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Posts tagged ‘U.S. diplomats’

Diplomats Union Threatens to Sue Over Donor-Ambassadors.


The union that represents U.S. diplomats threatened Wednesday to sue the State Department unless it releases documents attesting to the qualifications of ambassadorial nominees amid a fierce debate over the credentials of several recent nominees.

The American Foreign Service Association said it would ask a court to compel the production of the documents, known as “Certificates of Demonstrated Competence,” if the department does not do so voluntarily by the end of Thursday. It said the department had ignored previous requests to have the documents released under Freedom of Information Act.

“AFSA remains concerned about the qualifications of several recent nominees,” the organization said in a statement. “AFSA’s goal is to ensure that the nation has the most qualified persons serving as ambassadors. AFSA believes that the President and the American people deserve nothing less.”

The lawsuit threat comes as the White House faces harsh criticism about a handful of ambassador nominees who have scant knowledge or expertise about the nations where they would serve. Several of those nominees were high-dollar campaign fundraisers and donors for President Barack Obama, raising concerns they were rewarded for their lucrative political support.

At least three recent ambassadorial nominees — George Tsunis for Norway, Noah Bryson Mamet for Argentina and Colleen Bell for Hungary — have raised concerns after poor performances in their confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. None has extensive experience with the nations where they would be stationed if confirmed.

Last month, AFSA, which represents about 16,000 current and retired diplomats, said it does not object to nominees who have little or no official diplomatic experience. But the group also unveiled a set of guidelines it said should be considered by the White House and Senate when choosing and confirming ambassadors.

Those include leadership, interpersonal and managerial skills, the ability to formulate high-level policy and knowledge of the foreign area.

An AFSA survey has found that 37 percent of ambassadors during President Barack Obama’s presidency are or have been political appointees.

That is the highest rate since former President Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s and higher than the historical average of about 30 percent.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Venezuela Lets CNN Journalists Stay.


CNN’s journalists can remain in Venezuela after all, President Nicolas Maduro said, reversing a day-old move to revoke their credentials and begin expulsion.

Maduro threatened to kick out the network’s journalists if CNN did not “rectify’ its coverage of the country’s anti-government protests, the network reported Friday night.

But Maduro changed course later, and Maduro said CNN could stay.

Maduro had called out CNN along with Fox News and other media from the United States, saying they encouraged the opposition forces.

Story continues below video.

But the brunt of his anger went to CNN, saying its Spanish-language division did “not talk about anything except Venezuela. One hundred percent of the programming until today has been Venezuela. No other Latin American news but Venezuela.”

He also accused CNN of calling for “civil war and hatred” while lying to the world.

“This comes back to the owner of CNN. He is the one who sets the guidelines,” accused Maduro. “And they work with the State Department, and from there they use that network to foment a pretend war among Venezuelans and to say internationally there should be intervention in Venezuela.”

He demanded a “balance based on respect for Venezuelan laws. He who does not respect the laws will not be on Venezuelan airwaves.”

Maduro also, during the press conference, called on President Barack Obama to join him in talks to resolve problems between the United States and Venezuela, saying the meeting would “put the truth out on the table,” reports BBC News.

On Wednesday, Obama urged Venezuela Wednesday to release protesters detained in anti-government demonstrations that turned violent and address the “legitimate grievances” of its people.

During Friday’s state TV broadcast, CNN correspondents Rafael Romo and Karl Penhaul, along with CNN en Español’s Osmary Hernandez were often shown, and Penhaul asked the president about the status of an investigation into the armed theft of CNN’s television equipment during an anti-government protest.

Maduro said the theft was being investigated and that CNN will likely recover its equipment.

Last Sunday, Venezuela threw out three U.S. diplomats, accusing them of meeting with violent groups linked to the opposition, the BBC reports.

The clashes between security forces and protesters have gone on for days, resulting in at least eight deaths, and Maduro accused CNN on Thursday of showing “war propaganda” instead of people “building the homeland.”

The government hours later told seven CNN journalists that their accreditations had been revoked and they must book flights back home.

“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials,” CNN said in a statement, and that when its credentials were revoked, journalists were seeking an interview with the president.

Meanwhile, CNN’s troubles in Venezuela are not over. A top lawmaker and leader of the ruling party said the government is investigating allegations against the network and will “not tremble in acting against those who make an attempt against the motherland.”

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By Sandy Fitzgerald

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