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suffragette

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 10,741

Journal Archives

Tillerson presides over abrupt shakeup at State Department

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/17/politics/tillerson-state-department-shakeup/

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reassigned a majority of the staff meant to work most closely with the top US diplomat in what career officials at the State Department fear is the start of a major reorganization.

The news sent shock waves through the agency and has left career officials on edge, in part because of its abrupt nature -- taking place before their assignments end this summer and replacements have been found -- and in part because these officials help the secretary, a government novice, work with policy experts throughout the building.

While Tillerson was on his first overseas trip at the G20 in Bonn, Germany, his aides told the entire staff in the offices of the deputy secretary of state for management and resources and the State Department counselor that their current assignments were prematurely coming to an end, according to senior aides.

~~~

The staff positions are filled by career foreign service officers and civil servants as opposed to political appointees who serve at the will of the President. The career postings come with a start and end date that traditionally transcend any change in administration.



So he waits until he will be away and has others do his dirty work. I guess we're seeing his managerial style.

I wonder about the real reason for this purge.

Looks like Stephen Miller is in charge of creating new travel ban order

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/17/trump-updated-travel-ban-minimal-input-national-security

Donald Trump’s controversial executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries is being tightened up to get around legal and constitutional objections with minimal input from the National Security Council, the Guardian has learned.

White House policy director Stephen Miller is at the helm as the process for refugee and immigration policy is going through the domestic policy council, which does not include most of the government’s foreign policy or security-related agencies.

~~~

More than 1,000 US diplomats have signed a dissent to the travel ban Trump issued last month, which is currently blocked by the courts, objecting on the grounds that it will have a deleterious impact on the US’s security and international reputation. Their signatures came before the current process of revision through the DPC, on which the state department does not have a seat.

Though sources cautioned that deliberations on the new order are fluid and ongoing, the initial discussions of the imminent order contradict the justice department’s promise to the ninth circuit court of appeals of a “substantially revised executive order”.


https://m.

Something I'm not seeing reported about this is that the WA Solicitor General was having his team investigate discovery and depositions into the original travel ban as part of the court case in order to uncover who was involved in the decision and what their intent was.

I would guess that since the White House decided to drop the appeal, that won't happen now. I think it's likely that is a major reason why they aren't appealing. They knew their unconstitutional process would be entirely and legally exposed.

"German parents told to destroy doll that can spy on children"

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/17/german-parents-told-to-destroy-my-friend-cayla-doll-spy-on-children

Germany’s telecommunications watchdog has ordered parents to destroy or disable a “smart doll” because the toy can be used to illegally spy on children.

The My Friend Cayla doll, which is manufactured by the US company Genesis Toys and distributed in Europe by Guildford-based Vivid Toy Group, allows children to access the internet via speech recognition software, and to control the toy via an app.

But Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced this week that it classified Cayla as an “illegal espionage apparatus”. As a result, retailers and owners could face fines if they continue to stock it or fail to permanently disable the doll’s wireless connection.

Under German law it is illegal to manufacture, sell or possess surveillance devices disguised as another object. According to some media reports, breaching that law can result in a jail term of up to two years.



Since it is manufactured by a US company, I'd guess that it is sold here as well and would pose the same insecurity to privacy.

Interesting nuggets of info in articles about Tillerson at G20 and in decision making

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/16/rex-tillerson-state-department-sidelined-by-white-house

When he flew to Germany, Tillerson took a small press pool with him but did not give it the opportunity to ask questions. At his first meeting on Thursday with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, journalists were hustled out of the room before Tillerson opened his mouth, according to the Bloomberg news agency, rather than be allowed to stay to record the routine exchange of introductory platitudes. When Tillerson emerged, he delivered a very short statement, but refused to take questions.

~~~
Neither he nor his staff were consulted on the executive order imposing a travel ban on refugees and nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries. A memo strongly dissenting from the policy has been signed by about 1,000 state department employees.

~~~

“What concerns me is that in the absence of any confirmed officials other than the secretary, they will not have the weight to make those educated voices heard as the White House makes policy,” said Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation and one of the senior staff who was suddenly sacked before Tillerson’s arrival.

“My nagging suspicion is that the White House is very happy to have a vacuum in the under-secretary and assistant secretary levels, not only at state but across government agencies, because it relieves them of even feeling an obligation to consult with experts before they take a new direction.”

And this from Deutschewelle:

http://www.dw.com/en/g20-world-leaders-in-search-of-lost-trust/a-37590637

Among the many meetings Tillerson had behind closed doors, one stood out in particular: the encounter he had with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Remarks by Lavrov suggested that the two men had seen each other before, but it was certainly the first time they shook hands since Tillerson took office. "The United States will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people," Tillerson told journalists after the meeting, which had addressed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan - not exactly the kind of clarification many had hoped for after weeks of uncertainty over how close the White House and Kremlin will be working together.

~~~
While trying to establish a good working relationship with Lavrov, Tillerson at the same time had to soothe his European counterparts. They fear that the Trump administration is getting too close to Moscow, moving away from Western partners and alliances that have existed for the last seven decades. Tillerson did his best to relieve these doubts, declaring that "the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to its allies." Yet, "difficult" was a word that could be heard in the hallways of the Conference Center to describe US foreign policy. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault bluntly called the the US position on the Middle East peace process "confused and worrying" after meeting Tillerson.

Trump plans a rally. Meanwhile, Tillerson to meet Russians at G20 and Pence to meet with Merkel

At Munich Security Conference.


http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/14/politics/tillerson-russia-china-g20/

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations.

Tillerson, a former oil executive who was confirmed as Secretary of State two weeks ago, departed Wednesday for a G-20 ministerial meeting in Bonn, Germany -- his inaugural international trip as the United States' top diplomat. He'll be joined in Bonn by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and representatives from the world's other major economies.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that Tillerson and Lavrov will meet on the sidelines of the conference on Thursday. It will be their first such meeting since Tillerson took office.

~~~
Also this week, Trump's Vice President, Mike Pence, plans to address the Munich Security Conference over the weekend and meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The meeting will be Merkel's first in-person encounter with a member of the Trump administration since the inauguration last month.



Edit to add that Dunford is apparently going to Azerbaijan to meet with his Russian counterpart.


The more I think about this, the more I think Trump is doing a "look over here, not over there" move. How much media time will focus on his circus rally instead of these meetings? The article notes the Dunford one was just announced. I wonder if that's partly because of the Flynn debacle.

"Russia brushes off Flynn resignation, looks to Rex Tillerson for negotiations"


https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/02/14/russia-mounts-fierce-defence-of-ex-trump-security-adviser-flynn.html

After defending Flynn amid the controversy, Russian lawmakers are now signalling a turn toward U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in improving ties.

~~~

The Russian establishment has not harboured any illusions about the Trump administration’s pro-Russia stance for some time now, said Alexei Makarkin at the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies.

“This infatuation with Trump in Russia is over, and Flynn as a person who has contributed to this infatuation stopped being perceived as a figure who can have a real impact on the U.S. foreign policy,” Makarkin said.

The nomination of Tillerson, former chief executive at ExxonMobil, showed the Russians that he, not Flynn, would be doing the negotiating, Makarkin said.



A few thoughts on this:

- Tillerson has long standing ties to Russians and a mutual interest in extracting as much oil as possible, especially in the Arctic region.

- I wonder how much intel Flynn already gave them.

- Hmmm - Center for Political Technologies.

Colbert on Michael Flynn's White House Tenure

https://m.

Anyone else getting an Ollie North vibe from the Flynn situation?

"At least two candidates have turned down the job of White House communications director."

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-white-house-communications-234813

Controlling the message coming out of Donald Trump’s White House may seem like an impossible task — and it’s one that many are hesitant to try right now.

The White House has gone without a full-time communications director since Trump was sworn in last month, and although chief of staff Reince Priebus is spearheading a robust effort to fill the position, his overtures to several Republican communications professionals have been met with a lack of interest, according to a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the situation. At least two candidates have turned down the job, a position normally coveted by Washington political operatives, according to another source familiar with the conversations.



Interesting point WA Solicitor General makes about discovery and depositions for full court case

http://www.king5.com/news/politics/national/appeals-court-refuses-to-reinstate-trumps-travel-ban/406581342

On Thursday, Purcell told reporters that discovery and potential depositions during the full court case could provide critical insight into the events leading up to the executive order.

“We would like to get some answers about what really was the order of events,” said Purcell. “We’ve heard a number of different stories from the administration about who did what and when, and whether this was even reviewed by the national security agencies.”



Hmm, I don't think 'alternative facts' will go over too well in the courtroom.
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