@StateDept on Pride Month: Recognition, Advance LGBTQI+ Rights, Fly the #Pride Flag

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Ex-Ambo Gordon Sonland Sues Ex-SecState Pompeo, U.S. for $1.8M Impeachment Bills #Popcorn

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Photo of the Day: Secretary Blinken Passes the Fagradalsfjall Volcano #Iceland

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Secretary Blinken Passes the Fagradalsfjall Volcano
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken drives past the active Fagradalsfjall volcano after arriving at Keflavik Air Base 4 on May 17, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

More photos here: Denmark, Iceland, and Greenland: May 16-20, 2021

 

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The 71st Secretary of State on His First 100 Days

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Secretary of State Tony Blinken was confirmed the 71st Secretary of State on January 26, 2021.  If our counting fingers are correct, today is his 100th day anniversary. If not, well, we got some GIFs anyway for the anti-swagger secretary of state.
—1. The 71st Secretary of State did not cause an international embarrassment by using #swagger in his hashtag diplomacy. Employees here and abroad did not have to work under that witlessly desperate Department of Swagger seal. We have it in good authority that performance evaluations will not/will not suffer for lack of …. what’s that? Gotcha! Will not suffer for lack of excessive flamboyant swaggering.

via GIPHY

—2. He has not/not challenged female reporters to find Ukraine or any other country on an unlabeled world map following any interview. Why? Because he has a solid sense of self-control, a work requirement for a top diplomat. We do not expect him to lose his temper either before any reporter although he may serenade them.

via GIPHY

—3. He has not removed a reporter from the secretary of state’s upcoming trip because the reporter’s co-worker asked awesome but unwelcome questions. We have it from exceptional authority that “Petty” is not his secret security code name.

via GIPHY

—4. S did not end up visiting North Korea during his first 100 days but if/when he ends up visiting the “hermit kingdom,”  we expect reporters will not to get banned from the secretary of state’s plane for reporting about the top diplomat’s food choices. How do we know this? See #3. 

via GIPHY

—5. Given his prior performance, we predict that he will have the good sense not to smile for a photo-op if he must meet, as his job requires, with a foreign leader responsible for the dismembering of another human being.  No smiling, period! 

via GIPHY

—6. He has not/not started an infrastructure project to build bridges with wealthy donors and patrons for a future political campaign. Our very helpful source indicate that no infrastructure project of this kind is on the Secretary’s project list for his entire tenure. 

via GIPHY

—7. He has not uttered self-serving mush like, “I’m flattered when people say Tony will be a good United States senator representing New York.”  Fantastic! So we don’t have to play that silly ‘he’s running/he’s not running’ game.

via GIPHY

—8. He has not made “staff recruitment” trips to battleground states, unlike his predecessor, so that’s good! On the other hand, his Press Office in Foggy Bottom has an email chewing doggie for questions they do not like. Just like his two predecessor!  So, that’s not/not good! 

via GIPHY

—9. He has not/not assigned a Senior Advisor to handle important taskers such as picking up stuff, taking care of dogs, making salon appointments, planning events unrelated to the official mission, etc. etc. A source informed us that unlike in the immediate past, no DS agents have been sent to restaurants wearing brown paper bags over their heads to request waiving $8 plating fees for bringing in outside food. 

via GIPHY

–10. The 71st Secretary of State has not/not announced that he is trying to achieve good diplomatic outcomes for the  people of New York, his home state, even if it is the 4th most populous state in the country. He is not thirsting to become the next senator from New York or the next President from New York while doing his day job as Secretary of State. And that’s a very good thing. 

via GIPHY

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via GIPHY

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Abdo Luftu Ali v. U.S. Department of State: U.S. Passport Revocation After Almost 30 Years

The life of a blog has no certainty. In most cases, a blog has a lifespan better than that of a mayfly. A day. But most blogs do not make it longer than winter bees (six months). We have to-date survived through 26 winter bee seasons! So that’s amazing! Whatever is in the horizon, we are thankful to all of you who made these seasons possible. We are on the last few days of our eight-week annual fundraising. We are grateful to over 400 readers who pitched in since we launched a few weeks ago. If you care what we do here, and you are able to help, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your support.  ❤️❤️❤️ D!

 

 

Excerpt from Abdo Luftu Ali v. U.S. Department of State/Memorandum of Opinion March 17, 2021:

Plaintiff Abdo Ali (“plaintiff’ or “Ali’”) brings this action under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) against the U.S. Department of State (“State Department” or “defendant”), seeking an order setting aside defendant’s revocation of Ali’s U.S. passport.
[…]
Ali currently resides in Oxford, Mississippi, but he was born in Yemen in 1979. At the time, Ali’s father was a U.S. citizen, having naturalized approximately ten and a half years earlier in January 1969. Compl. 4 8. In 1990, Ali was first issued a U.S. passport under Section 301(g) of the INA on the grounds that he was a child of a U.S. citizen, who, prior to Ali’s birth, had been present in the U.S. for at least ten years, including at least five while he was older than fourteen. Jd. 410. Ali entered the United States in 1994 and was issued passport renewals in 1999 and 2009. Id. § 13. Because passports “may be issued only to a U.S. national,” 22 C.F.R. § 51.2(a), the initial issuance of Ali’s passport and the subsequent renewals necessarily constituted findings that Ali was a U.S. national. See Compl. ff 14, 19. On January 8, 2019, however, the State Department revoked Ali’s passport on the ground that he was not a U.S. national. Id. ¥ 15; see also 22 C.F.R. § 51.62(b) (“The Department may revoke a passport when the Department has determined that the bearer of the passport is not a U.S. national.”). In a letter to Ali, the State Department explained its decision by noting that sometime after the 2009 renewal, “[a]n investigation .. . revealed that [Ali’s] father was not physically present in the United States for ten years before [Ali’s] birth,” as was then required by Section 301(g) of the INA. See Ex. A to Pl.’s Opp. to Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss (“PI.’s Opp.’””) [Dkt. #9-1] at 1.! The letter cited documentation supporting its position but lacked any explanation as to why the State Department had initially issued Ali a passport and subsequently renewed it twice. Jd.; Compl. 418.

On May 30, 2020, Ali filed this suit under the APA, 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., seeking to set aside the revocation decision. See Compl. at 8. The complaint alleges that, “to the best of his knowledge,” Ali is a citizen and national of the United States, id. { 3, and that the State Department’s decision to revoke his passport was “arbitrary . . . as well as not being in accordance with law.” Id. § 1. In the alternative, the complaint states that “even if [Ali] is not a national of the United States,” the revocation should still be set aside because the State Department “is estopped by laches and equitable estoppel from revoking [] Ali’s passport.” Jd. § 2.
[…]
In an attempt to avoid the preclusive effect of § 1503(a), Ali argues in the alternative that he is permitted to proceed with this suit under the APA regardless of whether he is, in fact, a U.S. national. See Pl.’s Opp. at 3 (invoking this Court’s equitable powers under the doctrines of laches and estoppel). Under this theory, plaintiff would have the Court set aside defendant’s revocation of Ali’s passport even though he fails to allege that he meets the necessary precondition for a U.S. passport—being a U.S. national, 22 C.F.R. § 51.2(a). See Pl.’s Mot. at 4—5 n.2 (stating that Ali does not “claim unequivocally” that he is a U.S. national, but “maintains that .. . even if he is not a U.S. national, the [State] Department should be estopped from denying it”). Unfortunately for plaintiff, this I cannot do.

The power to issue passports rests solely in the Secretary of State or a designee. 22 U.S.C. § 211a (providing that the Secretary possesses the authority to “grant and issue passports .. . and no other person shall grant, issue, or verify such passports”). Passports may only be issued to U.S. nationals, see 22 C.F.R. § 51.2(a), and the State Department may revoke those passports when it determines that the bearer of the passport is not a U.S. national. 22 C.F.R. § 51.62(b); see also 22 U.S.C. § 212 (“No passport shall be granted or issued to or verified for any other persons than those owing allegiance, whether citizens or not, to the United States.”’).

The Court’s power to craft equitable remedies, while broad, does not permit it to interfere with this statutory and regulatory scheme. See INS v. Pangilinan, 486 U.S. 875, 883-84 (1988) (holding courts’ equitable authority does not extend to crafting remedies contrary to Congressional statutes). Especially in the immigration context, the Court may not rely on the doctrine of laches or the doctrine of equitable estoppel to override public policy as established by Congress. See id. at 885 (“Neither by application of the doctrine of estoppel, nor by invocation of equitable powers, nor by any other means does a court have the power to confer citizenship in violation of [statutory limitations].”).

Congress has established that only U.S. nationals may receive a passport. See 22 U.S.C. § 212. It has also provided, through 8 U.S.C. § 1503(a), a mechanism to challenge agency determinations that an individual is not a U.S. national. But where a _ plaintiff refuses to pursue this avenue of relief, courts may not grant through alternative equitable means what is effectively the same result—a determination that the State Department must treat plaintiff as if he is a U.S. national. See Pangilinan, 486 U.S. at 883-84.

Accordingly, no matter how plaintiff frames his complaint, it fails to state a claim under the APA.
[…] the Court GRANTS defendant’s motion to dismiss and DISMISSES the action in its entirety.

In footnote 7, the Court talks about what must be “exceedingly frustrating”:

The Court appreciates that the State Department’s conduct in recognizing Ali as a U.S. national for almost thirty years, only to reverse that determination with minimal explanation, must be exceedingly frustrating. But plaintiffs recourse nonetheless lies under Section 360(a) of the INA, not the APA. See Hassan, 793 F. Supp. 2d at 443 (noting that although multiple inconsistent decisions from the government over a span of many years created an understandable frustration, no action was cognizable under the APA with respect to the revocation of plaintiff’s passport).

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#HavanaSyndrome: Directed-Energy Attacks Now Reported in D.C.

Once a year, we ask for your support to keep this blog and your dedicated blogger going. So here we are on Week #7 of our eight-week annual fundraising. Our previous funding ran out in August 2020. We recognize that blogging life has no certainty, and this year is no exception.  If you care what we do here, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your help. Grazie!  Merci! Gracias!

On April 28, NBC’s Josh Lederman reported that a group of Canadian diplomats have accessed Canada’s government of withholding information about new cases of brain injury resulting from “Havana Syndrome”.  The report also says that the diplomats are citing “unacceptable delays” on coordinating care for Canadians affected, including numerous children who were accompanying their parents in Cuba. “Who knows what the long-term impacts will be?” the diplomats wrote.
Who knows what the long-term effect will be for the employees affected and the family members who were at these posts? For the State Department, the magic number appears to remain at 41 for those officially diagnosed. We do not have the number of employees who were not officially counted but whose lives and health were upended by the Department’s botched response to these attacks. We do not even know how many Foreign Service kids were similarly affected by these attacks.  Given the Department’s poor track record of handing these incidents going back to Moscow in the 1970’s, we need to keep asking questions.  Congress needs to step up in its oversight.
Back in early April, one of the questions we asked the State Department is to confirm that the mystery illness has been reported domestically (WH staffer in Arlington, a couple at UPENN)?  The State Department refused to answer that question and all our other questions.  See the rest of the questions here: Havana Syndrome Questions @StateDept Refuses to Answer.  We added a submitted question: #17. Why not expand the mandate of Ambassador Spratlen to include instances of previous microwave attacks, since those episodes were handled so badly by the State Department? Here is a little background: https://shoeone.blogspot.com/2013/09/moscow-microwaves.html
CNN is now reporting that “federal agencies are investigating at least two possible incidents on US soil, including one near the White House in November of last year, that appear similar to mysterious, invisible attacks that have led to debilitating symptoms for dozens of US personnel abroad. Multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN that while the Pentagon and other agencies probing the matter have reached no clear conclusions on what happened, the fact that such an attack might have taken place so close to the White House is particularly alarming.”
So there. Now that this has become “particularly alarming,” maybe we’ll learn some more?
Pardon me, what do you mean  …. “NO”!?
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@StateDept Appoints Amb. Jeffrey Feltman as U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa

Once a year, we ask for your support to keep this blog and your dedicated blogger going. So here we are on Week #7 of our eight-week annual fundraising. Our previous funding ran out in August 2020. We recognize that blogging life has no certainty, and this year is no exception.  If you care what we do here, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your help. Grazie!  Merci! Gracias!

 


On April 23, 2021, Secretary Blinken announced the appointment of former U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa:

Today, I am announcing that Jeffrey Feltman will serve as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.  This appointment underscores the Administration’s commitment to lead an international diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.  Having held senior positions in both the State Department and the United Nations, Special Envoy Feltman is uniquely suited to bring decades of experience in Africa and the Middle East, in multilateral diplomacy, and in negotiation and mediation to develop and execute an integrated U.S. strategy to address these complex regional issues.

Of particular concern are the volatile situation in Ethiopia, including the conflict in Tigray; escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan; and the dispute around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  At a moment of profound change for this strategic region, high-level U.S. engagement is vital to mitigate the risks posed by escalating conflict while providing support to once-in-a-generation opportunities for reform.

 

Related item:

Statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on the appointment of Ambassador Jeff Feltman as U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa

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Life After Foggy Bottom: Secretaries of State on Twitter

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64th Secretary of State

 

66th Secretary of State

67th Secretary of State

 

68th Secretary of State

HELP!  THIS GUY NEEDS A NEW SEAL!

70th Secretary of State

 

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Fondly Remembered: 60th Secretary of State George P. Shultz (1920-2020)

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Excerpt Via FSJ/by Steven Alan Honley:
In December 1985, news broke that the Reagan administration was planning to require State Department employees to take lie detector tests to keep their security clearances. Expressing “grave reservations” about the validity of polygraphs, Secretary of State George P. Shultz threatened to resign if the policy change went forward, calling it a sign that “I am not trusted.” President Ronald Reagan took that threat so seriously that, after meeting with Secretary Shultz, he declared that he would leave it up to State Department officials to decide whether to administer polygraphs.
Although that incident did not change the status quo, and was soon forgotten by most people, it reveals much about George Shultz’s character. First, while he was a fully committed Cold Warrior, he instinctively understood that not every trade-off of liberty for security is warranted. Second, his background as an economist led him to value data over theory, so he saw no reason to trust polygraphs.
Third, he was intensely loyal to his employees, and they trusted him to have their backs. Although he couched his protest in personal terms (“I am not trusted”), everyone knew there was no chance he would ever be asked to take a lie detector test—let alone forced to do so to keep his job. But George Shultz understood full well that his subordinates at State did not enjoy that luxury, so he spoke out on their behalf—first through internal channels, then publicly.
For those reasons, and more, many Foreign Service members who served during Secretary Shultz’s tenure in Foggy Bottom (1982-1989) remember him fondly. (As far as I know, AFSA has never surveyed its members as to the Secretary of State they believe was the best leader of the department, but I’m willing to bet Shultz would come in at or very near the top of such a list.) A thoughtful institutionalist, he not only understood and valued the work of State and other foreign affairs agencies, but advocated for the resources and respect diplomats need and deserve.
Read in full here.

Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, Former Secretary of State George Schulz, and Former Secretary of Defense William Perry tour the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, on February 8, 2012. [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by Jacqueline McBride via State Department/Flickr]

The Foreign Service Journal  has an online memorial. To contribute to this living memorial, please send your brief essay (up to 500 words) to journal@afsa.org.
A few contributions below from the online memorial:

A Gentleman, Even at 3:00 a.m.
Shultz was SecState when I worked in the 24 x 7 Operations Center; he would often call in to see what was going on in the world. Occasionally, I would have to call him in the middle of the night to report on one crisis or another. Even when being awakened at three in the morning, he was a perfect gentleman, often repeating back a summary of what I had briefed him about, and then asking how everyone on the team was doing that night. It is no wonder that State employees thought Shultz was terrific.

Greg Delawie
Ambassador, retired
Alexandria, Virginia

A Beacon of Integrity and Truth (Excerpt)
On July 23, 1987, Secretary Shultz testified for six hours before the Joint House-Senate Committee investigating the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages affair. I left the office that day around lunch time and listened to Shultz’s testimony on the car radio as I drove. I stopped at the supermarket on the way home, but stayed in my car, riveted, as I listened. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had just asked Shultz about reports that he had tendered his resignation on several occasions during his service as Secretary of State, including at one point during the Iran-Contra fiasco.

As the Secretary recounted his reasons for offering to resign at different times, he said something that has stayed with me ever since: “In jobs like the job I have, where it is a real privilege to serve … you can’t do the job well if you want it too much. You have to be willing to say, ‘goodbye’—and I am.” (See comments at approximately the 4:05 hour mark of testimony, found here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?9641-1/iran-contra-investigation-day-34.)

I only recently looked up his exact words, but I have never forgotten what those words meant. They stayed with me and guided me throughout my Foreign Service career. And I have thought of them over the years as we have seen political leaders fail to make, or not make, politically difficult choices, and then as they have contorted themselves into logical absurdities to justify what is, at heart, simply an unwillingness to say “goodbye” to a position of privilege and power. George Shultz was a beacon of integrity and truth because he didn’t want his position “too much.”

Ed Smith
FSO, retired
Washington D.C.

The Only Secretary Who Understood What We Do

I spent most of my career as a Labor Officer. We had a conference in Washington while George Schultz was the Secretary of State. He came and spent an hour with us. He was the only Secretary of State who understood what we did and why it was important. The fact that he understood and cared made a real impact on us.

Dan E. Turnquist
FE MC, retired
Centennial, Wyoming

Read more in  Online Memorial to Secretary Shultz

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Foggy Bottom’s Humongous Professional Ethos Poster Board Deserves a New Life

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