Tag Archives: 1998 East Africa Embassy Bombings

US Embassy Libya: To Restrict Personnel to Essential Travel, Closes From October 13-17

– By Domani Spero

On October 9, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli issued a security message to Americans in Libya reminding the need for caution, and announcing plans to restrict personnel movement to “essential” travel only and closure of the embassy during U.S. and Libyan holidays from October 13-17, 2013. October 14, Monday is Columbus Day and The Day of Arafa; October 15-17 is Eid ul Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).

The U.S. Embassy in Libya reminds U.S. citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security following the October 5 detainment of a Libyan national by U.S. military authorities.  The embassy is aware of public statements threatening the kidnapping of U.S. citizens in Libya, but has no specific information about these threats.  The embassy plans to restrict movement of embassy personnel to essential travel only and will be closed in observance of American and Libyan holidays from October 13-17.  The embassy will reopen for normal operations on Sunday, October 20.  American Citizen Services will be offered during normal hours on October 9.  Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.

On October 5, American forces in Tripoli captured Abu Anas al-Liby, a Libyan militant who had been indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. (No matter how long it takes …. 5,533 days after the East Africa embassy bombings …).

Via the NYT, October 7:

For months, a swelling team of federal investigators, intelligence agents and Marines waited behind the barbed wire and gun turrets of the fortified compound around the United States Embassy here, aware of suspected terrorists at large in the streets — including suspects in the killing last year of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi — and increasingly frustrated at the inability of the weak Libyan government to move against them.

Now, with the Abu Anas raid, the Obama administration has signaled a limit to its patience. Two years after the United States backed the NATO intervention that removed Qaddafi, Washington has demonstrated a new willingness to pursue its targets directly, an action that has now prompted some of those suspected in Ambassador Stevens’s death to go into hiding, people here said.
[...]
The streets of Tripoli were quiet on Sunday night, with no major protests against the arrest or attacks on American interests. But in just a few hours about 2,000 Libyans had signed into a new Facebook page proclaiming solidarity with Abu Anas, who was born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai. “We are all Nazih al-Ruqai, O America,” it was called.

One comment read: “The real Libyan hero rebels should kidnap an American in Libya to negotiate for our brother Ruqai’s release. It is a shame on us and all Libyans. The Americans entered Tripoli with their commandos and they kidnapped our son while we were standing watching.”

Libya has been a “danger pay” post since July 15, 2012.  This latest incident will inevitably increase the potential for retaliatory attacks not just for the embassy but other western interests in the country.

On October 8, CNN reported that 200 heavily armed U.S. Marines headed to an Italian naval base, poised to fly at a moment’s notice to Libya should the U.S. Embassy come under assault from angry crowds in the wake of al Liby’s capture.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the chaos continue. The United States will hit the debt ceiling of $16.7 trillion on or around October 17.  Politicians continue with their brainless jaw-jaw before the cameras.  By the time the embassy reopens on October 20, Uncle Sam may not have anything left but socks and underwear, and pols with their useless pointed fingers blaming each other.

(~o~)

 

 

 

 

 

 

About these ads

Leave a comment

Filed under Americans Abroad, Congress, Consular Work, Defense Department, Diplomatic Security, Foreign Service, FSOs, Realities of the FS, Security, Shutdown, State Department, Terrorism, U.S. Missions

No matter how long it takes …. 5,533 days after the East Africa embassy bombings …

– By Domani Spero

According to the NYT,  American forces in Tripoli captured on October 5, “a Libyan militant who had been indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The militant, born Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai and known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al-Liby, had a $5 million bounty on his head; his capture at dawn ended a 15-year manhunt.”

Pentagon spokesman George Little said late Saturday the suspected terrorist is being “lawfully detained by the U.S. military in a security location outside of Libya.”  Officials told ABC News Al-Liby is expected to be handed over to the FBI for a flight to New York where he will stand trial on the terror charges.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 10.26.42 PM

 

As of this writing, no new emergency message or alert has been issued for US Embassy Libya. Travel Warning – Libya dated May 9, 2013 remains in effect warning U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advising against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid, and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra.

👀

 

Related posts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Defense Department, Diplomatic Attacks, Security, State Department, Terrorism, U.S. Missions

U.S. Mission Kenya Commemorates 15th Anniversary of August 7 Embassy Bombing

By Domani Spero

In a ceremony in Nairobi today, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec and the U.S. embassy community honored the victims of the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy.  Before laying a wreath at the memorial obelisk on the Embassy grounds, the U.S. marines presented colors, the Ambassador and a Kenyan staff member of the Embassy shared thoughts on the tragedy and its meaning for Kenyans and Americans, and the hundreds of staff members of the Embassy observed a moment of silence in remembrance of those killed and injured.

NAIROBI_Catherine Kamau George Mimba Ambassador Robert F Godec and Bill Lay_02

Catherine Kamau (Left) and George Mimba (Second Left) both locally employed staff from the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Ambassador Robert F Godec (Second Right) and Bill Lay (Right) at the Memorial Park. (Photo via US Embassy Nairobi)

And because there were too many dead, and too many wounded, we should revisit how we got there. Also of particular note, the disaster tourists and photo opportunists:

Via ADST:

It was one of the most horrific events in U.S. diplomatic history. On August 7, 1998, between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time, suicide bombers parked trucks loaded with explosives outside the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi and almost simultaneously detonated them. In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 wounded; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. Prudence Bushnell, a career Foreign Service Officer, was Ambassador to Kenya at the time and relates to Stu Kennedy of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training the harrowing events of those days.

Read her complete oral history here.

 BUSHNELL: In the ’90s, President Clinton felt compelled to give the American people their peace dividend, while Congress thought that now that the Cold War was over there was no need for any significant funding of intelligence, foreign affairs or diplomacy. There were discussions about whether we needed embassies now that we had 24-hour news casts, e-mail, etc. Newt Gingrich and the Congress closed the federal government a couple of times. Agencies were starved of funding across the board. Needless to say, there was no money for security. Funding provided in the aftermath of the bombing of our embassy in Beirut in the ’80s that created new building standards for embassies and brought in greater numbers of diplomatic security officer dried up.

As an answer to lack of funding, State Department stopped talking about need. For example, when we had inadequate staff to fill positions, State eliminated the positions, so we no longer can talk about the need. If there’s no money for security, then let’s not talk about security needs. The fact of increasing concern at the embassy about crime and violence was irrelevant in Washington. So was the condition of our building.

[...]

When I returned to Washington on consultations in December of ’97, I was told point blank by the AF Executive Office to stop sending cables because people were getting very irritated with me. That really pushed up my blood pressure. Later, in the spring of ’98, for the first time in my career I was not asked for input into the “Needs Improvement” section of my performance evaluation. That’s always a sign! When I read the criticism that “she tends to overload the bureaucratic circuits,” I knew exactly what it referred to. Yes, the cables had been read, they just weren’t appreciated.

In the years since the bombing, I learned just out just how much I did not know about U.S. national security and law enforcement efforts against al Qaeda. The information was highly compartmentalized, on a “need to know” basis and clearly Washington did not think the US ambassador needed to know. So, while I was aware of the al Qaeda presence and various U.S. teams coming and going, I did not know, nor was I told, what they were learning. When the Kenyans finally broke up the cell in the spring of ’98, I figured “that was that.”

[..]

Once the Secretary and her entourage came and left, we received what I began to call the disaster tourists. Well meaning people from various parts of Washington who couldn’t do a thing to help us. In November I sent a cable to Washington requesting by name the people we wanted to visit. The response was “Now wait a minute, you’re complaining about the visitors who are coming and now you want others. You’re sending very mixed messages here.” They didn’t seem to understand the difference between those VIPs who could be part of the solution and those having their photographs taken in the remains of the embassy.

Read in full here.

At the US Embassy in Tanzania, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. There doesn’t seem to be any remembrances or commemoration in Dar es Salaam as of this writing.

💐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Ambassadors, Diplomatic Attacks, Foreign Service, FSOs, Memorial, State Department, U.S. Missions, Uncategorized

Intel Signs of Al Qaeda Plot in the Making: U.S. Embassy Closures — Sunday, August 4

By Domani Spero

Updated August 2, 8:08 am: Additional U.S. embassies/consulates closing on August 4: Khartoum (Sudan), Basrah and Erbil (Iraq) and Amman (Jordan).

Updated August 3, 10 pm:  Other posts included in the temporary closures for August 4: Dhahran and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Djibouti (Djibouti) and Dubai (UAE), bringing the total closures to 23 at this time. The US Tel Aviv Embassy post closure includes the American Center in Jerusalem and the Haifa Consular Agency.

 

As of this writing, 15 embassies in Africa, Near East Asia and South Central Asia have been ordered to close on Sunday, August 4 due to a security threat attributed to Al Qaeda. CBS News reports  that U.S. intelligence has picked up signs of an al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. The intelligence does not mention a specific location, which is why all embassies that would normally be open on Sunday have been ordered to close.

According to CBS News, officials say that this appears to be a real plot in the making and not just the normal chatter among terrorists talking about attacks they’d like to carry out. But these same officials add they are missing key pieces of information.

An unnamed senior State Department official also told CBS News: “For those who asked about which embassies and consulates we have instructed to suspend operations on August 4th, the answer is that we have instructed all U.S. Embassies and Consulates that would have normally been open on Sunday to suspend operations, specifically on August 4th. It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”

Below is the message posted by the affected embassies; links to the emergency message are listed at the bottom of this post:

The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4.  The Department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. It is possible we may have additional days of closings as well, depending on our analysis.  The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety.  However, beyond this announcement we do not discuss specific threat information, security considerations or measures, or other steps we may be taking.  

We are pleased to see that they are being prudent.  While we have not been glued to the news this past few days, we heard that hundreds escape from the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. There seems to be a whole lot of prison breaks  lately in other parts of the region.  While these incidents may not be connected, we find it disturbing and gravely unsettling.  We are also just a few days away from the 15th anniversary of the twin U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa.  We might also remember that in the last several years, August has been a month of death and mayhem for our diplomatic posts overseas.

AUGUST 7, 1998 – EAST AFRICA BOMBINGS: Near-simultaneous truck bombs exploded and severely damaged the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 291 people (including 12 Americans) and injuring nearly 5,000 (including six Americans) in Nairobi, and killing 10 people and injuring 77 (including one American) in Dar es Salaam.

AUGUST 7, 2004 – AL-JAWF, YEMEN: Angry local villagers opened fire on vehicles of the U.S. Embassy Force Protection Detachment.

AUGUST 21, 2005 – PAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN: Assailants detonated an explosive device as a U.S. Embassy vehicle passed, wounding two Embassy employees and damaging the vehicle.

AUGUST 29, 2006 – KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals detonated a remote-controlled bomb against a U.S. Embassy vehicle, damaging the vehicle but causing no injuries.

AUGUST 27, 2006 – AL-HILLAH, IRAQ: Four or five mortar rounds were fired at the Regional Embassy Office Hillah, injuring two U.S. soldiers, one U.S. contract employee, and four local employees.

AUGUST 28, 2008 – BASRAH, IRAQ: One of two rockets fired at Basrah Air Station penetrated the overhead cover of the Regional Embassy Office located at the station, and passed through two trailers before embedding in the ground. No injuries were reported.

AUGUST 26, 2008 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: Gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying the U.S. Consulate General’s principal officer to work. She and her driver escaped injury when the driver drove the vehicle in reverse, to the safety of the officer’s residence nearby.

AUGUST 3, 2011 – BAGHDAD, IRAQ: An explosive device detonated against a U.S. Embassy protective security team, injuring five persons and damaging one vehicle.

AUGUST 8, 2012 – ASADABAD CITY, AFGHANISTAN: Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives near U.S. provincial reconstruction team members walking near Forward Operating Base Fiaz, killing three U.S. service members and one USAID employee, and wounding nine U.S. soldiers, one U.S. diplomat, four local employees, and one Afghan National Army member.

 

Below is a list of August 4, 2013 U.S. Embassy Closures:

👀

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Americans Abroad, Diplomatic Security, Foreign Service, Org Life, Realities of the FS, State Department, Terrorism, U.S. Missions

US Embassy Dar Es Salaam: Obama, Bush at Wreath-Laying Ceremony for 1998 Embassy Attack Victims

—By Domani Spero

President Obama and former President George W. Bush honored the victims of the 1998 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the memorial.

If video is unable to display, click here to view in YouTube/AP

More photos here and here.

Via to the Crowe ARB:

According to physical evidence and reports from persons on the scene just prior to the bombing, on the morning of Friday, August 7, 1998, a truck laden with explosives drove up Laibon Road to one of the two vehicular gates of the US Embassy in Dar Es Salaam. Apparently unable to penetrate the perimeter because it was blocked by an embassy water tanker, the suicide bomber detonated his charge at 10:39 a.m. at a distance of about 35 feet from the outer wall of the chancery. The type and quantity of explosives are still under investigation.

The bomb attack killed eleven people; one other is missing and presumed dead. Another 85 people were injured. No Americans were among the fatalities, but many were injured, two of them seriously. The chancery suffered major structural damage and was rendered unusable, but it did not collapse. No one inside the chancery was killed, in part due to the strength of the structure and in part to simple luck. A number of third-country diplomatic facilities and residences in the immediate vicinity were severely damaged, and several American Embassy residences were destroyed, as were dozens of vehicles. The American Ambassador’s residence, a thousand yards distant and vacant at the time, suffered roof damage and collapsed ceilings.

At the time of the attack, two contract local guards were on duty inside a perimeter guard booth, while two others were in the pedestrian entrance screening area behind the booth and another was in the open area behind the water truck. All five were killed in the blast. The force of the blast propelled the filled water tanker over three stories into the air. It came to rest against the chancery building, having absorbed some of the shock wave that otherwise would have hit the chancery with even greater force. The driver of the water tanker was killed, but his assistant, seen in the area shortly before the explosion, is missing without trace and presumed dead.

Read in full here.

(;_;)

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Diplomatic Attacks, Foreign Service, Govt Reports/Documents, Obama, Security, Terrorism, U.S. Missions, Uncategorized

Ambassador Prudence Bushnell: At the NPC on Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Via the NPC:

Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, CEO of consulting firm Sage Associates, will address embassy security in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi at a Newsmaker press conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 5 in the Zenger Room.

The attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens shined a harsh spotlight on whether the State Department had taken sufficient steps to keep its diplomats safe and how such threats are assessed.

Bushnell, chief of mission in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998, when Al Qaeda members, under orders from Osama bin Laden, exploded a massive truck bomb outside the U.S. Embassy there. The blast killed 213 people, including 44 U.S. government employees.

Bushnell has also served as U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala and dean of the Leadership School at the Foreign Service Institute.

The Zenger Room is located the 13th Floor of the National Press Building, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Anthony E. Gallo at 202-544-6973 or by email at agallo2368@verizon.net.

Should be interesting to hear her take particularly on a COM request that does not get a hearing on the Seventh Floor, something familiar to the ambassador who wrote to a Secretary of State, and never got a response.  We have blogged about Ambassador Bushnell’s entry in the Oral History (see Rice Conspiracy: “Cover-Up” Now Extends to the 1998 East Africa Bombings? Why Not Just Add the Fake Moon Landing, too?).

– DS

 

 

Related articles

Leave a comment

Filed under Ambassadors, Diplomatic Attacks, Diplomatic Security, Secretary of State, Security, State Department, Terrorism

WhirledView: Benghazi and State: Where do the bucks stop?

WhirledView’s Patricia Kushlis (a 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service) asks, where the bucks stop on Benghazi?

Why, at the lower floors absolutely, where else?

But — we heard that people inside the building have been asking/discussing uncomfortable questions like — by what process did the State Department chose one NEA deputy assistant secretary (DAS) who may or may not have had Libya in his portfolio and three Diplomatic Security (DS) officials for discipline?  What were the criteria for such discipline?  Why were the NEA Assistant Secretary and Principal Assistant Secretary (PDAS) not in the mix? Who made the decision? Also on what basis did Administration/Department officials decide to extend the “temporary” Benghazi presence by another year?  On the basis of what criteria did Department leaders recently designate top-priority high risk, high threat posts?

All that we’ve talked about in our previous postings.

New Diplomatic Security Office to Monitor 17 High Threat Diplomatic Missions (With ARB Update)

State Dept’s New High Threat Posts Are Not All Danger Posts

Accountability Review Board Fallout: Who Will be Nudged to Leave, Resign, Retire? Go Draw a Straw

How long will the State Dept’s bureaucratic firewall hold at the bureau level?

Patricia’s post asking where those darn bucks should stop is good reading because so far those bucks have not stopped spinning.  She talks about leadership or lack thereof insider the big house, some of the characters in this badly done episode and a possible resolution in the next season.  Excerpt below:

The report corroborates that multiple mistakes were made – not just that tragic night – but in the months before. They go deep into the heart of the system’s weaknesses.  Leadership – or actually lack thereof – is a problem the report alludes to with capital Ls although names of officials above the Assistant Secretary, or bureaucratic Firewall, as Diplopundit put it, are missing. This might be adequate for a networked organization but the State Department is institutionalized hierarchy personified and the report tells us that news of the attack was being called in as it happened to State’s 24/7 Diplomatic Security Center and relayed to the NSC and elsewhere.  At least that piece of the building apparently works as it should.
[...]
Before Hillary Clinton set foot in the department, she knew that it suffered from severe financial and administrative stress.  She smartly established a Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources bringing in Jack LewObama’s current Chief of Staff and now nominee to become the next Treasury Secretary – to fill the new position.  Lew lasted at State about a year, spent his time addressing budgetary deficiencies and much to his credit, got Congress to approve major funding increases for the beleagured department before he moved on and over to the White House.

Hillary didn’t, however, tackle other flashing yellow light administrative shortcomings – leaving management of the department and the embassies to Patrick F. Kennedy who had been brought back to State by mentor and then Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in 2007. But before that Kennedy had been Chief of Staff at the US Transition Unit in Baghdad in 2004 where he worked for Negroponte and had held the same position in the CPA (2003) – a period of chaos in Iraq when millions upon millions of dollars disappeared.

Why Hillary kept Kennedy in the position after her arrival in 2009 is a mystery.  Anyone who was responsible for coordinating the reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies under Madeleine Albright – a real hash job whose Sandy-like after-effects reverberate today – or forbidding American Embassy officers from  attending Obama’s speech in Berlin July 24, 2008 on the grounds it was partisan politics despite the fact that Americans have the freedom to assemble under the US Constitution shrieks foremost, in my view, of a serious lack of judgment.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Then there’s that thorny not-so-little issue of State’s mismangement of diplomatic security  in Africa August 7, 1998 when Al Qaeda blew up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killing over 220 people including 12 Americans and injuring over 4,000.

For the record: Kennedy was Acting Under Secretary for Management from 1996-7 and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security in 1998 and  Eric Boswell’s first carnation as  Head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (he was in the same position when Benghazi ignited in September, was supposedly fired but is apparently still in place) was from 1996-98. So Boswell and Kennedy would have been in top management positions in State responsible for Embassy security when then US Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s requests for better security for Nairobi had been refused.

[...]

It’s too late for Hillary to houseclean as she should have four years ago.  Calling her up to the Hill to confess guilt – or deflect blame – won’t make a difference in the next encounter between American diplomats and militant Islamic terrorists.  But John Kerry, her likely successor, should make tending State’s garden, investigating its Byzantine byways as well as focusing on its financial and human resources – a top priority.  Benghazi needn’t have happened.  There needn’t be a reprise.

Read in full here. 

If Senator Kerry is confirmed, we’d really like to see him stay home some more and and not try and break Condi or Hillary’s travel records. There are lots of stuff that really needs fixing right there inside The Building.

domani spero sig

Related articles

Leave a comment

Filed under 67, 68, Diplomatic Attacks, Diplomatic Security, Functional Bureaus, Leadership and Management, Leaks|Controversies, Org Culture, Questions, Realities of the FS, Regional Bureaus, Secretary of State, State Department

AP’s Matt Lee Asks Tom Pickering About the ARB’s Supposed to be Never-Again Moment

Via the State Department’s ARB Benghazi Briefing with Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen:

MS. NULAND: … Let’s start with Matt Lee from AP, please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for doing this briefing. The report, to a layman, seems to indicate either rank incompetence or a complete lack of understanding of the situation on the ground in Benghazi. And my question is: Why is such poor performance like that from senior leaders in these two bureaus that you mention, why is not a breach of or a dereliction of duty? Why is it not grounds for disciplinary action?

And then secondly, after the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the ARB report – the ARB that was formed then came out with a series of recommendations, and many of your recommendations today, the broader ones, are very similar. Those bombings in East Africa were supposed to have been a never-again moment. What happened between then and now that this could possibly have happened?

AMBASSADOR PICKERING: Without accepting your characterization of the problem, it is very clear that under the law and in connection with the State Department regulatory practice, one has to find willful misconduct or similar kinds of action in order to find breach of duty. And indeed, one of our recommendations is – there is such a large gap between willful misconduct, which leads, obviously, to conclusions about discipline, letters of reprimand, separation, the removal of an individual temporarily from duty, that we believe that gap ought to be filled. But we found, perhaps, close to – as we say in the report – breach, but there were performance inadequacies. And those are the ones that we believe ought to be taken up, and we made recommendations to the Secretary in that regard.

Thank you for asking the question, Matt Lee.

On a side note — Ambassador Pickering was the 17th Undersecretary for Political Affairs who was the #3 ranking official at the State Department (1997-2000) when the East Africa Embassy Bombings occurred in 1998.  He was one of those interviewed by the Crowe Commission; that Board concluded that “no employee of the U.S. government” had “breached his or her responsibility.” No one was pressured to leave after that incident as far as we can recall. More on that here from Ambassador Bushnell who similarly requested additional resources for US Embassy Nairobi prior to the bombing.

ARB Benghazi’s report released yesterday says that “the Board did not find that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities, and, therefore did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action.”

And yet — as of 10:17 pm PST, four State Department officials no higher than an deputy assistant secretary (DAS) have so far been snared by the ARB report (one AS and three DASes).  Only one of those who were reportedly pressured to step down is big enough fish to make a splash on the State Department organizational chart.  A statement from the State Department via NPR:

“The ARB identified the performance of four officials, three in the Bureau of the Diplomatic Security and one in the Bureau of Near East Asia Affairs,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. “The Secretary has accepted Eric Boswell’s decision to resign as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, effective immediately. The other three individuals have been relieved of their current duties. All four individuals have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”

So — now, if the ARB report did in fact identify these officials, why was that considered “classified” and omitted from the publicly available report?

Did the ARB only identified four officials or are there more?

How many deputy assistant secretaries is the State Department prepared to pitch under the bus to ensure that the bureaucratic firewall holds at the bureau level?

Don’t get us wrong.  Four people were dead, a few more wounded. We want to see who is accountable. The ARB report and the State Department’s response is sending lots of static.  We understand that one of those leaving is preparing to retire anyway …. so … what’s going on guys?

domani spero sig

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Ambassadors, Career Employees, Diplomatic Attacks, FSOs, Govt Reports/Documents, Leadership and Management, Leaks|Controversies, Realities of the FS, Resignations, Secretary of State, State Department

New Diplomatic Security Office to Monitor 17 High Threat Diplomatic Missions (With ARB Update)

CBS News has a report on December 8 on the State Department’s new directorate within Diplomatic Security (DSS) that focuses on seventeen high threat diplomatic posts overseas. The posts listed in the report includes Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. These are in addition to previously designated high threat posts in Iraq and Pakistan Afghanistan.

The new office will reportedly have Bill Miller as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.  According to CBS News, he was described as “an experienced Diplomatic Security Official” by a senior State Department official.  A National Review report dated November 30, said that Bill Miller was a former State Department special agent who coordinated regional security for the Coalition Provisional Authority and the American Embassy in Baghdad. We missed the official announcement on this and could not locate it but according to NR, the State Department said in an announcement that the new assistant secretary will be responsible for “evaluating, managing, and mitigating the security threats, as well as the direction of resource requirements at high threat diplomatic missions.”

These posts previously fell under the portfolio of Charlene Lamb, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, but apparently the unnamed senior officials who spoke to CBS News denied that this was a demotion for Ms. Lamb or anything like that.  The report also described how her appearance in Congress was widely viewed within Foggy Bottom:

Two senior officials described the decision to CBS News as a matter of shifting of personnel and resources to “elevate the level” of oversight at risky posts and gave those duties to a specifically assigned Deputy Assistant Secretary. They denied that this was a demotion of Charlene Lamb though these posts no longer fall under her portfolio.
[...]
During the night of the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Lamb was the U.S. official at Diplomatic Security Command Center who monitored the fatal assault on “multiple open lines” in “almost real-time” via audio-only feeds according to the testimony that she delivered to the House Oversight Committee on October 10. Her hesitant responses during that questioning was widely viewed within the department as damaging to the agency. She described her role as being responsible for the “safety and security of more than 275 diplomatic facilities.”

Read in full via CBS News: State Department security overhaul

We should note that Kenya was considered a medium threat post when it was bombed in 1998.  Of particular concern here is what happens to posts that are not/not listed in the “high threat” category? According to the IntelCenter cited by the NYT, Al Qaeda has six regional branches and affiliations with at least 14 other terrorist groups. All together, the organizations reportedly have operations in almost 30 countries.  Check out the map of operations here.  So again, what happens to posts not in the “high threat” category? Do you know?

In any case, if this was not a demotion for Charlene Lamb what have they done to her official biography? (h/t to A who writes “either I’m having very selective network problems, or it appears Charlene Lamb’s official bio is no longer available from State’s website.”)

Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs — Charlene R. Lamb
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs is responsible for managing and directing all Bureau of Diplomatic Security programs and policies that protect the Department of State’s international missions and personnel from the threats of terrorism, espionage (human and technical), and crime. [biography]

Don’t know what’s going on.  But that [biography] link now lands on a “We’re sorry. That page can’t be found and may have moved” page.

In related news, the WSJ reported (registration required) that Egyptian authorities have detained Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, the alleged ringleader of an Egyptian terrorist network whose members are suspected of participating in the September 11 attack on Benghazi.  Abu Ahmad is reportedly a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad who was freed from prison in March 2011 following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak

ARB-Related News

The AP reported yesterday that the Accountability Review Board report is imminent. The news report also said that Senator Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had asked that Ambassador Pickering (ARB chairman)and retired Adm. Mike Mullen (ARB member) appear before the committee before Secretary Clinton.

Secretary Clinton officially convened the Board for 60 days on October 4, 2012.  The 60-day deadline hit its mark on December 4.  No announcement of extension was made so we presume that the final report may already be available to the Secretary.  If we recall correctly, the regs also says that Secretary Clinton has no later than 90 days after receipt of the ARB recommendations to submit a report to Congress.

Various news report said that Secretary Clinton will appear before both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the Accountability Review Board report is released.  No date has been set for the hearings. But it looks like the target adjourned date for the House is December 14, with December 31 for the Senate.

Given the intense public and congressional interest on this case, we suspect that the report will be publicly released sooner rather than later. Probably as early as the next week as we don’t think Congress would want to stay in DC holding hearings for the holidays. Of course, those dates can always change, especially with the fiscal cliffhanger looming large.

domani spero sig

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress, Diplomatic Security, Foreign Affairs, Functional Bureaus, Hearings, Hillary, Regulations, Secretary of State, Security, State Department, U.S. Missions

Rice Conspiracy: “Cover-Up” Now Extends to the 1998 East Africa Bombings? Why Not Just Add the Fake Moon Landing, too?

Gosh, this is getting exhausting. Aren’t you getting tired of Rice clogging up your feed? And she has not even been nominated yet.

Frontpage.com has this screaming headline: How Susan Rice Covered Up the Kenya Embassy Bombings 14 Years Before Benghazigate

Investors.com has this one: For Susan Rice, Benghazi Was Kenya 1998 Deja Vu

Over at HuffPo, a tamer one: Susan Rice Role In Lead-Up To Africa Embassy Bombings Recalled As Minimal

The 1998 East Africa bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were pulled out of a hat by GOP Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) who recently said:

Those bombings in 1998 resulted in the loss of life of 12 Americans as well as many other foreign nationals, and 4,000 people were injured. And what troubles me so much is the Benghazi attack in many ways echoes the attacks on those embassies in 1998 when Susan Rice was head of the African region for our State Department.

In both cases, the ambassador begged for additional security. The ambassador to Kenya sent repeated messages to the State Department requesting a stronger facility because of the increased threat, and those requests, as in the case of Benghazi, were turned down by the State Department.

I asked Ambassador Rice what her role was. She said that she would have to refresh her memory, but that she was not involved directly in turning down the requests, but surely given her position as the assistant secretary for African affairs she had to be aware of the general threat assessment and of the ambassador’s repeated requests for more security.

Susan Rice was the 12th Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (AF) at the State Department. She held that post from October 9, 1997 – January 20, 2001.  The East Africa embassy bombings which killed 223 people and injured over 4,000 people occurred on August 7, 1998.

The Accountability Review Board (ARB) chaired by Admiral Crowe faulted what it called “systemic and institutional failures in Washington” and concluded that “no employee of the U.S. government” had “breached his or her responsibility.”  You may read it here.

Some members of the Crowe Commission were interviewed recently by the Huffington Post here. The report says that Ambassador Bushnell did not respond to multiple requests for comment. She was reported as having sent  “an emotional plea” to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the security situation prior to the bombing.

While Ambassador Bushnell did not return request for comments, her 2005 interview with Charles Stuart Kennedy for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training‘s Oral History Project has an extensive account about her life in the Foreign Service including the embassy bombing.

Susan Rice appeared twice by name in the transcript of her interview. First, when Ambassador Bushnell talked about President Clinton, who had just taken office and nominated George Moose as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs:

“George had made the decision to bring in experienced ambassadors as Office Directors. He delegated to them the bulk of the responsibilities and decision-making authorities. The Front Office would exercise a light hand. It was a great idea that did not work because the structure and culture of the Department emphasizes centralized control. George’s successor, Susan Rice, who came from the NSC changed the structure back. I am sorry no one gave this experiment greater time to work because we are wasting an enormous amount of effectiveness and talent by continuing a 19th century, hierarchical model of organization.”

Second, when Ambassador Bushnell was asked: What about the role of the NSC during this whole thing?

BUSHNELL: Richard Clark was the head of Global Affairs and Peace Keeping of the NSC. Susan Rice, his deputy was to take over in the second term of Clinton Administration as assistant secretary for African Affairs. Dick Clark is the one person to this day who will look you in the eye and say, “We did exactly the right thing in Rwanda.” On the other hand, Tony Lake the National Security Advisor at the time talks at length about his regrets.

She also discussed her bureaucratic battles which should be acutely familiar to some folks reading this:

BUSHNELL: I remember that in early 1998 a delegation of counter-terrorist types visited. I met with them in the secure conference room, and when they ended with the pro-forma , “Is there anything we can do for you”? I angrily declared they could answer the god-damn mail. The cursing was intentional because I wanted them to see how frustrated and annoyed I was.I also continued to send cables about our vulnerability, which only became more apparent as we dealt with these threats.

When I reviewed them before meeting with the Accountability Review Board after the bombing, I was astounded by their frequency. General Tony Zinni, Head of Central Command, the military theater under which Kenya fell, understood force protection and agreed with me about the vulnerability of the embassy. With my enthusiastic concurrence he cabled Washington offering one of his own vulnerability assessment teams. That got a reply — not just “no,” but mind your own business.

Q: This team that eventually came out was, I take it, a basically a routine thing from Diplomatic Security?

BUSHNELL: No, it was not a routine thing. I think Tony’s cable, along with continuing concerns we were voicing, finally provoked a response in the form of an assessment team. Meanwhile, when I returned to Washington on consultations in December of ’97, I was told point blank by the AF Executive Office to stop sending cables because people were getting very irritated with me. That really pushed up my blood pressure. Later, in the spring of ’98, for the first time in my career I was not asked for input into the “Needs Improvement” section of my performance evaluation. That’s always a sign! When I read the criticism that “she tends to overload the bureaucratic circuits,” I knew exactly what it referred to. Yes, the cables had been read, they just weren’t appreciated.

Q: Was anything happening at this time from Tanzania from Dar es Salaam? Was there concern there or any of the other?

BUSHNELL: [...] In May ’98, the Director General visited Nairobi, and was exposed to the concerns of the community. While he thought we were on the verge of becoming obsessed over security, offered to take a letter back to Secretary Albright. So, I penned a letter suggesting that, when next defending the State Department budget before Congress, she use our vulnerability as an example of why we needed more security funding. I also wrote to the Undersecretary for Management. I received a highly bureaucratic response from the undersecretary’s office – sorry, greater needs elsewhere and no money – but none from the Secretary. That, frankly, didn’t surprise me. To my knowledge, no one in the media has seen the letter to the Secretary so why it has been described as “highly emotional” or a “plea” is beyond me. Actually, it’s not. Stereotyping is alive and well even if wrong.

A side note here – the current Undersecretary for Management or “M” is Patrick Kennedy who had been before several committee hearings up in Congress.  This same position was encumbered by Bonnie R. Cohen from 1997 to 2001.

Below is part of Ambassador Bushnell’s account of the immediate aftermath of the US Embassy Kenya bombing and her telephone calls with Susan Rice, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and then President Clinton:

I had lost total track of time, but at some point early on the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs called. I had barely said hello, when the Secretary of State called on the other line. Both voiced shock about the bombing and about the vulnerability of the building. When I told the Secretary, “Madame Secretary, I wrote you a letter,” there was silence. She had not seen it, she said. I wasn’t about to quibble.

Not much later President Clinton called. When he called me “Pru” I knew someone was passing him cue cards because there’s no reason he would know that’s what I call myself.” Anyway, he instructed me to secure the perimeter of the chancery. He may have said “I’m sorry,” I don’t remember because I was so astounded by the importance of security now that we’d been blown up. This is supposed to be the guy who feels our pain.

Once I confirmed that the building next door had collapsed, he ordered me to secure the perimeter there, as well. “But people are still trying to get others out from under the rubble,” I explained. “Oh,” he replied. “Well, then secure the perimeter.” To this day that’s the only interaction I ever had with the President about the bombing!

Ambassador Bushnell also talked about what worked and what did not in honoring the victims of the attack.  She did not mention Susan Rice by name in the transcript but the later was the A/S at the AF Bureau at that time:

BUSHNELL:   …Washington had given us a general Mission Award for Heroism but that was it. It was up to us to take care of whatever individual or other group awards we wanted to give. I asked one of the political officers, poor guy, to do nothing but talk to people and write up awards. Another lesson learned. It was absolutely the wrong thing to do and turned into a mess. The process opened all sorts of wounds, anger and finger-pointing; it pulled people apart rather than bringing them together. So, we focused on commemorating the memorial fountain that day rather than the awards.

The Assistant Secretary for African Affairs came and, to our surprise, so did many of the family members of the Americans who had been killed. Unlike the family members of our deceased Kenyan colleagues, the Americans were very open in their anger — at the way they had been treated by the Department, at the fact that their loved ones had died, at the tragedy imposed so suddenly. It was so painful to witness and even more so, to absorb during a tense meeting after the ceremony.

And then there’s this question about the inner circle of the SoS:

Q: Well, we’re going to have to continue this, but I’ve heard people who dealt with the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright at that time, she was surrounded by a group of people for the most part who were very protective of her and you know, almost vengeful on anybody who might hurt her reputation. Did you feel that at all or at least did you feel that there was a cocoon around her?

BUSHNELL: Very much so. I know they were very mad at me for not allowing the Secretary to visit in the immediate aftermath of the bombing — they made that very clear to me. But, I really didn’t see them as that vengeful. I had traveled with Madeleine Albright and her team when she was at USUN. So, I knew a couple of the people and we had gotten along all right. That said, there was no doubt in my mind as to where their loyalties lay.

The interview is 147-pages long but it is quite a read (PDF).

Now about that moon landing …

597px-Apollo17
Pardon me?  This is a training mockup? … and Susan Rice did what … that footprint on the moon mockup?  But … but … she was only five years old then … that was her on Meet the Press, too?  You heard it where?

Holy screaming goats! What’s next?

domani spero sig

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ambassadors, Huh? News, Lessons, Political Appointees, Politics, Security