U.S. Ambassador Bob Godec Says Farewell to Kenya After Six Years

Posted: 2:05 am EST

Advertisements

US Embassy Kenya: Isn’t That Travel Warning Odd or What?

— Domani Spero
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The State Department issued a Travel Warning for Kenya on May 15 warning of the risks of travel to Kenya, of potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests, and the restriction of U.S. Government personnel travel in country. We blogged about it here (See US Embassy Kenya Restricts USG Personnel Travel, New Travel Warning).

On May 16, the AP, citing a letter sent to embassy employees that day, reported  that the U.S. ambassador in Kenya Robert Godec has requested additional Kenyan and American security personnel and is reducing the size of the embassy staff due to increased terrorist threats in Kenya.

We don’t know when the actual request was made but the May 15 Travel Warning did not include the information on additional security personnel or the reduction of staff.

On Saturday, May 17, Ambassador Godec released the following statement:

[T]he U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at both Kenyans and the international community.   The most important responsibility of every U.S. Ambassador and Embassy is to protect American citizens and to keep them informed.  The United States greatly appreciates the Kenyan government’s rapid response to requests for additional security at diplomatic facilities while it also increases security at public and other critical venues.

The Embassy is continuously reviewing and updating its security measures, and expects to take additional steps in coming days, to include on U.S. staffing. We remain open for normal operations and have no plan to close the Embassy.

We could not remember a post in recent memory that announced a reduction in staffing before it actually happens.  But the reduction in staffing was already widely reported in the media. As well as the request for additional security personnel for post.

We imagined that the Consular folks were up in arms with the “No Double Standard” Policy, which requires that  important security threat information if shared with the official U.S. community (generally defined as Americans working for the U.S. government abroad), must be made available to the wider American community if the threat applies to both official and non-official Americans.

On May 17, the two-day old Travel Warning was replaced with an updated one noting that, “Based on the security situation, the Embassy is reviewing its staffing with an eye toward reduction in staff in the near future.  The Embassy will remain open for normal operations.”

Meanwhile, according to AFP, Kenya’s foreign ministry had accused several foreign nations of “unfriendly acts” and “noted with disappointment” the warnings by Australia, Britain, France and the United States, after they issued travel warnings for coastal regions following a wave of attacks and unrest linked to Islamist extremists.

We should note that US Embassy Nairobi is the largest U.S. embassy in Africa with a staff of more than 1,300 among 19 federal agency offices, including more than 400 U.S. direct hires and over 800 local employees. As of this writing, the embassy has not been declared on authorized departure, the first phase in a staffing reduction.

Ambassador Godec was assigned as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya in August 2012 following the departure of Ambassador Gration.  He was nominated by President Obama on September 19, 2012 to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and sworn in by Secretary of State Clinton on January 16, 2013.  Prior to his assignment in Nairobi, Ambassador Godec was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT) in the Department of State.

Since Nairobi is the site of one of our most catastrophic embassy attacks, we will add the following detail from the Nairobi ARB report in 1999 in the aftermath of the twin East Africa bombings in Kenya and Tanzania:

Ambassador Bushnell, in letters to the Secretary in April 1998, and to Under Secretary Cohen a month later, restated her concern regarding the vulnerability of the embassy, repeating the need to have a new chancery that would meet Inman standards. Ms. Cohen responded in June stating that, because of Nairobi’s designation as a medium security threat post for political violence and terrorism and the general soundness of the building, its replacement ranked relatively low among the chancery replacement priorities. She drew attention to FBO’s plan to extend the chancery’s useful life and improve its security to include $4.1 million for the replacement of the windows.

As of this writing,there is no update on reduction of staffing at post. On May 20, US Embassy Nairobi issued the following Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Protests in Nairobi Turn Violent.

* * *

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Congress Shuttered Our Zoo, So Here’s the Animal Kingdom Foreign Service Round-Up

— by Domani Spero

You’ve seen this photo of the “sad kid at the zoo,” right? The Atlantic Wire calls it the defining image of the government shutdown.  Okay. Australia’s Herald Sun screams, No zoo for you, kid. The US government shutdown hates children. Who writes things like that?  Also Matt Berman of the National Journal went looking for animals, or tried to (We Try to Find Animals at the Shut-Down National Zoo). He came away with the apparent message from the National Zoo which is this: “During a shutdown, we’ll feed the animals. But not the reporters.” He did not see any animals at the zoo except for a couple of male mammals guarding the gate and he found some fish and turtles at the nearby Petco.

Via Reddit/superbonnie

Via Reddit/superbonnie

As for us, we’re stuck as sad blogger online. The State Department is open for business but its social media arms have reportedly been directed to go limp until the shutdown is over. The embassies Twitter feeds are repeating variations of the same message “Due to the government shutdown, this Twitter feed will not be updated regularly.”  Frankly, some social media ninjas are having a hard time going dark – like @USEmbassyKabul, and @usembassyjkt because Secretary Kerry was in town and @usembassymanila, because of security threats and also Secretary Kerry was not in town.

Meanwhile, U.S. embassy officials are also restricted from giving speeches or conducting public outreach even if the agency is still funded.  Ambassadors are restricted from having welcome or farewell receptions, as well.  The welcome party for U.S.Ambassador Matthew Barzun to London is reportedly sponsored by  Tatler, a Conde Nast publication but was cancelled.  Even if no USG funds are expended, some tasks,chores or fun stuff  (including necessary work ones) are not getting done because they would look bad in the grim light of this government shutdown. But wait, on October 2 AmCham Belgium together with the American Club of Brussels did host a Gala Dinner to welcome the new US Ambassador to Belgium, Denise Bauer. What a difference a few days make!

Anyhow, since our national zoo is closed, we thought a collection of animals overseas might be a worthwhile blogpost during this extremely aggravating season. Note that these official engagements have all happened in the past.  Our ambassadors and diplomatic personnel shown below are not/not feeding any animals not doing engagements during the shutdown; apparently only excepted/limited/restricted/whatever activities.  So no rapid response.  You won’t like us for pointing this out — but … but…the Talibs are ‘um mocking us. Just think about it, okay?  Meanwhile, enjoy the cuties below.

U.S. Embassy Kenya

Ambassador 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. June 2013 | Via US Embassy Kenya/FB

Amb Godek_elephant2

U.S. Embassy Australia

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich in a face-to-face croc encounter from the “Cage of Death” at Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin, Australia (photo via Amb Bleich/FB) | The encounter with the croc kind occurred in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia during  a trip to welcome the arrival of  Lima Company 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine battalion from Hawaii for training in country.

If  this shutdown last another week without a resolution, we should petition Congress to go on a CODEL to Darwin!

Amb B_NT

U.S. Embassy Canada

Ambassador David Jacobson carefully examines Batisse, the official mascot of the Royal 22e Regiment in Quebec. As part of a national farewell tour, the Ambassador of the United States took this opportunity to thank and address the troops of the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group for their contribution in Afghanistan. | Photo by: Cpl Nicolas Tremblay, Valcartier Imaging Section. Via US Embassy/Flickr

US ambo to ottawa_with goat

U.S. Embassy Laos

Ambassador Karen Stewart with an elephant. We think this was taken at the conservation center in Laos but our reference, the  ambassador’s blog has been updated with a new blog by her successor, Ambassador Clune and the archive had been wiped mighty clean.

ANIMALS_Amb Stewart during elephant festival

U.S. Embassy France

Ambassadeur Charles Rivkin avec “Celebre” au Salon de l’Agriculture 2012.

ANIM_ Ambo Rivkin

U.S. Embassy United Arab Emirates

U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson during a visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), the largest such facility in the world. (Photo from US Embassy Abu Dhabi) This was taken prior to his appointment as ambassador to Pakistan, can you tell?

ANIm_Ambo olson with falcon

U.S. Consulate General Toronto, Canada

Consul General Jim Dickmeyer greets Honest Ed (back) and Tecumseh along with their riders, Sgt. Jim Patterson and Staff Insp. Bill Wardle, respectively. The horses and the police officers – all members of the Toronto Police Service’s Mounted Unit took part in President Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21st.

POD_inauguration horses

U.S. Embassy New Zealand

Ambassador David Huebner during an official visit to Palmerston North and Massey University’s Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences. A special highlightfor the Ambassador was his introduction to “Chelsea” a mature New Zealand Kiwi who was recovering in the Institute’s specialist care centre. August 2010 | Via US Embassy/Flickr

NZ_kiwi

The Emperor penguin colony representatives in Antarctica during their first diplomatic encounter with Ambassador David Huebner.| Photo by USAF/MarkDoll | December 1,2011 via US Embassy New Zealand

NZ_mike_ambo

U.S. Embassy Norway

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011)
Ambassador Barry White met with representatives from local breeding cooperatives Norsvin and Geno over a traditional Norwegian breakfast at Staur Gjestegård.  The companies conduct cutting edge research in sustainable breeding and artificial insemination and export pig and bull semen to over 20 countries, including the U.S. It’s estimated that over one million pigs and 100,000 cows in the U.S. now carry Norwegian genetic material. Below, Ambassador White stopped for a photo-op with Bosnes, a “quietly confident” 1000kg breeding bull.

Ambassador White visits Hedmark – Breeding Bulls and Battle Tanks (May 20, 2011

U.S. Embassy Thailand

Ambassador Kristie Kenney riding an elephant during Thai Elephant Week in early 2013

Photo via KK/Instagram

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.46.10 PM

That’s kind of blurry, so we’ll give you another snapshot of Ambassador Kenney with a real cutie:

Ambassador Kenney with baby elephant

U.S. Embassy Egypt

Photo of U.S. Marine Security Guards and their camels at the pyramids, from MSG Detachment Cairo
via Diplomatic Security

Thanks to A Female Marine (second from left). This photo was taken in 2008 at the Great Pyramid of Giza on the morning of the Marine Ball .  “So the Marine in charge of MWR funds rented a herd of camels for us to sit on while the photographer snapped our pictures. Luckily the herd arrived with a handler for each camel otherwise we never would have been able to get lined up for the photo. The camels were not happy about this at all, they did not appreciate being forced to stand so close to each other and they were constantly squabbling like siblings in the backseat of a car.” Read more about it plus photos here.

Marines_security group in egypt

Perhaps, the most disappointment thing in this collection is the lack of pandas!  We could not locate a snapshot of Ambassador Huntsman or Ambassador Locke with the pandas.  What’s with that?  But we are sorta persistent, and finally we found an ambassador and a panda from 2004, Ambassador Huntsman’s predeceesor, Clark T. Randt, Jr.:

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 3.31.17 PM

The end.

*(^O^)*