Confirmations 11/20: Pettit, Spratlen, Krol, Moreno, Lu, Hartley, Controversial Nominees Up Next Month

— Domani Spero
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The U.S. Senate confirmed the following nominations by voice vote on November 20:

  • James D. Pettit, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Moldova
  • Pamela Leora Spratlen, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan
  • George Albert Krol, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Luis G. Moreno, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica
  • Donald Lu, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Albania
  • Brent Robert Hartley, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia

On November 18, the State Department spox, Jeff Rathke said that “The full Senate can consider each of these nominees quickly. Certainly, our career nominees could be confirmed en bloc, they’re well-qualified, and they’re experienced.”

We desperately need all of America’s team on the field of diplomacy, and these are all spectacularly qualified career nominees. This is exactly how our remaining nominations should be considered and confirmed. There are 19 career Foreign Service officers awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor. They were all carefully considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and approved. The full Senate can consider each of these nominees quickly. Certainly, our career nominees could be confirmed en bloc, they’re well-qualified, and they’re experienced.A total of 58 State Department nominees, including 35 career diplomats, are still waiting.
[…]
Nominees on the floor have waited for more than eight and a half months on average, 258 days. It’s critical, in the Department’s view, that we get these nominees confirmed before the Senate adjourns for the year to prevent further delay in meeting our foreign policy objectives, and while we appreciate the progress just made, we know that America is stronger if the backlog is cleared and our nominees are confirmed before Thanksgiving. The Secretary has made a personal plea to his former colleagues in the Senate, and we would ask again for their help.

On November 19, the spox tried again:

Yesterday, I began the briefing with a pitch for my fellow Foreign Service officers who have been waiting for Senate confirmation. Secretary Kerry called in from London to his chief of staff, David Wade, and he asked me to come out here again this afternoon and do the same. The Secretary has been in continued contact with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill about this. It’s very important to him. He needs to have his team and he also feels it’s important that these non-controversial nominees be confirmed before Thanksgiving as well. It’s the right thing to do for them, for their families, and for America’s interests.

On November 20, the spox tried once more to appeal that the nominees be confirmed “en bloc or by unanimous consent”to no avail:

We’ve asked the united – that the Senate confirm these nominations en bloc or by unanimous consent, as we’ve seen in some cases this week, particularly because there’s no objection to these highly qualified and dedicated nominees. We urge the Senate to confirm them quickly and put them to work for the country. We need it desperately.

 

It looks like that’s it for today.  Coming up next month, the nominations of the more controversial nominee to Argentina:

Plus the nominee for Hungary:

 

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Albania Awards Highest Honor to DS Agent Barry Hale For Distinguished Service

— By Domani Spero

This is kind of old news since this award occurred back on April 2013, but we have only recently learned that the Government of Albania had bestowed on Diplomatic Security Special Agent Barry Hale its Medal of Honor for distinguished service in support of the Albanian State Police.

The award is the highest honor that the Albanian government can confer upon a foreign official, and it also marks the first time that the Albanian government has so honored a U.S. Embassy employee.

During the April 23, 2013 presentation at the Ministry of the Interior in the capital of Tirana, Albanian Minister of the Interior Flamur Noka praised Special Agent Hale for his contribution to strengthening the professional capacity of the Albanian State Police as well as cooperation between U.S. and Albanian law enforcement agencies.

During his 2010 to 2013 tenure as the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Officer in Tirana, Special Agent Hale was responsible for managing security for U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities in Albania. During his assignment in Tirana, Special Agent Hale managed nine extraditions, including that of Hektor Kelmendi, named as one of five most-wanted human trafficking suspects by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Special Agent Hale joined the U.S. Department of State in 1999 as a special agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Diplomatic Security Service.  Prior to Special Agent Hales’ assignment in Tirana, he served in the Diplomatic Security Service offices in Denver and Los Angeles, and in the Regional Security Offices at U.S. embassies in Baghdad, Iraq and Bogotá, Columbia. He is currently serving in the Regional Security Office at Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan.

Read more here.

According to USDOJ, Hektor Kelmendi is one one of the various aliases used by Deme Nikqi, of Peje, Kosovo who was extradited to the United States from Albania in January 2012 to face charges related to his leadership of an international human smuggling network. ” The January 2012 indictment “allege that from at least January 2006 through February 2010, Nikqi was the leader and organizer of an international criminal network dedicated to smuggling Kosovars from the Balkans into the United States via Latin America. Nikqi, who resided in Brooklyn in the 1990s and was previously denied permanent residence status in the United States, allegedly operated this smuggling enterprise from his home in Peje, Kosovo. According to court documents, Nikqi and his co-conspirators are estimated to have smuggled hundreds of individuals across the Mexican border and into the United States each year. One of Nikqi’s smuggling operations allegedly resulted in the death of a Kosovar in Texas in 2010.”

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