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
News flash: Our many critics within
the Trump administration and Congress
already dislike and distrust the Foreign
Service, precisely because we
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
Making Better Use
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
The primary question dealt with
the need for the Department of State to
develop policy and procedures for risk
management assessment involving allstakeholders, 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
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