According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State's relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.
In late October, Richard Griffin, head of the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, resigned
after an internal State Department review of contractor relationships implicitly rebuked the office for insufficient oversight. That lack of oversight contributed to the September shooting deaths of over a dozen Iraqi civilians by Blackwater security guards at Nisour Square, and has inflamed Iraqis, who view State Department guards Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp as having a license to kill without legal consequence. Yet shortly after Griffin's resignation, ABC News reported
that two key deputies who worked closely with the security contractors, Kevin Barry and Justine Sincavage, received quiet promotions. One outraged State official told ABC, "What does it say when State promotes the two people into DS' most senior positions, when if they had properly managed the programs under the responsibility, we wouldn't be in this mess?"
That question could also be asked of their recent pay bonuses.
On November 20, an internal cable, listed as State 158575, went out to State employees announcing the recipients of bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 for "outstanding performance." Among them: Kevin Barry and Justine Sincavage. You can read the cable here. Barry's name is listed on page 2, and Sincavage's is on page 5. Both Barry and Sincavage already earn approximately $150,000 annually. Their bonuses are scheduled to take effect on December 20, in time for the holidays.
According to the cable, a merit board issued recommendations this summer to award the bonuses, but approval from higher up in the State Department came relatively recently. It's unclear who approved awarding Barry and Sincavage their bonuses, or even how big they are. A State Department spokeswoman, Nancy Beck, told TPMmuckraker that she was "not going to be able to help" or "comment in any way" on "internal communications." The cables are stamped "unclassified."
TPMmuckraker has also obtained the October cable nominating Sincavage and Barry for promotion that formed the basis for ABC's story. You can read it here.