The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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APRIL 2017



was never there for oversight alone. As

a bipartisan body with four Democratic

and four Republicanmembers, plus a

representative of the Secretary of State, it

has always played the crucial function of a

firewall, safeguarding the outlets edito-

rial independence from the whims of its

funder, the U.S. government. This was how

the networks won trust with their foreign

audiences—but this independence is on

the way out.”

More sanguine about the new organi-

zation’s prospects, however, is Joseph B.

Bruns, a former director of the Interna-

tional Broadcasting Bureau, which man-

ages the transmission, distribution, digital

media development, marketing and

support services for the U.S. international

media networks under the BBG’s aegis.

In a Jan. 2 post to the Public Diplo-

macy Council’s website, Bruns encour-

ages “those who care about [international

broadcasting] to cease the hand-wringing

over the loss of the so-called firewall,

roll up our sleeves and get down to the

practical work of operating in the new


Recommending several specific steps

to do just that, Bruns declares: “The fear

of a presidential appointee running rogue

should not be allowed to paralyze positive

action, to build on the past, to discard

what no longer works and to embrace the


—Steven Alan Honley,

Contributing Editor

Diplomatic Security

Special Agents



hree Diplomatic Security Special

Agents from the New York field office

were named Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Investigators of the Year in

2016. The DS special agents were part of

an investigative team that brought down a

transnational human trafficking network.

The investigation, involving the

Department of Homeland Security, Inter-

nal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspec-

tion Service and New York Police Depart-

ment, resulted in charges being brought

against 11 individuals for laundering

money from illegal brothels in New York.

The FLEF awards honor representa-

tives from each federal law enforcement

investigative agency and the offices of the

U.S. Attorney(s) for the Western, Eastern

and Southern Districts of New York. Per-

sonnel selected for the awards are recom-

mended by the head of each agency and

approved by the FLEF board of directors.

—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor

Senators Defend Dissent

I n a Feb. 16 letter,

every Democratic

member of the S

enate Foreign Rela-

tions Committee, as well as Senator Chris

Van Hollen (D-Md.), urged Secretary of

State Rex Tillerson to respect and take

advantage of the State Department’s

unique Dissent Channel.

A message, “Alternatives to Closing

Doors in Order to Secure Our Borders,”

had been submitted through the Dissent

Channel on Jan. 30 that was reportedly

signed by more than 900 State employees.

In their letter to the Secretary of State,

the 11 senators expressed their concern

at the reaction of White House Press Sec-

retary Sean Spicer to the dissent. In a Jan.

30 press briefing Spicer said that those

who dissented “should either get with the

program or they can go.”

The senators underlined the guidance

from the State Department’s Foreign

Affairs Manual concerning the Dissent

Channel: “freedom from reprisal for Dis-

sent Channel users is strictly enforced.”

Describing State Department employ-

ees as “among those most dedicated of

our public servants, on the front lines

safeguarding our nation’s security,” the

senators also thanked members of the

Foreign Service for their insight and

counsel to the SFRC over the years.

—Gemma Dvorak,

Associate Editor

The United States may, from time to time, disagree with European

Union perspectives, as friends do. At the end of the day, no one should

misinterpret occasional policy differences and debates as a signal of anything

less than total commitment to our alliances in Europe. That commitment is

strong. …The United States thinks it’s possible to have a better relationship

with Russia—after all, we confront many of the same threats. But greater

cooperation with Russia cannot come at the expense of the security

of our European friends and allies.

—U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley,

speaking to the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 21.

Contemporary Quote