Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Judith McHale Confirmed to DOS Public Diplomacy Post: Has She Been Briefed?

The Senate has confirmed Judith McHale (former President and CEO of Discovery Communications) to be Under Secretary for the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. See:

Under Secretary McHale will have supervisory oversight over the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the State Department body that oversees the imposition of import restrictions on cultural artifacts. The subordinate post of Assistant Secretary for the ECA remains vacant and in the interim is being filled by Acting Assistant Secretary Miller Crouch. See: .

As part of assuming her duties, one would think Ms. McHale would be briefed about the ongoing FOIA litigation brought against the State Department by ACCG, IAPN and PNG concerning the controversial decisions to impose import restrictions on coins of Cypriot and Chinese type. See:

If so, I wonder if anyone has told her that the ECA has steadfastly refused to comply with President Obama's call for disclosure and transparency from government agencies. Compare DOJ email to FOIA Professionals (see ) and Holder memorandum ( see: with Defendant's Reply in Further Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgement and in Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (available at: ) at 13 ("[T]his guidance, though instructive to agencies, is irrelevant to the Court's consideration of the matter under the law of FOIA.").

In any event, all this raises a deeper question. Is the ECA responsive to direction from political appointees of the President or is it a law unto itself?

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