The Cable

State moving to resolve Kyl hold on nominees

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has placed a hold on some State Department nominees, pending Foggy Bottom turning over to him the U.S. government negotiating record on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Hill sources say.

The U.S. has signed the CTBT treaty, which bans the testing of nuclear weapons, but the Senate has not ratified it. Kyl was central to the effort in 1999 to prevent Senate ratification, and it was defeated overwhelmingly. Obama said in a speech on nonproliferation in Prague in April that he would like to seek the advise and consent of the Senate on CTBT. Kyl's current documentation demands seem to be an indication that he will move to try to prevent Obama from doing so, as he prevented Senate ratification of the CTBT treaty a decade ago under President Bill Clinton.

"Kyl thought he got an agreement" when he agreed to lift the hold on the nomination of Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher last month, one Hill foreign policy hand explained. "But he was apparently not happy with what he got afterwards, and he's asking for more documentation."

The State Department's Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Rich Verma is said to be handling the matter, the Hill aide said. "There are certain precedents about what the executive branch can give Congress, they don't necessarily give them everything." So that needs to be worked out, he said.

One official thought that a handover to Kyl of documents on the CTBT negotiations - apparently all already in the public domain - was being arranged for Friday, and that the whole matter might be resolved then.  

A spokesman for Senator Kyl didn't immediately respond to queries.

The official said it was his understanding that Kyl's hold did not apply to ambassador nominees (it did however seem to be affecting the long suffering acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who finally had a hold lifted by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) last week.)

Obama met with his nominee to be US ambassador to Japan John Roos at the Oval Office today.

Tauscher was traveling in Brazil this week with other U.S. officials.

The Cable

Veteran South Asia hand joins Holbrooke's team as Pakistan aid coordinator

Robin Raphel, who under the Clinton administration was the first U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, is joining Richard Holbrooke's team to become the coordinator for nonmilitary aid to Pakistan, State Department officials confirmed to Foreign Policy.

Working out of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Raphel will be teaming up with USAID, the USDA, Treasury, DoD, and other assistance-implementing agencies to ensure that all programs support U.S. goals in the region, a State Department official said.

Raphel was part of a group that included Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Ann Patterson, and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake, all of whom Holbrooke convened for a hush-hush, 11-hour policy discussion on Pakistan Monday at Ft. McNair, the U.S. Army base in Washington that houses the National Defense University, where Raphel was a vice president from 2000 to 2003.

Glamorous and blond, Raphel has something of a storied career in the vein of Charlie Wilson's War. Appointed by former President Bill Clinton to be assistant secretary of state, Raphel started her career as a lecturer in history in Iran, worked for two years as a CIA economics analyst and then as a USAID analyst in Islamabad before going on to a 30-year career in the State Department, serving in Pakistan, London, South Africa, India, and later as U.S. ambassador to Tunisia.

Journalist Steve Coll reports in Ghost Wars that Raphel was roommates in England with Bill Clinton's Oxford girlfriend, and she is also said by associates to be close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several HRC advisors, including ambassador at large for women's issues Melanne Verveer. A former husband from whom she was then divorced, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel, was killed in a plane crash also carrying Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq in 1988.

Since retiring from the State Department in 2000, Raphel has served as coordinator for Iraq reconstruction and the deputy inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. In 2007-2008, she worked as a lobbyist and consultant for Cassidy and Associates, where Raphel was a vice president. Raphel is coming on board in a "call back" capacity, an associate said, a status for a certain rank and number of years in the Foreign Service. She couldn't immediately be reached for comment. "She's an inspired choice and we are pretty thrilled," one South Asia hand said. "We wanted someone who could really handle a significant (Congress-willing) increase in civilian assistance to Pakistan."

Mark Wilson/Getty Images