— Domani Spero
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Sixteen years ago today, the near simultaneous vehicular bombings of the US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998, cost the lives of over 220 persons and wounded more than 4,000 others. Twelve American USG employees and family members, and 32 Kenyan and 8 Tanzanian USG employees, were among those killed. The current U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec, Jr. was the Econ Counselor at Embassy Nairobi in 1998.
Below is an excerpt from Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s oral history interview in 2005, recalling that day (via ADST Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, July 21, 2005 (full interview-pdf):
“The worst three days of the crisis were the first three: Friday, when we were blown up; Saturday when the rescuers finally arrived to create even more chaos; and then Sunday when we held a memorial service for the Americans and dealt with the international news media. Of course they wanted a press conference. I did not want any photographs taken, because I looked pretty banged up but was persuaded otherwise. I smile, because about a week later my OMS came up to me and said, “You know Pru, I really shouldn’t be saying this, but I’ve been seeing pictures of you on television and in the newspaper and I have to say it’s good that you got your hair done a few days before we were bombed. As bad as you looked, your hair was okay.”…
When Secretary Albright did come I had two conditions: that we not have to prepare briefing papers, because we had lost all of our computers, and we had nothing, nothing. And the other, that she not spend the night, because the security involved in that would have been so astronomical. As it turned out, the plane had problems in Dar, where she had first stopped, and she had to cut her trip short.
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.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright makes private visit to the U.S. Mission in Dar es Salaam on November 29, 2006. She laid a wreath at a memorial honoring the 11 lives lost on August 7, 1998, when the Chancery building was bombed. U.S. Ambassador Michael L. Retzer joined Secretary Albright at the wreath laying ceremony. Photo via US Embassy Tanzania
Also below are docs extracted from the State Department’s Albright Archive on the announcements, public notices, briefings and reports following the twin East Africa bombings.
January 1999: Report of the Accountability Review Boards on the Embassy Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998
- 01/08/99: Statement by Secretary Albright on the Accountability Review Boards Report
- 01/08/99: Special Briefing by the Chairman on the Report
- Admiral William Crowe Sworn in as Chairman of Accountability Review Boards for Embassy Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
- Worldwide Caution in light of the recent U.S. military strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, and possible threats to Americans and American interests overseas.
- U.S. Strikes on Terrorist-Related Facilities in Sudan and Afganistan
- $2 Million Reward: Persons wishing to report information about these bombings, or any other terrorist attack, should contact the authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In the U.S., contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation or call the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service at 1-800-HEROES-1 (within U.S. only). Information may also be provided by writing: HEROES, P.O. Box 96781, Washington, D.C. 20090-6781, USA
Updates . . .
The Secretary of State:
08/27/98: Remarks on apprehension of suspects in bombings of U.S. embassies, FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
08/18/98: Remarks to U.S. Embassy staff and family members, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
08/18/98: Joint press availability following meeting with Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete, Dar es Salaam
08/18/98: Remarks at the Site of the Bombing at U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya
08/17/98: Remarks Before Departure to Kenya and Tanzania, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland
08/14/98: Remarks with Colonel Rick Erdman after visit with East African Bombing Victims and Families, Walter Reed Hospital
08/13/98: Remarks with President Clinton and Defense Secretary Cohen at ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in Kenya and Tanzania, Andrews Air Force Base
08/12/98: Remarks at Ramstein Air Force Base, Ramstein, Germany
08/12/98: Remarks prior to departure for Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany
08/11/98: Response to Statement by the African Ambassadors to the U.S.
08/12/98: Secretary Albright travels to Ramstein, Germany
08/10/98: Interview on CBS Evening News, Washington, D.C.
08/10/98: Remarks with Director General Gnehm to State Department Employees
— $2 Million Reward
08/09/98: Interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet The Press” With Tim Russert, Washington, D.C.
08/08/98: Statement on the deaths in Nairobi, Kenya
08/07/98: Statement on bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania
President Clinton Radio Address (8/15/98)
President Clinton, Secretary Albright and Secretary Cohen at ceremony honoring those who lost their lives in Kenya and Tanzania, Andrews Air Force Base (8/13/98)
President Clinton Radio Address (8/8/98)
Remarks by President William Clinton, The White House (8/7/98)
A Proclamation by the President on the bombing incident (8/7/98)
Special Press Briefings:
August 13, 1998
August 11, 1998
August 10, 1998
August 7, 1998
Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (8/7/98)
- Global Alert and Consular Services: Worldwide cautions, current travel safety information for specific countries, American citizens services abroad, and visa services abroad.