US Embassy Nairobi Suspends All USG TDY Travel to Post Until Further Notice

— By Domani Spero

 

The US Embassy in Nairobi announced that it has suspended all TDY trips to post until further notice due to the shopping mall attack this weekend and subsequent demands on embassy resources.

September 22, 2013

This message is to inform U.S. citizens that due to the ongoing security operations in Nairobi following the attack by violent extremists at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and subsequent demands on Embassy resources, the U.S. Embassy has suspended all USG temporary duty personnel (TDY) travel to post until further notice.  U.S. Mission personnel have also been advised to shelter in place during the day on Sunday, avoid the Westgate Mall area, and to avoid demonstrations or large gatherings should they come upon them.  Stay tuned to local media sources for further information.

 

A separate message urged U.S. citizens “to remain close to their residences and to shelter in place” and to “avoid the Westgate area and large gatherings.”

The American Citizen Services Unit may be reached during normal working hours at tel. +254-(0)20-363-6451, and via email at Kenya_ACS@state.gov .  For after-hours emergencies, please call +254-(0)20-363-6170. The number for the U.S. Embassy switchboard is +254-(0)20-363-6000.

Secretary Kerry released a statement here:  Terrorist Attack at Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya;  the National Security Council also released a statement here: NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the Attack in Nairobi.

The State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism program in Nairobi has an annual budget of about $8 million over the last 2 years according to the most recent OIG report.  State’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program has also trained about 1,200 Kenyan personnel in a variety of prevention, investigation, and crisis management skills.

The US Mission in Kenya,  a large post with a high number of interagency presence is headed by career diplomat, Robert Godec.  Ambassador Godec was assigned as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya in August 2012, following the resignation of General Scott Gration (see US Embassy Kenya: Ambassador Scott Gration Quits Over “Differences” Effective July 28). Prior to his assignment in Nairobi (see Obama Nominates Ambassador Robert Godec as Next Ambassador to Kenya), Ambassador Godec was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) for the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the Department of State. From 2006 to 2009, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia.

(;_;)

 

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U.S. Mission Kenya Commemorates 15th Anniversary of August 7 Embassy Bombing

By Domani Spero

In a ceremony in Nairobi today, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec and the U.S. embassy community honored the victims of the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy.  Before laying a wreath at the memorial obelisk on the Embassy grounds, the U.S. marines presented colors, the Ambassador and a Kenyan staff member of the Embassy shared thoughts on the tragedy and its meaning for Kenyans and Americans, and the hundreds of staff members of the Embassy observed a moment of silence in remembrance of those killed and injured.

NAIROBI_Catherine Kamau George Mimba Ambassador Robert F Godec and Bill Lay_02

Catherine Kamau (Left) and George Mimba (Second Left) both locally employed staff from the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Ambassador Robert F Godec (Second Right) and Bill Lay (Right) at the Memorial Park. (Photo via US Embassy Nairobi)

And because there were too many dead, and too many wounded, we should revisit how we got there. Also of particular note, the disaster tourists and photo opportunists:

Via ADST:

It was one of the most horrific events in U.S. diplomatic history. On August 7, 1998, between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time, suicide bombers parked trucks loaded with explosives outside the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi and almost simultaneously detonated them. In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 wounded; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. Prudence Bushnell, a career Foreign Service Officer, was Ambassador to Kenya at the time and relates to Stu Kennedy of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training the harrowing events of those days.

Read her complete oral history here.

 BUSHNELL: In the ’90s, President Clinton felt compelled to give the American people their peace dividend, while Congress thought that now that the Cold War was over there was no need for any significant funding of intelligence, foreign affairs or diplomacy. There were discussions about whether we needed embassies now that we had 24-hour news casts, e-mail, etc. Newt Gingrich and the Congress closed the federal government a couple of times. Agencies were starved of funding across the board. Needless to say, there was no money for security. Funding provided in the aftermath of the bombing of our embassy in Beirut in the ’80s that created new building standards for embassies and brought in greater numbers of diplomatic security officer dried up.

As an answer to lack of funding, State Department stopped talking about need. For example, when we had inadequate staff to fill positions, State eliminated the positions, so we no longer can talk about the need. If there’s no money for security, then let’s not talk about security needs. The fact of increasing concern at the embassy about crime and violence was irrelevant in Washington. So was the condition of our building.

[…]

When I returned to Washington on consultations in December of ’97, I was told point blank by the AF Executive Office to stop sending cables because people were getting very irritated with me. That really pushed up my blood pressure. Later, in the spring of ’98, for the first time in my career I was not asked for input into the “Needs Improvement” section of my performance evaluation. That’s always a sign! When I read the criticism that “she tends to overload the bureaucratic circuits,” I knew exactly what it referred to. Yes, the cables had been read, they just weren’t appreciated.

In the years since the bombing, I learned just out just how much I did not know about U.S. national security and law enforcement efforts against al Qaeda. The information was highly compartmentalized, on a “need to know” basis and clearly Washington did not think the US ambassador needed to know. So, while I was aware of the al Qaeda presence and various U.S. teams coming and going, I did not know, nor was I told, what they were learning. When the Kenyans finally broke up the cell in the spring of ’98, I figured “that was that.”

[..]

Once the Secretary and her entourage came and left, we received what I began to call the disaster tourists. Well meaning people from various parts of Washington who couldn’t do a thing to help us. In November I sent a cable to Washington requesting by name the people we wanted to visit. The response was “Now wait a minute, you’re complaining about the visitors who are coming and now you want others. You’re sending very mixed messages here.” They didn’t seem to understand the difference between those VIPs who could be part of the solution and those having their photographs taken in the remains of the embassy.

Read in full here.

At the US Embassy in Tanzania, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. There doesn’t seem to be any remembrances or commemoration in Dar es Salaam as of this writing.

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Photo of the Day: Ambassador Godec Adopts Orphaned Baby Elephant

Via US Embassy Nairobi:

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Mr. Robert Godec marked this year’s World Environment Day by adopting a one year old orphaned elephant named Tundani at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi National Park.

Amb. Godec feeds the Matriarch of the baby elephants at the Orphange. — at David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphan Trust. Photo via US Embassy Nairobi/FB (click on image to view more photos)

Amb. Godec feeds the Matriarch of the baby elephants at the Orphange. — at David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphan Trust. Photo via US Embassy Nairobi/FB (click on image to view more photos)

 

 

 

 

Confirmations: McCarthy to Lithuania, Godec to Kenya

The Senate did their Floor Wrap Up on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.  There were no roll call votes but it discharged the Foreign Relations Committee and confirmed the following nominees:

  • PN1928 Deborah Ann McCarthy, of Florida, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania
  • PN1951 Robert F. Godec, of Virginia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya

– DS

 
Related posts:

Obama Nominates Ambassador Robert Godec as Next Ambassador to Kenya

The Cat in a Hat’s Tale from Ambassador Godec

Officially In: Deborah Ann McCarthy, from Foggy Bottom to Lithuania

 

 

Obama Nominates Ambassador Robert Godec as Next Ambassador to Kenya

On September 20, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Robert F. Godec as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Robert F. Godec, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Chargé d’affaires at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  From 2009 to 2012, he was Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State, and from 2006 to 2009, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia.  Ambassador Godec served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006 and as Deputy Coordinator for Iraq from 2004 to 2005.  Ambassador Godec’s overseas posts include: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission (2002), Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa (1999-2002), and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (1996 -1999).  Additional posts in Washington include: Assistant Office Director for Thailand and Burma in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1994-1996), and Director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1992-1994).

Ambassador Godec received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from Yale University.

His official bio at State says that he joined the Foreign Service in 1985.  He earned a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Yale University as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He attended the State Department’s Senior Seminar and has received a Distinguished Honor Award and numerous other awards and commendations.  Also that he speaks French and German.

In 2009 while he was the US Ambassador to the US Embassy in Tunis, Ambassador Godec was one of the few Chief of Missions who had a Tumblr.  Here he is with students at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, a school founded in 1959 and burned down by protesters in the September 2012 protests over an anti-Islam movie.

“Reading Rocks!” at the American Cooperative School of Tunis a few weeks ago. Here you see some great kids dressed up as their favorite book characters and two ambassadors playing along. My friend and colleague, UK Ambassador Chris O’Connor, is in the Union Jack hat and I’m the Cat in the Hat, of course.
(Photo and caption from Ambassador Godec’s blog)

If confirmed, Ambassador Godec would succeed political appointee, Scott Gration who resigned from his position last July over “differences” with Washington.

Related item:

September 20, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts