CIA’s Interim Report on Havana Syndrome Issued, Have You Read It? #AskMollyHale

 

NYT reports that the C.I.A. has found that “most cases of the mysterious ailments known as Havana syndrome are unlikely to have been caused by Russia or another foreign adversary, agency officials said, a conclusion that angered victims.”  CIA officials describing the interim findings to reporters also say that “A majority of the 1,000 cases reported to the government can be explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress, rather than a sustained global campaign by a foreign power.”
Politico writes that “CIA Director William Burns stands behind the current finding, but made clear the probe continues with an indefinite timeline.
“While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” Burns said in a statement. “We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it. While underlying causes may differ, our officers are suffering real symptoms. Our commitment to care is unwavering.”
A group of Havana Syndrome victims have reportedly released a statement criticizing the report while the investigation is ongoing. We haven’t seen the report. It looks like CIA officials are talking to the media discussing the findings of the interim report but the interim report itself has not been made available for the public to read.

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Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn to be Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Khartoum

 

 

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@StateDept’s Vacant Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Who Cares?

 

Via Mountainrunner:

Here we are on January 14, days away from the end of the first year of the Biden Administration, and there is still no nomination for the office of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. There were rumors of a forthcoming nomination around last autumn and recently I heard a nomination could be announced later this year. At this point, who would want a job that has been broadly neglected, often treated as an inconsequential sideshow, and whose authority, already slight, has been substantially reduced over the past couple of years?
[…]
Nine months ago, Cole Livieratos and I tried to get an article published on the unrealized potential of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs as the government’s well-placed central international information officer for US foreign policy (which includes national security, though I sense some feel the two are distinctly separate). As Cole – an active duty US Army Major, trained strategist, Georgetown Ph.D., and currently teaching at West Point – tweeted this week about our earlier effort, “Can’t emphasize enough what that says about how unserious we are about global inform/influence efforts.”

 

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Ambassador Jeff Flake Presents Credentials to Turkey’s Deputy FM

 

 

US Embassy Abu Dhabi Issues Security Alert Following Suspected Drone Attacks in UAE

 

On January 17, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a Security Alert following the suspected drone attacks at two locations in the country and reminded U.S. citizens to “maintain a high level of security awareness.”

Location: UAE, Abu Dhabi

    • Musaffah Industrial Area, and
    • A construction site at the new terminal of the Abu Dhabi airport.

Event: There have been reports of explosions at the Musaffah Industrial Area in Abu Dhabi and a fire at the new terminal of the Abu Dhabi airport on January 17, 2022.  Media reports indicate that both incidents were potentially caused by unmanned aerial systems (drones) in the area.  The Embassy reminds all U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates to maintain a high level of security awareness.  The possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula remains an ongoing, serious concern.  Rebel groups operating in Yemen have stated an intent to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE, using missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones).

The United States Embassy in Abu Dhabi is currently headed by Sean Murphy as Chargé d’Affaires. Mr. Murphy holds the rank of Minister Counselor in the United States Foreign Service. It doesn’t look like the Biden Administration has made an announcement on a nominee to be U.S. Ambassador for UAE.

 

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Career Diplomat Elizabeth Aubin Sworn-in as U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

 

 

 

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Ambassador Rufus Gifford Sworn-in as Chief of Protocol of the United States

 

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So, what’s going on at the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights?

 

Via state.gov

“At the Department of State, diversity is not just a worthy cause: it is a business necessity. Diversity of experience and background helps Department employees in the work of diplomacy. The Secretary believes that diversity is extremely important in making the State Department an employer of choice. The Secretary has delegated both tasks of advancing diversity within the Department and ensuring equal opportunity to all employees to the Director of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR), who also serves as the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

The mission of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) is to propagate fairness, equity and inclusion at the Department of State. S/OCR’s business is conflict resolution, employee and supervisor assistance, and diversity management. S/OCR manages the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) administrative process for the Department and works to prevent employment discrimination through outreach and training.

S/OCR advises and assists the Secretary and other principal officers in equal employment opportunity (EEO) policy and diversity management issues that relate to the Department of State. The office is symbiotically separated into three sections: Diversity Management and Outreach, Intake and Resolution, and Legal.”

We’ve received a long list of disturbing allegations that says in part “history shows the State department(sic) will not enforce accountability unless abuses of power are brought to public light.”
If you know what’s going on over there, we’re here.
State/OCR is one of twenty offices (20!) reporting directly to the Secretary of State.
State/OCR’s only response to our email inquiry is an automated response as follows:
You have reached the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Civil Rights, which is a federal office that seeks to propagate fairness, equity, and inclusion in the U.S. Department of State’s domestic and overseas workplaces, including the U.S. diplomatic service and embassies and consulates overseas. Please be advised that the following are protected characteristics covered under antidiscrimination laws: race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, and genetic information. The Department also may not engage in reprisal for participation in the EEO process or opposition to illegal discrimination.
We are only able to provide service to direct employees, former direct employees, applicants for direct employment, or others who have direct relationship with the Department of State (including its missions in other countries and domestic facilities) who feel that they have suffered discrimination. Please be sure to include the following information in a follow-up email (or an affirmative statement that the questions do not apply) or else we will not be able to assist you:
    1. Are you an American citizen?
    2. What is your employment status with the Department of State?
    3. Are you alleging discrimination based on one of the EEO categories listed above? Which one?
    4. Please provide a short a narrative of your allegation of discrimination to include date(s).
    5. Where are you currently located?
    6. Please provide a contact information (i.e. phone number and email).
From State/OIG, we only got total radio silence.
By the way, this is a good opportunity to note that it has been 605 days since the Inspector General for State/OIG went vacant according to the oversight.gov tracker. You might recall that former IG Steve Linick was fired urgently under cover of darkness. Now, almost a year into President Biden’s tenure and no nominee has been announced. Who’s happity with that?

Billy Goat on Grass Field by Pixabay

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Career Diplomat Marc Knapper Sworn-In as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

 

 

USCG Almaty on Voluntary Departure For Non-Emergency USG Staff/Family Members

 

On Friday, January 7, 2022, the State Department issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisory for Kazakhstan due to COVID-19 and civil unrest. It also announced that the Department approved the voluntary departure of Consulate General Almaty non-emergency U.S. government employees and family members of all Consulate General Almaty U.S. government employees.
On Saturday, January 8, US Mission Kazakhstan issued a Security Alert for U.S. citizens in the country announcing the voluntary evacuation of non-emergency USG staff and family members at the Consulate General in Almaty. The Alert also advised U.S. citizens in country to shelter in place if a safe departure is not possible:

The U.S. government has authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members at the U.S. Consulate General in Almaty.  

U.S. citizens in Almaty are advised to shelter in place until safe departure is possible.  Avoid standing next to balconies or windows and stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.  Further, all U.S. citizens in Kazakhstan are advised to avoid crowds or demonstrations.

A nationwide state of emergency and curfew is in place between the hours of 11pm and 7am and will remain in effect until January 19.  Expect security checkpoints controlling access to population centers, public transport disruptions, and limitations on movement throughout the country.  Overland border crossing to neighboring countries may not be possible or safe at this time, and access to fuel may be limited.

Unrest in Almaty continues, and there were reports of gunfire overnight and ongoing direct conflict between armed groups and Kazakhstani government forces. Widespread flight and train disruptions continue, and there are cancellations on both domestic and international routes.  Almaty airport and railway stations are currently closed.  You are advised to check with your airline to confirm your flight and reminded to avoid travel during curfew hours.

Communications services countrywide have been limited and internet restrictions continue.  However, the government of Kazakhstan reports that access to limited news outlets has been restored.  Disruptions to internet access may continue to impact other services such as banking, credit card transactions, and COVID-19 testing.  Coordinate with your medical provider to determine testing availability.

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