Obscure Bureaucrat Helped Make Decision To Fly Back Coronavirus-Infected Passengers. Trump Was Reportedly Furious.

The spread of the coronavirus in the United States was certainly not helped by the fact that an obscure government bureaucrat who heads an obscure wing of the State Department helped make the decision — without informing President Trump, who was against it — to fly back infected American passengers from the Diamond Princess.
As Daniel Greenfield delineates, an arm of the State Department called the Bureau of Medical Services has within it a wing called Operational Medicine. Dr. William Walters is the U.S. Department of State’s Managing Director for Operational Medicine. On February 17 he acknowledged:
So the Directorate of Operational Medicine within the Bureau of Medical Services is responsible for the aviation missions to repatriate these individuals. We work very closely with ASPR. This is our sixth flight over the past several days. We managed the flights out of Wuhan, China, and, obviously, this one. The planning was ongoing for several days. And once the National Security Council had made the decision to move forward, we certainly executed with our partners.
… Passengers were deplaned in those two locations, and then a select number of high-risk patients were transported onward from both locations, using those same aircraft to Omaha, Nebraska, for care at the University of Nebraska. The aircraft are currently on their way back to Atlanta for decontamination, and the aircraft will be placed back in service for the vendor.
Alex Horton from The Washington Post asked, “So I was curious about when discussion with the CDC was executed to make this call. Based on their press release a few days ago, they said there would be screening to prevent symptomatic travelers from departing Japan. The press release you guys issued is very carefully worded when you said, ‘After consulting HHS, the State Department made the decision to allow those individuals to go on,’ those 14. So is there daylight with CDC and HHS in this decision by you guys to send them forward, and what were some of their objections that you – that you seem to have overturned?
Walters answered, “What I’d say is that the chief of mission, right, through the U.S. embassy, is ultimately the head of all executive branch activities. So when we are very careful about taking responsibility for the decision, the State Department is – that is the embassy. The State Department was running the aviation mission, and the decision to put the people into that isolation area initially to provide some time for discussion and for onward, afterwards, is a State Department decision.”
The Post reported that Trump was furious with the decision, writing:
President Trump grew furious with senior advisers this week over a decision to allow 14 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus to return to the United States from Japan after being assured that infected patients would remain in quarantine overseas, according to administration officials. Trump and the administration’s coronavirus task force were told last Saturday that Americans who had spent weeks in quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess luxury liner where the virus had spread to hundreds of passengers would be brought home on two chartered planes — but that patients who had symptoms or the infection itself would stay in Japan …
Trump learned of the decision only after the fact and was angry that he wasn’t consulted first, complaining that the decision could damage his administration’s handling of the response, according to administration officials familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Some members of the task force were not told in advance that the infected people would be placed on the plane and learned that only after the plane was on its way back to the United States.
Greenfield writes:
Consulting President Trump was not part of the protocol even on a major national security issue. In a Congressional briefing, Walters boasted that, “the Department executed the largest non-military evacuation of U.S. citizens in its history. The safe and efficient evacuation of 1,174 people from Wuhan, China and people onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan is a testament to the agility, proficiency, and dedication of our workforce to accomplishing our core mission – advancing the interests of the American people.” And the triumph of the administrative state and its bureaucratic protocols over the President.
Greenfield concludes: “Walters got his job in 2011. He’s a relic of the Obama era. That doesn’t mean that his politics are those of his former boss. But this is not about him. It’s about the reality that the White House doesn’t make many of the most vital decisions and doesn’t even know that they’re being made until it’s too late.”
Obscure Bureaucrat Helped Make Decision To Fly Back Coronavirus-Infected Passengers. Trump Was Reportedly Furious. Obscure Bureaucrat Helped Make Decision To Fly Back Coronavirus-Infected Passengers. Trump Was Reportedly Furious. Reviewed by CUZZ BLUE on March 03, 2020 Rating: 5

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