— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) September 16, 2021
Congratulations Secretary Liz Truss on becoming the newly appointed 🇬🇧 Foreign Secretary at the @FCDOGovUK. I look forward to working with you on a host of issues of shared importance to our countries. 🇺🇸🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/TV58sho6kH
— Chargé d'Affaires Philip T. Reeker (@USAmbUK) September 16, 2021
Even when they get sacked they fall upwards… https://t.co/nfsIe0a6Md
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) September 15, 2021
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) September 15, 2021
Two Foreign Ministers have now lost their jobs over the Afghanistan debacle. The Netherlands’ @SigridKaag resigned today, saying it was her “democratic duty.” Britain’s @DominicRaab was fired yesterday (after refusing to resign). (Correcting deleted tweet) https://t.co/oLAFyTBIjy
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) September 16, 2021
John R. Bass, Nominee for Under Secretary of State for Management
John R. Bass, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, currently is a Senior Advisor at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. He has served as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, and Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia. Previously, Bass focused, among other things, on supporting U.S. government efforts to mobilize allies and marshal resources to combat terrorism and instability in Iraq, Syria and Southwest Asia. He served at seven U.S. Missions overseas including as Team Leader of Provincial Reconstruction Team – Baghdad at the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. In addition, he was the Executive Secretary of the State Department and held other senior leadership positions at the Department of State. Bass earned an A.B. Cum Laude from Syracuse University.
— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) August 31, 2021
A valued partner and counterpart, he helped to advance American efforts to facilitate a political settlement in Afghanistan. He served me, the President, and America with excellence and integrity. My most sincere thanks.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 6, 2020
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 18, 2014
Sarah H. Cleveland, Nominee for Legal Adviser of the Department of State
Sarah H. Cleveland is an American law professor and expert in international law and the constitutional law of U.S. foreign relations. A native of Alabama, she holds the Louis Henkin Chair in Human and Constitutional Rights and is Faculty Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School. She previously served as the Co-Coordinating Reporter of the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (2018), and as Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. She was nominated by the U.S. government and served as an independent expert on the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2015-18) and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (2013-19). Cleveland began her career as a Skadden Fellow representing migrant farmworkers with Florida Legal Services, and then joined the faculty at the University of Texas School of Law. The author of numerous publications, she also has taught at Oxford, Harvard, Michigan, Sciences Po Paris, Paris II Panthéon-Assas, and the European University Institute, Florence. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree with honors at Brown University (Junior Phi Beta Kappa); a Master’s Degree at Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. at Yale University Law School. She clerked for Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and then for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.
A preeminent expert on human rights and U.S. foreign relations law, she previously served as counselor on international law at @StateDept. She co-directs @CLSHumanRights. https://t.co/K7R5T6gkhG pic.twitter.com/1A4h4aWLFB
— Columbia Law School (@ColumbiaLaw) August 11, 2021
“Turkey has long been a reliable democratic ally in an unstable region. Its descent towards authoritarianism should be a primary concern for the United States,” writes Prof. Sarah H. Cleveland (@Shcleve) via @thehill. https://t.co/yrn1oi7Jgn
— Columbia Law School (@ColumbiaLaw) April 4, 2019
SecState Blinken held a town hall w/ State Dept staffers today, & source tells me it was intense. People got emotional over Afghan situation, saying there was poor planning, confusion, etc. It’s hurt Blinken’s standing, but there’s appreciation that he held the session.
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) September 3, 2021
This seems to be State leadership acknowledging how much of a psychological toll the rapid Afghanistan collapse has had on US diplomatic corps. About 1/4 of all US diplomats served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Many believed they were working to building a better future for Afghanistan
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) September 3, 2021
Almost everything you think you know about the State Department's handling of the evacuation from Afghanistan is wrong. I talked to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and others to get to the truth. What they did and are doing is remarkable. https://t.co/DZQOfAYl9C
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) September 2, 2021
US official: "Majority" of Afghan visa applicants have been left behind. US staff in Kabul "haunted" by decisions they had to make at the gates https://t.co/SddlYRIIIG
— jessdonati (@jessdonati) September 1, 2021
QUESTION: Can you – one non-Afghan question, please? I – thank you. I’m seeing reports that there are some cases of Havana – so-called Havana Syndrome in Berlin, at the embassy in Berlin. Can you speak to that? Are you aware of it? What is the State Department doing to protect its staff?
MR PRICE: So, I am – I have seen these reports, of course. This is something that we vigorously investigate, the so-called anomalous health incidents or unexplained health incidents in coordination with our partners across the government. Any employees who have reported a possible unexplained health incident, they have received immediate and appropriate attention and care.
These health incidents I can tell you have been a top priority for Secretary Blinken. I think I mentioned this before, but he proactively requested two sets of briefings during the transition. This was one of them, because even before he was Secretary of State, he wanted to know precisely what we knew, what this department knew at the time, and what we were doing to respond to this.
He has set clear goals for what we call here the Health Incident Response Task Force to – number one, to strengthen the communication with our workforce, of course, to provide care for affected employees and their family members, and to do what we can to protect against these incidents working together with the interagency, and, of course, to find the cause of what has been afflicting these members of our team. He noted to the workforce – I guess it was a couple weeks ago now – that there is nothing that we take more seriously than the health of our workforce.
And that’s why there is a major effort underway in this department, there is a major effort underway across the interagency to determine the cause and to, of course, provide the level of care, the level of communication, the level of feedback that our employees need and deserve. This is a priority. Ambassador Spratlen, as you know, the – Secretary Blinken named her as the head of the task force. She works very closely with the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Brian McKeon on this. They are working very closely in turn with Secretary Blinken. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to work with our interagency partners to ensure that our employees, both those who have been affected by this have what they need, and those who are serving around the world, that we’re doing everything we can to ensure their safety.
…frustration is rising among rank-and-file staffers and diplomats over what multiple officials say has been a tepid response by the department. Of particular concern is a lack of information from leadership, including what some say has been a hands-off approach from Secretary of State Tony Blinken who has yet to meet with any of the State Department victims despite saying he would prioritize the incidents.
Organizational change isn't easy, but it's impossible to ignore in an increasingly interconnected 21st century. And yet the very nature of bureaucracy is to cement the status quo, however untenable.
— Zed Tarar (@zedtarar) July 30, 2021
Held – The Board found that the Department of State (the “Department” or “agency”) did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official (“DO”) did not consider evidence of his personality problems as a mitigating circumstance. The Board was persuaded by evidence in the record that the agency should exercise its authority to initiate, as an alternative to separation, the option of a disability retirement, pursuant to 3 FAM 6164.3(a).
Case Summary – The Department charged the employee with Improper Personal Conduct based upon a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues, primarily hundreds of unwanted emails and text messages with sexual content. The Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) had conducted a mental health evaluation of the charged employee and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of certainty,” the charged employee exhibited “behavior or symptoms (which may not rise to the level of formal diagnosis) of an emotional, mental or personality condition that may impair his reliability, judgment or trustworthiness.”
The DO determined that the charged employee committed the charged offenses and that there were no mitigating circumstances. In finding no mitigating circumstances, the DO attested in the separation hearing that she did not take into consideration either the charged employee’s emotional, mental or personality condition that MED identified or the charged employee’s emails to coworkers that included references to his communications with divine beings as well as references to his own possible mental illness. The DO notified the charged employee of her proposal to separate him from the Foreign Service and provided him the opportunity to reply in person or in writing. The DO recommended separating the charged employee to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee did not respond in person or in writing to the DO’s notification of her proposal to separate him from the Service recommendation or participate in the separation hearing.
The Board found the Department did not establish cause to separate the charged employee because the DO did not consider the so-called Douglas Factor #11 on the agency’s checklist that relates to mitigating circumstances surrounding personality problems, and did not exercise the agency’s authority under 3 FAM 6164.3(a) to initiate a disability retirement on behalf of the charged employee as an alternative to disciplinary action.
Prior to the conduct that gave rise to the Department’s proposal to separate the charged employee, he had 19 years of distinguished service.
In March 2015, the Department issued a Letter of Reprimand to the charged employee on a charge of Improper Personal Conduct (“IPC”) for allegedly making “unwelcome comments of an inappropriate and sexual nature” to an intern at post. In January 2016, the charged employee was alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment. The Ambassador involuntarily curtailed the charged employee from an overseas post in February 2016. After his curtailment, the charged employee sent numerous personal emails to a former post colleague that she foundoffensive. Despite her request that he stop sending her messages, he continued to do so. Consequently, the former colleague filed a request for a protective order with a court and the request was granted.
— In January 2018, the DS Office REDACTED issued another ROI (involving different preliminary allegations), finding, inter alia, that the charged employee had demonstrated a predilection for self-aggrandizement, and had indicated his belief of hearing voices and instructions from God, the Devil, and the Virgin Mary.
— In October 2018, the charged employee’s security clearance was revoked.
— On March 21, 2019, the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of the Bureau of Human Resources3 (the “DG”) notified the charged employee that the Department proposed to separate him for cause to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee was charged with IPC based upon 87 specifications of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct and comments toward colleagues, primarily in emails and text messages with sexual content. The separation proposal was not based upon the charged employee’s loss of security clearance.
— Although the charged employee was offered an opportunity to provide an oral or written response to the DG’s March 21, 2019 proposal, he did not provide a response.
On June 20, 2019, the DG completed the so-called Douglas Factors Checklist, a compilation of aggravating and mitigating factors drawn from 3 FAM 4137 and from the decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (the “MSPB”) in Douglas v. Veterans Administration, 5 MSPB 313 (1981). On that Checklist, the DG wrote “none” next to so-called Douglas Factor #11, “Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems . . . .”
On August 18, 2019, the Department filed a Separation for Cause Proposal with the Board. The charged employee did not file a response to the proposal or participate in the hearing that the Board conducted by telephone on May 14, 2020. AFSA participated as amicus curiae.
The Board issued its Decision on July 2, 2020, finding that the Department had established by a preponderance of the evidence that the charged employee had engaged in the unprofessional and inappropriate conduct of which he was accused and that the charged employee’s conduct had a nexus to the efficiency of the Service. However, the Decision concluded that the Department had not established cause for separation of the charged employee when the DG did not comply with 3 FAM 4138 because she did not consider the Department’s version of Douglas Factor #11:
Mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense, such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, harassment or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of other(s) involved in the matter.
In her testimony at the May 14, 2020 hearing, however, when asked whether concerns were raised in her mind in relation to the DS decision to revoke the charged employee’s security clearance due to several factors, including psychological conditions, the DG opined that the charged employee “had abnormal behavior,” and that it was obvious “his behavior was not normal.” The DG added, however, that she did not consider personality problems as a mitigating circumstance for the charged employee because she is not a medical professional, thus not in a position to understand if he had a personality defect for “his entire life.” She pointed out that DS ROI #2 indicated that there were allegations that the charged employee had a recurring pattern of sexual harassment, beginning during his college years, but she had no evidence of that conduct in the record to consider. The DG emphasized that in cases of threats to employees in the workforce, it is DS that makes decisions about what they would like to do in terms of an employee’s ability to access agency facilities and information. She also stressed that she had no access to the Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) Memorandum of Opinion concerning the charged employee to which DS referred in ROI
The Board found that two Reports of Investigation (“ROIs”) issued by the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (“DS”) contained sufficient information for the DG to deduce that the charged employee had, at least, personality problems and that the emails and text messages the charged employee sent to former colleagues, which formed the basis of the separation proposal, indicated that he had personality problems and possibly more serious mental impairment or illness. The Decision noted that Douglas Factor #11 required the DG to consider and weigh the charged employee’s apparent personality problems in determining the appropriate discipline.
— We’ve now completed our drawdown to the core diplomatic presence we need, and at this time we will no longer – at this time no longer need to facilitate departures for our embassy personnel.
— All remaining embassy staff will be assisting departures from Afghanistan, and the department is surging resources and Consular Affairs personnel to augment the relocation of American citizens and Afghan special immigrants – special immigrants, and elsewhere adding personnel to assist with P-1/P-2 adjudication processing.
— We’ve successfully relocated many of our locally employed staff and are in direct contact with the remainder to determine who is interested in relocation and the process for doing so.
— Ambassador John Bass – a seasoned career diplomat and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Turkey, and Georgia – is heading to Kabul today to lead logistics coordination and consular efforts. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Bass brings decades of experience from service at seven U.S. missions overseas and in leadership positions, including executive secretary, here in Washington. Ambassador Wilson, who has remained in Kabul, will continue to lead our diplomatic engagement.
— So this is a massive logistical undertaking. The – our presence, our diplomatic presence in Kabul, this is a focus of theirs. Obviously, there is a lot of other important business that needs to get done from management to engagements with the – with Afghans. And so what Ambassador Bass will be doing is overseeing the logistics of this rather large, rather ambitious, expansive operation. He’ll be using and leveraging his managerial expertise and logistics experience to help Ambassador Wilson and the broader Embassy Kabul management team with this challenge.
— He is going there to work on the nuts and bolts of this, just given how logistically challenging this is.
— Ariana News (@ArianaNews_) December 31, 2019
Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Al-Sabah today. We are grateful to the Government of Kuwait for their gracious help to facilitate the transit of U.S. citizens and @USEmbassyKabul personnel from Afghanistan through Kuwait. We deeply appreciate our enduring partnership.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 17, 2021
The U.S. Government has facilitated the departure of all Nepali Gurkhas who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. It was an honor for us to welcome the first flight back to Nepal this morning after a stop in the Middle East. We are grateful for their bravery and service. https://t.co/9QLkxMXJeG
— Ambassador Randy Berry (@USAmbNepal) August 17, 2021