After Leaked Diplomatic Letters Over A$AP Rocky’s Detention in Sweden, Where Should @StateSPEHA Go Next?

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Trump’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien who was in Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s assault trial apparently told USAToday reporter Kim Hjelmgaard that it is “entirely appropriate” for him to be in Sweden even though this was a criminal case. “When foreign govts. hold American citizens it’s always appropriate”.
The things we learn these days!
As of December 2018, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has conducted 10,399 visits to U.S. citizens in prison overseas. Note – prison visits not hostage visits. Only a few of those U.S. citizens make the news (see CA Fact Sheet).
The Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs also said publicly, while tagging his ultimate boss on Twitter, that the president “has made bringing our fellow citizens home a center piece of his foreign policy”.
Consular work just got so utterly fascinating. Now, which ones of the over 10,000 prison visits by consular officers to U.S. citizens incarcerated overseas will now be done by the special envoy? Which fellow citizens jailed overseas will be brought home next?

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U.S. Embassy Eritrea CDA Natalie E. Brown to be U.S. Ambassador to Uganda

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On July 30, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Natalie E. Brown of Nebraska, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Uganda. The WH released the following brief bio:
Ms. Brown, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, currently serves as the Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Eritrea.  She previously served as Deputy Permanent Representative and Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Italy, and as Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.  Ms. Brown also served overseas at the United States embassies in Jordan, Kuwait, Ethiopia, and Guinea.  In Washington, she served as Senior Watch Officer in the State Department Executive Secretariat’s Operations Center, International Affairs Officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and Desk Officer for the Office of West African Affairs in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.  Ms. Brown earned her B.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and M.S. from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.  She speaks French and Arabic, and has studied Italian, German, Amharic, and Tigrinya.

If confirmed, Ms. Brown would succeed Deborah Ruth Malac (1955–) who was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Kampala from May 2015 until the present. Previous appointees to this position includes Scott H. DeLisi (1953–), Nancy Jo Powell (1947–) who later became DGHR, and Johnnie Carson (1943–) who later served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

 

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Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Alina L. Romanowski to be to U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait

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On July 25, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Alina L. Romanowski, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State of Kuwait. The WH released the following brief bio:
Ms. Romanowski, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State. Previously, she served as the Coordinator for United States Assistance to Europe and Eurasia in the Department’s Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs, and the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development.  Ms. Romanowski was twice a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.  At the Defense Department, she was the founding Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
Ms. Romanowski earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago.  She is the recipient of a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award and two Presidential Meritorious Rank Awards.  She speaks French and has studied Arabic and Hebrew.

If confirmed, Ms. Romanowski would succeed Ambassador Lawrence R. Silverman who assumed his post as U.S. Ambassador  to Kuwait on September 19, 2016. Previous appointees  to this position includes Deborah Kay Jones (1956–)  who served from April 28, 2008–June 30, 2011; Matthew Haywood Tueller (1957–) who served from September 28, 2011–April 28, 2014 and is now U.S. Ambassador to Iraq; and Douglas Alan Silliman (1960–) who served from  September 15, 2014–August 3, 2016, and was previously the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq prior to retiring from the Foreign Service in 2019. He is now president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

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US Embassy Khartoum’s CDA Steven Christopher Koutsis to be U.S. Ambassador to Chad

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On July 24, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate  Steven Christopher Koutsis, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Chad. The WH released the following brief info:
Steven Koutsis, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, currently serves as Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.  Previously, he served as Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Deputy Chief of Mission in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Deputy Director in the Office of Central African Affairs.  Earlier assignments include service as Team Leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Diyala Province, Iraq, Political and Economic Counselor in Monrovia, Liberia, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  Mr. Koutsis earned a B.A. from Boston University in 1979.  He is the recipient of the Department of Army Superior Civilian Service Award for his service in Iraq.  Mr. Koutsis speaks French and Arabic.
If confirmed, Mr.Koutsis would succeed Ambassador Geeta Pasi (1962–) who was appointed U.S. Ambasasdor to Chad from October 6, 2016–September 20, 2018.
According to AFSA, 21 career diplomats have been appointed as ambassador to Chad since 1960.  Chad is one of 41 Foreign Service posts with no history of political appointments.

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U.S. Senate Confirms 9 Ambassadors, 9 Foreign Service Lists as It Adjourn For a 39-Day Recess

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On August 1st, the U.S. Senate voted on the confirmation of multiple nominees including eight ambassador nominations. In July, it also confirmed  a few nominees and nine FS lists for the State Department. The senators will now go and have their 39-day recess. The next Senate vote will not occur until September 9.
2019-08-01 PN4 Cote d’Ivoire |  Richard K. Bell, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire.
2019-08-01 PN123 Uruguay | Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.
2019-08-01 PN133 Cambodia | W. Patrick Murphy, of Vermont, 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 Kingdom of Cambodia.
2019-08-01 PN523 Mexico | Christopher Landau, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Mexican States.
2019-08-01 PN565 Libya | Richard B. Norland, of Iowa, 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 Libya.
2019-08-01 PN616 Egypt | Jonathan R. Cohen, of California, 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 Arab Republic of Egypt.
2019-08-01 PN715 Colombia | Philip S. Goldberg, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia.
2019-08-01 PN889 Nigeria | Mary Beth Leonard, of Massachusetts, 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 Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2019-08-01 PN716 African Union | Jessica E. Lapenn, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the African Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
2019-07-31 PN712 United Nations | Kelly Craft, of Kentucky, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.
2019-07-18 PN108 Slovenia | Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.
2019-07-18 PN143 Jamaica | Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.
2019-06-27 PN129 El Salvador | Ronald Douglas Johnson, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.
Foreign Service Lists (click on link to view the names)
2019-07-31 PN605 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jennifer M. Adams, and ending Sarah-Ann Lynch, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN608 Foreign Service | Nomination for William S. Martin, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN609 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Christine Byrne, and ending Robert Mason, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN785 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning James J. Higgiston, and ending Bobby G. Richey, Jr., which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN787-1 Foreign Service |Nominations beginning Uchenna Nnayelugo Agu, and ending Jaime Alber Zea Cifuentes, which 264 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN789 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Allison Margaret Bartels, and ending Yang Q. Zhou, which 117 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN790 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Vanessa L. Adams, and ending Lyndsey K. Yoshino-Spencer, which 81 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN791 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Sonja Joy Andersen, and ending Sandra M. Zuniga Guzman, which 68 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN788-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jennifer Ann Amos, and ending Michael L. Mahoney, which 102 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.

 

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Consular Affairs Asst Secretary Carl Risch Visits A$AP Rocky in Sweden, Who Else Wanna Visit?

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Update: ASAP Rocky and Co-Defendants Allowed to Leave Sweden While Awaiting Verdict (set for August 14).
Sweden’a national public television broadcaster SVT reported on July 19 that the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Carl Risch was in country to meet with A$AP Rocky and the other two detained US citizens.  He reportedly also meet staff from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Also see U.S. Sends Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien to A$AP Rocky’s Assault Trial in Sweden).

The report cites a statement from Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that “Risch will, among other things, meet with representatives of the Foreign Office’s consular unit and the Justice Department, as well as in the role of consular officer in attendance at one of the US embassy’s previously scheduled visits to the three detained US citizens.” (via online translation).
The Foreign Ministry further writes according to SVT that “The US embassy has confirmed that the conditions in the Swedish detention comply with both the Vienna Convention and the international standard.” This in reference to a report by TMZ that A$AP was being held in “shockingly inhumane condition”.
A$AP Rocky was arrested in Sweden on July 3. The State Department previously announced on July 17 that CA’s Assistant Secretary Risch was traveling to Sweden from July 18-20 apparently to “observe U.S. consular operations and meet with foreign government counterparts to underscore the enduring commitment to the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens overseas and the facilitation of legitimate travel to the United States.”
The State Department’s own 2018 Country Report on Human Rights Practices on Sweden  under Prison and Detention Center Conditions notes:
There were no significant reports regarding prison, detention center, or migrant detention facility conditions that raised human rights concerns.
Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns in prisons and detention centers regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.
Administration: Authorities conducted proper investigations of credible allegations of mistreatment.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent, nongovernmental observers, including the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
In any case, the top gun at Consular Affairs already visited A$AP Rocky on July 19th. (Prior to Asst Secretary Risch’s visit, do you know when was the last time the assistant secretary of Consular Affairs made a prison visit overseas?).
When @StateSPEHA Robert O’Brien (the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs)  showed up in the Swedish courtroom on July 30 along with journalists, teenage rap fans and curious onlookers, the highest official in charge of Consular Affairs appeared to have already seen the three detained Americans.   One specific embassy official also has a clear role and reporting duties in the arrest and detention of American citizens. We would be surprised if U.S. Embassy Sweden’s Charge d’affaires ad interim Pamela Tremont, or post’s Consular Chief have not already visited the detainees.
Since neither the Consular Affairs Assistant Secretary nor the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs could sprung A$AP Rocky from jail, how useful are their presence in Sweden beyond appearances that they are doing something to get these individuals released?
Do we have senior officials actually thinking through the potential consequences of these actions — with senior officials descending into Sweden, and presidential tweets pressuring for the release of those in detention, plus the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs tweeting about “expedited paperworks “?
Does anyone enjoy the appearance of giving in because of some very public arm-twisting? No?
It may interest you to know that Sweden is also the “protecting power” for the United States in North Korea and has been so since September 1995. These folks know hostages. Do you think Sweden appreciates the United States decision to send a Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs to a non-hostage situation there? Even if this case were to get resolved next week, do you think the Swedes will simply forget this?

Senate Confirms US Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft to be @USUN Ambassador #HappyMitch #Happy

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Update: On August 1st, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Acting USUN Jonathan Cohen to be U.S. Ambassador to Egypt.
On July 31st, the U.S. Senate confirmed the US Ambassador to Canada Kelly to be Trump’s new Ambassador to the United Nations in a 56-33 vote. The GOP has a majority in the U.S. Senate, and with the Senate Majority Leader’s support, this confirmation was never in doubt in our minds even with the Democrat’s scathing report. But it looks like five Democrats also joined all but two Republicans in confirming this nominee. Seven Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent were listed as “not voting.”
At the United Nations, we anticipate that her transition will not be easy given the deep experience of most of her predecessors and her diplomatic counterparts from  193 member states. Four of the five permanent members at the UN: ChinaFranceRussian Federationthe United Kingdom also did not send political donors to the international body as their representatives. The Chinese ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun has over 30 years of diplomatic experience. Moscow’s man at the UN Nebenzya Vasily Alekseevich similarly has over three decades of diplomatic experience. The French representative to the UN Nicolas de Rivière has diplomatic experience going back all the way to the 1990s. United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce has been with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office since 1981.  So … there you go. We’re all going to have to start watching UNTV.
Ambassador Craft will also arrive at USUN while the mission’s deputy and Acting Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen  is on his way out. The seasoned career diplomat has been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. His nomination is currently pending on the Executive Calendar awaiting Senate confirmation. His nomination was just confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1st.
At US Mission Canada, we expect the embassy’s DCM Richard Mills, Jr. will now assume office as Chargé d’Affaires pending the nomination/confirmation of a new ambassador. Ambassador Mills previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from 2015-2018.  He assumed his position as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Ottawa in November 2018. He was also Chargé d’Affaires at U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta from 2010-2012.
U.S. Mission Canada includes Embassy Ottawa and the following constituent posts and leadership below:

 

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@StateDept’s “New Camp Sullivan” in Afghanistan Four Years On: A Lovely $103.2 Million Flat Dirt

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State/OIG’s Office of Evaluation and Special Projects has released its Evaluation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Aegis Construction Contract at Camp Eggers in Afghanistan (PDF). Well, nothing good to read in this report, but the flat dirt is lovely, and makes us want to pull our hair out in  frustration. We bring you some GIFs to make us all feel better.

Camp Eggers Afghanistan, Photo by State/OIG

Things of note excerpted from the IG report:
The Department awarded Task Order 10 in July 2011 to Aegis (GardaWorld)  to provide and manage an armed and unarmed guard force known as the Kabul Embassy Security Force (KESF) for Embassy Kabul and other U.S. diplomatic facilities within Kabul, Afghanistan. On September 30, 2014, the Department modified Task Order 10 held by Aegis to allow for the renovation of Camp Eggers in its entirety and to erect a new facility known as the “New Camp Sullivan.” […]Modification 43 was issued to Aegis under a firm fixed price for the design-build of the Camp Eggers construction project. The task order modification was valued at about $173.2 million with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2016.
[…] An Aegis official told OIG he did not believe the company had undertaken any construction projects other than building a shooting range at Camp Sullivan. An OBO official noted that Aegis lacked the “institutional expertise” to build to OBO standards, and several Department officials told OIG that they had doubts about Aegis’s ability to carry out major construction work.

 

On January 10, 2014, AQM awarded a contract to the management consulting firm, Markon, on behalf of DS to perform professional engineering services.[..] Markon […] warned the Department in August 2014—a month before the task order was modified—that the project would not likely be finished on time or on budget. The Department nonetheless chose to move forward with this fundamentally unsuitable construction mechanism because of what it viewed as exigent need and a lack of alternatives.

 

Multiple Department officials, as well as an Aegis official, told OIG that they viewed the initial 18-month project timeline as unreasonable. An official from AQM expressed skepticism that such an extensive project could ever be completed so quickly in a construction environment as logistically complex as Afghanistan.[…]The renovation of Camp Eggers entailed extensive demolition and redevelopment, including [snip] the construction of new facilities. The “New Camp Sullivan” facility was intended to become a self-supporting, multi-use facility, which included life support for up to 900 personnel (expandable to house up to 1,500 personnel) all within a secure perimeter.

 

Aegis, through its subcontractor, CWI, purchased materials costing approximately $19.4 million for Camp Eggers. However, roughly 23 percent of these materials ($4.5 million) were obtained without submitting proper documentation or receiving proper Department approval.[…]The materials had to be stored due to numerous project delays, which prevented CWI from using the materials as they were delivered. The storage continued throughout the life of the contract until all of the materials were disposed of by May 2018. Over the life of the task order, the Department wasted about $22 million on materials that were never used and then paid to store them

 

Although Aegis continuously missed project milestones and failed to adhere to contract requirements, the Department still did not take meaningful corrective action against Aegis beyond issuing LOCs. As noted, these were primarily issued by DS. The Department also held a number of meetings with Aegis personnel to discuss the lack of progress made on the project, but no further corrective action was taken.

 

The Department reached a settlement with Aegis in March 2019 whereby the Department agreed to pay Aegis a total of $94.6 million. Based on this figure, in addition to three separate contracts with Markon Solutions, Incorporated for professional engineering and design review services, OIG identified a total of $103.2 million in questioned costs related to the Camp Eggers project.[…] the “New Camp Sullivan” remained flat dirt after more than four years of effort. The Department estimated that approximately 10 percent of the construction work was completed, and the 100 percent design—the final design—remained unfinished.

After the termination of the Camp Eggers project, the Department transferred materials stored in Kabul to fill other U.S. Government needs in the area. Regarding the materials in Dubai, Red Sea Housing Services Company FZE (Red Sea), the company with whom the Department ordered CHUs, reached a final termination settlement valued at about $2.5 million with Aegis and the Department under which Red Sea would keep all the materials and equipment they procured on behalf of the Department. The remaining materials in Sterling, VA were disposed of through the General Services Administration’s excess property program and some were scrapped.

Via reactiongif.com

 

OIG’s conclusion: [T]he Department’s sense of urgency, the selection of a non-construction contractor, the assignment of officials inexperienced in construction to oversee the project, and the failure to hold the contractor accountable for particular instances of poor performance led to the expenditure of more than $100 million without any discernible benefit to the Department or the people it intended to protect. OIG also notes that, more generally, this project illustrates many of the broader concerns that arise when the Department pursues construction projects in contingency or otherwise challenging environments. The Camp Eggers project again highlights the importance of making well-informed, thoughtful choices regarding the most appropriate contract vehicle; careful, consistent oversight; and development of a process for construction work in contingency zones that is sufficiently nimble to address urgent security needs but also considers the resources and capabilities of all relevant Department bureaus.

U.S. Sends Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien to A$AP Rocky’s Assault Trial in Sweden

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According to the State Department, when an American is arrested or detained abroad, the State Department—through its Embassies and Consulates—ensures that U.S. consular officers are there to assist. They help see that Americans are treated humanely and in accordance with local law, are given the opportunity for a lawyer, and can correspond with family back home.
Per its Foreign Affairs Manual, the Department expects consular officers to be “particularly active in, and to fully engage in” the protection of the welfare of the arrestee; ensure that the arrestee is being treated fairly and is afforded all due process under local law, provide needed consular services such as EMDA or administer a trust fund in a timely and efficient manner; track the process of the case through the host country’s legal system; and to keep the Department, family members, congressional representatives and others full informed on all aspects of the case, consistent with Privacy Act.

 

Consular assistance to Americans arrested or detained overseas includes the following:
State Department/U.S. Embassies Can:
  • Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English
  • Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen (with their written permission)
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate
  • Ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care
  • Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process
  • Upon request, ensure that prison officials permit visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of the detainee’s choice
  • Establish an OCS Trust, if necessary, so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens
State Department, U.S. Embassies Cannot:
  • Get U.S. citizens out of jail
  • State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
  • Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees
Reports note that POTUS sent the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Robert O’Brien to Sweden for the A$AP Rocky trial.  “The president asked me to come here and support these American citizens,” O’Brien told the New York Times. “I’ll be here until they come home.” (via). How often is he going to do this for other American citizens?
Nowhere in the Foreign Affairs Manual is there any mention of the role the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs play in cases of U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad or while they are on trial. In most of the normal world, it is understood that American citizens are subject to the local laws and regulations while visiting or living in the particular countries they are in. In this particular case, Time says that “Sweden does not have a bail system, which is why the rapper was detained with no way to get out even before he was formally charged.” Also see our old post below about the non-portability of American rights.

Non-Portability of American Rights

In any case, we don’t understand why the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs is involved with this case.  Does the U.S. Government considers A$AP Rocky on trial for assault in Sweden, a hostage? Are we to understand that Americans incarcerated and detained overseas are now considered hostages to bring back as soon as possible? And if that’s not the case, and if this is an exception, what are the grounds for the Trump Administration to make this type of exception?
Is the Special Envoy’s role now includes affecting the release of all American citizens from foreign incarceration/detention?
How does a regular American citizen’s family petition for the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs to be involved in their cases overseas?
Any guidance sent to consular officers doing ACS work? When is the State Department updating the Foreign Affairs Manual?
Also the next time U.S. diplomats overseas talk to their local counterparts about judicial independence and the rule of law, should they expect a push back with this case as Exhibit A?

 

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

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

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