The U.S. State Department, which called Feeley one of the leading Latin American specialists, confirmed he is leaving his post on March 9, explaining he has opted to “retire for personal reasons.”
U.S. officials said dozens of email messages were flying around the State Department about Feeley’s decision to leave. They were a mix of disappointment, concern and admiration for the ambassador who served as a mentor to many of the current diplomats who specialize in the Western Hemisphere.
“Given what happened in the last few days, people are wondering how are they going to be effective in an environment like this,” said a U.S. official who works regularly with the State Department. “It’s one thing for us to go in and slam our hands on the table and say this is what we want … It’s another to denigrate them and make it crystal clear this is what our leadership thinks about them in the vulgarest of terms.”
News of John Feeley’s resignation’s Friday sent shock waves through the State Department where the ambassador of Panama was seen as a rising star and a potential future assistant secretary — and more than a dozen State staffers said it caused them to question their own commitment to an administration they feel is undercutting the department’s work and U.S. influence in the world.
The unexpected departure of a top ranked diplomat is shaking up an already unsteady diplomatic corps and raising questions about who will be next to leave.