Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Senior Staff of the State Dept. Just Resigned En Masse

quote [ Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed ]

It looks like the rangers are not the only ones resisting.
[SFW] [+10 Interesting]
[by Kat@4:50pmGMT]


Wulf said @ 1:33am GMT on 27th Jan [Score:1 WTF]
Looks like they were asked for their resignations according to the latest CNN article.
lilmookieesquire said @ 5:16pm GMT on 26th Jan
Good. Filling these positions will slow Trump down.
cb361 said @ 7:09pm GMT on 26th Jan [Score:2]
The regional governors now have direct control over their territories.
Dienes said @ 11:16pm GMT on 26th Jan
I thought there was a new hiring freeze!
HP Lovekraftwerk said @ 12:41am GMT on 27th Jan
Tsk, tsk. By saying such things and not suggesting more positive solutions and actions, you're not being progressive enough.

You should downmod your comment out of a sense of common decency.
lilmookieesquire said @ 12:51am GMT on 27th Jan
It IS a positive. It's resistance.
sanepride said @ 5:25pm GMT on 26th Jan
This is a little confusing because the staff here are described as 'career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations' even though it sounds like they were in apparently politically appointed positions. If so, they would have been expected to submit their resignations, or at least expect some kind of re-assignment if they were career civil servants. I guess it's news because they all left at once.
Kat said @ 5:50pm GMT on 26th Jan
It's news because they are the entire senior staff manning our foreign policy and because an exodus like this is quite rare.

The article makes clear that even though they are politically appointed, they often stay through multiple presidencies...such as Kennedy, who was there for 9 years.
sanepride said[1] @ 7:38pm GMT on 26th Jan
More context here. It seems that they all submitted resignations as expected when a new administration comes in, only all of their resignations were immediately accepted, which wasn't necessarily expected.
milkman666 said @ 10:09pm GMT on 26th Jan
I have to wonder if its just genuinely a mistake, since the incoming administration is just woefully unprepared for the job. The next 4 years looks like it might cultivate an appreciate for the work bureaucrats do.
Dienes said @ 11:18pm GMT on 26th Jan
That's something that genuinely puzzled me about this election. People voted for Drumpf specifically because he has no political experience. What other job out there would people ever consider that a boon?

I'm getting a plumber to do my heart surgery. He's an outsider not under the corrupted control of Big Cardio!
sanepride said @ 11:50pm GMT on 26th Jan
They're draining the swamp. Whole damn thing is a mistake.
ubie said @ 5:28pm GMT on 26th Jan
Can someone post the text? Not seeing it reported elsewhere and Washington Post doesn't like my phone.
mechavolt said @ 5:34pm GMT on 26th Jan [Score:3 Good]
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job running the State Department just got considerably more difficult. The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.

Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

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[In his first major TV interview as president, Trump is endlessly obsessed with his popularity]

Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service.

In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

Trump jokes Tillerson finding Senate confirmation 'tougher than he thought' Embed Share Play Video1:31
Addressing a crowd of diplomats at a dinner event Jan. 17, Donald Trump joked that secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson is finding his Senate confirmation tougher than anticipated. (AP)
Several senior foreign service officers in the State Department’s regional bureaus have also left their posts or resigned since the election. But the emptying of leadership in the management bureaus is more disruptive because those offices need to be led by people who know the department and have experience running its complicated bureaucracies. There’s no easy way to replace that via the private sector, said Wade.

“Diplomatic security, consular affairs, there’s just not a corollary that exists outside the department, and you can least afford a learning curve in these areas where issues can quickly become matters of life and death,” he said. “The muscle memory is critical. These retirements are a big loss. They leave a void. These are very difficult people to replace.”

Whether Kennedy left on his own volition or was pushed out by the incoming Trump team is a matter of dispute inside the department. Just days before he resigned, Kennedy was taking on more responsibility inside the department and working closely with the transition. His departure was a surprise to other State Department officials who were working with him.

[‘They never saw this coming’: A Q&A with Kellyanne Conway]

One senior State Department official who responded to my requests for comment said that all the officials had previously submitted their letters of resignation, as was required for all positions that are appointed by the president and that require confirmation by the Senate, known as PAS positions.

“No officer accepts a PAS position with the expectation that it is unlimited. And all officers understand that the President may choose to replace them at any time,” this official said. “These officers have served admirably and well. Their departure offers a moment to consider their accomplishments and thank them for their service. These are the patterns and rhythms of the career service.”

Ambassador Richard Boucher, who served as State Department spokesman for Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, said that while there’s always a lot of turnover around the time a new administration takes office, traditionally senior officials work with the new team to see who should stay on in their roles and what other jobs might be available. But that’s not what happened this time.

The officials who manage the building and thousands of overseas diplomatic posts are charged with taking care of Americans overseas and protecting U.S. diplomats risking their lives abroad. The career foreign service officers are crucial to those functions as well as to implementing the new president’s agenda, whatever it may be, Boucher said.

[What’s the method in Trump’s madness?]

“You don’t run foreign policy by making statements, you run it with thousands of people working to implement programs every day,” Boucher said. “To undercut that is to undercut the institution.”

By itself, the sudden departure of the State Department’s entire senior management team is disruptive enough. But in the context of a president who railed against the U.S. foreign policy establishment during his campaign and secretary of state with no government experience, the vacancies are much more concerning.

Tillerson’s job No. 1 must be to find qualified and experienced career officials to manage the State Department’s vital offices. His second job should be to reach out to and reassure a State Department workforce that is panicked about what the Trump administration means for them.
Kat said @ 5:46pm GMT on 26th Jan
Thanks. I was trying to do that on my phone.

Note to self: it is a bear to do that on my phone.
HoZay said @ 5:53pm GMT on 26th Jan
Who needs a State Department when you have twitter?
sanepride said @ 6:12pm GMT on 26th Jan
...or a wall?
HoZay said @ 6:21pm GMT on 26th Jan [Score:3]
Kelyn said @ 6:31pm GMT on 26th Jan
Good for Nieto, but fuck what I wouldn't give for some good news right now.
HoZay said @ 6:33pm GMT on 26th Jan [Score:1 Insightful]
I thought that was good news.
Kelyn said @ 6:43pm GMT on 26th Jan
It is and it isn't. While we need the rest of the world to stand strong and not be pushed around by Trump I don't think we can afford to also shut down communications. I think the Mexican president absolutely did the right thing by his country, I guess part of me was still hoping the orangutan in chief would be less combative and not force Mexico's hand. Silly me.
Dienes said @ 11:19pm GMT on 26th Jan
The problem is that somehow the alt right is going to take this as proof Drumpf was right. Mexico doesn't want to talk, won't cooperate, no choice BUT to make the wall!
SnappyNipples said @ 12:13pm GMT on 27th Jan
Was watching Maddow last night and according to her it wasn't a mass resignation, it was a mass purging. One example was a long time diplomat was told to turn around in a flight to Europe for some security talk and was told to be out of the state department the following day.

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