Senate Confirms Goldberg, Hale, Sison, Smith For Personal Rank of Career Ambassador

On July 18, President Trump sent the nomination of four career diplomats for the personal rank of Career Ambassador to the U.S. Senate. The nominations have been placed on the Senate Executive Calendar on July 26.

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for the personal rank of Career Ambassador in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period:

  • Philip S. Goldberg, of DC
  • David M. Hale, of NJ
  • Michele Jeanne Sison, of MD
  • Daniel Bennett Smith, of VA

See: Trump Nominates Goldberg, Hale, Sison, and Smith For Personal Rank of Career Ambassador

On September 6, the U.S. Senate confirmed the four nominations and the State Department has its first Career Ambassadors under this administration.

2018-09-06 PN2319 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Philip S. Goldberg, and ending Daniel Bennett Smith, which 4 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 18, 2018.

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Career Diplomat Philip Goldberg to be Charge d‘Affaires at U.S. Embassy Havana

Posted: 2:06 am ET

 

Reuters is reporting that Cuba has granted a visa to senior career diplomat Philip Goldberg who will soon take up post as  charge d‘affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana,  “He will head a mission that Washington stripped of many staff four months ago amid a dispute over mystery illnesses among its diplomats on the Communist-run island. He is likely to spend about six months in the position though the length of his stint is not certain, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Ambassador Goldberg was previously Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Bolivia) 2006-2008Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (2010-2013) and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (Philippines) 2013-2016.

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Philippine President Calls the US Ambassador to Manila WHAT?

Posted:3:02 am ET
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Just a couple of weeks ago, he was all wassup man when Secretary paid him a visit.

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Sung Y. Kim — From North Korea Special Rep to the Philippines

Posted: 1:21  am ET
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On May 18, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Sung Y. Kim as his nominee to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. The WH released the following brief bio:

Sung Y. Kim, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, positions he has held since 2014.  Previously, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2011 to 2014, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks with the rank of Ambassador from 2008 to 2011, and Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Kim was Political-Military Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea from 2002 to 2006.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Mr. Kim has also held positions at posts in Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Kim was a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Kim received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy (Photo via US Embassy/FB)

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy
(Photo via US Embassy/FB)

If confirmed, Ambassador Kim would succeed career diplomat, Philip Goldberg who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Manila in December 2013.

 

Related posts:

 

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U.S. Embassy Manila Gets the WH Spotlight: When POTUS Comes to Town (Video)

Posted: 2:06 am EDT
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See what it’s like for folks working at a U.S. Embassy when POTUS comes to town. The White House’s West Wing Week took a short break from regular programming for a behind the scene look at U.S. Embassy Manila’s preparation for President Obama’s visit to the Philippines.

As of January 2016, President Obama has reportedly made 43 international trips to 52 different countries since his 2009 inauguration.  2016 is also shaping up to be a busy year for overseas presidential travel. President Obama will travel to Germany in April 2016 to join the United States delegation in their participation at the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial fair. In May, he is scheduled to travel to Japan to attend the 42nd G7 summit in Shima. He is also scheduled to travel to Poland in July to attend the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw. September will find him traveling to China to attend the G-20 summit meeting in Hangzhou. He is also expected to attend the APEC summit meeting in Lima, Peru in November. There are also tentative trips reported for Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, among a host of other places.

 

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US Embassy Manila on Anikow Murder: Nobody “served a day for that brutal crime.”

— Domani Spero
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In November 2012, we blogged about the murder of a spouse of a U.S. diplomat assigned to the US embassy in the Philippines (see US Embassy Manila: George Anikow, Diplomatic Spouse Killed in Early Morning Altercation; and George Anikow Murder: “A Macho Against Macho Issue” Says Philippine Police).

In an interview last week with Philippine media, Ambassador Philip Goldberg expressed disappointment over the disposition of the murder case:

In an interview with ANC, Goldberg said nobody “served a day for that brutal crime.”  The diplomat is referring to the murder of US Marine Major George Anikow’s killing on November 24, 2012 at a security checkpoint in Bel-Air. The incident was partly captured in a security camera. Charged were Juan Alfonso Abastillas, Osric Cabrera, Galicano Datu III, and Crispin de la Paz.

Goldberg noted only two suspects were convicted of homicide “but were given probation” by the trial court. The two others got scot free from any charges. […] He said it’s been hard explaining to the family as to “why this happened in a case of very brutal murder.”

The Philippine Justice Department had reportedly filed murder charges previously against the four suspects who, according to reports, come from well-to-do families — Juan Alfonso Abastillas, 24; Crispin dela Paz, 28; Osric Cabrera, 27; and Galicano Datu III, 22.

News report from the Philippines indicate that the victim’s sister, Mary Anikow and his 77 year-old mother traveled to Manila to observed the trial in 2013.  “The United States is not perfect; everyone knows this. But most people generally don’t get away with murder,” Ms Anikow said.

Ambassador Goldberg in the ANC interview said that the Philippine Department of Justice promised the embassy there could be something done with regard to the probation. “But it has been appealed once, and it was denied. So it looks like it’s the end of the road,” he said.

‘Well-to-do kids accused in murder of American diplomat’s husband get visas to study in the United States’ — please, can we at least make sure we don’t end up with a headline like that?

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U.S. Embassy Bolivia: A Post Far From Heaven, Read the Fine Details in the Classified OIG Annex!

— Domani Spero
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Which regional bureau recalled one post’s top two officials prior to the arrival of the OIG inspectors?
Burn Bag, March 23, 2014

 

According to the OIG report on the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia released on July 17, just before the OIG inspection conducted in February and March 2014, the State Department “recalled the chargé and the political/economic section chief who served as acting DCM from August 2012 to September 2013 and took steps to mitigate some of the embassy’s leadership problems.”

How do you recall the embassy’s top two officials? Very quietly, presumably.  There were no public announcements or statements.  There have been some pretty awful embassies with leadership problems but we have seldom heard the recall of both the number #1 and #2 at the same time. So, what happened?

This OIG report has a classified annex which includes supplemental narrative and recommendations.  This is not the first time that a report has a classified annex but this is one of the few we can recall since the OIG stopped issuing the Inspector’s Evaluation Reports for senior embassy officials.  So now, all the bad stuff is just dumped in the classified annex of the report where the OIG says that “Portions of context, leadership, resource management, Equal Employment Opportunity, and quality of life in the annex should be read in conjunction with this report.” We have no access to the annex and of course, only State Department insiders who theoretically, have a “need to know” can access the classified material.

via US Embassy La Paz/FB

via US Embassy La Paz/FB

Here is what the publicly available, sanitized report on US Embassy Bolivia says on Leadership:

The former chargé interacted with senior government officials more often and more effectively than the hostile environment might have suggested. He expanded his personal engagement with the local media. He negotiated an unexpected $2.4-million reimbursement of value-added taxes. Also, he initiated development of an updated mission vision that called for expanded outreach to the Bolivian people and greater focus on cultural programs and English-language training.

Despite these and other successes, nearly all American staff members told the OIG team that they did not understand mission priorities or their part in achieving goals. The OIG team frequently heard staff tell of instructions given one day only to have the former front office forget or reverse them the next. Skepticism about public diplomacy programming one month could be replaced by front office enthusiasm for a cultural project the next. Reporting officers, already in a difficult environment for contact development and reporting, stated that the front office did little to direct reporting or provide training and mentoring. Embassy staff members told the OIG team they wanted clear and steady guidance from the front office but did not receive it.

Is that not enough to get two senior officials recalled?

On Resource Management:

Although the 2013 annual chief of mission statement of assurances identified no significant management control deficiencies, many of the vulnerabilities discussed in this report would have been apparent if embassy leadership had conducted a thorough review of management controls prior to submitting the chief of mission statement.

On Equal Employment Opportunity:

Within the past year, the EEO counselors handled more than 10 inquiries, many involving gender bias or sexual harassment.

On Quality of Life:

The Health Unit  ” handled eight medical evacuations of U.S. personnel within the past year and provides ongoing support to mission personnel for altitude-related ailments.”

 

Well, what do you think?  The report’s key judgments, are pretty well, bland; no one ran off to a new job in Tripoli or Sana’a. And man, whose fault was it that La Paz was assigned a cadre of inexperienced officers?

  • Embassy La Paz lacked the strong, consistent leadership and the sustained attention from Washington that it needed to manage a complicated bilateral relationship and had a relatively inexperienced officer cadre and a locally employed staff emerging from a reduction in force.
  • The embassy registered several impressive successes despite a drastic reduction in programs and work force in response to the Bolivian Government’s expulsion of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State’s decision to end all U.S. counternarcotics programs.
  • The embassy needs a clearly defined mission strategy.
  • The management section has a number of potential management control vulnerabilities related to record keeping and funds control. It is still coping with 2013’s major reduction in force of locally employed staff and an almost 50-percent reduction in the embassy’s services budget.

According to the OIG report, as of January 2014, the embassy had a total staff of 310, slightly more than one-third of 2008 numbers. The U.S. Embassy in La Paz has not been a typical embassy operation since 2008. In September that year, Bolivia expelled Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg (now ambassador to the Philippines). Shortly thereafter, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Peace Corps suspended their operations in the country. In May 2013, Bolivia expelled USAID and the USG subsequently also shut down all International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) programs in the country.   The OIG inspectors conclude that the US-Bolivia relationship is “unlikely to normalize soon.” Below are some additional details extracted from the publicly available report:

La Paz, A Post Far From Heaven

  • The Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) paid sporadic attention to embassy operations.
  • Since 2008, WHA used a series of deputy chiefs of mission (DCM) as chargé d’affaires and after July 2012 detailed section heads (first from the political/economic section, then from public affairs, and just before the inspection from the management section) to serve as acting DCM for extended periods. The Department also decided not to assign a permanent office management specialist for the chief of mission, and the front office relied on office management specialists from other sections for months at a time. […] The effects of these stopgap measures were threefold. First, they required officers to serve as acting DCM for extended periods without appropriate training. Second, they took seasoned leaders out of embassy sections, leaving those sections in the hands of usually capable—but inexperienced—deputies. The deputies rose to the challenge, but they did not receive adequate guidance or leadership from their former supervisors. Productivity and morale suffered.

Love Letters Written, Never Sent

  • The political/economic section staff is frustrated and discouraged, primarily because of lack of front office policy direction, as well as poor communication, organization, and training within the section. Given the deteriorating political environment and unclear policy guidance from both the front office and the Department, the section had an opportunity to devise and drive a revised policy and action agenda, but did not do so. […] The OIG team reviewed a number of substantive and useful report drafts prepared by officers and local employees that were never sent, usually because the former section chief dismissed them without working with the drafter to improve the texts. This wasted effort caused significant staff frustration.

Tearing Your Hair, Learning on the Job

  • The public affairs section does not have enough experienced grants officers. Only one person in the section, a FAST officer, had a grants warrant as of February 2014. From June through August 2013, in the absence of any public affairs section grants officer, two political/economic FAST officers signed about 100 public diplomacy grants, about which they knew little.

Not Leading By Example – Managing From Desk Via Email

  • The consular section is a small operation, processing fewer than 20,000 nonimmigrant visas, approximately 800 immigrant visas, and about 1,600 passport applications in 2013. The section chief manages from her desk and via email. This remote management style is not appropriate for the size of the operation and has a negative impact on section morale and operations.
  • The consular section chief only adjudicates high-profile or referral visa cases. Recent guidance in 13 STATE 153746 reminded consular managers that they are expected to do some interviewing themselves. The section chief’s lack of hands-on participation contributes to longer hours that the more junior employees have to spend interviewing, and remoteness from actual processing undermines her credibility as an expert. It also reduces the opportunities for management to train new personnel and to identify potential interview technique and workflow efficiencies.
  • Neither the former chargé d’affaires nor the former acting DCM reviewed the 65 cases that the consular chief handled in the past year. Failure to review the required 10 percent of visa approvals and 20 percent of refusals, per 9 FAM 41.113 PN 17 and 9 FAM 41.121 N2.3-7, leads to lack of consistency in visa issuance and refusal. Adjudication reviews are also a vital management control to prevent malfeasance.

FSN Evaluations and Health Plans

  • The human resources office memo also listed 11 locally employed staff whose performance evaluations were between 21 and 242 days late. Locally employed staff members cannot qualify for in-grade salary increases if their performance reviews are not current.
  • Although the embassy participates in the local social security retirement plan, it does not participate in the local social security health program. Instead, the embassy provides a private health plan for locally employed staff. When locally employed staff members retire, most of the social security health plans are unwilling to accept them because they have not been longstanding contributors. The retirees are left with diminished health insurance coverage for their retirement years.

Allowances Paid on Outdated Info

  • The Department of State Standardized Regulation 072.12 requires that the hardship differential report, consumables allowance report, and cost-of-living survey be submitted every 2 years. All these reports are late. The embassy is paying allowances based on outdated information.

Power Outages with No Fully Functional UPS. For 3 Years!

  • The embassy’s centralized uninterruptible power system is in disrepair and has not been fully functional for the past 3 years. As a result, the chancery building experiences frequent power outages caused by the instability of the local power infrastructure. The power outages have caused permanent damage to the server room and disrupted the network infrastructure.

 

Just before the inspection, the WHA bureau and the Bureau of Human Resources apparently agreed that, because a permanent ambassador is not likely in the foreseeable future, the Department would assign a permanent chargé d’affaires and a permanent DCM in La Paz. It only took them about five years to make up their minds.

Peter Brennan was appointed chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz in June 2014. Prior to his appointment in Bolivia, he was Minister-Counselor for Communications and Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.  It does not look like post now has a permanent DCM as Public Affairs Officer, Aruna Amirthanayagam, who was acting chargé is now Acting DCM.

The inspection took place in Washington, DC, between January 6 and February 4, 2014, and in La Paz, Bolivia, between March 5 and 20, 2014. Ambassador Gene Christy (team leader), Thomas Allsbury, Laurent Charbonnet, Eric Chavera, Leo Hession, Tracey Keiter, Keith Powell, Ashea Riley, Richard Sypher, Alexandra Vega, Roman Zawada, and Barbara Zigli conducted the inspection.

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Related item:

-07/31/14   Inspection of Embassy La Paz, Bolivia (ISP-I-14-16A)  [595 Kb]  Posted on July 17, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation of Credentials: American Ambassadors to Manila, Santo Domingo, London

— Domani Spero

U.S. Embassy Philippines

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg presented his credentials to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, December 2 at the Malacañan Palace. (photo via US Embassy Manila/FB)

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg presented his credentials to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, December 2, 2013 at the Malacañan Palace. (photo via US Embassy Manila/FB). More photos here.

U.S. Embassy Dominican Republic

Ambassador Wally Brewster during his presentation of credentials to Presidente Danilo Medina at Palacio Nacional Dominicano on December 9, 2013. (photo via US Embassy DR/FB) More photos here.

Ambassador Wally Brewster during his presentation of credentials to President Danilo Medina at Palacio Nacional Dominicano on December 9, 2013.
(photo via US Embassy DR/FB) More photos here.

U.S. Embassy United Kingdom

Photo via US Embassy London/Flickr

Ambassador and Mrs. Barzun with Jacques, Eleanor, and Charles after the Credentialing Ceremony on November 27, 2013
Photo via US Embassy London/Flickr
(Click on image for additional photos)
Click here for the photo with the Queen  via The British Monarchy/Flickr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretary Kerry Swears-In New Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg (Video)

– By Domani Spero

Secretary Kerry swore-in Philip Goldberg as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on November 21, 2013. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/remark….

….”we’re proud that we’re sending to the Philippines the right person for the job. Phil Goldberg is a consummate professional who has held an enormous array of positions in the Foreign Service – Executive Secretary to Strobe Talbott, worked with Dick Holbrooke in trying to help resolve – not at trying – in resolving the challenges of the Balkans, spent many long hours in smoke-filled rooms negotiating and working on that peace accord; has served as Deputy – as Chief of Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador in Bolivia; and through State Department in Washington positions; and abroad two Chief of Mission positions – this man is absolutely the right person for this job, most recently serving most capably as the Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research.”

Ambassador Designate Goldberg, following the new media tradition of his two predecessors in Manila, has joined Twitter and on November 25 announced his arrival in a tweet:

Screen Shot 2013-11-25

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Confirmations: Gregory B. Starr, James Walter Brewster, Jr., Philip S. Goldberg

— Domani Spero

On November 14, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominations for the Department of State:

  • Gregory B. Starr – to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Diplomatic Security)
  • James Walter Brewster, Jr. – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Dominican Republic
  • Philip S. Goldberg – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Philippines

A/S Gregory Starr is not a stranger to Diplomatic Security, of course.  From July 2004 through March 2007, Mr. Starr served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Countermeasures where he was responsible for “formulating security policy and plans for countermeasures in the areas of physical security, technical security, and Diplomatic Courier operations for the Department’s overseas and domestic operations and facilities.”  He previously served as Director of the Diplomatic Security Service from April 2007 until his retirement in May 2009.  From May 2009 until January 2013, Mr. Starr served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security.  But he was soon back to the fold.  On February 1, 2013, he was named acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.  Mr. Starr succeeds Eric J. Boswell who held the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security job from 2008 until 2012, when the later was snared by Benghazi. But it looks like not everyone is happy to welcome Mr. Starr back.  In September, current and former State Department officials dished to The Cable’s John Hudson that “confirming Starr could be a mistake and raised a string of fresh allegations against him.” (See Allegations Swirl Around Obama’s Pick for State Department Security Chief).  That made a brief splash but  State stood behind the nominee, including the State Department Chief of Staff David Wade.  And Mr. Starr is now officially the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.

James Walter Brewster, Jr. was nominated by President Obama back in July.  Officially In: James “Wally” Brewster, Jr. to the Dominican Republic, an Island of Grace and Tolerance. Lots of noise about this nominee. Religious groups in the Dominican Republic were reportedly outraged by the nomination of a gay ambassador to this conservative country. They even organized  “Black Monday” protests. And then this happened:  Dominican Republic: Cardinal uses the word “faggot” to refer to US ambassador nominee. And this:  Diocese Of Catholic Cardinal Who Called Obama Ambassador Nominee ‘Faggot’ Has Pedophilia Scandal.   The end. The former National LGBT Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee and Board Member of the Human Rights Campaign fund should soon be in Santo Domingo.

Philip S. Goldberg until recently was A/S to State/INR.   He was previously ambassador to Bolivia in 2006 and in 2008, Evo Knievel’s government gave him 72 hours to leave the country, after declaring him persona non grata.  He succeeds Ambassador Harry Thomas who departed the Philippines in October 2014.  With the departure of Ambassador Thomas, Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck assumed duties as the Chargé d’Affaires.  US Embassy Manila’s presser says that “Chargé d’Affaires Brian L. Goldbeck led a joint U.S. government team to areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda to assess the damage and review relief operations with the Government of the Philippines.”  Sorry, no photos or videos available.

Currently unfolding in Ambassador Goldberg’s new host country is Operation Damayan, the U.S. humanitarian aid and disaster relief effort in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.  Below is BGEN Paul Kennedy, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander, talking to a Rueters reporter about his mission in the Philipines with Operation Damayan.

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and support vessels arrived in the Philippines Nov. 14, 2013, to aid assistance efforts.  USNS Charles Drew, USS Emory S. Land, USS Bowditch, USS Lassen and USNS Yukon are now in the Philippines to provide relief efforts.  The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on November 13 also directed the activation of USNS Mercy to prepare the hospital ship for possible deployment to the Philippines. If deployed, the ship currently berthed in San Diego will arrive in the island nation in December.

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