An insider previously pointed out to us that there are very few visitors in Foggy Bottom these days and those few are always accompanied by someone from State. There are also cameras everywhere. So unless a gremlin etched the Nazi symbol in the elevator and somehow escaped the cameras, we should know the culprit soon, shouldn’t we? It is true that the HST building is a large place; it has 1,400,000 square feet of floor space but the Pentagon has 6,500,000 square feet of office space and their door to door sweep almost found Yuri! So, c’mon!
By the way, Diplomatic Security just got a new assistant secretary. The Senate, just this week, confirmed Gentry O. Smith as Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security. We’re sure his plate will get full pretty quickly as soon as he is sworn-in but this is not just a simple case of vandalism. Did somebody just walked in and etched a hateful sign inside the building then walked out? No? Given the reaction of the State Department leadership and the WH on this incident, our assumption is that this investigation would be on top of Mr. Smith’s list as he assumes charge of the diplomatic security bureau.
Below via State Department Briefing | August 10, 2021:
QUESTION: Just in time. I have a – one housekeeping item that I want to start with and then go to Afghanistan. It’s now been a little bit over two weeks – 15 days, I think – since the swastika was discovered in the elevator. Secretary came out, obviously condemned it, said there would be an investigation into it. What’s the result of the investigation?
MR PRICE: Well, Matt, as you know, shortly after the swastika was discovered, the Secretary sent a note to the entire workforce. And he made clear in that note that hate has no home here. And nowhere is that tolerated, everywhere is it abhorrent, but here in this department, the – a department that stands for defending human rights, human dignity, the values of pluralism and inclusion around the world, that symbol is especially repugnant, and repugnant to the women and men of the department and to everyone who works here.
In the days after – and you heard directly from Secretary Blinken, I guess it was a week ago yesterday, on this – of course, President Biden has put forward a nominee for a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, put forward a nominee for – to be an envoy for international religious freedom. And as Secretary Blinken noted in his message to the workforce, there is an investigation underway. I know this is a priority on the part of the investigators who are looking closely into this. I don’t have an update that I’m able to provide at the time, but if and when we do, I will certainly be able give you that.
QUESTION: Well, far be it from me to say that something is taking a long time or not taking a long time, because I – but an elevator is a pretty small place, right? This building has got controlled access. It would seem to me that two weeks is more than enough to come up with a – to come up with some kind of explanation. And while you’re correct in saying that this kind of hate has no place and that the Secretary said that, this building also stands for accountability and transparency. So —
MR PRICE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And —
QUESTION: So are you really telling me that two weeks after the fact, they can’t – they got no leads —
MR PRICE: The elevator is a small place. This building, as you know, is a large place.
QUESTION: I —
MR PRICE: So —
QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s not that big, Ned. Come on. It’s not that big. All right. If you don’t have anything, you don’t have anything.
MR PRICE: I don’t have anything to offer now, but we —
QUESTION: All right, let’s go on —
MR PRICE: — of course, do believe in the value of transparency. That’s why we’re out here every day.
MR PRICE: And, of course, as soon as we have an update, we’ll be able to share that.