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama moved directly from the U.S. Senate to the White House.
On the other hand, only six secretaries of state went on to become presidents (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Van Buren, Buchanan).  The last one elected president was sooo long ago, the 17th Secretary of State  James Buchanan. He served at the State Department from 1845–1849 and eight years later became the 15th President of the United States and served one term from 1857 – 1861. So.
The candidate filing deadline is June 1, 2020 with the primary election scheduled for August 4, 2020. Let us know when he’s make up his mind, will ya?

Susan Pompeo wants you to know she’s making happiness, security of diplomatic families her mission

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On July 6, 2019, just days after the July 1st CNN report  on a whistleblower claiming Secretary Pompeo’s security picks up Chinese food, and the dog, Sherman, apparently from the groomer, the Washington Times has a rollicking coverage of Susan Pompeo.
‘Do you feel safe?’ Susan Pompeo makes happiness, security of diplomatic families her mission” blares the headline. She’s not a government employee, so the  chances of getting her on the podium to speak about this mission is not high, but the next time reporters get a chance to er … grill her, please ask her where she was when State Department employees were terrified while trying to find an accommodation for their special needs children and their education while overseas.
Where was Mrs. Pompeo when the medical provider at State was deemed to lack a “fundamental lack of compassion”  and lack of understanding and empathy for Foreign Service personnel and families?
Where was Mrs. Pompeo when a senior official of her husband’s agency appears to believe that individuals and families with any sort of special need should not serve overseas, should curtail or break assignments, should stay indefinitely in the United States, or even leave the Foreign Service altogether?
Employees and family members already facing physical, mental and educational challenges, also had to face fear of retribution given the reported hostile and adversarial relationship fostered by a bureau tasked with taking care of employees and families.
Despite reported mistreatment, Foreign Service families have not publicly pushed back, and anything reported are only on background, for fear that their actions could result in the denial of financial support for needed services for special needs children  or fear that it would put in jeopardy clearances for themselves and their dependents. Without appropriate clearances, employees would not be able to work overseas or may have to contend with family separation for members with limited clearances.
If taking care of diplomatic families has become her mission, we’re curious where was Mrs. Pompeo when this issue was causing so much pain, fear, and distractions among FS families? (Also see Under Secretary Bulatao on Enhancing Support for Employees with Children with Special Needs 
As an aside – we should note that following the furor over her travel with Secretary Pompeo during the January 2019 government shutdown, CNN reported that the secretary described his wife’s trip as a “working trip”  — apparently telling reporters she joined him to try to help the department “be better.” “So she meets with the medical officers. She’ll tour housing. She will write up her thoughts and comments after that. And I wish I had time to do each of those things myself, but she is a force multiplier,” Secretary Pompeo said according to CNN.
If she did a trip report for that January trip, it has so far remained a secret.  By March 2019, as she became increasingly visible flying around with Secretary Pompeo, the official word coming out of Foggy Bottom is that the secretary “reimburses the United States government for all appropriate expenses, including Mrs. Pompeo’s travel, in accordance with the law.”
Oh, by the way, we think employees at a small post — with leaks in a new embassy compound building roofs in Paramaribo and suffering from exposure to mold — needs help. The health hazard was identified in March 2017!  And the problem still had not been resolved.  Imagine that. We’re guessing that they are not terribly happy nor feeling heath-safe over there.

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After Whistleblower Report Citing Questionable Tasks For Family, Secretary Pompeo Issues Message on Ethics in Government

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On July 1st, CNN reported on a whistleblower’s allegations to congressional investigators regarding“multiple issues over a period of months, about special agents being asked to carry out some questionable tasks for the Pompeo family.” (see “UberEats With Guns”, Susan Pompeo, and Don’t Forget Sherman). On July 2nd, the State Department issued a Message from Secretary Pompeo on Ethics.
Message from the Secretary on Ethics in Government
I recently unveiled our new Professional Ethos to the State Department team. This set of shared operating principles and core values reflects the unique spirit and excellence of the U.S. Department of State. The ethos reflects my expectation that every member of our team must act with uncompromising personal and professional integrity. That includes holding ourselves accountable for complying with U.S. government ethics rules and modeling our commitment to a high standard of ethics at all times.
As part of demonstrating our personal and professional integrity, I expect employees to avoid conflicts of interest in our work, to act impartially, and to avoid using our public offices for private gain. Because we serve the American people first and foremost, it must be clear that our conduct of foreign policy is guided solely by the national interest and not by personal considerations or improper motives. I expect employees to file all required financial disclosure reports on time and to take mandatory ethics training. Some of these tasks can be time-consuming, but the values underlying these requirements are central to our professional ethos and underscore our mission orientation: that we are motivated by our commitment to public service and aim to advance the national interest, rather than any personal interest, in everything we do.
We maintain this ethos of integrity and accountability with the support of our Ethics Office and assistance from supervisors, management officers at posts overseas, and our executive offices here in Washington. We each have a personal obligation to comply with our government ethics rules. But, as in every aspect of our work, we support each other as a team. I encourage all Department employees to reach out for guidance when an ethical dilemma comes your way. The Department offers many resources to help employees ensure that they are complying with ethics rules. There are detailed provisions in the Foreign Affairs Manual, a staff of ethics professionals to answer questions, online training courses, and the EthicsAttorneyMailbox@state.gov, which provides rapid responses to specific ethics questions.
Performing our jobs with integrity supports our credibility and makes us more effective at our jobs. We can and should take pride in a culture of ethics at the State Department. I greatly appreciate your commitment to integrity and to serving the American people as we advance our foreign policy mission around the world.
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U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo wave as they depart, Brasila, Brazil, January 2, 2019. Secretary Pompeo is on travel to Brasilia, Brazil, and Cartagena, Colombia, from December 31, 2018, to January 2, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Pryzsucha/ Public Domain]

“UberEats With Guns”, Susan Pompeo, and Don’t Forget Sherman

 

The week that we left for a break, CNN reported on July 1st about a State Department whistleblower talking to congressional investigators and raising “multiple issues over a period of months, about special agents being asked to carry out some questionable tasks for the Pompeo family.”
Some of the reported allegations?
“An agent was asked to pick up Chinese food—without Pompeo in the car. The whistleblower said this led agents to complain that they are now serving as “UberEats with guns,” which has created a buzz within the department, according to multiple Democratic congressional aides who cited the whistleblower.”
[…]
“CNN has seen a document given to the committee aides by the whistleblower showing that in January, Diplomatic Security was asked by a person in Pompeo’s office to pick up his adult son [Nicholas] from Union Station in Washington and bring him to the family home.”
[…]
“On another occasion, the whistleblower told aides, a Diplomatic Security special agent was given the job of picking up the Pompeo family dog from a groomer.”
That would be this cute dog, Sherman Pompeo, previously introduced at the Extra Exclusive by belovedly despised former WH spox, Sean Spicy:

 

Pompeo’s Special Agent in Charge gave a statement, that is, a Diplomatic Security agent (them who are typically tight-lipped) gave a statement about his protectee/protectees without getting into the details of the allegations reported by CNN:
Lon Fairchild, the special agent in Charge of the Diplomatic Security Service, did not deny that the specific trips, such as the dog or the takeout food, were carried out by agents, but said in a statement, “I was head of Secretary Pompeo’s security detail since his first day on the job. At no point during my service did he or any member of his family ask me or any member of my team to act in any way that would be inconsistent with our professional obligation to protect the Secretary 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.”
And then there’s “Shocker”:
Furthermore, the whistleblower told aides that shortly after Susan Pompeo received her personal security detail, in July 2018 [Note: Pompeo assumed office at State on April 26, 2018], agents were verbally told not to use her callsign—which is “Shocker”—over the radios or publicly. The reason, according to one aide, citing the whistleblower, was that “they knew it wasn’t kosher.”
CNN has viewed an email from within the State Department confirming that she has an agent assigned to her, along with her callsign.
And more “Shocker”:
The aides said another whistleblower has come forward, who worked on the State Department’s executive seventh floor where the secretary of state and top aides are based—telling them that employees there have been told not to put information concerning Susan Pompeo into official emails, so that it would not be preserved in required recordkeeping.
[…]
The role Susan Pompeo has played within the State Department and when the secretary travels is another area of concern to congressional aides, Diplomatic Security officers and multiple sources within the State Department and the CIA, which Pompeo previously led. Several sources told CNN when Susan Pompeo accompanies the secretary on certain trips she has not only had a dedicated special agent to tend to her, but also a State Department staffer. They said that ahead of a recent trip to Kansas, during which she accompanied her husband, she had at times chaired meetings on trip logistics at the State Department, which raised eyebrows, including of senior State officials. One person familiar with the situation called it “the worst kept secret at State,” telling CNN. ”
[…]
[Secretary Pompeo] takes her on … trips, has separate meetings, requiring control officers, motor pool assets, security, and time. It was especially brazen during the shutdown when people were actually called into the embassy while furloughed. Just one more thing killing morale at the department.”
The Assistant Secretary  for Diplomatic Security, Michael Evanoff also issued a statement:
Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff said, “The Diplomatic Security Service has been protecting the spouse of the Secretary of State since the 1970s as the security threat dictates. We are a federal law enforcement agency, and this is an integral part of our core mission. Today the security threats against Secretary Pompeo and his family are unfortunately very real. The Diplomatic Security Service is proud to protect the Pompeo family from those who would harm the Secretary of State and the United States.”
The question now is who did not issue a statement of support?
We imagine Sherman Pompeo’s statement to CNN would be like this:

At no point during my service did I act in any way that would be inconsistent with my professional obligation to be the best, well groomed dog for Secretary Pompeo and his family 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

More on CNN:
The former senior Diplomatic Security official who asked not to be identified said that such a full-time detail for a spouse is unusual and would only be assigned once a formal process was followed, assessing the need for such security. They said that the risk investigation would be performed by Diplomatic Security’s Protective Intelligence and Investigations Division, in the Office of Threat and Intelligence Analysis. The former official told CNN this protocol has existed within Diplomatic Security for decades. And that in this person’s lengthy tenure at Diplomatic Security, no spouse was ever given a security detail for more than a short, specific period of time.
Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Wayne Tillerson (2017-2018) limited the number of press seats on his plane purportedly in his commitment to a smaller footprint. As far as we are aware, his wife was never on any of his trips.
John Kerry (2013-2017)  almost never traveled with his wife (we could find only one instance when Teresa Heinz went on a trip with JK).
Hillary Rodham Clinton (2009-2013) – her spouse, Bill already had his own security detail as ex-POTUS).
Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009) did not have a spouse.
Colin Luther Powell (2001-2005) – we don’t recall Alma Powell prominently traveling around the globe with her husband during his tenure as Secretary of State.  It should be interesting to learn if the spouse of the 65th secretary of state (in office during the Iraq War) had her own security detail when Secretary Powell served from January 2001 – January 2005.  Secretary Powell, after all, was a retired four-star general in the United States Army, a former National Security Advisor (1987–1989), ex-Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and ex-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993) during Persian Gulf War prior to his appointment to Foggy Bottom.
On July 6th, the Washington Times also just so happened to come out with a Susan Pompeo interview about her “mission.”
Uh-oh. But that interview should have been timed to appear at the end of June, before “Shocker” and Sherman made the news.  Public Affairs people, we’re utterly disappointed; haven’t you learned anything?
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Miles With Mike: Child Soldiers, CENTCOM Visit, Silliness, Plus Some Word Salad With That Chardonnay

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Billy Goat  with Washington piece of silliness

Some word salad to go with that Chardonnay:

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So @StateDept’s guidance is do whatever you want. EXCEPT fly the Pride Flag on the pole #PrideMonth

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On May 17, 2018, Secretary Pompeo just three weeks into his tenure as secretary of state issued a statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.  This year, the State Department statement marking IDAHOT was noticeably missing.

We understand from a source on background that there was guidance circulated within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) this past May saying that there will be no IDAHOT/Pride cable this year. The directive reportedly came from the 7th floor although it apparently also said, there is no change in policy, including on display of the Pride flag. “The best we can do is rely on last year’s cable and the statement that policy has not changed.”

The directive last year would have been sent by an Acting Under Secretary for Management as there was no confirmed “M” at the State Department since U/S Kennedy departed his position in January 2017.

On June 7, NBC News reported that the U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia have requested permission from the State Department to fly the rainbow pride flag on their flagpoles and have been denied, citing three unnamed U.S. diplomats.

On June 10, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told NBCNews that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “respects the dignity of every individual” but did not believe other flags should fly alongside the American flag at U.S. embassies.

In an interview with NBC News, VPOTUS said that the Trump administration had “put no restrictions” on the pride flag or other flags flying elsewhere at U.S. embassies. When pressed, he also said, “We both feel that way very passionately, but when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies, and capitals around the world, one American flag flies.”

Another official who is LGBT speaking on background told this blog that flying the Pride flag on the flag pole with the U.S. flag has always been controversial.  This same official told us that while he/she personally does not believe that they should fly the Pride flag on the flag pole, there are others who have cited the Flag Act to justify flying the pride flag:

4 U.S. Code § 7 – Position and manner of display
(f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.

This same source indicated to us that his/her understanding was that the Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao has not approved flying the Pride Flag on the same staff as the U.S. flag at State Department federal buildings within the United States and overseas (Mr. Bulatao was officially sworn into office in late May). We were told that this process is usually done via a decision memo and that this year, there was no cable in or out;  which confirmed the circulated guidance reportedly from DRL in May. This official also told us that his/her understanding is that posts are free to display the pride flag everywhere and anywhere, or to light up embassies in the pride colors, or do anything else they want to mark Pride month.  EXCEPT fly the Pride Flag on the pole.

We should note that in previous years, some posts, not all, have marked Pride Month with a rainbow flag on the flagpole or hanging the rainbow flag on the side of the embassy building. Others participated in local pride parades, or lighting up the embassy in rainbow colors. Social media indicates that our overseas posts are marking Pride month in a similar manner (poles excepted) this year, but they have not/not been prevented from marking or celebrating the event (if post is preventing you from marking Pride Month, holler, please).

Also typically, on June 1st or within the first week of June, the Secretary of State also releases a statement marking LGBTI Pride Month. Pompeo did that last year on June 1st.  The year before that, his predecessor Rex Tillerson released a similar statement on June 7, 2018. This year, we’re still waiting for a similar statement from Secretary Pompeo; 18 days to go before the days of June runs out. Write faster, folks!

Here is the official spox addressing the “except on the pole” issue:

Related posts:

 

Secretary Pompeo Swears-In Brian Bulatao as Foggy Bottom’s New “M”

 

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo swears in Brian Bulatao as the new Under Secretary of State for Management with T. Ulrich Brechbühl, State Department Counselor in attendance at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 17, 2019. [State Department photo by Michael Gross/ Public Domain]

Now that the new under secretary for management has been confirmed, it’s a good time to revisit Mr. Bulatao’s testimony before the U.S. Senate (see excerpt below).

The culture of empowerment created greater organizational agility and a workforce that was unleashed to take on problem sets in new ways. I certainly didn’t come up with every idea, instead I empowered our team to consider how we could do it better, fail faster, and take smarter risks. Across the board, we embraced a spirit of innovation in order to boost the speed and precision of a large organization operating in a dangerous and competitive environment.

If confirmed as the Under Secretary for Management, this is the same approach I intend to bring to the U.S. Department of State. The Department’s hard-working, patriotic, and dedicated teams deserve to have an organization that optimally utilizes their talents. And the American people must have confidence that the State Department makes the best use of their resources and provides the best practical support for our diplomatic initiatives that rely on the strength of our alliances, partnerships, and engagement.

If confirmed, I appreciate the broad management responsibility I will have for the Department’s more than 76,000 personnel – Civil Service, Foreign Service, and Locally Employed Staff – and my direct supervision over 12 bureaus and offices. These women and men serve our country in some of the most challenging places around the world, and risk their lives daily, whether serving in war zones, amidst criminal violence and disease outbreaks, and with the threat of terrorist attack. They work long hours, often separated from their families, to advance our nation’s foreign policy and support the work of diplomacy.

There is no question that the safety and security of our personnel and their families must be the highest priority. I know Secretary Pompeo cares deeply about and works hard to protect his people.

I will ensure that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has the resources, tools, and technology and is fully integrated into Department decision-making, to most effectively perform this critical task.

I will work hard to ensure our people have secure new buildings where required, that are completed on time, on budget, and incorporate cutting-edge IT infrastructure to support the critical missions they execute globally.

If confirmed, I will seek more creative ways to staff the Department to meet today’s mission and be well positioned to meet the challenges of the future. This will include hiring the full range of expertise, from our diplomats and subject-matter experts, to our specialists in the field like medical services and facilities management, to our security personnel. Hiring the best of the best with diverse backgrounds and experiences is critical to our global mission and will be a top priority for me.

I am committed to advocating for a budget that fully funds the Department’s requirements and putting in place the appropriate oversight and metrics to ensure the Department meets its obligation to use taxpayer dollars wisely and effectively. I will support Secretary Pompeo in requesting funding that serves the national interest and will implement the appropriations law as passed by Congress.

Finally, if confirmed, I will help bring Department operations into the 21st century by modernizing its systems and programs. With so many challenges facing the United States around the world, our diplomacy demands every logistical, technological, and informational advantage we can muster. We must be aggressive in protecting our security, generating prosperity, and advancing our values. Having a State Department team that is empowered and equipped with the right tools to achieve the mission is an integral part of making that happen.

The full testimony is available to read in PDF here.

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