$400K Life Insurance Supplemental to Eligible Employees Killed in Terrorist Attacks

Posted: 2:27 am EDT
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We’re working our way through the‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016’’ which became Public Law No: 114-113 on December 18, 2015. Under Special Provisions, SEC . 7034 modifies the life insurance supplemental granted to those employees killed in terrorist attacks  (see p.522 of a pdf file or search text here):

(d) DIRECTIVES AND  AUTHORITIES .—

(5) MODIFICATION OF LIFE INSURANCE SUPPLEMENTAL APPLICABLE TO THOSE KILLED IN TERRORIST ATTACKS .—

(A) Section 415(a)(1) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3975(a)(1)) is amended by striking ‘‘a payment from the United States in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer-provided group life insurance policy coverage (if any), equals $400,000’’ and inserting ‘‘a special payment of $400,000, which shall be in addition to any employer provided life insurance policy coverage’’.

(B) The insurance benefit under section 415 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3975), as amended by subparagraph (A), shall be applicable to eligible employees who die as a result of injuries sustained while on duty abroad because of an act of terrorism, as defined in section 140(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 (22 U.S.C. 2656f(d)), anytime on or after April 18, 1983.

Terrorism as defined under 22 U.S.C. 2656f(d)), read more here.

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan pay their respects and tribute to the 13 American civilian and 4 U.S. military personnel victims of the embassy bombing.

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan pay their respects and tribute to the 13 American civilian and 4 U.S. military personnel victims of the embassy bombing. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Here is 3 FAM 3653.1 last updated on February 26, 2015 (PDF) on the Life Insurance Supplement:

(1)  Foreign Service Employees. Section 415 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (“Section 415”) allows for payment of a life insurance supplement to any Foreign Service employee who dies from injuries sustained as a result of terrorism while on duty abroad; and

(2)  Other Employees and Unpaid Interns. The life insurance supplement provided under Section 415 is available to any other employee of the Department of State or other relevant agency (as “employee” is defined under 5 U.S.C. 8101, see 3 FAM 3652.1), including but not limited to an individual employed under a PSA or PSC pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 2669(c) or an individual serving in an uncompensated capacity, who dies from injuries sustained as a result of terrorism while on duty abroad and subject to the authority of the chief of mission pursuant to Section 207

Currently, per 3 FAM 3653.3 Amounts Payable (PDF)
(b) Life Insurance Supplement:

(1)  Eligible employees, as defined in 3 FAM 3653.1(b), other than those described in paragraph (2) below, will receive from the employing agency a life insurance supplement payment under Section 415 in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer-provided or employer-supported life insurance policy coverage (e.g., Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program or other policy partially funded by the employing agency), if any, equals $400,000; and

(2)  Employees compensated under LCPs, or individuals hired locally and serving in an uncompensated capacity, will receive from the employing agency a life insurance supplement payment under Section 415 in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer- provided or employer-supported life insurance policy coverage, if any, is equivalent to two and a half years’ basic salary at the highest step of the highest grade on the employee’s LCP at the time of death (or, for locally employed individuals serving in an uncompensated capacity, the LCP governing the post in which the individual served), not to exceed the equivalent of $400,000.

The modification does not mention retroactive payments but note that it says injuries sustained while on duty abroad due to an act of terrorism, “anytime on or after April 18, 1983.”   That’s the date of the U.S. Embassy Beirut, Lebanon suicide bombing that killed 63 people including 17 Americans.

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Related item:

3 FAM 3620 | FEDERAL EMPLOYEES GROUP LIFE INSURANCE (FEGLI) PROGRAM (PDF)

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GOP’s Benghazi Report: Anonymous DS Agent, Whistleblowers and Embassy “Security”

There are three items we found interesting in Appendix I of the House GOP’s interim report on Benghazi.

House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform: The Committee has heard from, and continues to hear from, multiple individuals with direct and/or indirect information about events surrounding the attacks in Benghazi.

On April 17, CBS News reported that multiple new whistleblowers are privately speaking to investigators with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and that the Committee had sent new letters to the CIA, DOD and State. If there are multiple whistleblowers as claimed here, we could be looking at Benghazi hearings going on all the way to 2014 and even 2016. By then Diplopundit Jr. would be old enough to drive and what more, junior would never ever again confused Benghazi with Bujumbura. So that’s something to look forward to.

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Approached a DS agent who was on the scene in a not-yet-successful effort to obtain additional information. This individual wishes to remain anonymous. 

The individual may wish to remain anonymous but that anonymity is not going to go very far inside the building. How many DS agents were on the scene of the attacks again?  That’s a pretty thin cover.  Poor guy won’t get any peace or space between now and then, whenever then maybe.

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Building on its Benghazi investigation, the Committee is taking a broader look at embassy security to determine whether the State Department is adequately protecting its personnel at other diplomatic facilities. Improving embassy security is a Committee legislative priority. The Committee is particularly concerned about, and is currently investigating, the security situation at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. 

Well, then all we can add is that the Committee better hurry with the broader look Congress is doing before it’s too late.

It can start with the Consulate General in Jeddah

Want to go further than 2007?   Why don’t we try 30 years back with the US Embassy in Beirut?

Apparently, thirty long years after the Beirut embassy bombing, we might be close to finally building a Fortress in Beirut. Ay caramba but it’s now happening!

Proposal for the U.S. Embassy building in Beirut, conceived by Ralph Rapson in 1953.

Proposal for the U.S. Embassy building in Beirut, conceived by Ralph Rapson in 1953. This project is not related to the current one. (image via the Lebanese Architecture Portal – click on image to view original material)

While at it, Congress might want to see if the State Department bothered to learn anything from the embassy mob attacks last year since no ARB was ever convened.  We understand that in some of those posts attacked, there were strict orders from the front office to restrict dissemination of information and photos on the extent of the damages (US Embassy Tunis was one exception).

Might it be true that some of our embassies in the Arab Spring countries are trying to shape perceptions to what they imagine their embassy and host country should be instead of basing post and host country expectations on reality?

If the Committee is particularly concerned about the security situation at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan where we have a large number of contract guards and the U.S. military, should it not be also concerned with the U.S. Embassy in Egypt where neither is present and mobocacy now rules?

— DS

US Embassy Beirut Marks 30th Anniversary of Embassy Bombing in Ain El Mraise

Today, the US Embassy in Lebanon gathered at the Embassy in Awkar to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Embassy bombing in Ain El Mraiseh on April 18, 1983.

The incident’s entry in Wikipedia says that the car bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber driving a delivery van packed with about 2,000 pounds (910 kg) of explosives at approximately 1:00 pm (GMT+2) April 18, 1983. The van, originally sold in Texas, bought used and shipped to the Gulf, gained access to the embassy compound and parked under the portico at the very front of the building, where it exploded.

Image from US Embassy Lebanon/FB

Image from US Embassy Lebanon/FB

Excerpt from Ambassador Maura Connelly‘s remarks:

We are here today to remember our colleagues who were taken from us 30 years ago today, in a terrible bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Ain el-Mreisseh.  A huge bomb exploded in front of the embassy and sheared off a large part of the building.  52 staff of the U.S. mission died that day; many others were wounded.  For those who lost their lives, the story was finished.  For those who survived, years of loss and grief and trauma and hardship and recovery followed.  Some of you here today are among those survivors.  I remember our destroyed embassy often:  when I pass the site along the Corniche or sometimes when I enter our compound here through the barriers designed to defend against another truck bombing, I remember those whom we lost.  I know the survivors and the families of the victims remember that awful day every day and they always will.
[…]

In 1983, the staff of Embassy Beirut came in peace but a terrorist group chose them as its target and killed 52 people.  But ultimately the terrorists failed.  Because Embassy Beirut re-established itself here, on this compound, and went back to work.  And when terrorists chose to attack us again in 1984, they found it was harder to kill us.  We went back to work again and we have worked hard ever since, day in, day out.  We come in peace every day and we always will.   In the end, the terrorists always fail.

1983 and 1984 were very hard years for us.  We suffered many losses.  And the losses haven’t stopped.

 

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ambassador Crocker Arrested for Hit and Run and DUI in Spokane

We were not always happy with Ambassador Crocker’s often glass is full assessment of what was going on in Afghanistan when he was the Ambassador there, but the following news is not one we were hoping to read on his second post-retirement.

KXLY.com of Spokane, Washington (h/t to The Cable’s Josh Rogin) reported that Ambassador Ryan Crocker was arrested at 2:05 in the afternoon on August 14 by the Washington State Patrol for hit-and-run and driving under the influence in Spokane Valley. The report cited the State Patrol saying that Ambassador Crocker crossed two lanes of traffic, clipped a semi and damaged the passenger side of the Ford Mustang he was driving. He was pulled over, taken into custody and transported to the Spokane Valley Precinct where he received a sobriety test. He reportedly had a .16 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) on one test, twice the legal limit in Washington State. Another test reportedly indicated a .152 BAC.

“It was fairly obvious that Mr. Crocker was highly intoxicated ,” Briggs [Washington State Patrol Trooper] said, adding that the arresting trooper said that Crocker was very cooperative throughout the incident.

The State Patrol believes he was intoxicated by alcohol, not prescription drugs, due to odor and the high blood alcohol count. The WSP added Thursday there is no way Crocker could have crossed two lanes of traffic, hit the semi and continued to drive without knowing it.
[…]
On Aug. 15, the day following his arrest, Crocker pled not guilty to the hit and run and DUI charges. Both charges carried a $1,000 bail.
[…]
His next court appearance is scheduled for September 12.

Read in full here.

Just a day before this incident, Yale News reported that Ambassador Crocker has been named Yale’s first Kissinger Senior Fellow at the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy and was scheduled to teach both undergraduate and graduate students during the 2012-2013 academic year.

In his long career with the State Department, Ambassador Crocker served as ambassador six times.  He was the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2011 to July 2012. He was also previously  United States Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007, to Syria from 1998 to 2001, to Kuwait from 1994 to 1997, and to Lebanon from 1990 to 1993.

Of course, prior to becoming ambassador he served in a host of other places like Qatar and Iraq.  In 2003, he was also a political officer at the US Embassy in Lebanon when it was hit by a suicide car bomb. A total of 63 people were killed in the bombing: 32 Lebanese employees, 17 Americans, and 14 visitors and passersby.

Almost all mention of Ambassador Crocker’s name also mentions some of the most dangerous hotspots where he served since joining the Foreign Service in the early 1970’s.  We don’t stop and pause often enough to ask if we can send our diplomats to all these dangerous places in the world over and over and over again without any personal consequences on their part. What part of themselves did they lost in Beirut or Peshawar? We never really ask and they did not tell, except sometimes, decades later.

Kristin K. Loken was a Foreign Service officer with USAID who worked at the US Embassy in San Salvador for two years in the late 1970s during El Salvador’s brutal civil war was later diagnosed with “post-traumatic shock syndrome,” (the term used for PTSD in the early 1980s):

“I went to my boss and told her I thought I was going through some postwar emotional problems and asked if the State Department or USAID had some counseling services available. She said she was sympathetic but thought senior people would probably frown on my having emotional problems, and advised that disclosing my condition might negatively affect my eventual tenuring with USAID. So it would be best to keep a “stiff upper lip.” Her advice was to see a private therapist, for which she would give me as much administrative leave as I needed.”

In her 2008 FSJ article on PTSD (Not Only for Combat Veterans (p.42)), she writes about subsequently working on the Lebanon program and the 1983 US Embassy Beirut bombing:

In April 1983, I had just left the city and arrived back in the U.S. when the embassy was blown up. In the bombing, I lost my mission director, Bill Mc-Intyre, our Lebanese secretary and many other colleagues and good friends with whom I had worked for the last year.
[…]
I noticed that many of the symptoms of the previous PTSD episode returned at this time, but I felt that if I were patient, they would pass as they had the first time.
[…]
More than two decades after I first experienced PTSD, the symptoms have for the most part passed — except when I am overcome by exhaustion, physical pain, illness or stress. Then I can feel myself slipping back into a bad place.

We cannot presume to know what is ailing Ambassador Crocker or if he has been screened for PTSD.   We can only hope that he gets better.  An unnamed official told CNN that “the serious health problem he had in Iraq came back, so he is forced to leave a year early for genuinely serious health reasons.” The State Department Spokesman also confirmed this to the press last May without additional details when news first broke that Ambassador Crocker is stepping down from his post at the US Embassy in Kabul.

We note that Ambassador Crocker was reportedly arrested at 2:05 p.m. with a .16 BAC, twice the legal limit in Washington State.  USVA’s PTSD page notes that PTSD and alcohol use problems are often found together.  Below is a a description of what happens when an individual has a BAC of between .12 to .15:

.12-.15 BAC = Vomiting usually occurs, unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance to alcohol. Drinkers are drowsy.

Drinkers display emotional instability, loss of critical judgment, impairment of perception, memory, and comprehension.

Lack of sensor-motor coordination and impaired balance are typical. Decreased sensory responses and increased reaction times develop. The vision is significantly impaired, including limited ability to see detail, peripheral vision, and slower glare recovery.

Here are other important details on PTSD and alcohol use from USVA:

  • Having PTSD also increases the risk that an individual will develop a drinking problem.
  • Up to three quarters of those who have survived abusive or violent trauma report drinking problems.
  • Up to a third of those who survive traumatic accidents, illness, or disasters report drinking problems.
  • Alcohol problems are more common for survivors who have ongoing health problems or pain.
  • Sixty to eighty percent of Vietnam Veterans seeking PTSD treatment have alcohol use problems.

We don’t know that we’ll hear from Ambassador Crocker, himself. But we hope he speaks out.

In any case, when my best friend in the Foreign Service retired, he got a signed certificate from the Secretary and once or twice a year, he gets a statement of pay from some office at State and that’s about it. He gets more correspondence on military news, pay, benefits, etc. from the U.S. Armed Forces from where he retired prior to joining the State Department.

What support can Ambassador Crocker expect from the State Department?

We’ll shortly find out.

Domani Spero

Update:  Seattle’s kirotv.com covers this here.   CNN is reporting that he was charged, car impounded then released on his own recognizance.  According to CNN conditions of his bail, as outlined August 15, include “refraining from committing any crimes and consuming alcohol or drugs except as prescribed by a doctor, the court docket states. Crocker was also ordered to go to a drug testing office within 24 hours and undergo alcohol testing twice a month.”