2014 Constructive Dissent Award Recipients

Ambassador Jonathan Addleton - Christian A. Herter Award

Ambassador Jonathan AddletonBiographical Notes

A career Foreign Service Officer, Jonathan Addleton currently serves as Regional USAID Mission Director for the Central Asian Republics based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He previously served as US Ambassador to Mongolia; Senior Civilian Representative for southern Afghanistan in Kandahar; Development Counselor at the US Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Acting USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Legislative and Public Affairs in Washington, DC; USAID Mission Director in Pakistan and Cambodia; and USAID Program Officer in Jordan, South Africa and Yemen. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in March 1984, he worked briefly at the World Bank, Macon Telegraph and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Born and raised in the mountains of northern Pakistan, Addleton has a BS from Northwestern University and an MA and PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has received a NATO/ISAF Service Medal and Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Department of Army; a Polar Star from the President of Mongolia; and a Presidential Meritorious Rank Award and two Superior Honor Awards from USAID.

A co-founder of Ulaanbaatar United Football club, Addleton has also served on international school boards in Jordan, Cambodia and Mongolia. He is a life member of the Mongolia Society and the Nature Conservancy and a founding contributor to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

Addleton has written articles for several publications including Asian Survey, International Migration, Muslim World, Mongolica, al-Mushir, Ambassador's Review, Foreign Service Journal, Pakistan Manpower Review, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and The Washington Post. He has also written three books, Undermining the Center: The Gulf Migration and Pakistan (Oxford University Press); Some Far and Distant Place (University of Georgia Press); and Mongolia and the United States: A Diplomatic History (Hong Kong University Press).

Addleton and his wife Fiona Mary Riach have been married for 29 years and have three children: Iain, a lieutenant serving in the US Air Force in Tucson, AZ; Cameron, a junior at Georgia Tech in Atlanta; and Catriona, a first year student at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia.

Reflections on Award

"I am an unlikely recipient of this award. My 30-year Foreign Service career has mostly been marked by a strong commitment to duty, loyalty and service and I have not stuck out my neck very often, at least as far as bureaucratic battles on policy are concerned.

However, I have always been strongly interested in communications, outreach and public diplomacy, whether as a USAID officer or on detail to State. It has been disappointing to observe many "missed opportunities" over the years. All too often a laborious clearance process and a risk adverse approach limits prospects for meaningful engagement. At times it is tempting to simply "give up" in the face of a complicated, exhausting and opaque process that typically takes much longer than it should.

Two events were the catalyst for the dissent cable which highlighted my concerns following a "Town Hall" meeting via video with our Embassy in Kabul in which Secretary Kerry placed strong emphasis on the importance of outreach and candor:

First, an innocuous book length manuscript on Mongolia that was eventually published in Mongolian and English to mark the 25th anniversary of US-Mongolia relations required no less than 32 Washington clearances before it could finally move forward. Something is seriously amiss when it takes longer to officially clear a book length manuscript than it does to write or translate it.

Second, an affirming, positive op-ed on the "two Malalas" was written for translation into the Pushto language press in Kandahar as part of an effort to connect with local communities on issues related to education and female empowerment. This effort drew on more than 20 years of living in Pakistan as well as informal dialogue with several friends and colleagues who have spent decades living and working in South Asia and the Middle East. Feedback on the draft was overwhelmingly positive.

The article was "spiked," apparently because of concerns in Washington and Islamabad that it might feed conspiracy theories then emerging in Pakistan that the USG was somehow behind the attack on Malala. The classified cable traffic elaborating on these concerns was not very convincing, at least within the context of the realities we faced every day in Kandahar. It was also depressing to realize that we had chosen to forego publication of an article that would have resonated strongly in southern Afghanistan and aided our incredibly challenging outreach effort there because of misplaced concerns and a disappointing deference to what the Taliban and its supporters in a neighboring country might think.

My sincere hope is that this award will raise further awareness about this issue and expand efforts to somehow streamline the process. There must surely be a way to reduce the number of clearances required, especially with respect to media requiring a quick turn-around time. More local approaches are also needed, pushing approval authority much closer to the field. Unquestionably this article should have been allowed to appear in the local Pushto press. Unquestionably the decision on whether or not to publish it should not have been made from a distance of thousands of miles away by individuals unfamiliar and seemingly unsympathetic to local realities.

Finally, my sincere hope is that this award will help affirm and recognize the contributions and sacrifice of dozens of State, USAID and other colleagues who served in extraordinarily difficult circumstances in Kandahar and at more than 12 other locations spread across southern Afghanistan."

David Holmes - William R. Rivkin Award

David HolmesDavid Holmes has served as a career Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State since 2002. He is currently the Senior Energy Officer in the Economics Section at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Most recently, David was detailed to the National Security Council Staff at the White House as Director for Afghanistan (2011-2012), where he helped to conclude the U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement. David served previously as Special Assistant for South and Central Asia to then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns (2010-11).

David held prior overseas postings with the State Department in New Delhi, India (2008-10); Kabul, Afghanistan (2007-8); Bogotá, Colombia (2006-7); and Pristina, Kosovo (2003-5). As the Counterterrorism and Nonproliferation Unit Chief in Embassy New Delhi’s Political Section, David helped complete the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and the U.S.-India Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative. Earlier, as a political officer in Kabul, David helped the Afghan Government establish its Independent Directorate for Local Governance. He also served as a consular officer in Colombia and as a political officer in Kosovo.

David holds a master’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and another master’s degree in international politics and economics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, which he attended as a Rotary Scholar. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Pomona College, where he served as student government president, and which recognized him in 2004 with its Young Alumni Achievement Award.

David is the recipient of seven Department of State Superior Honor Awards. He is married to Stephanie Holmes, who is also a Foreign Service Officer. They have one son and are expecting their second child (a girl!) in July.

"Three years overseas in Afghanistan and India convinced me of the need for a more strategic approach to our policies in South Asia, and subsequent assignments in Washington on P staff, briefly in SRAP, and at the NSC, collectively left me with the conviction that bureaucratic division of the South Asian region within the State Department hindered our diplomatic effectiveness. My efforts over this period, and then my formal dissent, were intended to give a voice to an important perspective that I felt lacked an advocate. The award is not only a singular honor for me, but also a validation of the tremendous mentors with whom I have been fortunate to work, who not only gave me these opportunities in the first place, but also continually encouraged my efforts to make a constructive contribution to our policy in this critical region in spite of the obstacles."

William O'Bryan - W. Averell Harriman Award

William O'Bryan"This was really a team effort and wouldn't have been successful without Riyadh Human Rights Officer Daniel Boehmer and Dhahran Consul General Joey Hood. It was certainly a difficult decision for the Embassy's leadership, especially at a time of tense relations between the two countries, but DCM Tim Lenderking and Political Counselor John Rath deserve a lot of credit for looking at all the arguments and making the tough call.

Supporting civil society and human rights defenders is not always easy, and it certainly can make relations with the host country more challenging, but that shouldn't absolve us of our duty to defend the principles of freedom of peaceful expression and assembly. Civil society in Saudi Arabia has been virtually crushed by harsh prison sentences against activists and fears of "terrorism" laws being used against anyone else attempting to speak out or organize. Observing trials is only a small step, but it does demonstrate that we are taking our duties seriously, gives us a more objective view of the judicial process, and provides a small measure of moral support to human rights defenders."

William E. “Ed” O’Bryan joined the Foreign Service in September 2011 and served his first tour as the Political/Economic Officer in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In his role as Human Rights Officer, he closely monitored protests in the minority Shia communities of the Eastern Province, as well as the arrests of hundreds of demonstrators and human rights activists. As these cases began to wind through the court system, Ed advocated to attend the trials of human rights activists. Mission Saudi Arabia had not sent observers to human rights related trials in at least fifteen years and initially rejected the request based on the long held belief that perceived U.S. support for activists only made their situations worse. Ed personally discussed the issue with the Embassy’s leadership and also provided extensive talking points to the Consul General who made the case as well. After two months of deliberation, the Embassy sent an observer to the trial of a political activist, and a month later, Ed became the first officer to attend a human rights trial in Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court which was established to try terrorism suspects. Attending select human rights related trials is now accepted practice at the Mission, offering a valuable window into the Saudi judicial system and greatly enhancing the Mission’s human rights reporting and outreach. Prior to joining the State Department, Ed spent 12 years as part-owner of Andrews Monument Works in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He also spent a year as a volunteer with the United Nation’s Global Compact project in Minsk, Belarus. Ed received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska. He is married and has two beautiful daughters.

Nick Pietrowicz - F. Allen 'Tex' Harris Award

Nick PietrowiczNick joined the Department in 2002, starting in the New York Field Office before ARSO tours in Port-au-Prince and Kabul, and then RSO tours in Chisinau and N'Djamena. He is presently en route to Luanda, Angola for another RSO tour. He is married with an 11 month old son, and the family lives in Reno, NV, where they will be spending the next two months for home/annual leave. Nick's undergraduate degree is from the University of Pittsburgh and his law degree is from Temple University.

This year’s recipient of the F. Allen “Tex” Harris Award for constructive dissent by a Foreign Service specialist is Nick Pietrowicz, Embassy N’Djamena. Mr. Pietrowicz, the embassy’s regional security officer, warned that the Terrorist Interdiction Program, through which the U.S. government provides the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) border security system as foreign assistance to Chad and other countries at risk of terrorist activities, operates without sufficient end-use monitoring, and that foreign governments might use their PISCES systems to violate the human rights of their citizens and foreign visitors, including Americans.

In his dissent cable, Mr. Pietrowicz raised important concerns about the need to balance human rights and respect for the rule of law in U.S. programs that provide counterterrorism assistance to other countries.

"Regarding the work that led to this award, the protection of American citizens and their liberties is our paramount duty as diplomats. We must guard against the obvious threats-- terrorism, unrest, crime-- but also against the danger of unwarranted influence and misuse that sometimes materializes with international security programs. Our goal is to keep our people and friends safe, while adhering to our American laws and principles. Officers in the field will rarely need to worry about the legality of foreign assistance programs, but should an issue of concern be identified, there is a professional and civic duty to report that possible impropriety through the appropriate channels.

I am pleased that the Department has a process so that constructive dissent can be shared openly and without fear of reprisal. I applaud AFSA's support of this process, knowing that their interest in the dissent channel is essential to keeping this rarely needed but important option available."