SFRC’s Jessica Lewis to be Asst Secretary for Political-Military Affairs (State/PM)

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On April 23, 2021 President Biden announced his intent to nominate Jessica Lewis to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The WH released a brief bio:

Jessica LewisNominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Department of State

Jessica Lewis currently serves as Democratic Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Previously, from 2007 – 2014, she was the National Security Advisor and Foreign Policy Advisor, and then Senior National Security Advisor, to Senate Majority/Minority Leader Harry Reid. Earlier, Lewis was the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Robert Menendez and, before that the Democratic Staff Director for the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Ranking Member Robert Menendez. She also worked as Manager, New Initiative Development, and as Manager, Net Corps America, at the Organization of American States. Lewis received an MPA degree from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, an MA degree from Johns Hopkins University, and a BA degree from Haverford College.

The last career appointee to the Pol-Mil bureau was Ambassador Thomas Edmund McNamara who served from 1994–1998. If confirmed, Ms. Lewis would succeed R. Clarke Cooper who served from 2019-2021.
Ambassador Tina Kaidanow served as Acting A/S prior to Cooper’s confirmation.  Senior FSO Timothy Betts has served as Acting A/S since the beginning of the Biden Administration.


Trump to Nominate Nathan Alexander Sales to be @StateDept Coordinator for Counterterrorism

Posted: 2:41 am ET
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Mr. Sales publicly available bio (PDF) says that he is an Associate Professor of Law (May 2014-present) at Syracuse University College of Law in New York.  Prior to that, he was Assistant Professor of Law (January 2008-May 2014) at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia.

He previously worked at DHS’s Office of Policy as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development (July 2006-December 2007) and at DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy. His bio says that he “Managed Justice Department “war room” during confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts.” It also says he received Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (Justice Department’s highest honor) in 2002, for his role in drafting the USA PATRIOT Act and in 2003, received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for his role in judicial confirmation process.  He served as a law clerk for David B. Sentelle at the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia from July 2000-July 2001.

If confirmed, Mr. Sales would succeed career diplomat Tina S. Kaidanow who was appointed to CT from 2014-2016 (see Bureau of Counterterrorism’s Tina Kaidanow Moves to Pol-Mil Affairs, Justin Siberell Now Acting Coordinator).  Mr. Siberell, a career FSO was nominated to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism to head the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism (CT/CVE) in September 2016. The nomination was not acted by the Senate and was returned to President Obama in January 2017 (see @StateDept Nominations Forgotten By the Senate Time Lords of the 114th Congress). 

Below is a quick description of this position:

On Aug 1, 1976, the Department of State elevated the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Coordinator of the Office for Combating Terrorism to that of Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, with rank equivalent to an Assistant Secretary of State. All Directors have been designated by the Secretary of State, not commissioned. The Department had established the earlier position in October 1972 to head an interagency working-level committee charged with addressing the problem of international terrorism.

The State Department website notes that in 1994, Congress officially mandated the Bureau of Counterterrorism in Public Law 103-236 [H.R. 2333]. In 1998, Congress further defined the role of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Public Law 105-277 [H.R. 4328]:

“There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism…who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate…. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State. The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.”



Confirmations: Smith, Sherman, Novelli, Kaidanow, Gardner

— Domani Spero


On February 12, 2014, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following executive nominations for the State Department:

  • Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, of New York, to be Representative of the United States  of America to the European Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
  • Tina S. Kaidanow, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Coordinator for Counterterrorism, with the rank and status of Ambassador at Large (State/CT)
  • Catherine Ann Novelli, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment) State/E
  • Robert A. Sherman, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Portuguese Republic.
  • Daniel Bennett Smith, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research) State/INR

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