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Obama’s Record on

Political Ambassadors


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-

site at

—Kellen Johansen,

Communications Intern


The Sincerest Form

of Flattery?


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

take walk-ins.

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


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.