The man in charge?
Are you a State Department employee looking for a good day
to take a long lunch, or perhaps cut out of work a few minutes early? Well,
today could be your chance.
Almost every member of the senior leadership of the
department is away on travel today. We
were told that Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg was "here running the department" while Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton was away on
her Asia tour. She's on the way home now, but Steinberg left for Copenhagen,
Denmark, last night to attend the Arctic
Council Deputy Ministerial Meeting today and tomorrow.
Now, we're not saying Arctic
policy isn't important -- quite the contrary. And we're not saying that
Steinberg's staying in D.C. Monday and Tuesday wasn't useful. We
understand he attended a super-important NSC meeting Tuesday on the
North Korea crisis in Clinton's stead. But with him gone, who's at the controls in
Deputy Secretary for Management Jack
Lew is in Kano, Nigeria, on his way to France later today. Undersecretary for
Political Affairs Bill Burns is in
India through Thursday. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Robert Hormats is on his way to Calgary, Canada, for a preparatory meeting
for the upcoming G-8 Summit. Undersecretary for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher is in New York for the
NPT Review Conference. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale is on the Beijing trip.
Undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero in Abuja, Nigeria.
This State Department org chart also
places USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah,
U.N. Representative Susan Rice, and
Counselor Cheryl Mills at the top of
the food chain. But Shah is in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Rice is in New York; and
Mills is in Haiti.
At the White House, the order of succession is clear: president,
vice president, speaker of the House, president pro tempore of the
Senate, and on down the line. The Obama administration has even recently
updated the orders of succession for the Defense
Department and the Department
But the most recent guidance for how this works at the State
Department was from early in the Bush years. According
to this 2001 executive order, Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is the guy in charge
today. So if you need something done, go to him. And Undersecretary Kennedy --
today is your day to shine.
"Undersecretary Kennedy is the
senior officer physically here today," said State Deparmtnet spokesman P.J. Crowley, but he cautioned, "Given the virtues of modern
technology, the secretary is always in touch and always in charge."