|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks on Report of the Accountability Review Boards on the Embassy Bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam
Washington, D.C., January 8, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. Last August 7, terrorist bombs exploded near our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, killing 220 persons and injuring more than 4,000 -- many of whom were simply bystanders.
Among the dead were 12 American and 40 Kenyan and Tanzanian US Embassy employees and family members. We grieve for all the victims and we have not, and will never, cease to mourn the loss of our loved ones, colleagues and friends.
In the aftermath of those murders and pursuant to federal law, I established two Accountability Review Boards to investigate the bombings and recommend improved security systems and procedures. Because of the related nature of the incidents, the two boards are chaired by the same individual, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and US Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Admiral William Crowe.
Earlier this morning, I received from the boards their combined report. After my remarks, Admiral Crowe will discuss that report and respond to the questions you might have.
I want to begin by thanking Admiral Crowe and the very distinguished and respected members of the two review boards. They have given selflessly of their time and effort in service to the Department of State and to our country. They have produced a report that warrants the attention of Americans inside and outside government. It is a report that is intended to save lives and to raise a flag of warning about the ever-changing nature of the international terrorist threat.
Under the law, we are required to respond within three months to the recommendations contained in the report. We will begin immediately to prepare such a response, but I also have some preliminary comments I would like to make.
First, the report pays tribute to the diligence and professionalism of America’s Ambassador in Nairobi, Prudence Bushnell, and to our then Charge in Dar Es Salaam, John Lange and to the remarkable courage shown by their respective Embassy teams in responding to the bombings. I wholeheartedly endorse that assessment, and wanted to underline it for you.
In addition, the boards found that the security systems and procedures followed by the two embassies were in accord with State Department policy. In both cases, the terrorists were prevented from breaching the perimeter of the post involved. In neither case did US employees or members of the military breach their duty.
The boards did, however, identify a collective failure by the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government over the past decade to provide adequate resources to reduce the vulnerability of US diplomatic missions. The reports suggest that responsibility for this failure must be shared broadly, including by the Secretary of State; and I accept that. It reminds us all that no matter how much we care, no matter how much we do, we can always do more when the lives of our people are on the line.
The report cites some of the steps we have taken, particularly since August, to strengthen perimeter defense, increase the number of our security personnel and speed necessary construction and repair. It notes, as well, the approval by Congress of a security-related supplemental appropriation of more than $1 billion.
The boards conclude, however, and I agree, that these measures must be viewed as just an initial deposit towards what is required to provide for the security of our posts overseas. According to the report -- and I quote -- "We must undertake a comprehensive and long-term strategy, including sustained funding for enhanced security measures; for long-term costs for increased security personnel; and for a capital building program based on an assessment of requirements to meet the new range of global terrorist threats."
The boards stress, and again I concur, that additional funds for security must be obtained without diverting funds from our major foreign affairs programs. Let me emphasize this point because it is key. We must not hollow out our foreign policy. We need to protect our diplomats, but we also need the resources required to protect American interests.
The embassy bombings provide stark evidence that the work this Department does is not only important, but also dangerous. America is a leading voice everywhere for freedom and tolerance, justice and law. As a result, we are befriended by many and respected by most; but we are also misunderstood by some and viciously opposed by a few. With today’s technologies, small numbers can generate deadly consequences.
The forces of international terror are led by individuals who have shown contempt for human life and the rule of law; that much is certain. But those forces are also shadowy, mobile, and unpredictable. As the Crowe Report reflects, we cannot assume knowledge about when or where strikes may occur. We cannot assume past patterns will be repeated. We cannot assume that any post is safe.
I want to make clear no matter how careful we are or how much we spend, we cannot guarantee that there will be no more attacks and no more innocent victims. We can guarantee that the cowards who launch such an attack will be pursued by every means wherever they go for as long as they live. The confrontation with international terror doesn’t lend itself to quick or complete victories. It’s long-term. To prevail, we must vigilant in defending ourselves and persistent in soliciting international cooperation. We must make full use of every available foreign policy tool.
After an initial review of the report from the Accountability Review Boards, I’m pleased that the Department is already implementing or studying the best way to implement a significant number of its recommendations. Obviously, I cannot detail in public everything that we are doing, often in partnership with others, to prevent and prepare for a potential terrorist attacks.
I can say, however, that we will continue to implement additional physical protection measures as rapidly as we can. We are improving our programs for dealing with vehicle bomb attacks, such as those experienced in Africa. We see the need for additional crisis management training and have begun such a project at the Foreign Service Institute. We are working closely with host governments, and I want to publicly thank the many that have come through in recent months to help us prevent further attacks.
Finally, we agree fully with the boards on our need to demonstrate the high priority we attach to security issues. This is one reason why I recommended to the President that he break precedent and appoint a career law enforcement professional, David Carpenter, as our new Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security. Assistant Secretary Carpenter is helping us to get out the message to all our posts that in today’s world there is nothing automatic about security; it’s every person’s responsibility. No detail should be overlooked; no precaution should be shrugged off; and nothing should be taken for granted.
I must add that in addition to protective measures, such as those recommended in today’s report, we’re working closely with other US agencies and with law-respecting nations around the world to disrupt and neutralize terrorist threats and to bring terrorists to justice.
Admiral Crowe’s mandate was to investigate the embassy bombings and to recommend ways to approve security. As Secretary of State, I have a broader mandate to ensure the effective promotion of US interests and values around the world.
We all recognize that the price tag of needed measures to improve security is, and will probably remain -- at least for the foreseeable future -- higher than the resources we have available for that purpose.
The result is that we will continually have to make difficult and inherently subjective decisions about how best to use the resources we have and about how to reconcile security imperatives with our need to do business overseas.
The Accountability Review Boards have performed a great service by highlighting these issues. It will be our task during the coming 90 days to prepare a thorough and thoughtful response. It’s our intention, on an ongoing basis, to work within the Administration, with our colleagues on Capitol Hill both to provide maximum protection for our people and maximum support for the critical foreign policy objectives of the United States.
Thank you and I now will turn the floor over to our very distinguished and altogether admirable Admiral, William J. Crowe.
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