MidEast Envoy Jason D. Greenblatt Resigns, Kushner Aide to Take Expanded Role in ‘Deal of the Century’

 

 

The president announced via tweet the departure of Jason D. Greenblatt, his former real estate lawyer and Special Representative for International Negotiations since December 2016. Together with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, Greenblatt is credited as co-author of the Trump Middle East peace plan. According to Reuters, Greenblatt is one of only four senior officials with access to Trump’s plan for Middle East peace, alongside Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman and Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz.
Politico reports that with Greenblatt’s departure, Kushner aide, Avi Berkowitz, a 30-year old, 2016 Harvard graduate  will take on an expanded role in the talks (as will as the State Department’s special representative to Iran, Brian Hook). Berkowitz previously worked for Kushner Companies and  later as Assistant Director of Data Analytics in early 2016 for the Trump campaign. This is really going very well don’t you think?

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John Lansing Resigns From USAGM to be CEO For National Public Radio (NPR)

 

The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM, @USAGMgov) will soon be without a chief executive officer. USAGM released a statement on the departure of its CEO John Lansing. He joined USAGM (then known as BBG) as CEO and Director in September 2015. Excerpt below:

After four years serving as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), John F. Lansing will be leaving USAGM—an independent federal agency providing accurate, objective, and professional news and information worldwide—at the end of this month to start the next chapter of his career as the President and CEO of National Public Radio (NPR).

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs also released a statement. Excerpt below:

“It’s important that when John steps down, there is continuity of leadership at USAGM. Changes in the law adopted in 2016 provided for a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed CEO to lead the agency. But the Senate has not confirmed such a nominee and until it does so, the existing Board of Governors retains the power to name a replacement. I urge the Board to do so immediately, as we can’t predict when the Senate may act on the President’s nominee. This is too important a job to be left vacant for even a day.”

 

U.S. Special Rep for Iran Makes Stunning Million Dollar Offer to #AdrianDarya Captain

 

 

Foreign Service Institute Rolls Out Pompeo’s Pursuit – A ‘One Team’ Four-Day Pilot Course For “Everyone”

Last week, Secretary Pompeo announced to agency employees that the Foreign Service Institute has launched its very first “One Team” pilot course.  Apparently, this new course is a four-day pilot  and “builds upon the ideas” expressed in the recently rolled out Professional Ethos. The purpose is  “to unite new employees around the “One Team, One Mission, One Future” vision and the unique history of the Department.”
The “One Team” course will reportedly supplement existing training to provide a common experience for new employees. According to Secretary Pompeo, “For the first time, Foreign Service, Civil Service, Limited Non-Career Appointments, and political appointees will all learn side-by-side. Everyone will grow as one team together”.

In developing the One Team course, we drew heavily from your thoughts on what new Department employees should know and understand about the Department, especially the importance of working together. As a result, the course will:

    • Explore the guiding principles of the Department, including our Professional Ethos;
    • Help employees connect their efforts and that of their colleagues to the Department’s mission;
    • Analyze how the Department’s work connects to the National Security Strategy, and the Department’s other strategic planning mechanisms;
    • Examine the meaning of the Oath of Office;
    • Investigate how the Department’s work directly benefits the American public; and
    • Inform our team about key accomplishments and personnel in the Department’s history that spans more than 230 years.
Supposedly, this course is “light on lectures” but full of “hands-on” engagement with the goal of “helping participants see how they each contribute” to the collective success as an organization.
There are reportedly 85 employees currently enrolled in the pilot course at FSI.  They are expected to provide feedback so the course can be “refined” for “several more trial runs this fall and in early 2020.”
Secretary Pompeo also told State Department employees that the goal is “to finalize the course and begin ramping it up next year to accommodate the roughly 1,600-1,800 new employees that the Department onboards every year.” He also said that “This critical investment will ensure that each one of our future colleagues is best prepared to join our efforts as champions of American diplomacy.”
We can’t tell right now how expensive is this project. Presumably, not as expensive as Rex Tillerson’s redesign project but one never know.  If you’re taking the course, we’re looking forward to hearing your assessment of the course, as well as assessment of the identified learning goals. Is this effective indoctrination, or a waste of dime and time? Are students in a bubble wrap or are they allowed to question the misalignment of stated values and actual practice we can see with our very stable faculties every day? Are trainers able to reconcile the gap between the stated professional ethos and reality? Is the State Department making this course mandatory for the leadership  at the Bureau of International Organizations, for starters or as refreshers?
There is also one glaring omission in the target audience for this course – the largest employee group in the State Department: not Foreign Service, not Civil Service, not Limited Non-Career Appointments, and not political appointees but it’s local employees, spanning over 275 posts, and totaling more than all other employee groups combined.  They do not appear to be included in this training “to unite new employees around the “One Team, One Mission, One Future” vision and the unique history of the Department.” These folks, almost all foreign nationals, often touted as the backbone of the State Department’s overseas presence, do not need to be champions of American diplomacy, do they?
Nothing shouts “One Team” louder than excluding local employees from this supposedly common, and unifying experience for new employees. This “One Team” training is in person right now, we can’t imagine State expending dollars to bring in LE employees from overseas to Washington, D.C. Although, one can make the case that if this is as important as they say it is, then doesn’t it make sense that all employees in the organization are trained and imbued with its specific point of view, and guiding principles? Are they considering an online course? web-based courses?
In any case, when the secretary says that this will help “everyone to grow as one team together”, everyone doesn’t really mean everyone, just all direct-hire American employees. But don’t fret, the $10,000 “One Team” Award is available for uh … Everyone. Even contractors. Oops, uh wait, what’s that?

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@StateDept’s Missing “R” Since March 2018, Vacant Now For 531 Days — Why Keep the Office?

 

Via MountainRunner:

Let’s consider a recent report that the Deputy Secretary has “taking responsibility for finance; public diplomacy and public affairs; and civilian security, democracy and human rights.” Let’s now consider that the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has been vacant 531 days this administration (all but precisely 100 days), why keep the office?

Intentionally left out of the above quantitative discussion is the qualitative side: what attributes and skillsets have been hired for the job? It was a veritable whipsaw with each new Under Secretary as it became a parlor game waiting to learn how the new appointee redefined “public diplomacy.”

According to history.state.gov, the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs position was authorized by Title XIII, Section 1313 of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (112 Stat. 2681-776). Section 2305 of the Act (112 Stat. 2681-825) increased the number of Under Secretaries of State from 5 to 6. Subdivision A of the Act, also know as the Foreign Affairs Agencies Consolidation Act of 1998, abolished the U.S. Information Agency and transferred its functions to the Department of State. The integration took place on Oct 1, 1999. The title was recently changed to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Read more via MountainRunner:

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US Embassy Nassau: #HurricaneDorian 🌀 Aftermath, @USAID/OFDA, @USCGSoutheast

 

This is a follow-up to our post on August 31, US Embassy Bahamas on ‘Ordered Departure’ For Non-Emergency Staff/Family Members #HurricaneDorian.  The NOAA Hurricane Update of 1100 PM EDT Mon Sep 02 2019 notes that devastating hurricane conditions continue on Grand Bahama Island and that a life-threatening storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds on Grand Bahama Island.

USAID/OFDA announced on Twitter that a team of Caribbean-based disaster experts is in the Bahamas to work w/ national authorities & humanitarian partners to help assess impacts & humanitarian needs.

The US Coast Guard Southeast said that its Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews, forward deployed to Andros Island, medevaced 19 people from the Marsh Harbour Clinic to Nassau International Airport on Monday, September 2. 

@StateDept Appoints Ex-Pompeo Chief of Staff as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources

 

Secretary Pompeo recently informed State Department employees that they just swore in a new Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, Jim Richardson. “Most recently, Jim served as the Assistant to the Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning and the Coordinator of USAID’s Transformation Task Team. In his new role, he’ll guide the F Bureau in helping both the State Department and USAID connect the resources to our foreign policy objectives.”
Mr. Richardson succeeds Eric M. Ueland who was appointed as F Director in October 1, 2018 but has since been appointed to the WH as head of legislative affairs.  Mr. Ueland is however, still listed as F Director on state.gov.
While Pompeo did not mention that Richardson was his former chief of staff when he served in the Congress, the state.gov bio did mention the work he did for the former congressman:

James “Jim” Richardson is the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the U.S. Department of State, where he coordinates the allocation of more than $35 billion in foreign assistance resources.

Previously, Jim served as Assistant to the Administrator in USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) and Coordinator of USAID’s Transformation Task Team, where he led the Agency’s historic reorganization to reshape the Agency around the principle of ‘Ending the Need for Foreign Assistance’.

Jim has nearly 20 years of government experience. Prior to joining the Trump Administration, he was Chief of Staff for then-Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS-04)—overseeing Pompeo’s offices in Washington, DC and in Wichita, Kansas, as well as the campaign organization.

Throughout his years in Washington, Jim spearheaded numerous complex operations and developed an extensive background in public policy and the legislative process. Prior to leading Congressman Pompeo’s staff, Jim worked with the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee for Congressman Todd Tiahrt (KS-04), the House Armed Services Committee for Congressman Jim Ryun (KS-02), and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO). He started his government career with Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO).

Jim holds a Bachelors of Science in Government from Evangel University and a Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies from Missouri State University. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College (ACSC).

 

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USCIS to Shrink Overseas Presence to Seven Locations

 

We almost missed a recent announcement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) dated August 9 concerning its “international footprint.” It will maintain its presence at seven locations but will close 13 field offices and 13 district offices within the next year.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today plans to maintain operations at its international field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou, China; Nairobi, Kenya; and New Delhi, India. Previously, Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli directed the agency to continue operating in Guatemala City, Guatemala; Mexico City, Mexico; and San Salvador, El Salvador, as part of a whole-of-government approach to address the crisis at the southern border.

While retaining these seven international offices, USCIS plans to close the remaining thirteen international field offices and three district offices between now and August 2020. The first planned closures are the field offices in Monterrey, Mexico, and Seoul, South Korea, at the end of September. These organizational changes will allow more effective allocation of USCIS resources to support, in part, backlog reduction efforts.

“This cost-effective and high value international footprint allows USCIS to efficiently adjudicate complex immigration petitions that require in-person interviews, to enhance integrity through fraud detection and national security activities, and to liaise with U.S. and foreign government entities to improve migration management capacity,” said Cuccinelli. “In the months ahead, USCIS will close its other international offices on a staggered schedule, ensuring a smooth transition of workloads to USCIS domestic offices and State Department consular sections, while mitigating impacts on USCIS staff who will rotate back to domestic positions.”

Many functions currently performed at international offices will be handled domestically or by USCIS domestic staff on temporary assignments abroad. As part of this shift, the Department of State (DOS) will assume responsibility for certain in-person services that USCIS currently provides at international field offices. In addition to issuing visas to foreign nationals who are abroad, DOS already performs many of these service functions where USCIS does not have an office. USCIS is working closely with DOS to minimize interruptions in immigration services to affected applicants and petitioners.

As of this writing, travel.state.gov’s newsroom remains pretty sparse with news.

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Secretary Pompeo Gives a Speech in Indiana, Next Week He’ll Deliver a Lecture in Kansas #hesnotrunning

 

The Washington Examiner recently reported that Mike Pompeo has “closed the door on any speculation he might run for the open Senate seat in Kansas next year.”  “I am going to stay here,” he said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “There’s lots of people talking about it. The only one who’s not talking about it is me.”
The interview was conducted just a day after he attended an event with the Committee to Unleash American Prosperity, a group launched in 2015 with a stated goal of “persuading the presidential hopefuls in both parties to focus on the paramount challenge facing our country: slow growth and stagnant incomes.” (Also see Mike Pompeo’s Kansas Run: He’s Running, He’s Not …He’s Running, He’s … He’s …).
On August 27, Secretary Pompeo, delivered remarks at the 101st National Convention of The American Legion, this time in Indianapolis, Indiana and told attendees “we’re not going to apologize for America anymore”. Excerpt below:

Some of our leaders would say that the idea of America, or of “Americanism,” means inherent racism, or sexism.  Others say that Americanism is a code word for a narrow-minded nationalism.  Some even want us to reject the founding principles which have blessed us since 1776.  They want to substitute our founders’ words for something else.

They’d like us to shun those founding principles, principles that were bestowed on us by God and codified in our Constitution and properly taught in our schools’ civics courses.  They want us to reject the very ideas that are central to understanding our nation’s exceptionalism, and indeed its greatness.

That can’t happen, and I’m counting on you all to help me make sure that that never happens.  (Applause.)

And when it comes to Americanism in our foreign policy, for decades, frankly we just plain ignored it.  We didn’t lead.  We let the bureaucrats in international organizations lead us.  We let our allies shun their responsibilities.

We pretended our enemies were our friends, and sometimes sadly we even appeased them.

But those days are over.  No more.  The Trump administration – and you’ll hear it from the Vice President tomorrow – we’ve gotten back to the basics.  As I said when I was in Cairo now a few months back, we’re not going to apologize for America anymore.  (Applause.)  No, Americanism is something that we must be proud of.  We’re putting it at the center of our foreign policy.  Every one of my diplomats all across the world knows it, and is delivering it.

On Friday, September 6, 2019, he will also deliver the 190th Landon Lecture in the McCain Auditorium at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Sounds like a bunch of domestic stuff going on for somebody who’s not running for political office. Get ready, in any case; Foggy Bottom could get Mick Mulvaney as Acting SecState 🙂 We live in Netflix’s Stranger World.

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Ex-FSO Bethany Milton’s NYT Op-Ed on Why She Left the State Department

 

Below is the latest public resignation from the U.S. Foreign Service by Bethany Milton who joined the FS in 2008. She most recently served as Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda.

Via NYT:

When President Trump allowed a crowd to chant “Send her back!” about a sitting member of Congress — espousing an ideology in which naturalized American citizens, at least those who don’t fit a certain profile, are held to different and dangerous standards — he wasn’t thinking about me. He’s rarely thinking about me, the white American-born daughter of two American-born citizens.

But he is often thinking and talking about at least some of the tens of thousands of people I’ve helped immigrate to the United States — legally and permissibly — over my 11 years as a consular officer in the Foreign Service. From 2014 to 2016, I oversaw immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India. Every day, my team and I saw dozens of families destined to move to the United States as green card holders: older parents going to spend their final years surrounded by grandchildren, spouses matched up through online matrimonial sites, parents with kids in tow who had been waiting patiently since the early 1990s for their chance to join a sibling.

I also oversaw immigrant visa operations in Kigali, Rwanda, from 2018 to 2019, helping Rwandans and Congolese reunite with family members in the United States. Their stories often had a darker tone: marriages brokered in refugee camps, siblings separated by war, children born of rape. But the one thing that united almost every visa applicant I ever saw was the belief that life was going to be better in America. What a rude surprise, then, for them to face elected national leadership that targets them in such gruesome ways.

When a diplomat joins the State Department, she sits through two presentations toward the end of her weekslong orientation class. One is an afternoon session about the State Department’s storied dissent channel, which lets employees speak out internally about foreign policy decisions free from the fear of retaliation. How to use it, when to use it, what it means. The other is a much shorter presentation, one that lasts all of 15 seconds: “The day you can no longer publicly support your administration’s policies is the day you need to resign.”

 

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