USIS Washington File

14 August 1998


State Department Deputy Spokesman James Foley briefed.

US EMBASSIES -- Foley said reports that US embassies in a number of
locations around the world are "closing" in response to threats and
the bombings of US embassies in Africa are incorrect.

"Temporary suspensions" of some activities in some embassies are not
the equivalent of closing an embassy, Foley said. "All of our
embassies are operating in some fashion," he said.

NORTH KOREA -- Foley announced that US bilateral talks with Democratic
Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) are scheduled for August 21 in New

It will be the latest in a series of similar meetings that have been
held over the past several years with the representatives of North
Korea, according to Foley. The last such meeting was held in March in

"As in previous meetings, the full range of bilateral issues will be
discussed, including implementation of the 1994 US-DPRK agreed
framework to which we remain resolutely committed. But we're hopeful
that in this session and in others that we'll be able to make progress
in the bilateral relationship," Foley said.

Following is the State Department transcript:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Spokesman




Washington, D.C. August 13, 1998

MR. FOLEY: I didn't bring with me my normal pillars of support in the
persons of Pat Kennedy and Johnnie Carson from the Bureau of African
Affairs. So I don't have a lot of new information about all the
aspects of the bombings that you're interested in. Lee McClenny has
been coming out, I know, every few hours and giving you updates. But
the questions about the investigation that are upper-most in your
minds, I'm not going to be in a position to answer. The FBI, of
course, did speak in Nairobi earlier today, and addressed some aspects
of the ongoing investigation; but I can't do so.

I'd like to just I don't have any statements -- but just cover one
subject that I very deftly began to address yesterday when other
issues were forced to the forefront -- talking again about the status
of our embassies. As I started to say yesterday, and then we did
switch to the other topic, there has been misunderstanding and some
erroneous impressions in terms of what the status of our missions
worldwide is. We reported -- was it a couple days ago that Mr. Kennedy
talked about temporary suspensions in some instances. That became
interpreted in some subsequent reporting as being tantamount to
closings. You continue to see it, even in this morning's press,
reference to the fact or the allegation that our operations are shut
down in up to half a dozen places in the world. It ain't true; and I'd
just like to explain a little bit.

I can't really tell you specifically this mission is at this level of
operation for security reasons; but let me give you just a sense,
though, of what it means to say that we've made security adjustments
at sort of the tactical level by ambassadors or chiefs of mission in
response to the kind of shifting environment we've seen over the last

All of our embassies are operating in some fashion. At this time, to
the best of our knowledge and I say to the best of our knowledge
because, again, ambassadors and chiefs of missions can make
on-the-spot decisions based on whatever information is immediately
available to them. But again, all of our embassies are operating in
some fashion. Two missions are operating with essential personnel
only; one of these missions is providing just limited services. Again,
these measures are taken at the discretion of the chief of mission for
security purposes.

Q:  So that's down from five Tuesday.

Q:  The five weren't all in that category, were they?

FOLEY:  In which category?

Q:  Emergency functions only.

FOLEY:  No, no, it's a different snapshot every day.

Q: No, I shouldn't have interrupted, but I'm pretty sure that
factually you never said five or six were down to emergency
operations. That was a special category of the category of embassies
that aren't doing everything they used to do.

FOLEY: Right. But emergency services, though, means that I'm sorry,
did I use that term?


FOLEY:  I think you used that term, I didn't.

MCCLENNY:  Limited services.

FOLEY: Yes, limited services. In each and every case, if we close a
post, then we announce it, because it has implications and
ramifications for a lot of things most notably, traveling Americans.
It's a responsibility to get that word out. In every post where we
have one around the world, we maintain an ability to service American
citizens. Even if a post happens to be closed for a few hours on a
given day, as is the case at night on a 24-hour-a-day basis, we have
duty officers available.

In some of these posts where there have been security concerns, we're
down to lower staff. Some staff may have been relocated; some are able
to operate elsewhere; some are just doing internal embassy business.
Again, it's a mixed picture. I just wanted to --

Q: Can you bring us up to date on the request from the President for
the State Department to come up with that priority list package?

FOLEY: Well, the President just made that gave out that direction
yesterday. He instructed government agencies in particular the State
Department and OMB -- to put together a list of priorities and funding

Q:  Is there a standing list of this sort that you would --

FOLEY: Well, there's an annual process by which the security budget is
established; and Mr. Kennedy spoke to that at some length, I believe,
two days ago so I'd refer you to his transcript.

But the President is reviewing estimates that we are in the process of
preparing, and will begin consultations with the Congress perhaps as
early as tomorrow. The President is exploring options which will
include restoration of our operations in Kenya and Tanzania; enhanced
security of posts where warranted by high security threats; and
compensation for the victims of the bombings and their families.

That's all I have for you now, because and I've gotten lots of phone
calls on this subject but it's something that we've been tasked with
analyzing and putting together in the form of recommendations to OMB.
We're consulting with Congress as we go. In other words, it's not a
situation where we're going to just address this internally on the
executive side and then show up to put something on Congress' desk. On
the contrary, they've indicated that they want to work with us and
they want to address this problem on an urgent basis. So we're
consulting with them as we consult with OMB. But I can't give you
details of something which is a work in progress.

Q:  Have you seen that $1 billion figure?

FOLEY: I can't talk about figures. I don't have the information, but
it's a work in progress.

Q:  Well, where did it come from?

FOLEY:  I don't know.

Q:  It was in yesterday's briefing.


Q: The President wants a near-term and a medium-term list. He wants it
in a few days.

FOLEY: What the White House indicated yesterday and correct me if I'm
wrong, Lee, because you've been following this more closely was they
talked about emergency supplemental. We're talking about the elements
of that.

Q:  So to Congress now.

FOLEY:  To Congress, yes.

Q: You're not talking about a list; you're talking about the money
itself to Congress right away.

FOLEY: Well, the money would be not just dollars standing disembodied.
They would be attached to specific plans and proposals.

Q: So when you talk to Congress about the money, you say, we need
money, you see, because right? Is that what you say?

FOLEY:  Yes.

Q: Okay. But meanwhile, the list is in preparation. The President said
he wants it in a few days. Are the people going to work over the
weekend, getting him the list? When will he get the list?

FOLEY:  Barry, I don't have people's work schedules.

Q:  You don't need people's work schedules.  The President said --

FOLEY:  We've been working 'round the clock since last Friday.

Q:  You've been wrestling with the devil, I know that.

FOLEY: The President has given out a directive to the State Department
and OMB, and we salute and implement. We're working 'round the clock
now; we'll have that list as soon as he wants it.

Q: But you don't happen to know if it will be ready by the end of next
week or by the middle of the week?

MR. FOLEY:  I don't know.

Q:  Because he said several times, "in a few days."

FOLEY: Yes, well, I'm told that he's going to be reviewing estimates
as early as tomorrow. So I imagine that we will have at least a first
crack at it for him, perhaps by tomorrow.

Q: Now, probably this would be for immediate expenditures. This would
not --

FOLEY:  Yes, in an emergency supplement.

Q:  This would not incorporate any requests for new embassies.

FOLEY: I believe that's something that we'll be thinking about in a
separate category.

Q:  What's the best office to call for --

FOLEY:  But also on a basis of urgency.

Q: I've been asked to get the 1998 figures for embassy construction
and security.

FOLEY:  How do you get it?

MCCLENNY: Our web site has all the information for the 1997, 1998,
1999 --

Q:  1997, too and 1998?

MCCLENNY: 1997 expended; 1998 estimated; 1999 projected or requested.

Q: Can I just clarify something you said? You said that resuming
operations in Kenya and Tanzania, that that was an option. Is there
really an option, or are you going to do it?

FOLEY:  No, that's not what I said at all.

MCCLENNY:  He means the location.

FOLEY: I'm saying that it will take us time to build a new embassy

Q:  (Inaudible) resume operations.

MCCLENNY: If you're question is whether we're going to pull up stakes
and leave Kenya, the answer clearly is no. There is a US presence now;
there will be a US presence until date X in the next millennium.

Q: Can we fine-tune that a little bit? Almost certainly elsewhere
because why not, if you're going to start afresh; or because of some
of the things that Bushnell claimed to be distressed about?

FOLEY:  The reason we would build elsewhere is obvious.

Q:  Well, not yet, to me.

FOLEY: The location is not one that meets Inman standards; and that we
have made clear to have been the case since Friday right after the
bombing that it doesn't meet Inman standards. If we're going to
rebuild --

Q:  You might as well meet the standards.

FOLEY: -- we're going to meet Inman standards. We've also, in our
briefings since Friday, indicated that as we build new facilities,
they are built to Inman standards.

Q: Does that mean that other ambassadors who have sent in cables
saying, I want to rebuild, that you're looking at these cables now?

FOLEY: I'm talking about the emergency supplemental that will address
the issues that --

Q:  But $1 billion?

FOLEY: You keep throwing out that figure, and I'm not taking that
bait. I've not spoken about figures.

Q: No, but would you be looking at all these requests that have been
coming in from other ambassadors?

FOLEY: In answer to Betsy's question, I talked about the emergency
supplemental as covering the areas I delineated at the beginning. A
separate category that we will also address on an urgent basis but in
a different context will be embassy security needs worldwide. That is
a separate area of focus and work to be done that we'll be looking at.
Right now, though, in the next days, as Barry was getting at, we're
focusing on the emergency supplemental.

Q: How much does it cost, roughly speaking, to build a new embassy? If
you want to talk about Nairobi, particularly, but a major --

FOLEY:  Well, I told you I came without Pat Kennedy today --

Q: Yes, but you've built embassies. I mean, first of all, there are
countries popping up all over the world and maybe there will be more.

FOLEY: The answer, of course, depends on many, many factors, including
the nature of our bilateral relationship; the size of a projected US
Government presence; the size of the country; a whole range of
factors. I wouldn't go into it because I think, as Mr. Kennedy has
indicated in one of his earlier briefings, that we have different
kinds of embassies in different countries some small and some quite
large. So I can't give you a generic figure.

Q: Well, I asked about Nairobi (inaudible) too specific for you. I
just meant a large country (inaudible) and not the (inaudible)

MCCLENNY: We're trying to get some figures. There are 27 Inman
embassies that have been built; this isn't exactly what you're looking
for. We're trying to get numbers --

Q:  Okay, what do they average?

MCCLENNY: I'm trying to get those numbers. We have the list of
embassies; we're trying to get those numbers. Then you can look at
them and say, well, Botswana's like -- et cetera. We're trying to get
the numbers as quick as we can; we're trying to crank them out right

Q:  Good, thanks.  Great.

Q:  So there are 27 that have been built since 1986?

MCCLENNY:  27 that have been built since 1986.

Q:  Along Inman standards?

MCCLENNY:  Along Inman standards.

Q:  Have any been built that are not along Inman standards?

FOLEY: My understanding is that new embassies have been built to Inman

MCCLENNY:  That's my understanding.

Q:  Is Tanzania up to Inman standards?

MCCLENNY:  We actually have a list in there.  Can I --

FOLEY: No, I think we've indicated no. It was built before the Inman

Q: If we're going to rebuild it, we ought to talk to the Israelis how
to build embassies.

Q:  Do you have the list of 27?  Can we get that list from you now?

FOLEY:  I think we can find it.  You're looking for it?

MCCLENNY:  I actually think I have a list.

FOLEY:  Okay, let's check after the briefing.  Other questions?

Q: Do you know if the Secretary is concerned at all about the fall-out
of this Bushnell thing? Has she been looking at cables that she might
have received from other ambassadors or other security requests?

FOLEY: I think Mr. Kennedy made very clear yesterday that we have one
problem when it comes to meeting our security requirements around the
world; and that problem is resources. Because we have limited
resources, we have to make choices and the only rational and
responsible basis on which to make choices is based essentially, given
limited resources, on prioritization of threats. It would be very
irresponsible to ignore threat levels and threat assessments in making
those determinations about how to allocate scarce resources.

What the Secretary is committed to doing is trying to work with
Congress, as the President has indicated he plans to do, in order to
obtain more resources.

Q: On that point, I think you pointed out yesterday that dozens of
ambassadors had put in communicated to the State Department, saying
that the set-back problem required them or made them feel like there
were some major security problems. Do we know a real figure on that?
Do we know who they were; what embassies they were; when they were?

FOLEY: Well, I don't know that this is something we'll necessarily
discuss publicly and certainly in a laundry list format. We made it
very clear that except for new embassies that we've been able to build
to Inman standards, that we have security deficiencies that need money
to be addressed. But to sit here and stipulate which are those places
would be very irresponsible.

Q:  Now, there are 260 US Embassies worldwide; is that correct?

FOLEY: Well, posts, diplomatic posts, embassies, consulates. We can
get you the exact figure.

Q: Had previous US ambassadors to Kenya also requested a new embassy,
based on security concerns?

FOLEY: I think you have to go back to the Inman Report in the
mid-'80s, which did a comprehensive assessment, as I understand it, of
all posts around the world to determine which did not meet the
standards that they themselves the Inman Panel stipulated were
necessary. Ipso facto every embassy in the world that didn't meet
those standards, didn't meet those standards. And we have been working
off of those standards ever since in an effort to utilize limited
resources to help our facilities improve their security posture.

Q:  So was Bushnell the only one from Nairobi who --

MR. FOLEY: Again, I would refer you to oh, I thought you were asking

Q: No, no, Bushnell. I'm talking about Kenya. Is she the only one who
(inaudible) standards?

FOLEY: Every ambassador and correct me if I'm wrong, Lee is obligated
on an annual basis to assess security needs and requirements and make
recommendations. Insofar as the Nairobi Embassy, as other embassies
around the world are below Inman standards, that would necessary be
reflected in any such annual security report.

Q: Every year, then, there is a request from Kenya for a new embassy
based on security standards?

FOLEY:  I didn't say that.  I said that --

Q:  I know but I'm trying to get at the question.

FOLEY: Every year ambassadors are required to assess their security

Q:  Do you know of a previous request?

FOLEY:  I'd have to check.

Q: Jim, would you say that these blasts (inaudible) particularly or
the situation with the building in Nairobi has triggered a closer
probe now or set off a closer probe to your embassies like the one in

FOLEY:  I don't understand the question.

Q: This embassy was very vulnerable, however it was in a low-threat
area, as Mr. Kennedy said over and over again. You all have hammered
home the fact that limited resources require you to prioritize certain
embassies over others. The question then being has the situation in
Nairobi -- and Tanzania, too, but we're focused more on Nairobi
because you've talked so much about the building itself. Would you say
it's triggered or it's going to set off a really a serious a more
serious probing of embassies like the one in Nairobi?

FOLEY:  Probing of embassies?

Q: Looking into really taking a different look every year on the State
Department's part? Every year you look at security for buildings
overseas, or posts overseas. Is this going to make you look at the
security in a different light?

FOLEY: I still think it comes down to a question of resources. Our
security professionals are indeed professional. They assess our needs
in all posts everywhere, and they apply very rigorous standards.

Q:  The standards aren't going to change?

FOLEY: The standards, to my knowledge, won't change. They were set out
in the mid-1980s. But it's not a question of ratcheting up standards.
We would like to elevate all of our posts to the maximum degree,
resources permitting.

Q: Don't you think that those standards have, however, changed since
the mid-'80s given the number of other terrorist incidents that have
happened? I mean, in some ways they could've changed or have gotten

FOLEY: Betsy, that's question for experts to answer. As I've said,
I've come here without my security blanket as it were.

Q:  You're here naked.

FOLEY: So I hesitate to answer definitively. I think in terms of the
certainly the terrorist picture changes over time the tools at their
disposal, their modus operandi, things of that nature. But it's my
layman's understanding, though, that the basic premises of the Inman
approach that had to do with distance versus proximity and the
protection that distance afforded is still the critical element. Of
course, we've indicated in previous briefings that short of rebuilding
and moving and relocating embassies, we've endeavored to upgrade
security everywhere around the world and apply Inman recommendations
as we can in terms of fortifying embassies, protecting perimeters and
better reinforcing them.

Q: But even in your new embassies, you don't apply all the Inman

FOLEY: Well, again, in each and every case, with a certain budget, you
have to make decisions on which embassies are going to be rebuilt and
what the trade-offs are between applying standards here and not doing
as much there. I can't comment generically more than that; I'd have to
see specific cases.

Q: The point is that Inman standards are you saying that Inman
standards are the goal throughout at every American Embassy? Because I
can think of several that you would have a heck of a time trying to
impose Inman standards the Tokyo Embassy, for example or the one in
Beijing. Those are right on the street and --

FOLEY: We look at many different factors, and we're sort of recovering
ground that Mr. Kennedy has spoken to, not yesterday so much, but the
day before and the day before that, about the different factors that
are taken into consideration. Threat assessment is also a critical

Q: Jim, do you know if the Secretary is thinking about traveling to
Nairobi and Dar es Salaam?

FOLEY: She said, when she met with the African ambassadors the other
day, that she wanted to go soon. That's something that she really
would like to be able to do for the reasons that I mentioned in my
briefing two days ago. But she also said that we have to take first
and foremost into consideration the need to not burden the massive
efforts that our embassies and personnel are undertaking at the
moment. So I can't tell you when it's going to be, but --

Q:  She's still thinking about it?

FOLEY:  Yes.  It's something she hopes to do soon.


(end transcript)