State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, October 4, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 4, 2012.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • FBI Investigation / Coordination with Libyan Investigation
    • Response to Requests from Congress
    • First Meeting of Accountability Review Board
    • U.S. Assistance in Libyan Transition / Security Related Programs
    • Condemnation of Syrian Attack in Turkey
    • Dissolution of Parliament
    • Christiaan Kappes
  • IRAQ
    • Inspection of Iranian Flights
    • Confirmation of Ambassador Beecroft
    • Russians Indicted for Violation of U.S. Export Laws


12:47 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. It’s Thursday. Are you freezing, Jill? You’re —

QUESTION: I’m always freezing in here.

MS. NULAND: We should give pashminas for your personal chair there.

QUESTION: I know. I have to do that.

MS. NULAND: All right. I have nothing at the top except to advise you that Mr. Mark Toner will be at the podium tomorrow, so – by popular demand. Let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Not because you’re taking a long weekend? (Laughter.) That’s the joy of being a Deputy, Mark. (Laughter.)

Let’s start with Libya. Do you have – is there some State Department-related explanation as to why the FBI team has not gone to Benghazi yet?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on that set of issues at all today. If and when we do, we will share it, but otherwise I’m going to have to send you to the FBI today.

QUESTION: So there is no State Department-related reason, or you’re just saying they haven’t given you anything to say, so you’re not going to say anything?

MS. NULAND: Let’s go with that, Matt.



QUESTION: So any question about Libya, you’re going to say you don’t have anything on?

MS. NULAND: Well, you can try any of seven or eight other things if you’d like —

QUESTION: No, that was – no, no. That was the only one I had.

MS. NULAND: — but with regard to the FBI’s mission, I don’t have anything for you today, okay?


QUESTION: I have a quick follow-up on that.


QUESTION: Now you said yesterday or the day before that you are working, cooperating with the Libyans together, that the FBI is doing that. How are they doing that? Do they talk to their counterpart? Do they talk to their own ministry of justice or whatever they call it? Or do they conduct independent investigations and then they compared notes?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think you’re asking me to get into how the FBI is doing its work and how it’s doing it with the Libyans, so I’m going to send you to the FBI.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m saying that under these conditions, how does a, let’s say, a foreign power – the United States of America – work with a local domestic police effort in this case?

MS. NULAND: Well, speaking historically, speaking from previous efforts of this kind, as you know, the FBI has to investigate whenever we have death of Americans. There are any number of ways to work together. You can have parallel investigations that are then compared; you can have joint investigation; you can have a fusion cell. There are any number of ways it can work. With regard to how they’re working it in this particular case, I’m going to let you talk to them.

QUESTION: And lastly – I know you addressed this issue the day before – does the FBI work under the auspices of the State Department?

MS. NULAND: The Department of Justice.

QUESTION: Wait, wait. So they’re not under Chief – the team that’s there is not under Chief of Mission authority?

MS. NULAND: When we dispatch teams from Washington or anywhere else, they go on temporary duty. Obviously, they work for that temporary time under the larger rules that apply to temporary duty personnel under —

QUESTION: Right. So they are under Chief of Mission authority?

MS. NULAND: They are as temporary duty personnel, and those rules are somewhat different, as you know.

QUESTION: Well, no, hold on a second. How are they somewhat different? Do they not come under Chief of Mission authority?

MS. NULAND: They are the responsibility of the Chief of Mission, but they are on a temporary duty mission, which is different than what the rest of the Embassy is involved in.

QUESTION: Right. But in terms of travel and any kind of internal movement they might make, they are under Chief of Mission authority; correct?

MS. NULAND: It depends on the situation. There are circumstances where, for example, our DOD colleagues may come in. They’re – obviously the post knows that they’re coming. They may provide for themselves. There are all kinds of ways this can work. And I don’t want to get into the specifics from the podium.


QUESTION: I wonder how concerned the State Department is about another report yesterday that more documents were found inside the compound, some of which apparently pertain to personnel issues and things like that. I mean, that surely is a State Department – of State Department concern.

MS. NULAND: Well, presumably, you’re talking about the reporting from The Washington Post —


MS. NULAND: — yesterday. If you take a look at those things that were found, they were all unclassified documents. Some of them were, for example, the evacuation instructions for personnel. So clearly, these were things that were in use at the time of the attack, and frankly, none of us was surprised to see them at the site.

Please, Jill.

QUESTION: On the 10th, we have this hearing on the subject. Now, the committee says that they have two people who are – who have given them information that they – the request was made for more help, security help, and it wasn’t given. Has the State Department – do you have any comment about that? And any State Department – any definition of who from the State Department will be participating in that hearing?

MS. NULAND: Well, as the Secretary said yesterday, it is our intention, it has been our practice to date to work fully cooperatively with the Congress to meet all of the requests that they have to the best of our ability. We plan to do that. We will make those two individuals available to the Congress.

With regard to the precise hearing on the 10th and how that’s going to work, we will make them available, but we’ll have to see how the whole thing works out. We’re still talking to them about it.

QUESTION: So those – of the two people who come from the State Department – in other words, to describe them as whistleblowers that the committee will have is not correct?

MS. NULAND: My understanding of the two individuals that were precisely requested, one of them is our Deputy Assistant Secretary of Diplomatic Security. She was in the direct chain of command on the night of the events. The other I am not familiar with personally, but I understand he’s a regional security officer who was also involved.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the documents that were —

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — just found? I mean, you said that they were not classified. So can you just go over, review, like what happens in a situation like that or what happened that night, that – so you got rid of all this classified material, but sensitive-but-unclassified material is considered not necessary to destroy in the chaos that was going on?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, we are going to have a full review of all of this. The ARB is reviewing; the FBI is investigating. So I’m not going to get into the details of precisely what happened that night. That’s, as we’ve agreed, not what we’re going to do here until we have all the facts.

But as we said at the time, we evacuated all of the personnel – all of the American personnel from Benghazi that night. And as we also said at the time, we don’t have any reason to believe that classified material were compromised.

QUESTION: But I mean – okay, but you have a lot of stuff that is marked – and we all have talked about it in previous stories or whatever – sensitive but unclassified. And our understanding is that not only did it have information about movements of personnel in Benghazi, which I guess would be moot, but also about personnel and their – Foreign Service Nationals and their names and phone numbers. And people on the ground there are very concerned now that this type of information got out, and possibly extremists on the ground now know that they worked for the U.S. Embassy. I mean, this was a very big concern in Iraq, for instance.

MS. NULAND: Well, as we were clear on the record – I think Mark was clear on the record yesterday – that we have had some challenges securing the site. We are continuing to talk to the Libyan side about that. But this was not, based on what we’ve seen, any kind of breach of classified information.


QUESTION: Can I just – you said – this is on the same subject – before we get onto Turkey and Syria, I’m sure.


QUESTION: But just – you said the FBI is investigating. I don’t understand how they’re investigating. I mean, if they were investigating, surely they would’ve come upon these documents themselves, right? I mean, they – it’s like they’ve shown up —

MS. NULAND: Matt, my point was that they are conducting an investigation —

QUESTION: Are they?

MS. NULAND: — of the circumstances of the attack.

QUESTION: And they can do that without actually going to the site?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m going to let you talk to them about the particulars, and —

QUESTION: Well, I just don’t understand how you can say affirmatively the FBI is investigating when reporters are strolling around picking up whatever – whether the information is sensitive or a schedule that doesn’t mean anything after the schedule is over, I don’t understand how you can say there’s really an investigation going on.

MS. NULAND: I’m going to —

QUESTION: I guess I’ll go to the FBI and ask them that as long as you can assure me that there’s no State Department-related reason why the FBI is not in Benghazi already.

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t have anything particular from this podium to say about their investigation today.


QUESTION: Well, sort of related, I mean, that – you said a few moments ago that these were primarily things that were in use the night of the attack. That’s mostly the case, based on the stuff that was found. But you also said that you were not – none of you here were surprised to find that at the site. It seems surprising to a layman, I think, that three weeks later, the stuff would be lying around, that somebody – I mean, leave the FBI out of it for a minute – hadn’t gone in and picked it up. Right? I mean, it was three weeks later, and it was lying around in plain sight?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think I made clear earlier that we have had some challenges with regard to security of the site. We’ve been working with the Libyan side on that. There have been no Americans at the site. So we will continue to work on that, but I don’t have anything further –

QUESTION: Was it the Libyans’ responsibility to have cleaned it up, then?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don’t think I’m going to get into any further details about either what happened on the night or what happened on the – in the aftermath until we’ve had a chance to have a full picture of the thing come forward.


QUESTION: Just one more on Libya?

MS. NULAND: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you clear up – is it your understanding that the Libyans have arrested or detained certain individuals? Because now it seems kind of unclear whether actually there are people in custody and whether the FBI has had access to them.

MS. NULAND: They’ve made some public statements to that effect. There have been some contradictory statements. So I’m not going to speak for them. I’m going to let you talk to them.

QUESTION: But, I mean, is it your understanding that people are in custody?

MS. NULAND: Again, I am not, we are not, in the middle of their investigative process. I’m going to let you speak to them.

QUESTION: Can I just say – as you said, you say you’ve had some challenges in securing the site. Isn’t that a bit of an understatement?

MS. NULAND: That’s —

QUESTION: Hasn’t it been a colossal failure to – securing the site, whether it’s your fault or the Libyans’ fault? I mean, “had some challenges” doesn’t seem to really address the scape of the fact – the scope of the fact that the site hasn’t been secured at all. That’s not a challenge.

MS. NULAND: It’s been challenging, as I said.


QUESTION: Just a point on sort of procedure. Has the ARB actually started its work today?

MS. NULAND: Yes, indeed. The ARB had its first meeting, or is having its first meeting, today. They are all here in the building, meeting with some of our folks, beginning to get some of the documents that they will need to study, et cetera.

QUESTION: And is this a – does it sort of meet every day? I mean, is it sort of a permanent standing committee until the work is done or is it sort of periodic that they convene?

MS. NULAND: I think one of the things that they are talking about among themselves today is how the work schedule will go. They’ll obviously have a lot of papers to read through. Then they’ll have to come back together periodically to compare notes about where they are. How they choose to do that, whether it’s always on site or whether it’s a mix of things, I think we’ll have to see going forward.

QUESTION: Do they get to call witnesses? Is that how it works?

MS. NULAND: They can call folks to talk to them, absolutely, yes.

QUESTION: And do you think it may be a plan at some point to actually visit Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any information about that. I would guess that, like the FBI, they’re not going to be sharing a lot of their working methods until they’re finished.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the consulate property for a moment? The Post story indicated that apparently it was owned by a private family which had minimal security on hand. And if the Libyan Government is supposed to be providing that security, has this building talked with it about trying to increase the security at the facility, even though there aren’t Americans there (1) to protect whatever evidence might still be there; (2) to protect whatever material that may not be germane to the investigation, but certainly that the U.S. Government would want to obtain at some point?

Has there been any discussion between the two governments about boosting that security? Because it doesn’t seem as if the family that owns the property is doing enough, if this – if they could just say, “Well, sure, come on in,” to any one of us who want to go in there.

MS. NULAND: Beyond saying what I said, which is that we’ve had some challenges, I’m not going to get into the details of our conversations with the Libyan Government or with anybody else with regard to the details of site post-the attack.

QUESTION: Do you feel that the Libyans are doing enough —

MS. NULAND: I think I —

QUESTION: — to try to maintain the —

MS. NULAND: I think I said there were challenges. I think that’s where I’m going to stick.

QUESTION: Can I check on the —


QUESTION: — status of the building? Because I actually had some questions about this very early on, and I should’ve clarified it earlier. I believe the very first background briefing we had after the events of September 11, the word was used that the State Department had acquired the property. So it doesn’t belong to – can I ask you whether it belongs to the State Department or whether it was leased? I suppose that’s a simple question.

MS. NULAND: My understanding is it was leased, which is – it was a long-term lease, which we do frequently when we are in a posture of deciding about our permanent presence, which we hadn’t decided with regard to Benghazi.

QUESTION: And is this usual for diplomatic compounds? I mean, does the State Department actually physically buy them or lease them usually around the world?

MS. NULAND: I think I just said that when we’re in a posture of deciding what we’re going to do in terms of our permanent presence, it is sometimes the case that we lease properties. In general, when we are in a permanent-built embassy facility, it’s property that we have either leased from the government and built the building ourselves which we own, or some combination. But it’s different in every circumstance.


QUESTION: Just a procedural thing on that hearing on the 10th. I know that a couple of senators have weighed in and said, hey, where are those documents that we’ve been asking for. With the ARB, will they have to compile all the documents and then release, or will there be releases as we go along?

MS. NULAND: I think I’m going to stay where the Secretary was yesterday, which is that we are going to work with the Congress. Obviously, we cooperate fully with the ARB. To the degree that there’s need for us to cooperate with the FBI, we do that as well. These processes will go in parallel. But I just can’t speak to how it’s going to proceed precisely.


QUESTION: Did any State Department officials attend the funerals of Glen Doherty or Tyrone Woods?

MS. NULAND: I don’t know the answer to that. They may have had personal friends who were invited. My understanding is that these were private family services. As you know, the public service —

QUESTION: It was —

MS. NULAND: — the memorial service was attended at Andrews by the President.

QUESTION: It was not on the Secretary’s public schedule, but is it customary, in the Administration’s view, for officials to attend these sort of events?

MS. NULAND: Again, it depends on the family’s wishes. It depends on whether there were invitations issued. As you know, our —

QUESTION: Were there invitations issued?

MS. NULAND: Can you let me finish my sentence? I can’t speak to whether invitations were issued. I would speak to the family about that. But as you know, we did honor our fallen at a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, where the President attended, the Secretary attended, other members of the Cabinet, Secretary Panetta was there, Tom Donilon was there. And it was very moving, for those of you who had a chance to join us.


QUESTION: Is it reasonable to expect the Libyans in their current state of government to be able to either assist in this investigation or protect the Embassy? And can you tell me what steps specifically the State Department is taking to both secure the facility and work with the Libyans?

MS. NULAND: On your last question, this is the third time that one’s come around this time. We are working with the Libyans on all of these questions, but I’m not going to get into the details of the conversation. Obviously, with regard to our larger diplomatic presence, under the Vienna Convention, one expects the support of the host government for security. We have had that support. We will obviously be looking in the context of the ARB, in the context of the FBI investigation, as the Secretary said yesterday, as to what we can learn from this experience, whether there were, in fact, appropriate steps taken with regard – against the environment that we had at the time.


QUESTION: Victoria, are you having right now some specific talks with the Libyan authorities to help them build some effective security institutions?

MS. NULAND: I think we spoke to this after the Secretary saw President Magariaf up at the UN General Assembly. I think I mentioned that Assistant Secretary Beth Jones was there to follow up earlier this week. Yes, we did, first of all, right after Qadhafi fell, offer a number of U.S. assistance programs to help the Libyans deal with the aftermath of the Qadhafi regime, chemical weapons, MANPADS, their efforts to integrate militias. We have re-offered some of those things that the Libyans have not yet taken up. We have a lot of experience in transitional governments around the world, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, helping new democracies deal with the aftermath of the kinds of weapons that have been found in Libya, et cetera. And we are ready and eager to do more as the Libyan Government – new government gets on its feet and decides what it needs from the international community.

QUESTION: But right now, do you have some U.S. experts on the ground helping and advising the Libyans right now?

MS. NULAND: We have had – as we have reported over the last six months or so, we’ve had a very large effort on the MANPAD side and we’ve had some five to six thousand MANPADS recovered and destroyed in Libya. We’ve also had some advisory efforts from the Embassy. As you know, we’re still in restricted staff, so I can’t speak to what’s exactly going on today. But we’re obviously committed to those programs and willing to do even more.

QUESTION: I have one more – this is semi-related.


QUESTION: And that’s just recognizing that the circumstances in Libya are and were essentially unique, are you aware of any other diplomatic facility that was protected essentially – that the host government’s protection force was a militia, not like a – I mean, I think we all – all of us who were there remember these guys who were quite impressive, but it wasn’t like they were all wearing natty uniforms or anything.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, I want to —

QUESTION: Where it’s kind of an irregular force.

MS. NULAND: I mean, I suppose it depends how you define the term, Matt, and we would have to get some more facts. But my understanding is that in the Iraq context in the early days, when we had PRTs and particularly up in Kirkuk, we used local forces as our exterior perimeter. We’ve certainly had those kinds of arrangements in the past. I can’t say definitely one way or the other.

QUESTION: Well – but I mean, but those local forces were actually attached to an authority, as opposed to this one, which is kind of – it’s got an informal link, if – at best, no?

MS. NULAND: Well, I – suffice to say, without getting into too many details, as we said at the time, we were working with the Libyan Government with regard —

QUESTION: No, I understand that.

MS. NULAND: — to the forces that would be provided. So there were obviously links between the Libyan Government and those forces that were provided.

Please, in the back. Still on Libya?

QUESTION: No, change of topic.


MS. NULAND: Libya? Yeah.

QUESTION: Victoria, there are some TV news reports from Turkey, they said two individuals from Libya, while they’re entering Turkey, Istanbul, arrested by Turkish officials. And Turkish officials are questioning them – two individuals related with the attacks in Benghazi. Do you have anything on that – two people?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything for you on that. I’ll send you to the Turkish side.

QUESTION: No? Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Can I talk Turkey?


QUESTION: The Turkish parliament has —

QUESTION: Did she just say she wanted to talk Turkey?

QUESTION: I said I wanted to talk Turkey.

MS. NULAND: She wants to talk Turkey. Yep.

QUESTION: Stay on Turkey. How about that? The Turkish parliament has authorized the government to use force when needed in Syria. I wonder if you’re cautioning Turkey against escalating this any further.

QUESTION: Well, first of all, let me reiterate what the Secretary said last night when she spoke to Foreign Minister Davutoglu on the phone, that the United States sends its deepest condolences to the Turkish victims of the artillery attack from Syria yesterday. The Secretary also used that opportunity to condemn the Syrian attack and to pledge U.S. support for our ally, Turkey. I think you also saw that the North Atlantic Council issued a statement last night in support of Turkey’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemned the flagrant violations of international law, after consulting under Article 4 last night.

Our understanding is that the Turks have responded. The Turkish parliament has also given the government the capacity to respond again if there are future such violations of Turkish sovereignty. As was clear last night in the unanimous support that Turkey had from the North Atlantic Council, from our perspective the response that Turkey made was appropriate. It also was designed to strengthen the deterrent effect, so that these kinds of things don’t happen again, and it was proportional.

QUESTION: Is there evidence suggesting that Syria, indeed, was responsible for the shelling that led to the killing of this women and her four children yesterday? Have you seen any physical proof of this?

MS. NULAND: We don’t have any reason to challenge the Turkish military and the Turkish Government’s assertions that this was artillery fired by Syrian regime forces. And certainly any information we have about the placement of those forces is consistent with what the Turks are saying.

QUESTION: I think the Syrians actually acknowledged by apologizing. They issued an apology.

MS. NULAND: Turks – that’s – Said is right, that the Syrians have apologized.

QUESTION: My question to you: Do you expect this to escalate, and what would be the role of the United States in this case?

MS. NULAND: Well, our – obviously our fervent hope and expectation is that there will not be further violations of Turkish sovereignty, and that was the – what all of our messages were designed to do.

QUESTION: So do you expect that the Syrian apology to be sufficient and that this is actually an acknowledgement on their part that they will not accelerate from their side?

MS. NULAND: I obviously don’t have a crystal ball, but the intent in sending a very strong message was to deter future such aggression.

QUESTION: The NAC was very quick to say unanimously this was a provocative act by Syria. Now there are ongoing discussions at the Security Council, and it seems, once again, Russia is taking Syria’s side and is trying to water down a resolution that would condemn this action. What is happening with this at the UN Security Council? What is your understanding at this point?

MS. NULAND: Well, given the fact that the UN is still convened and working on its own statement, I’m not going to get into the middle of that room for you. We, the United States, as the Secretary pledged to Foreign Minister Davutoglu yesterday, support a very strong statement that makes clear who is responsible and holds them to account.

QUESTION: Isn’t it troubling that, yet again, Russia is seemingly standing in the way of something that would seem to be a pretty obvious thing to do for the Security Council?

MS. NULAND: For us, this is a no-brainer. Other countries are going to have to make their own decisions.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering if you could tell us if – when the Secretary had her phone call with the Foreign Minister if he then told her that this response was underway, or did that occur before the Turks launched their attack, or was it already happening when they talked.

MS. NULAND: I can’t speak precisely, but my understanding is that the Turks were already in the process of responding when the phone call happened.

QUESTION: Okay. So they hadn’t given you any prior signal?

MS. NULAND: Suffice to say that Turkey had made clear to us, they had made clear to Syria, they had made clear to everybody else, that if their territory was violated that they intended to respond. So it wasn’t a surprise, if you want to put it that way.

QUESTION: And is it safe to say – you said that the assessment is that their – this was response was proportional, appropriate, and so on. Is it the Secretary’s message or the Administration’s message to the Turks that they should continue to have proportional and appropriate responses to this, I mean, i.e., don’t widen it out unnecessarily?

MS. NULAND: The message is to the Syrian side, that it needs to stop.

Please. Are you still on Syria? No. Anything else on Syria?


MS. NULAND: Okay. Moving on.

QUESTION: Yeah. One of the press releases that you issued yesterday after —

MS. NULAND: What country are we on?

QUESTION: This is about the United Nations. A press release issued yesterday said that you had reaffirmed the importance of respect for the rights of peaceful association and assembly as essential components of democracy with the United Nations Human Rights Council. The day before that, at least 12 people were arrested in front of the White House, who were protesting the HHS mandate. And also in 2010, people were arrested who were protesting outside the White House. How does the Administration defend these arrests to the Human Rights Council of the UN with regards to that press release?

MS. NULAND: I’m not going to speak to the security posture at the White House or whether those folks had permits and the means that they took. I’m going to send you to the White House on that.

QUESTION: Were those, though, acts of peaceful association and assembly?

MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to what the security posture was at the White House, what the circumstances were. There are any number of possible explanations for the security decisions that were made there. They are made there. I’m going to send you to the White House.


QUESTION: Can I ask about Jordan please?


QUESTION: The King has just dissolved parliament just as we were coming through.

MS. NULAND: I didn’t see that, Jo.

QUESTION: And called snap elections.


QUESTION: I wondered if you could speak to that, what – whether there had been any indication – obviously not – but whether there was any concerns about the strains that the Jordanians are coming under with all the regional tensions that are going on at the moment.

MS. NULAND: Well obviously, it’s within the King’s constitutional mandate to do that, so he’s obviously made his decision there. Let me see if we have any further comment on this, but I frankly didn’t see it before coming down.

QUESTION: I have a – I don’t know if you’ll know anything about this – about a priest from Indiana who’s missing in Greece. His family believes he was abducted and likely killed, and says that the priest had requested help from the U.S. Embassy in Athens but was denied.

MS. NULAND: This is an American for whom we actually have a Privacy Act waiver.


QUESTION: Stunning.

QUESTION: Shocking.

MS. NULAND: So we can confirm that U.S. citizen Christiaan Kappes has been reported missing in Athens. We obviously have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. Our Embassy in Athens is in contact with his family and is also working very closely with Greek authorities to try to locate him. As you know, in cases of missing Americans like this, U.S. consular officers check local hospitals, we check hotels, we check airports, we even work with local authorities to check prisons. So all of those things are ongoing, but we have not yet located him. We’ll let you know if we have more to share.

QUESTION: And nothing about a request for help that was denied?

MS. NULAND: Here’s what I have on that: There’s a little bit of confusion here. Mr. Kappes visited the Embassy on October 1st. He did not, himself, request safe haven. While a consular officer was on the phone with one of his family members discussing options to ensure his safety, Mr. Kappes himself got up and departed the Embassy, and we don’t know where he went. And –

QUESTION: Safety about what? I mean, why would he be unsafe?

MS. NULAND: Again, I can’t speak to the conversation that went down between the consular officer and Mr. Kappes. He himself came in. Some conversation ensued. He himself did not ask for safe haven. We contacted his family; presumably, since he was sitting there at that moment, it was with his knowledge, with his participation. What I have was that in that conversation, we were discussing options to ensure his safety, but in the middle of it, he got up and left. That’s what I have.

QUESTION: But you can’t say what about – what was it about his safety that concerned you?

MS. NULAND: I just don’t have any other information, Elise.

QUESTION: Sorry can you – what’s the spelling of the last name?

MS. NULAND: K-A-P-P-E-S. First name has two As, C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-A-N, Christiaan Kappes.

QUESTION: Victoria, Iraq?


QUESTION: I was talking to an Iraqi official about the incident of bringing the Iranian cargo airplane, for instance, and he told me the following: That they are cooperating – but they have requested from you, time and time again, for logistical support, equipment, and so on, to be able to do that, and actually, it has fallen on deaf ears. Could you tell us – and he said that the Embassy has actually made a case before the Administration, but nothing has come of it. Could you tell us about the current status in a situation like this, when the Iraqis ask for aid and equipment to conduct activities that you request them, and that is not delivered?

MS. NULAND: Well first, Said, let me say that, as you know, we’re fully supportive of the Iraqis asking these Iranian flights to come down, be inspected, et cetera. I can’t speak to what you’re asserting, which is that we’ve been asked for help and we haven’t provided it. Let me check on that. It doesn’t sound right to me. Okay?

QUESTION: Continuing with Iraq: September was probably one of the bloodiest months of all time. Tell us about the status of your diplomatic operations in Iraq and the status of the confirmation of Mr. Beecroft.

MS. NULAND: Mr. Beecroft was confirmed as Ambassador a couple of weeks ago, so he is – my understanding is he’s back in Iraq, fully empowered, with —

QUESTION: Is he in Iraq?

MS. NULAND: My understanding is he was taking a couple days off with his family in California, but then was headed back to Iraq. I think he’s probably arrived there. Ambassador Beecroft, we call him now. Yeah.

QUESTION: You called him that before, too. He was the Ambassador in Jordan.

MS. NULAND: Yes, of course. So, Dima.



MS. NULAND: Still on Iraq?

QUESTION: This might be on the same thing.

MS. NULAND: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: So go. Let him go.

MS. NULAND: On – it’s Dima, so it’s going to be Russia. What’s up?

QUESTION: No, no, no, it’s not.

MS. NULAND: It’s not? Okay, there we go.

QUESTION: It’s actually not, not today. The civil unrest in– it looks like the situation in Kyrgyzstan is getting tense again, and according to the State Department’s daily schedule, Secretary Blake spoken earlier today with Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Otorbayev. What was his message, and how do you assess the current situation in Kyrgyzstan?

MS. NULAND: Dima, I’m going to say I don’t have anything on Kyrgyzstan today. Let me take that one and we’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: On Russia? Taxes?

QUESTION: It’s close by.

QUESTION: Russia taxes?

QUESTION: Russia –

QUESTION: — spy, secret agent.

QUESTION: Yes, go for it.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. NULAND: Department of Justice?


MS. NULAND: Keep going. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You’re aware of this case? It’s like Password. (Laughter.) Are you aware of this case; I guess it’s in Houston?

MS. NULAND: If we’re talking about the same thing, we’re talking about the indictments that were handed down by the Department of Justice yesterday?

QUESTION: Yes, I believe so. Yes, and this guy is appearing in court today. Anyway, the Russian, I realize, and please don’t give me the spiel about it’s under investigations, it’s in the court, blah, blah, and you can’t talk about it, because what I’m – the question I’m asking doesn’t have anything to do with that.


QUESTION: The Russians are complaining that they weren’t notified, that this guy – they didn’t know anything about it, this guy that was arrested. My question is this: Since he is a naturalized American citizen born in Kazakhstan during the Soviet time, is there any requirement for you all to notify the successor government of his former homeland that he’s been arrested? And – that’s one.

And then two, are you are of any conversations between you and the Russians after this – since yesterday about this case in terms of consular access, that kind of stuff?

MS. NULAND: Well, first let me just set the background here. The U.S. Department of Justice yesterday indicted 13 individuals and entities for their roles in criminal violations of U.S. export control laws; 8 were Americans, 3 were Russian citizens; and they also took action against the U.S. firm A-r-c Electronics, Arc Electronics, and a Russian-based firm, Apex. These criminal cases involved the export of sensitive U.S. commodities to Russian entities in knowing violation of U.S. export laws. Department of Justice has the lead.

I don’t know which of the individuals you’re talking about, Matt. But if in fact he —

QUESTION: Well, maybe my information is bad. But do you have – but do you know if – if three of them are, in fact, Russian citizens, do you know if there was any consular notification?

MS. NULAND: I will check. But generally, at the time of the unsealing, we notify with regard to citizens, but I will check on the precise timing of that. With regard to your specific question about whether a naturalized American is considered an American, yes, a naturalized American is considered an American so we don’t notify the country of birth.

QUESTION: Toria, and on – sorry, just on that, just a follow-up, and maybe you won’t – the Russian Foreign Minister is also saying that Washington has told it that these charges are criminal, as you said, and not related to intelligence or espionage. Is that your assessment in the case?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, the Department of Justice put out a press release that was pretty full yesterday. I would refer you to that. They did cite links to the Russian military and intelligence agencies in that indictment. It is an indictment at this stage, and the case will proceed.


MS. NULAND: Please.

QUESTION: My understanding is the Russian Government is also asking for consular access to those —

MS. NULAND: To the three?

QUESTION: To the three Russian/U.S. citizens.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: And in light of what you just said about naturalized citizens and stuff, are you going to grant this request?

MS. NULAND: If they are naturalized Americans, we consider them Americans, as we do for anybody who’s taken U.S. citizenship.

QUESTION: So it’s not —

MS. NULAND: If they are Russian citizens, then obviously we receive the consular request and we do our best to meet our obligations.

QUESTION: And those three that you mentioned, do you know if they hold dual citizenship or just – what are the —

MS. NULAND: If they are dual citizens, we consider them Americans. If they are not American citizens in any way, then they would be listed here as Russian citizens.

QUESTION: Can – wait, wait. If they’re dual citizens, there’s no consular notification requirement? I’m going to remember that the next time someone gets busted in Iran and you guys start complaining.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: I don’t think that’s correct. Maybe you could check that. And also —

MS. NULAND: I don’t think there’s consular notification; however, if the Russian side wants to visit them and they want to be visited, generally, we allow if they are dual citizens. That’s generally the way that goes.

QUESTION: But would you —

MS. NULAND: But it’s up to the people involved.

QUESTION: Well, would you expect the Iranians to notify you if a dual Iranian-American was arrested?

MS. NULAND: Generally, the way this goes on our side is we request access and we are not even told whether they are incarcerated, let alone doing what we do, which is to ask the individual whether they want to receive a consular visit.

QUESTION: Can you – and this – on this case – and I apologize if my information was bad at the beginning. But these three that you say – you said initially are Russian citizens —

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: — they are not dual citizens? They are just flat-out Russians?

MS. NULAND: I’ve got flat-out Russians. That’s what’s in the DOJ press release.

QUESTION: Okay. And then I have one that’s unrelated to any of this, which is – I don’t think you’ve going to have. Is there anything new on Mr. Tice?

MS. NULAND: There is not.

All right. Thanks, everybody.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:26 p.m.)


Final 2023 Mayoral Forum with Joe Woods

Final Village Trustee Forum – March 19, 2023