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Current Visa Sanctions: Cambodia, Guinea, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Plus The Gambia #INA243(d)

Posted: 1:38 am ET

 

We previously blogged about visa sanctions in January 2017 for countries who refused to accept their deported nationals (see On Invocation of Visa Sanctions For Countries Unwilling to Accept Their Deported Nationals. Also read @StateDept Notifies Foreign Countries of New Information Sharing Standards Required For U.S. Travel.

Note that the Trump Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States include section 12 on countries who refused to accepted their nationals who are subject to removal by the United States:

Sec. 12.  Recalcitrant Countries.  The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State shall cooperate to effectively implement the sanctions provided by section 243(d) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1253(d)), as appropriate.  The Secretary of State shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, ensure that diplomatic efforts and negotiations with foreign states include as a condition precedent the acceptance by those foreign states of their nationals who are subject to removal from the United States.

Read more: U.S. to Invoke Visa Sanctions For Four Countries Unwilling to Accept Deported Nationals

On September 12, the State Department released an update of its FAM guidance 9 FAM 601.12 on the “Discontinuation of Visa Issuance Under INA 243 (D).   Per 9 FAM 601.12-2(C), the following countries are currently subject to discontinuation of visa issuance under INA 243(d): Cambodia, The Gambia, Guinea, Eritrea, and Sierra Leone.

Kevin Brosnahan, the spokesperson for the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs released the following statement:

The Secretary of State has ordered consular officers in Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia to implement visa restrictions effective September 13, 2017. The Secretary determined the categories of visa applicants subject to these restrictions on a country-by-country basis. Consular operations at the U.S. embassy will continue. These visa restrictions do not affect other consular services provided, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the suspension.

The Department of State received notification under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act from the Department of Homeland Security for Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. According to that section of the law, when a country denies or unreasonably delays accepting one of its nationals, the Secretary of Homeland Security may notify the Secretary of State. The Secretary must then order consular officers in that country to discontinue issuance of any or all visas.   The Secretary determines the categories of applicants subject to the visa restrictions.

via travel.state.gov

Below are the four countries, in addition to The Gambia that are currently under visa sanctions/restrictions. With the exception of  Eritrea where the sanctions affect “Eritrean citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents,” the restrictions for the other countries are currently directed at government officials and their families.

CAMBODIA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia has discontinued issuing B1, B2, and B1/B2 visas for Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees, with the rank of Director General and above, and their families, with limited exceptions.

Under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, when so requested by the Secretary of Homeland Security due to a particular country’s refusal to accept or unreasonably delay the return of its nationals, the Secretary of State must order consular officers to suspend issuing visas until informed by the Secretary of Homeland Security that the country in question has accepted the individuals.

GUINEA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, Guinea has discontinued issuing B, F, J, and M visas to Guinean government officials and their immediate family members, with limited exceptions.

ERITREA (see full notice here)

As of September 13, 2017, the United States Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea, under instructions from the Secretary of State, has discontinued the issuance of non immigrant visas for business or pleasure (B1/B2) to Eritrean citizens, subjects, nationals, and residents. The Department of State may make exceptions for travel that is in the U.S. national interest, for emergency or humanitarian travel, and other limited exceptions.

SIERRA LEONE (see full notice here)

On Wednesday, September 13, the United States Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone will discontinue the issuance of B visas (temporary visitors for business or pleasure) to Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials and immigration officials.

Consular operations at the U.S. embassy or consulate will continue.  These visa restrictions do not affect other consular services provided, including adjudication of applications from individuals not covered by the suspension.

THE GAMBIA (see announcement here)

The sanctions placed on The Gambia occurred last year. As of October 1, 2016, the United States Embassy in Banjul, The Gambia discontinued issuing visas to Gambian government officials, others associated with the government, and their families.  The announcement says that the Department may make exceptions for travel based on U.S. international obligations and to advance humanitarian and other U.S. government interests.

Per  FAM 601.12-3(C) (a) Public Notice of Discontinuation of Visa Issuance:  During the period of discontinuation, posts should continue receiving and adjudicating cases; however, posts should explain the discontinuation of visas to all applicants covered by the order.  The explanation should note that visas cannot generally be issued for certain visa classifications or categories of applicants as determined by the Secretary’s order, and explain that visa fees will not be refunded, but that the cases will be reviewed again once visa issuance resumes.  The notification may be provided by flyers posted in the consular section and/or on the post’s website.

All the above notices are posted under the “News/Events” section of the embassies’ websites, which is understandable, but that is also not the section that visa applicants would first look when searching for visa information. One post did not include the information on non-refundable fees.

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Dusting Off the Moscow Microwave Biostatistical Study, Have a Read

Posted: 2:40 am ET

 

CBS News Radio broke the story last month on the mysterious attacks against U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Those evaluated reportedly were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system. On September 18, CBS News citing “two sources who are familiar with the incidents” said that a top official in charge of security for the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, is among at least 21 Americans affected by mysterious attacks that have triggered a range of injuries. In a follow-up report on September 20, CBS News says this:

An internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9. The diplomats complained about symptoms ranging from hearing loss and nausea to headaches and balance disorders after the State Department said “incidents” began affecting them beginning in late 2016. A source familiar with these incidents says officials are investigating whether the diplomats were targets of a type of sonic attack directed at their homes, which were provided by the Cuban government. The source says reports of more attacks affecting U.S. embassy workers on the island continue.
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At the time, Nauert said she didn’t believe the number of Americans injured was in the tens or dozens. But a source says that by the time the State Department first publicly acknowledged the attacks, it knew the reports of Americans injured had reached double-digits.

Read in full: As number of injured diplomats soared, State Dept. kept Cuba attacks secret.

Related to these mysterious attacks, also see Microwaving U.S. Embassy Moscow: Oral History From FSOs James Schumaker and William A. Brown.

For those interested in the Moscow incidents, we’ve dug up the John Hopkins and subsequent technical reports on the Moscow microwave study (abstract and links below). We understand that there is also an AFSA report prepared on the Moscow incidents but we have not been able to locate a copy.

PB288163 | Evaluation of Health Status of Foreign Service and other Employees from Selected Eastern European Posts, Abraham M. Lilienfeld, M.D., Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health The Johns Hopkins University (1978): This is a biostatistical study of 1827 Department of State employees and their dependents at the Moscow Embassy and 2561 employees and their dependents from other Eastern European Embassies. Health records, health questionnaires and death certificates were the basic information sources. The study is the impact of the Moscow environment including microwave exposure on the health status and mortality of the employees·. It was concluded that personnel working at the American Embassy in Moscow from 1953 to 1976 suffered no ill effects from the microwaves beamed at the Chancery. Excerpt:

A relatively high proportion of cancer deaths in both female employee groups was noted–8 out of 11 deaths among the Moscow and 14 out of 31 deaths among the Comparison group. However, it was not possible to find any satisfactory explanation for this, due mainly to the small numbers of deaths involved and the absence of information on many epidemiological characteristics that influence the occurrence of various types of malignant neoplasms. To summarize the mortality experience observed in the employees’ groups: there is no evidence that the Moscow group has experienced any higher total mortality or for any specific causes of death up to this time. It should be noted, however, that the population studied was relatively young and it is too early to have been able to detect long term mortality effects except for those who had served in the earliest period of the study. (p.243)
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The results of this study may well be interpreted as indicating that exposure to microwave radiation at the levels experienced at the Moscow embassy has not produced any deleterious health effects thus far. It should be clear however, that with the limitations previously discussed, any generalizations should be cautiously made. All that can be said at present is that no deleterious effects have been noted in the study population, based on the data that have been collected and analyzed. Since the group with the highest exposure to microwaves, those who were present at the Moscow embassy during the period from June 1975 to February 1976, has had only a short time for any effects to appear, it would seem desirable that this particular study population should be contacted at periodic intervals of 2 to 3 years, within the next several years in order to ascertain if any health effects would appear. Furthermore, it would be important to develop a surveillance system for deaths in the entire study population to be certain that no mortality differences occur in the future and to monitor the proportion of deaths due to malignancies, especially among the women.

There is also a need for an authoritative biophysical analysis of the microwave field that has been illuminating the Moscow embassy during the past 25 years with assessments based on theoretical considerations of the likelihood of any biological effects.

Read the full report here: PB288163. (PDF)

NTIA-SP-81-12 | The Microwave Radiation at U.S. Embassy Moscow and Its Biological Implications: An Assessment
(by NTIA/ERMAC, US Dept. of Commerce; US Dept. of State; and Applied Physics Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University) 1981:  This report presents the results of an assessment of the likelihood of biological effects from the microwave environment within the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, USSR, based on a retrospective analysis of that environment. It contains a description of the microwave fields and models power density distribution within the Embassy from 1966 to 1977; estimated personnel exposures as a function of work and living locations in the Embassy; and the results of an assessment of the biological implications of the type and levels of exposure described. In summary, it was concluded that no deleterious biological effects to personnel would be anticipated from the micro- wave exposures as described. Read the full report here PB83155804 (PDF).

 

Related posted:

 

 

Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be @StateDept’s Legal Adviser

Posted: 1:42 am ET

 

On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Jennifer Gillian Newstead to be Legal Adviser at the State Department. The WH released the following brief bio:

Jennifer Gillian Newstead of New York to be Legal Adviser at the Department of State.Ms. Newstead is a partner in the law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she has a global practice representing clients in cross-border regulatory, enforcement and litigation matters. Ms. Newstead previously served in several senior government positions, including as General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy, and Associate Counsel to the President. Ms. Newstead previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C and earlier in her career clerked for Justice Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court and for Judge Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School, and a 1991 graduate magna cum laude of Harvard University.

Her law firm has a more detailed bio:

Ms. Newstead is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. She has a global practice representing leading international corporations, financial institutions and Boards of Directors in white collar criminal defense, regulatory and securities enforcement matters, internal investigations and related civil litigation. She advises clients in high-profile, cross-border investigations involving alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.S. economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws, securities and accounting laws, and other financial regulations. She represents clients before regulatory and law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC, the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury/OFAC, the NY Department of Financial Services, and other authorities. She has conducted investigations related to business in numerous countries in Asia, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin and South America. Ms. Newstead frequently advises clients on the design and implementation of global compliance programs to mitigate risk.

Ms. Newstead joined Davis Polk after a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship. She left the firm in 2001 to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service. She served as an Associate White House Counsel from 2002 to 2003 and as General Counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2003 to 2005. She rejoined the firm in 2005.

Back in June, BuzzFeed reported that Ms. Newstead, a former George W. Bush administration official and architect of the Patriot Act was slated be the top lawyer at the State Department. See A Lawyer Who Helped Write The Patriot Act Is Trump’s Pick For A Top State Department Job.

The White House sent her nomination to the Senate on September 5, and it has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As of this writing, the SFRC has yet to schedule this nomination for a hearing.

Former Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III (2005–2009) notes that if confirmed, Ms. Newstead would be the first woman to serve as Legal Adviser of the State Department. He writes that this position was created by statute in 1931, replacing the Solicitor, which had been the chief legal officer of the State Department since 1891.

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Snapshot: Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay For Employees Traveling Away From Post

Posted: 12:57 am ET

 

Via GAO:

Stop/Start Process For Hardship Pay (click on image for larger view)

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SFRC Clears Bass (AFG), Manchester (Bahamas), King (Croatia), McFarland (Singapore), Gingrich (Holy See), and More

Posted: 1:30 pm PT

 

On September 19, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the following nominees. The nominations will now go to the full Senate for a vote:

John R. Bass, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Doug Manchester, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Stephen B. King, of Wisconsin, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic.

Kathleen Troia McFarland, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Singapore.

The panel also cleared Steve Mnuchin as U.S. Goveror for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the IMF:

Steven T. Mnuchin, of California, to be United States Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United States Governor of the African Development Fund, and United States Governor of the Asian Development Bank, vice Jacob Joseph Lew, resigned.

Steven T. Mnuchin, of California, to be United States Governor of the International Monetary Fund, United States Governor of the African Development Bank, United States Governor of the Inter-American Development Bank, and United States Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of five years, vice Jacob Joseph Lew, resigned.

The following nominees for UNGA were also cleared:

Barbara Lee, of California, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Christopher Smith, of New Jersey, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Seventy-second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Previously, the Senate panel also cleared the following nominees. As far as we can tell, these nominees are pending on the Executive Calendar and the full Senate has yet to put these nominations to a vote:

Callista L. Gingrich, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See. Jul 27, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador. Aug 03, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Jay Patrick Murray, of Virginia, to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations. Aug 03, 2017 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

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Former Senior Diplomats Urge Tillerson to Make Public @StateDept’s Reorganization Plan

Posted: 2:14 pm PT

 

On September 18, the American Academy of Diplomacy released a letter from Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Ronald Neumann asking that Secretary Tillerson make to the State Department’s reorganization plan public.  Below is the text of the letter, the full letter is posted at www.academyofdiplomacy.org.

We understand that the State Department reorganization plan forwarded to OMB has been deemed “pre-decisional” and will therefore not be made public.

On behalf of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a non-partisan and non-governmental organization comprising senior former career and non-career diplomatic practitioners, we ask that you reconsider this decision and make your recommendations available for public comment.  The Academy, whose only interest is in strengthening American diplomacy, is already on record supporting many needed changes in the State Department’s structure and staffing.  Indeed, we would hope to make the Academy’s extensive experience available and relevant to any conversations about the future of the Department so that we might be able to support the outcome of this process, just as we supported your decision on reducing special envoys.  We cannot do so if your vision and plans remain publicly unavailable.

As the recent report prepared by your consultants very properly highlighted, the Civil Service and Foreign Service employees who work for you are patriotic, dedicated, public servants.  Many have gone in harm’s way and more will do so.  For nearly eight months these employees, and many of their families, have lived in a state of suspended animation, not knowing how reorganization will affect their lives and careers.  In light of their sacrifices for our Country, it strikes us as unfair to ask them to remain in this limbo for additional months while the Administration considers in private your recommendations for change.

Keeping your decisions from public view will only fuel the suspicion and low morale which now affects so many in the Department.  We ask that you be transparent with those most affected by your efforts to build efficiency and expertise.  Not doing so prejudices their future support.  Your leadership and America’s diplomacy would be better served by allowing public comment.  It is on that basis that we respectfully ask that you reconsider this decision.

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Related to this, Politico reported last week that “as part of his plan to restructure the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pledging not to concentrate more power in his own hands — for now.” See Tillerson vows State Dept. redesign won’t concentrate power in his hands. Click here or image below to see the State Department-USAID Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief via Politico’s Nahal Toosi. Note the slide titled “What Redesign is Not.” There is no intention at this time to dismantle State or USAID at this time. Whewww! That’s a relief, hey?

Click on image to view the document.

Click on image to view the document: Redesign Overview Capitol Hill Brief, September 2017 via Politico

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NYC Marketing Executive Steven Goldstein to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R)

Posted: 1:02 am ET

 

On September 15, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Irwin Steven Goldstein to be Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. The title is actually Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R). The WH released the following brief bio:

Irwin Steven Goldstein of New York to be the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Department of State. Mr. Goldstein has been a Senior Vice President at BP Global Solutions, a consulting firm in New York City, since 2012. His recent work includes serving as a senior advisor to Winning Algorithms, a data science start-up. In his four-decade career, Mr. Goldstein has led communications, branding, and social media efforts at several large private sector companies, including as senior vice president and chief communications officer at AllianceBernstein; executive vice president and chief communications officer at TIAA-CREF; and vice president, corporate communications at Dow Jones & Company. In the public sector, he was Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior and served five members of the U.S. House of Representatives, primarily as Chief of Staff or Press Secretary. Mr. Goldstein earned a B.A. at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

The nominee is also known as I. Steven Goldstein and his BP Global Solutions bio notes his prior service at the Department of Interior:

Steve’s experience includes seven years as Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services firm providing retirement security to individuals in the not-for-profit sector. As Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, Steve helped guide one of the world’s premier newspapers through a major redesign and through the tumultuous period following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the administration of President George H.W. Bush, Steve served as an Assistant Secretary and the Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.  He previously was a press secretary and chief of staff on Capitol Hill.

There’s also another potential connection to the current denizens of Foggy Bottom. The nominee was EVP and Chief Communications Officer  for TIAA.  Maliz Beams, the former CEO of Retirement Solutions at Voya Financial recently hired as State Department Counselor was also previously the Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF Individual and Institutional Services, LLC (see Former Voya Financial CEO Maliz Beams Appointed @StateDept Counselor).

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Ex-DAS Manisha Singh to be Asst Secretary For Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB)

Posted: 12:53 am ET

 

On September 9, President Trump announced his intent to nominate former EB Bureau DAS Manisha Singh to be Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB). The WH released the following bio:

Manisha Singh of Florida to be Assistant Secretary of State, Economic and Business Affairs. Ms. Singh is Chief Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan. She is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs and has served as a senior aide to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Singh’s private sector experience includes practicing law at multinational law firms and working in-house at an investment bank. She earned an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law, a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law and a B.A. from the University of Miami at the age of 19. In addition, she studied at the University of Leiden Law School in the Netherlands. She is licensed to practice law in Florida, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia and speaks fluent Hindi.

The nominee was previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Programs at the State Department.  Her archived 2001-2009 state.gov bio includes more details:

She supervises four offices in the Bureau: Multilateral Trade Affairs; Bilateral Trade Affairs; Agriculture, Biotechnology and Textile Trade Affairs; and Intellectual Property Enforcement, with staff totaling over 50 people. She is responsible for developing and promoting trade policy within the foreign policy context. Her prior Department experience includes serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. In this position, she was the key liaison on various issues to U.S. international organization missions in New York, Geneva, Paris, Vienna and Rome.

Before joining the Administration, she served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2003-2007), working for Chairman/Ranking Member Senator Richard Lugar. There, she was responsible for international trade, economic and development matters, including treaties, free trade agreements, OPIC and WTO issues. Her duties also included confirmations of U.S. ambassadors and administration officials as well as oversight of U.S. government participation in entities such as the OECD and APEC. Examples of her work include several tax treaties, bilateral investment treaties and trade legislation including the bill granting PNTR to Ukraine, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which created a platform for trade and capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States Direct Investment Act, which was designed to promote the U.S. as a destination for foreign investment, and the Sanctions Policy Reform Act, which provided guidelines for the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions. She also managed passage of Senator Lugar’s World Intellectual Property Day resolution, and was responsible for global IP and pharmaceutical issues.

Her prior Capitol Hill experience includes serving as counsel to the Republican staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she managed the committee’s international commerce jurisdiction. Before working for the U.S. Congress, she was a practicing attorney at the law firms of Squire Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. in the Corporate and Capital Markets group and Reed Smith LLP, where she represented privately held and publicly listed clients in domestic and cross border transactions. She also spent time at Stewart and Smith, Inc., where she advised financial investment firms regarding domestic and international legal issues impacting the market price of publicly held securities.

Ms. Singh completed a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Legal Studies, with concentration in international trade, at the American University Washington College of Law. While completing this degree, she worked in the Office of General Counsel at the United States International Trade Commission. After law school, she served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Edward F. Threadgill, Jr., then Chief Judge of the State of Florida Second District Court of Appeal. Her educational background includes earning a Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Florida College of Law at the age of 22, and completing a Certificate at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. She earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with honors at the University of Miami at the age of 19. She speaks fluent Hindi and conversational Spanish. She is admitted to practice law in Florida, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Tillerson Gives Another Pep Talk at Another Embassy – Tells Joke, But Takes No Questions Again?

Posted: 4:20 am ET

 

In addition to his Welcome Remarks to Employees (02/02/17)  and his Remarks to U.S. Department of State Employee last May (05/03/17), Tillerson has made exactly four remarks to State Department staffers during his trips overseas.  These pep talks were made at the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Wellington, Ankara and now London.  
Excerpt from his remarks to the staff and family members at US Embassy London, September 14, 2017:

So safety and security, accountability, and respect for one another. I really want you to think about that every day and try to practice that. If you do those things, you’ll have a performing organization. That’s what I know. I know that to be true.

And as you know, we’re going through a redesign at the State Department. Part of this was in response to an executive order from the President, but it was also something that I wanted to do from day one. The most important thing I want to do during the time I have – I hope we get peace in North Korea; I hope we can settle the conflicts in Syria; I hope we can settle the conflict in Libya; I hope we can develop a better relationship with Russia. But those won’t be the most important things that I’ll do. The most important thing I can do is to enable this organization to be more effective, more efficient, and for all of you to take greater satisfaction in what you do day in and day out. Because if I accomplish that, that will go on forever and you will create the State Department of the future.

That’s why we started this with a listening tour. We got 35,000 of you responded. If you responded, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And we interviewed over 300 people face to face, and since we started the redesign, which is led by you and your colleagues, we’ve had over 200 people working in redesign teams while they’ve been doing their day jobs at the same time. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with them from time to time and see the work as it’s progressing, and I just can’t tell you how excited I am. You know – you know what needs to be fixed. I don’t, but you do. You know where you’re having problems, where you’re struggling, where things get in the way of you being effective. That’s what we want to get at. And that’s why we call it a process redesign. A reorganization is taking boxes on a chart and cramming them together and moving them around, but nothing really changes. We want to get down to how do you get your work done and how can we help you get your work done more efficiently, more effectively.

So I tell people I’m in the blocking and tackling business. You tell me what you need to run downfield, and let me go do some blocking for you to do it. If we need Congress to change a – make a statutory change, we’ll go after it. If they need to make a change in things that require appropriations, we’ll go after it. And I’m already in conversations with them about that. So with your involvement in this through the portal, a lot of ideas – we’re getting great ideas through the portal. Please, keep those coming. And those things that we can fix on our own right away, I have entire teams to get after it and let’s start fixing some of these things.
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So again, thank all of you for what you do for us. Thank you, Ambassador, for being here. Now, we have an Ambassador Johnson and we have a Foreign Secretary Johnson. What I’ve concluded is, on any given day, a Johnson is going to be to blame. (Laughter.) We’ll let them figure out who. (Laughter.)