THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Obama’s Record on
t the end of his two terms on Jan. 20,
President Barack Obama’s record on
politically appointed ambassadors is on
par with his predecessors. Of his ambas-
sadorial appointments, 70 percent were
members of the career Foreign Service,
while 30 percent were political appointees.
Over the course of his two terms,
President George W. Bush named career
FSOs to 68 percent of the ambassadorships
he filled during his eight-year term, and
President Bill Clinton appointed career
officers to 72 percent of the ambassadorial
slots he filled.
Obama’s record is also similar to his
recent predecessors in terms of total num-
ber of ambassadorial appointments: He
made a total of 419 appointments. By com-
parison, Bill Clinton appointed 417 ambas-
sadors, George H.W. Bush appointed 428
and Ronald Reagan appointed 420.
Obama appointedmore political
appointees than any Democratic president
since 1974, when AFSA began recording
these statistics. The Obama adminis-
tration’s record represents a 2-percent
increase over Clinton and a 4-percent
increase over Jimmy Carter.
Notably, however, Obama appointed
the highest number of female ambassadors
of any previous president—134.Thirty-two
percent of his appointments were female.
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s first
nominations have already been made,
with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
proposed to be ambassador to the United
Nations and Iowa Governor Terry Brans-
tad for China.
You can follow President Trump’s
ambassadorial appointments on our web-
The Sincerest Form
n Dec. 2,Al-Jazeera reported that
with the help of U.S. officials,
authorities in Ghana busted a fake U.S.
embassy that for a decade issued ille-
gally obtained authentic visas.
No one is known to have entered
the United States on visas from the fake
embassy, the State Department has said.
The real U.S. embassy in Accra is a
prominent, heavily fortified complex
in Cantonments, one of the capital’s
most expensive neighborhoods. Lines
of people queue outside each day for
visa appointments and other consular
Until a few months ago, however, it
had competition from a rundown, two-
story pink building with a corrugated
iron roof. That facility flew a U.S. flag
outside every Monday, Tuesday and
Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon, but
otherwise kept a low profile. It did not
Inside, visitors saw a portrait of
President Barack Obama, along with
signs assuring them they were in the
right place. But Ghanaian and Turkish
crime rings actually ran the operation,
and the “consular officers” were Turkish
citizens who spoke English and Dutch.
(The ringleaders also ran a fake Dutch
embassy.)Confirming news reports, State’s Dip- lomatic Security Bureau noted that the
takedown was part of a broader “Opera-
tion Spartan Vanguard” initiative, which
DS special agents in Embassy Ghana’s
Regional Security Office launched to
address trafficking and fraud concerns
in the region.
The sham embassy advertised its
services through flyers and billboards
in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo. Some
of the services it offered its custom-
ers, whom it shuttled to and from the
site, included issuance of fraudulently
obtained but legitimate U.S. visas,
counterfeit visas and false identification
documents, for up to $6,000 each.According to the Washington Post
when the task force raided the place,
they arrested several suspects and col-
lected evidence that included a laptop
computer; smart phones; 150 passports
from 10 countries; counterfeit identity
documents and legitimate and coun-
terfeit visas from the United States, the
Schengen zone, India and South Africa.
The exterior of the fake U.S. embassy in Accra, Ghana.