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12

JUNE 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Muslim-majority nations (later pared

back to six) and suspending processing

of all refugee applications worldwide.

The fact that nearly every judge who

heard legal challenges to that initial

measure blocked its implementation,

citing arguments similar to the ones

these courageous dissenters adduced,

would seem to suggest that they had

solid grounds for speaking out.

But Mr. Peccia assures us that they

were motivated only by “risk-free self-

aggrandizement, not an honest attempt to

shift policy.” He also insinuates that they

leaked their dissent to the media as part of

their quest for glory.

Yet unless he possesses telepathic

and detective skills hitherto unknown to

diplomacy, Mr. Peccia does not have any

way of knowing whether either of those

assertions is accurate.

Equally troubling, Mr. Peccia declares:

“Real dissent, requiring the timely

response of the Secretary of State, should

be the prerogative of the most proximate

implementer, not of any of us who happen

to have an opinion.”

Leaving aside the reality that the

State Department’s leadership has rarely

responded to Dissent Channel messages

with policy changes, I marvel at Mr. Pec-

cia’s ability to compartmentalize profes-

sional responsibility. To apply his axiom

to this particular dissent, only consular

officers and desk officers for the affected

countries need concern themselves with

the disturbing implications of the Trump

policy. That can’t be right.

But Mr. Peccia saves his pièce de résis-

tance for last: “State might be the oldest

Cabinet agency, but the height of our seat

at the table is adjustable. It is incumbent

on all of us to refrain fromweakening our

position through well-meaning but poorly

executed dissent.”

News flash: Our many critics within

the Trump administration and Congress

already dislike and distrust the Foreign

Service, precisely because we

are

loyal to

the oath we took as professional public

servants to uphold the Constitution—not

any president or political party.

Saluting and implementing policies

that are harmful to the national interest,

and quite possibly illegal or unconstitu-

tional, to curry favor with the powers that

be will not gain us respect, let alone a bet-

ter seat at the table. It will simply confirm

the canard that Foreign Service members

are no more principled, courageous or

honorable than political appointees.

Apparently Mr. Peccia thinks that’s a

deal worth making. I hope and pray that

his active-duty colleagues disagree, and

continue to dissent when necessary.

Steven Alan Honley

Former FSO

Washington, D.C.

Making Better Use

of Opportunities

and Resources

With the change of administration we

are presented with a rare opportunity to

avail ourselves of the Senate confirmation

process to secure a nominee’s commit-

ment to address concerns in each of the

foreign affairs agencies.

To demonstrate how this could work, I

approachedmy senator’s staff (TimKaine

of Virginia) as a constituent, and then Sen.

Kaine entered questions “For the Record”

(which require a written response) on

diplomatic security at the confirmation

hearing of Mr. Rex Tillerson as Secretary

of State.

The primary question dealt with

the need for the Department of State to

develop policy and procedures for risk

management assessment involving all

stakeholders, a recommendation set forth in a June 25, 2014, Government Account- ability Office report.

Secretary Tillerson committed himself

to undertake just such an effort. We must

now follow up on this commitment.

Further, we need to press on the need

to develop a stakeholder-coordinated

advance planned response—on a

regional- and country-specific basis—to

address the next attack on a diplomatic

facility or personnel.

Though this approach is proven to

work, it is not clear that AFSAmanage-

ment is prepared or willing to use it to

advance this and other key issues con-

fronting the Foreign Service.

In early 2015, I attended a meeting

arranged by AFSA with senior Diplomatic

Security staff who denied that shortcom-

ings such as those documented by GAO

existed in their operations.

Two years later, as Greg Starr retired

from his position as assistant secretary for

DS, he urged the adoption of a compre-

hensive risk management framework—a

GAO recommendation put forth under his

watch in 2014 that has still not been closed

by the GAO.

In addition to the Senate confirma-

tion hearing process option, AFSA can

use its labor relations negotiating rights

to pursue needed change.

Under these rights, AFSA can negoti-

ate on “work environment conditions” to

address the adequacy of Diplomatic Secu-

rity risk assessments and the shortcom-

ings that pose a danger to Foreign Service

members.

One can only hope that AFSAmanage-

ment will take a more aggressive approach

to these longstanding issues. For a com-

plete view of the issues cited by GAO that

are still outstanding, please go to www.

gao.gov and search “Diplomatic Security.”

James (Jim) Meenan

FSO, retired

Fairfax, Virginia