Today, some of the Fake News Media are reporting that all in the Senior Management Team resigned en masse as “part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.”
It turned out that they were all fired.
The “entire senior management” team suffering this “mass” obliteration consists of Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith of the Office of Foreign Missions, and most notably Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, who tried to drag the FBI into Hillary Clinton’s cover-ups.
Kennedy has also been accused of playing a role in the Benghazi disaster, although the State Department’s internal review “downplayed” his role in the “decision-making that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi,” as the Washington Examiner recalls. The Examiner also notes his “you can’t fire me, I quit” retirement was announced yesterday, so treating it like big news today is somewhat disingenuous.
The Trump campaign said that Kennedy had to go, and called (in vain, of course) on Hillary Clinton to speak out against him, as well. This is not some shocking walkout by a defiant Resistance speaking truth to power – it is President Trump fulfilling a campaign promise on his fourth day in office.
Also, while most news reports described the four outgoing officials as holding their offices under both Republican and Democrat administrations, to promote the impression they were nonpartisan fixtures of the bureaucracy who just couldn’t handle the arrival of President Trump, that is really only true of Kennedy, and he was only in position for two years before the Obama administration began. Joyce Barr was appointed in 2011, while Michele Bond and Gentry Smith were appointed in 2015.
The Hill reports that these four joined “a number of other officials who have departed since President Trump took office last week,” but goes on to cite only two names: Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr, who retired, and Bureau of Overseas Building Operations Lydia Muniz.
CNN notes that Starr only came out of retirement in 2012, and planned all along to retire at the end of the Obama administration, even if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election.
The American Foreign Service Association also shot down the narrative about mass resignations: While this appears to be a large turnover in a short period of time, a change of administration always brings personnel changes, and there is nothing unusual about rotations or retirements in the Foreign Service. Indeed, both are essential to the development of a steady stream of experienced leaders ready to assume critical roles at State.
“Given the talent available in our diplomatic corps, we expect that the new Secretary will have no trouble finding the right people at State to fill out his senior leadership team,” the AFSA added, referring to Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who still awaits a final confirmation vote.
The New York Daily News falsely implied Tillerson’s visit to the State Department on Wednesday actually prompted the “walk-outs” that didn’t happen, adding another prime clipping to the day’s scrapbook of Fake News.
All of these folks are entitled to their opinions, just like anyone else, and if they are profoundly displeased by the election of Donald Trump, they are free to say so. The American people are equally entitled to wonder if the State Department should have so many partisan officials, and to look back on the long record of scandals and cover-ups in the Obama State Department as justification for a vigorous house-cleaning.
However, the notorious Victoria Nuland, who reportedly shouted and disobeyed Obama for not being her puppetmaster, but Dick Cheney, avoided the embarrassment by resigning much earlier.
Earlier, a mass recall of all US ambassadors from their respective posts was effected by the Trump administration. The mainstream fake news media also reported this as some “breaking with decades of precedent by declining to provide even the briefest of grace periods,” according to the New York Times:
The mandate — issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department cable sent on Dec. 23, diplomats who saw it said — threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain. In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, has taken a hard line against leaving any of President Obama’s political appointees in place as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20 with a mission of dismantling many of his predecessor’s signature foreign and domestic policy achievements. “Political” ambassadors, many of them major donors who are nominated by virtue of close ties with the president, almost always leave at the end of his term; ambassadors who are career diplomats often remain in their posts.
The Trump administration, however, denied that their termination from diplomatic service was not without the traditional “grace period” as they have plenty of time to adjust from the day Trump was elected and his inauguration day…
“No, Trump’s Dismissal of Obama’s Ambassadors Is Not an Unprecedented Crisis
… while the ambassador termination is being treated as a very big story this week, the State Department cable notifying all of the ambassadors was sent on December 23rd, and Inauguration Day is January 20. We’re talking about people with considerable means receiving a month’s formal notice that they need to make new life arrangements, over a month after they knew it would be necessary. Even if some of them were taken aback on Election Day because they swallowed the media and political consensus that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in, they’ve had plenty of time to adjust to the new reality.
… further emphasizing that “the Washington Post reporting the news in December 2008 without the slightest hint of disapproval, or a single heartstring-tugging anecdote about the difficulties faced by the ambassadors and their families:
The clean slate will open up prime opportunities for the president-elect to reward political supporters with posts in London, Paris, Tokyo and the like. The notice to diplomatic posts was issued this week.
Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush’s ambassadorial appointees.
Most ambassadors, of course, are foreign service officers, but often the posts involving the most important bilateral relations (such as with Great Britain, Japan and India) or desirable locales (such as the Bahamas) are given to close friends and well-heeled contributors of the president.
That’s still how it works.
… Donald Trump, therefore, is not the first President-elect to desire a clean diplomatic slate, or worry that his predecessor’s political appointees might cause trouble for the new administration if they were given extensions. Trump arguably has more reason for such concerns than any previous chief executive. Magnifying his policy into an unprecedented, unacceptable breach of protocol is Fake News manufacture at its worst.
We are hoping that the “That’s still how it works” mantra ends there, as the previous State Department under Hillary Clinton saw the downfall of Muammar Kaddafi and the subsequent plunder of Libya, and a regime change in Ukraine, into a reign of terror that still continues even today.