Speed Reads

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The State Department is missing $79 million in anti-ISIS funding because Tillerson has yet to sign two memos

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the "time off" heard 'round the world last week, when America's chief diplomat unexpectedly went incognito amid rising turmoil in the White House. Tillerson's impromptu vacation sparked chatter of his imminent resignation, though a State Department spokeswoman said Tillerson remains committed to his duties.

A blistering report published Monday in Foreign Policy, however, refutes that claim, detailing what some U.S. diplomacy alums have deemed an "unprecedented assault on the State Department" under Tillerson. With Tillerson at the helm, "there is no vision," one State official said. Another official, who recently quit his post, said, "If you break the way the State Department actually functions, then you're going to have chaos. ... [Tillerson] broke the damn process."

One example of State's neutered powers is how millions of dollars earmarked for the fight against the Islamic State are languishing for reasons unknown:

One example officials pointed to was Tillerson's front office sitting on memos that would unlock $79 million for the department's Global Engagement Center to counter Islamic State messaging and narrative. Bureaucratic rules required that Tillerson simply write and sign two memos — one for $19 million from Congress and one for $60 million through the Defense Department — saying State needed the funds. But he hasn't, leaving some career officials at a loss.

"The memos have been written and rewritten ad nauseum, sometimes with conflicting guidance from the seventh floor," one official briefed on the program vented to FP, referring to the department floor Tillerson and his staff occupy. "And it just sits there." [Foreign Policy]

Meanwhile, foreign diplomats apparently are at a loss of whom to talk to at State to get their message to the American government, while State Department employees are asked to build "word clouds" to pass the time. Read more about the State Department's devolution at Foreign Policy.