Left Menu
Development News Edition

State Department probe faults Iran envoy on employee removal

State Department probe faults Iran envoy on employee removal
FBI logo (Representative Image) Image Credit: ANI

The State Department's watchdog on Thursday faulted the US pointman on Iran over the removal of an employee of Iranian origin, voicing alarm that Trump administration officials discussed her ancestry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed to consider disciplinary action against the envoy, Brian Hook, although strong measures appeared unlikely as management also disputed the report's conclusions.

Under pressure from lawmakers, the State Department's inspector general probed the early removal of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career employee and US citizen, from the Office of Policy Planning, the internal think tank that sets priorities for US diplomacy. A long-awaited report by the internal watchdog said that the White House, two months after President Donald Trump took office in 2017, forwarded an article in conservative US media that was critical of Nowrouzzadeh's continued position and highlighted her ancestry.

Julia Haller, a short-term liaison from the White House in charge of political appointments, in an email cited by the report said Nowrouzzadeh "was born in Iran and upon my understanding cried when the President won." Nowrouzzadeh has since taken a fellowship at Harvard University, where her biography says she was born in Connecticut.

Hook, who has championed Trump's hard line on Iran and was then head of policy planning, removed Nowrouzzadeh in April 2017, three months before her one-year appointment made under former secretary of state John Kerry was due to run out. The report found no evidence that Hook personally shared bias based on Nowrouzzadeh's Iranian origin but said he did not refute the campaign against her, either.

"The comments regarding her perceived place of birth are particularly concerning," the report said. "Regardless of whether Mr. Hook personally shared the opinions and motivations expressed by Ms. Haller and others, the comments about (Nowrouzzadeh) in the articles and emails circulated within the Office of the Secretary suggest that improper factors likely influenced the requests to end her detail," it said.

Nowrouzzadeh hailed the report and said that she "proudly" served the United States across Republican and Democratic administrations for 15 years. "I continue to strongly encourage Americans of all backgrounds, including those of Iranian heritage, to consider public service to our nation and to not be discouraged by these findings," she wrote on Twitter.

The inspector general recommended additional training on personnel practices and said Pompeo "should consider whether disciplinary action is appropriate." The State Department in response said Pompeo would consider discipline but set no timeline. One of Pompeo's top aides, Ulrich Brechbuhl, wrote that the State Department "disagrees" with the report's conclusion but said that management is "committed to ensuring the highest levels of professional behavior."

Hook, in a lengthy reply to the inspector general, said he had already found a replacement candidate before the unflattering article was published on Nowrouzzadeh. "I did not start any of these conversations" about Nowrouzzadeh's ancestry or alleged political leanings, which were "wholly irrelevant to my personnel search for an Iran and Gulf expert," he said.

Hook has been at the forefront of Trump's hawkish stance against Iran's clerical regime. Trump withdrew from a denuclearization deal negotiated by Kerry and instead imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran. Haller, a lawyer who now works at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in an office reaching out to religious groups, acknowledged to the inspector general that the detail of Nowrouzzadeh crying over Trump's victory may have been "office gossip."

But she justified sharing the information as it could raise a question of "loyalty to the United States," the report quoted her as saying. Democratic lawmakers who sought the probe said it showed a pattern of Pompeo not standing up for employees, pointing to the early recall of the US ambassador to Ukraine, a key topic in the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, respectively the heads of the House committees on foreign affairs and oversight, in a joint statement asked the State Department to "take strong disciplinary action against all those who engaged in these abuses."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



These innovators are making humanitarian response more efficient

These alarming trends prompt a call for the world to not only address the ongoing crisis but also to adopt innovative approaches to fulfill the growing humanitarian needs in such emergencies. ...

Hyderabad Encounter: A sentiment analysis of public mood on day of encounter

Sentiment analysis of twitter users revealed that they showered salutes on Hyderabad police for eliminating alleged gang rapists of the veterinary doctor but only a few believe in cops version of successive events leading to encounter....

Hyderabad Encounter: Time to review modern judiciary and restore people’s confidence

Its probably for the first time in the history of independent India, the parliamentarians, chief ministers and ministers in the Union and State governments are openly supporting an encounter. This indicates the people from top to bottom hav...

What happens to your outstanding loans if the bank falls?

... ...


Latest News

Australia to develop code of conduct for likes of Facebook and Google

Australia said on Thursday its competition regulator will develop a voluntary code of conduct governing bargaining power concerns between digital platforms and media businesses.In July, Australia said it would create the worlds first dedica...

US warns N Korea of consequences for 'Christmas gift'

The United States on Wednesday warned North Korea of consequences if it makes good on threats of a spectacular weapons test in the New Year, while offering flexibility if it stays in talks. Frustrated by the lack of sanctions relief after t...

UPDATE 1-Brazil president Bolsonaro says he has a possible skin cancer

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday that he has a possible skin cancer, after a medical visit where he had a mole removed from his ear.The presidential office, however, said there is no sign that Bolsonaro has a cancer, add...

MLB Draft moves to Omaha in 2020

Major League Baseball made it official Wednesday announcing that the 2020 first-year player draft will take place in Omaha, Neb., site of the NCAA Mens College World Series. The first round of the three-day draft will be moved from June 8 t...

Give Feedback