The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 61

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
SEPTEMBER 2014
61
AFSA NEWS
Agent Warns Misuse of Border Security Program
Might Violate Rights
AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS : THE F. AL LEN “TEX” HARR I S AWARD
FOR A FOREIGN SERVICE SPECIALIST
For Diplomatic Security Spe-
cial Agent Nick Pietrowicz,
the protection of American
citizens and their liberties
“is our paramount duty as
diplomats.” Pietrowicz is the
winner of the F. Allen “Tex”
Harris Award for a Foreign
Service Specialist.
When he was the regional
security officer at Embassy
N’Djamena, Pietrowicz
warned that the Terrorist
Interdiction Program, through
which the U.S. government
provides the Personal Iden-
tification Secure Compari-
son and Evaluation System
border security system as
foreign assistance to Chad
and other countries at risk of
terrorist activities, operates
without sufficient end-use
monitoring, and that foreign
governments might use their
PISCES systems to violate the
human rights of their citizens
and foreign visitors, including
Americans.
Like all members of the
Foreign Service, Pietrowicz
travels a lot. He says that as a
federal agent he is very curi-
ous about security measures
in different airports: “That
includes how those measures
are implemented and what
procedures are in place to
respect legal and constitu-
tional standards, as well as
the practical consequences of
such programs.”
He notes that DS agents
receive outstanding security
training, as well as instruction
on what they can and cannot
do. “As RSOs overseas, we’re
constantly in gray areas, and
it takes a degree of self-
scrutiny to make the right
decisions,” he says. “I think
that ethos is probably what
made me take a look at this
program.”
After exhausting all
other channels in efforts to
address his concerns about
the PISCES program, he sent
a Dissent Channel message
outlining his objections to
it. In the message he raised
concerns about the need to
balance human rights and
respect for the rule of law in
U.S. programs that provide
counterterrorism assistance
to other countries.
“Officers in the field will
rarely need to worry about the
legality of foreign assistance
programs,” said Pietrowicz,
who has a law degree. “But
should an issue of concern be
identified, there is a profes-
sional and civic duty to report
that possible impropriety
through the appropriate
channels.”
On dissent, Pietrowicz
says: “I am pleased that the
department has a process so
that constructive dissent can
be shared openly and without
fear of reprisal. I applaud
AFSA’s support of this
process, knowing that their
interest in the Dissent Chan-
nel is essential to keeping this
rarely needed but important
option available.”
Nick Pietrowicz joined the
State Department in 2002.
He first served in the New
York City field office, and has
since been posted to Port-
au-Prince, Kabul, Chisinau
and N’Djamena. He is now
the RSO at Embassy Luanda.
He is married and has one
son.
n
(Above) Diplomatic Security Special Agent Nick Pietrowicz in Chad, near
the Niger border. (Below) Pietrowicz, second from left, observes an election
in Chad.
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