Pompeo: Heat-Seeking Missile Comment Offensive, Also Great to Lead Org of “70,000-Plus Great Americans”

Secretary Pompeo was in New York for a UN gig and had a couple of interviews with transcripts now posted on state.gov.  Asked about the New Yorker profile with a former ambassador’s quip heard around the world, the secretary told CBS’s Gayle King, “I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.
Also Secretary Pompeo basically touting 70,000-plus great Americans working for him (he doesn’t).
In the interview, Pompeo actually said, “It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world …”
He might like to think that for his “One Team, One Mission” motto but that’s not accurate.
Can somebody please tell the Secretary that he does not/does not have 70,000 plus Americans working for him? He obviously doesn’t know that 50,839 of those “70,000-plus great Americans” are Locally Employed Staff (also known as LES) who are Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) and Personal Service Agreements (PSA) working hard in over 270 posts overseas in support U.S. interests (see HR PDF). It is by far, the largest largest employee group within the State Department which, as FSN Eddy Olislaeger points out as recently as 2018, has “no organization to represent them, to safeguard their interests, and to promote excellence and professionalism among their ranks.”

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo delivers remarks on “One Team, One Mission: Introducing our Ethos” to State Department employees at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 26, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Excerpt below via state.gov:

QUESTION:  You were the cover story in The New Yorker, 21 pages devoted to you, called, “Secretary of Trump.”  And it’s interesting because it takes the evolution of you, Mike Pompeo, who grew up in Orange County, who – I was surprised to see you like AC/DC.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  My younger days.

QUESTION:  I did not see that coming.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I still like them today.

QUESTION:  They call you – you’ve been called an old-fashioned American.  Your dogs, golden retrievers, are named after generals.  General —

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Sherman and Patton are the last two.

QUESTION:  Sherman and Patton.  But the point I’m making is that people that know you and love you and support you say, “Look, this is a guy who loves his country.”  And I think people are surprised to see the evolution of where you were in the beginning in 2016 when you supported Marco Rubio – and at one point said it’s time to turn the lights down on the circus to the Donald Trump campaign – to now being very closely aligned with Donald Trump.  Somebody said, “He actually gets Donald Trump.”  What is it that you get about Donald Trump that others don’t?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  He cares deeply about America.  And in the world that I’ve worked – I worked for him first as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, now as the Secretary of State.  He wants to see the American people secure, he wants to grow our economy, he wants better lives for them.  I see that.  I’ve had lots of chances to engage with him.

QUESTION:  But you see it now though.  In the beginning you said authoritarian, trying to turn the – time to turn the lights out in the circus.  I’m curious because they say about you, you are very patriotic, you get this country.  The President is not always accused of telling the truth.  He’s very loose with his tweets.  It seems to be opposite of how you run your life.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Yeah, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working for President Trump.  No, the comments from back in 2016 – it was a tough political campaign, and when I’m on your team, I am all in, as I was.  And when my candidate left, I was all in for President Trump then as well, and I’m in for America today.

QUESTION:  You have a lot of support, Mr. Secretary.  They say that State Department morale is better under your watch.  People feel good about what they do, but you’ve got critics.  One former American ambassador who shall not be named – this is delicate – describes you like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s bottom, except he used the other word.  When you hear stuff like that to compare how you are with this President, what do you think?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I find that language offensive and I find the statement ludicrous.  I work hard.  I work hard for the President of the United States, who was constitutionally elected.  He is my leader.  My task is to share with him the best information.  If we disagree, my duty is to go share with him our disagreements.  I do that with great frequency.  But when he makes a decision and it’s legal, it is my task to go execute that with all the energy and power that I have.

QUESTION:  If he wins a second term, will you continue to be Secretary of State?  You know there are calls for you to run for Senate in Kansas.  Don’t expect you to say, “Yes, I’m going to run here, Gayle.”  But if he does, if he wins again, do you want to be Secretary of State?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I would love to serve for him just as long as I can.  It’s a great opportunity to get to lead this organization of 70,000-plus great Americans who are out there all across the world taking real risk for themselves and their families and delivering good, solid American diplomacy everywhere they are.

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New Yorker on Mike Pompeo’s Reinvention From Obscure Congressman to Whatever Trump Wants Him to Be

 

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Letter From Caracas: Did You Hear About the American Diplomat Carjacked in Venezuela?

Jon Lee Anderson has a piece on What has Hugo Chávez wrought in Venezuela? (see Letter From Caracas, Slumlord, New Yorker, Jan 28, 2013). Anderson reports:

“Caracas has deteriorated beyond all measure. It has one of the highest homicide rates in the world; last year, in a city of three million, an estimated thirty-six hundred people were murdered, or about one every two hours. The murder rate in Venezuela has tripled since Chávez took office.”

That New Yorker piece prompted a note to this blog about the carjacking of an American diplomat in Caracas last October.  Did I know about that? No, I did not. Fortunately, the criminals only took the vehicle and the FSO was not harmed. Here is what we’ve learned about that incident:

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at approximately 7:50 p.m. an American employee of Embassy Caracas was carjacked in the Sebucan neighborhood of Caracas. The perpetrators were three or four men armed with handguns. The victim’s house keys, wallet, and cell phone were in the cup holders located between the vehicle’s two front seats at the time of the carjacking. They were taken with the car. The victim was unharmed, and with the aid of friends living in a nearby building, was able to contact the Regional Security Office which then dispatched an embassy roving patrol to pick up the victim. The victim stayed the night in the home of another embassy employee.

Apparently, the neighborhood of Sebucan, where the carjacking took place, is notorious for its difficult to navigate narrow streets. The victim had stopped his/her vehicle in front of a friend’s apartment building on one of these narrow streets, waiting for his/her friends to come down, when he/she saw another vehicle coming down the street. The victim attempted to maneuver his/her vehicle closer to the curb, in order to allow the other vehicle to pass, in effect boxing his/her own vehicle in. Instead of passing, the other vehicle pulled right up to the victim’s bumper, and three or four men got out of the vehicle, brandishing handguns. The whole time the attackers had their weapons pointed at the victim. The victim was divested of his/her cell phone and later frisked as if searching for weapons.  The attackers then got into their own and the victim’s vehicles, and drove both vehicles away.

After the carjacking, the US Embassy in Caracas reportedly sent out a notice to all mission employees with several suggestions to “help future potential victims stay safe” and with the following interesting tidbit:

“Being forced from your vehicle at gunpoint by multiple armed men and left on the side of the road is a harrowing experience. It is the criminals who conduct these crimes, not their targets, who should be held responsible, and RSO has no interest in “blaming the victim.” 

Uh-oh! If that got into the notice, does that mean “blaming the victim” went around the block five times over and round and round within the mission that the RSO had to distance itself from it?

Our Caracas note writer had some rather strong words for the mothership, which we are reprinting in part below:

“The State Department has not done much to assist the community in Caracas in dealing with issues like this, and Caracas is still a ZERO percent danger post.[…] The 20% hardship pay is also low considering the difficulty of living here, the security no-go areas, the government’s open hatred of the US, the crazy artificial exchange rate and highest inflation in world, and the lack of infrastructure. The department has not done anything to boost the low morale.”

As of January 27, 2013, Caracas is a 42% COLA, 20% hardship post and indeed, a 0% danger post.

We’ll have a related post later on danger pay designation because it has been coming up with more frequency. In the meantime, maybe one of our readers from Foggy Bottom can flag this post for WHA A/S Roberta Jacobson  and please tell her there are stuff going on in her Caracas shop?

For sure, WHA is aware that between July 2010 and October 2011, US Embassy Caracas had two interim chargés, and relied upon a series of acting DCMs, which contributed to inconsistency and confusion regarding internal direction within the mission. This was in the 2012 IG inspection report.  But of related concern to that, the embassy has a good number of first tour officers.  This potentially can be a most memorable tour for those officers, but not in a good way meriting fondness and inspiration.

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US Mission Afghanistan: New Ambassador Sworn in a Country Forgotten by Presidential Candidates

The new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham was sworn in by Consular Officer Alissa Redmond at the U.S. Embassy on August 12 in Kabul.  Ambassador Cunningham previously served as Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Ambassador James Cunningham swearing-in at US Embassy Kabul.
Photo via US Embassy Kabul/Flickr
(click on photo to view the slideshow)

If you have the time and the interest, the swearing-in video including the ambassador’s speech is here.

Meanwhile, back here at home, the presidential campaigns are in full swing. The veepstakes finally has a winner.  And the Super PACs and the gazillionaires are doing their best spending obscene amounts of money to help “speed up” the economic recovery and get their man into the White House.  Really, you don’t think this economy would have been a lot, lot worse without all that money pouring in, all that election hiring, ad campaigns, pizza, etc. etc.  Thank god for the green slime!

And then, of course, with the line-up complete and the presidential campaigns in full swing, The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins had the audacity to bring up that almost forgotten country of Afghanistan.

“How’s this for a conspiracy of silence? With less than three months to go until Election Day, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have successfully avoided saying almost anything about America’s war in Afghanistan. Remember that war?”

Do we really want to remember that in August we already have 289 coalition forces dead in Afghanistan? Or that attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by Afghan security forces, the so called ‘green-on-blue’ attacks which has resulted in death is already at 34, two less than the casualties from the entire 2011? Or that 108 civilian contractors have already died in Afghanistan in the first two quarters of 2012?

We do, we do, but who’s asking the candidates? Perhaps we need Will McAvoy to ask the candidates about their state of amnesia over these affairs far, far away, including green slime growing on trees or in somebody’s bank account.

Domani Spero