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As Nikki Haley Quits UN Remains UNreformed But Ambassadors Head to Clemson in S Carolina

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, October 10 – Well less than two years into her term as US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley has resigned. Inner City Press, banned from the UN by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for 98 days without action by Haley's US Mission, launched a live-stream broadcast from in front of the UN Delegates Entrance gate where it has questioned her and others. The Russian deputy ambassador had no response at all. Now amid talk of Bob Corker or Dina Powell - previously rumored to take the UN job ultimately given to Rosemary Di Carlo - the idea floated or planted at Haley's Press-less press conference in September will happen, somewhat different, in October: "The U.S. Department of State and the Office of the Chief of Protocol are proud to announce the 23rd Experience America trip to Charleston, S.C. with members of the foreign Diplomatic Corps, October 14-16, 2018.

More than 30 foreign ambassadors – representing countries across four continents – will join Ambassador Sean P. Lawler, Chief of Protocol of the United States, to engage local business and community leaders and spotlight America’s communities. Transforming from an economy driven by tourism and aerospace manufacturing, the Charleston region is diversifying into a number of new business sectors, accelerating international exports and launching new programs to integrate into a global marketplace. The culture, diversity and competitiveness of the region continues to draw international firms to the area, which has powered growth across automotive, IT, life science and aerospace industries.

While embracing classic Southern charm, diplomats will learn firsthand about Charleston’s integration with the world – from the nearly $70 billion worth of cargo transported each year through the Port of Charleston, to the engineering advances developed at Clemson University for countless international projects, to the advanced manufacturing at Boeing’s signature production facility – as the region addresses critical challenges and opportunities. The following events are open to the press: 

Sunday, October 14, 6:15pm – Welcome Reception aboard the USS Yorktown – Aboard one of the 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the U.S. Navy, and a national historic landmark, the foreign ambassadors will meet and interact with Charleston’s top business and cultural leaders. The event will feature remarks by Charleston representatives and Ambassador Lawler.

Monday, October 15, 9:00am – Regional Business Breakfast at Trident Technical College – The Charleston region is a home, workplace and inspiration to 750,000 people who are globally connected through trade, technology and travel, and locally engaged to craft a legacy for the future. Diplomats will meet with local business leaders and hear from manufacturing, technology and logistics executives leading companies operating across the region. This panel discussion will be held at Trident Technical College, a 2-year, multi-campus community college that provides quality education and promotes economic development.

Monday, October 15, 11:00am – Visit to Joint Base Charleston: Ambassadors will receive a mission briefing and tour a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing. They will also tour the Transport Isolation System, or TIS, an asset the Department of Defense can use to safely transport patients with highly contagious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and visit with explosive ordnance disposal Airmen assigned to the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron. The Charleston Region contains the largest military presence in South Carolina, with an annual economic impact of approximately $10.8 billion that is supported by 68,529 jobs. JB Charleston is “The Launch Point for the Nation's Resolve” because it comprises the strategic mobility triad. Uniquely, JB Charleston has air, land and sealift capabilities to support the nation's warfighters. It is comprised of 23,000 acres and provides installation support to more than 60 mission partners representing all military services (Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps) as well as Federal Law Enforcement Training agencies. Overall,  JB Charleston services a total population of 90,000 active duty, reserve, civilian, dependent and retiree members while maintaining and operating $7.8 billion of physical infrastructure spanning three seaports, two civil-military international airfields, 22 miles of coastline and 38 miles of rail.

Monday, October 15, 1:00pm – Tour of Clemson Turbine, Clemson University SCE&G Energy Innovation Center: Diplomats will visit The Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) to tour a diverse range of projects focusing on restoration ecology, historic preservation, advanced material research, marine conservation and electric grid testing. The CURI provides researchers, scientists, students and faculty with opportunity to impact the growing tech economy while also appreciating the rich historical heritage in the surrounding area. It was stablished in 2004 as a means for driving economic growth, innovation and workforce development in South Carolina's Lowcountry.

Monday, October 15, 5:30pm – Community Reception with Mayor John Tecklenburg, Business and Community Leaders – During an evening reception in historic Charleston, elected officials and community leaders will meet with ambassadors to discuss how international trade and innovation are fueling growth in the regional economy. The event will feature remarks by Ambassador Lawler and Mayor Tecklenburg.

Tuesday, October 16, 9:00am – Breakfast at the College of Charleston: At this event, the rich culture of Charleston will be explored through a variety of presentations focusing on food, social commentary and music. College of Charleston students, faculty and staff will connect with diplomats and forge new partnerships. President Steve Osborne, Addlestone Library’s scholar-in-residence and local historian Harlan Greene and others will deliver remarks.

Tuesday, October 16, 1:00pm – Tour of Boeing Charleston Delivery Center: Boeing will provide a tour and briefing to the visiting Ambassadors to showcase the latest in innovation and aerospace manufacturing. Diplomats will experience the world’s only “freezer-to-flight” manufacturing facility where the most technologically advanced commercial airplane on the market is produced. The briefing will also discuss the importance of creating partnerships across the public and private sectors, as well investing in the community and nourishing a workforce pipeline through those partnerships.

The visit will also include closed-press activities, such as a tour of the Port of Charleston, an editorial tour of Garden and Gun Magazine, and cultural and historic tours of Charleston."

On October 9 Guterres was off on a six day trip including Bali - the next day he spoke with Haley but not the Saudi Crown Prince he took $930 million from and who reportedly took Jamal Khashoggi. In Washington, Haley said much has been accomplished at the UN in two years. Nothing on combating corruption or censorship, however - at least not yet. She was asked about it, here. She will remain through the end of the year, with a successor to be named in two or three weeks or sooner. Watch this site. When Haley held a press availability on September 20 about the upcoming UN General Assembly High Level Week, almost nothing was said about Africa which is over half of the UN Security Council's workload. Inner City Press, which has been banned from the UN since being roughed up by UN Security while covering the UN Budget Committee meeting on July 3 and which has been trying at the UN Delegates Entrance gate to ask Haley and her Deputy Jonathan Cohen about Cameroon and now Uganda since then, was unable to attend the stakeout. Haley said President Trump will meet the heads of state of South Korea, Israel, the UK's May, Japan's Abe, France's Macron and Egypt's Sisi; she said that among others Treasury Secretary Mnuchin will be in town. Inner City Press was unable to ask about that, either. Haley called on CBS and France 24; the "lady in the green dress" (Turkish state media) and Reuters who she said she was looking for. No Africa anywhere. And then it was over, while FOIA requests pend. When Haley held a sit-down press conference on September 4 about her Security Council residency, her second, of the 14 questions called on by the US Mission to the UN not one was about anything in Africa or even about UN reform. This happened as 60% of the UN's work is in Africa, the UN is caught up in sexual abuse and harassment scandals and while Inner City Press, which covers UN abuse and has uncovered Secretary General Antonio Guterres' inaction in Cameroon and the African business links of his son Pedro Guimarães e Melo De Oliveira Guterres has been banned from the UN for 63 days by Guterres, prospectively to miss access to the General Assembly High Level week for the first time in 11 years.
   When Inner City Press was roughed up while it covered the UN Budget Committee and a plan by Guterres to move jobs including from New York to Mexico City, it was covered by Fox News which one assumes the US Mission reads. Inner City Press did not reach out for any assistance from the Mission, holding to the principle that the UN should treat journalists fairly without a state sponsor.
   Nothing improved. In fact, Guterres' British head of Global Communications Alison Smale issued a letter banning Inner City Press, dredging up old discredited complaints from Morocco and her bitter deputy. Still, nothing from Haley or the US Mission.
   Finally on August 24, after Inner City Press learned from a non-US source of President Trump's plan for a meeting about drugs on September 24, Inner City Press formally raised the matter to Haley's spokesman, a holdover from the Samantha Power days, John Degory. He indicated he heard what was said.

  But access was not arranged to Haley's September 4 press conference, at which after Haley to her credit at least raised South Sudan in her opening remarks Degory tried to give a question to among others a retired travel agent and a barely intelligible resident correspondent from Pakistan who beyond assisting in Inner City Press' eviction spent the past weekend tweeting that tennis star Serena Williams and her outfits are “pathetic.” That's today's UN.

   Now there is a deadline to cover the UN General Assembly and Inner City Press has applied and has writing an open letter to Haley, below, and cc-ed her and Degory on its polite letter to Smale. Watch this site. Sixty days after Inner City Press was physically ousted frm the UN and then subject to a ongoing ban from entry to cover the Security Council or UN noon briefing, Inner City Press sent a now open letter to US Ambassador Nikki Haley, here:
Dear Ambassador Haley:

   On this the first day of your UN Security Council Presidency, this concerns the censorship of Press the UN has engaged in since July 3.

   I was physically ousted that day by UN Security while I staked-out a meeting of the Fifth (Budget) Committee as I have for a decade. Right after I spoke to Cameroon Ambassador Tommo Monthe, chair of the Fifth Committee, I was grabbed by Lt Ronald E. Dobbins and another officer, shirt torn, laptop damaged, arm twisted. This was covered in Fox News, here, as well as The (UK) Independent.

  On July 5 when I came to cover the Security Council meetings on Syria and Yemen, I was banned from entering UN. After a no due process review by the Department of Public Information's Alison Smale, my accreditation was “withdrawn” on August 17, seemingly for life. The letter is online here, downloadable with some of my rebuttal (not heard by Smale or DPI) here.

  I have raised this verbally to some in your US Mission to the UN, including eight days ago to your spokesman John Degory, followed up in writing with a request to be admitted to your September 4 Program of World press conference. In your first such press conference on 3 April 2017, I asked you about peacekeepers' sexual abuse and the continuing need for the Freedom of Information Act at the UN. Video here.

   As things stand, without any due process, I am banned from your press conference -- at which, for the record, I would like to ask you about the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon which I asked you about on 18 October 2017. Video here. I am also banned from covering the General Assembly High Level week, the deadline for accreditation for which is September 5.

   I firmly believe I have a right to cover this member states' event, despite what I see as bias and lawlessness by DPI and the wider Secretariat. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric in an August 27 noon briefing I was banned from attending cut off a question about my ouster, video here insisting that to say this is about freedom of the press would be wrong. (Then why is it in the Press Freedom Tracker, here, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others for example in the UK, Japan, Italy and Cameroon? Why this 5000+ signature petition?) They have gotten so petty as to get UNICEF to block me from a book event they had invited me to on September 5. They similarly got my blocked from a press conference held outside of the UN at the Pierre Hotel by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, whose work on North Korea's cyanide patents I have also asked you about.

  So I am writing to you, asking for your intervention at least on the limited issues of not being blocked from attending your September 4 press conference and relatedly DPI relenting and not blocking me from covering the GA High Level Week, and allowing me to apply and be accredited on Sept 5 like thousands of other correspondents, many state media of government with little respect for press freedom.
Bigger picture, why has the UN banned me for 60 days and counting? I think it is because, more than before, they cannot or feel they do not have to put up with critical questions and coverage.

  Not to be put too fine a point on it, but this is NOT a new day at the UN - or what is new about it is the willingness to rough up and journalist and ban its media for life, with no due process or appeal. This is not consistent with the First Amendment of the US Constitution (which it is now clear entirely stops east of First Avenue) - nor with Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  This is an outrage at the UN that must be addressed.

Matthew Russell Lee,


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