Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs; and David G. Carpenter, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security|
Press Briefing on Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
December 20, 2000, Washington, DC
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
MR. REEKER: Now it is another privilege to turn the briefing over to the senior Koh in the room, Harold Koh, who has some more remarks and can take your questions on today's announcements.(See Secretary Albright's opening remarks at this briefing)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: That's my kid. If you want to sign her up, I'm her agent. (Laughter.)
I wanted to thank the Secretary for her tremendous leadership in building a new foreign policy that builds new global partnerships to tackle emerging global issues.
Over the past year, my Bureau, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, has devoted considerable time and effort to the development of these Voluntary Principles which we are unveiling today, along with my colleagues from the Economic and Business Bureau and the Diplomatic Security Bureau. And these are three bureaus that previously gathered mainly at the Department Christmas party. In this Administration, we have worked together as energetic and innovative partners in the process leading up to these Principles.
I also wanted to pay special tribute to Under Secretaries Larson and Loy for their support and leadership of the process, and especially to my Deputy, Bennett Freeman, my Senior Advisor Maria Pica, and Chris Camponovo of the Legal Advisor's Office, for the tremendous skill and efforts they have deployed to bring these Principles to fruition.
In the 25 months I have held this job, I have traveled to every part of the world studying human rights conditions on the ground. What that experience has taught me is that promoting and protecting human rights everywhere is too big a job for governments alone. To be truly successful, we need other partners in our efforts. No government, even the most committed, can promote human rights alone or promote a "race to the top" unless it seeks to forge partnerships with other members of a global human rights community that cross public and private, institutional and national lines.
The global marketplace is a tremendously powerful tool for promoting human freedom. As consumers become increasingly aware of the ways in which the products they buy are made, as corporate conduct comes under greater public scrutiny, and as human rights groups increasingly use the power of the Internet to communicate across international borders, a growing transnational network of government officials, business leaders, NGO activists and thinkers has emerged that is committed to using the global marketplace to promote global human rights.
In recent years, partnerships among governments, businesses and civil society have expanded, and two excellent examples are the UN Global Compact and the Sullivan Principles. These private-public partnerships are key to changing the misperception that globalization benefits the few and necessarily leaves many out and many behind.
Addressing the impact of globalization has taken on special importance as we seek to find common approaches to resolving the labor, environment and human rights issues that companies inevitably face as they operate around the world. The underpinnings of both a profitable business environment and a salutary human rights environment rest on the same core foundations: rule of law and good governance. Creative partnerships that promote human rights, support civil society, and address genuine corporate needs create a win-win-win situation for governments, civil society and the private sector. Governments gain when corporations recognize that they are not merely visitors but responsible citizens of the communities in which they operate. Civil societies benefit when corporate actors promote the work of NGOs, the free media, labor unions and citizens groups. And companies gain when they can work closely with governments to create a safe and secure working environment for their employees.
The Voluntary Principles we announce today are an extraordinary example of the kind of benefits that can emerge from building creative human rights partnerships among governments, corporations, labor unions and NGOs. The Principles are the outcome of a long and concerted effort, and they are significant for three reasons. First, they provide a basis for a global standard for the oil, mining and energy sector on security and human rights. The participants in this process have recognized that the goal of maintaining a secure operating environment is compatible with the goal of protecting human rights.
Second, the Principles offer an important foundation for further dialogue between industry and civil society. For almost a year, officials from eight companies, corporate responsibilities and human rights groups, the State Department and the British Foreign Office, sat side by side in a team effort to develop these Principles. That dialogue is only beginning and will continue into the coming new year.
Third, this process clearly demonstrates that the much discussed notion of corporate citizenship is ready to move from a principle into a practice, by supporting the rule of law, incorporating human rights into security arrangements, and working with NGOs, transnational companies can greatly strengthen and enrich the human rights environment in which they operate. At this stage, these Principles are a voluntary agreement between two governments and a number of leading companies and NGOs and a labor union. Nevertheless, we hope and expect they will be seen as the emerging global standard for strengthening human rights safeguards in the energy sector around the world.
Significantly, this innovation has occurred in the heart of the so-called old economy, the extractive sector. Similar innovations are occurring in other sectors of the new global economy, particularly among Internet companies that make up the heart of the new economy. We encourage other industries to examine both the process that has resulted in these principles and the substance that has been developed to find similar creative approaches to other human rights issues emerging in other industries.
This process and these Principles demonstrate that, with respect to promoting human rights, there is substantial common ground to be found and substantial progress to be made among governments, companies and NGOs who are willing to bring goodwill, hard work and new ideas to the table.
And now I would like to turn it over to Tony Wayne, the Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY WAYNE: Thank you all. It is a great pleasure to be here today.
As the Secretary's remarks made quite clear, that we in the State Department put a very high priority on our common interests in economic prosperity and growth, human rights, and the security of American working overseas. America's private sector plays a key role in boosting prosperity, not just here in the United States but globally.
Just in intra-company trade, United States companies operating overseas accounted for 32 percent of America's exports in 1998. Around the world, if you total it up, US companies with investment overseas employ 8 million people outside of the United States. And if you were to take all those companies and put their economic productivity together and treat them as one entity, they would rank right between Spain and South Korea as far as an economic producer.
It is not surprising, then, that we are committed to advancing America's international economic engagement, consistent with the principles of good governance. These principles are clearly vital to our own economic security, and they are also the only sustainable way that the United States and its companies can engage economically abroad.
As a fact of business life, companies want to do business in places where the rule of law prevails, where contracts and laws are enforced, where customs agents work honestly and expeditiously, where the judiciary is fair and effective, and where human rights are respected.
Among our other tasks in the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, we work very hard to try to open markets according to free and transparent trade and investment laws, and we work hard to encourage good governance around the world. We also work hard to support American companies when they run into problems around the world. Thus, the Voluntary Principles which are being unveiled today are fully consistent with our task of enhancing sustainable American economic interests, and we welcome them.
US companies are models overseas for the kind of business practices that we encourage others to adopt. It is good not only for American companies, but really for the whole global investment climate, that American firms are the best corporate citizens possible. We, thus, have pursued this initiative with the United Kingdom's Foreign Office, recognizing the global nature of the extractive sector and our shared commitments to human rights around the world. This is a new process, and the response, as you can judge, has been very impressive.
We also recognize in this process the growing role of civil society in the global economy. We need to ensure that our dialogue with the full scope of nongovernmental organizations, whether they are interested in good governance, in human rights, in business and consumer rights or the environment, that that dialogue is as deep and as broad as possible. And we encourage our companies to pursue this engagement as well.
The Voluntary Principles provide our companies a clear benchmark, allowing them to benefit from the expertise and the knowledge that we in the State Department and in our embassies overseas can provide, as well as the important value-added which nongovernmental organizations bring to bear.
The Voluntary Principles process has already transferred a very impressive transfer of knowledge between NGOs and businesses. They will continue to provide companies useful guidance for making investment decisions abroad and in deciding how best to protect their personnel, their plants and their equipment.
More comprehensive risk assessments, guidance on interactions between the companies and the host government security, and the best security practices available are central to any good investment climate. We in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs are committed to continuing our efforts, working with the business community and with NGOs on this front.
Thank you very much. And now I would like to introduce Dave Carpenter, my colleague, the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Thank you, Tony. Good afternoon. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the Department and with representatives from the private sector, local and international NGOs, and the British Government to seek ways to address the problems of human rights as they pertain to corporate business and security issues.
Security is one of the greatest challenges facing US firms in many countries. Crime, unstable political and economic conditions, and human rights abuses can create hostile operating environments. Companies can become embroiled in conflict, sometimes facing local protests that target their facilities, personnel and operations. Sometimes local communities resent the presence of foreign companies. These protests have sometimes resulted in violence, to include sabotage of facilities, threats to personnel, and even kidnappings.
We are absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of our companies operating abroad. We also want to do everything we can to assist our companies to improve their security in ways consistent with international law enforcement standards and human rights principles.
We engage American companies on a regular basis through the Overseas Security Advisory Council, OSAC, begun in 1985 to promote cooperation between the American private sector worldwide and the US Government on security issues. In addition, our regional security officers assigned to our embassies and consulates consult on a regular basis with companies to exchange information of a security nature. We welcome this initiative as another vehicle through which we can continue to collaborate with the private sector on security issues of mutual concern.
The fact that I spoke last does not indicate I am in any hurry to answer all of your questions, so if my colleagues would please join me at the podium, we would be glad to answer your questions.
QUESTION: Harold, one could infer from this that the human rights records of extractive companies has been less than perfect, and this is an effort to address criticism in that regard. Also, you have -- what, seven or eight companies who are signed on? Are there a number of others who considered joining but, for one reason or another, decided not to?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Yes, I mean, this is an ongoing process. And as we say, we hope that this is going to set the emerging global standard. There are eight companies that support these Principles and welcome these Principles, and that they have been at the table. But I think that others will consider now, based on the clarity of the Principles, whether it makes sense for them as well.
I think the important thing is the recognition that this is an area in which there is a need to move forward, to develop best practices and to make those best practices, embodied in certain Voluntary Principles which are then made transparent so that they can be adopted by other companies with similar concerns in other operating environments.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? What George is saying is, why have you done this? What are the problems? I mean, are there examples that you can give us where American firms have -- we all know about Shell in Nigeria. There have been accusations -- the accusations about Unocal in Burma with the pipeline. Could you just discuss why is there a need for this treaty? Not for this treaty, for these Voluntary Principles?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, I think anyone who has been following the human rights area knows that the role of corporate actors in promoting and protecting human rights has been a subject of discussion for the last 10, 15 years. And certainly the Global Compact, Secretary General Kofi Anan's initiative, has recognized the need to start to develop some areas of common concerns so that we can have a race to the top in these areas and in which corporate actors have some confidence that the practices that they are adopting are also being matched by their corporate competitors, and that the way in which competition is not being done is by short-changing human rights.
And so this is something which is being discussed in a lot of different areas. Security is a natural area because it is an area in which there have been difficulties, both on the side of private security companies as well as with public security forces. And, as Dave said, it is a source of concern for any transnational corporation operating in a difficult environment. And so it's obviously a good area in which you can break some ground and start to set a standard.
QUESTION: What is the number of security personnel involved in these companies? The reason I'm asking is that I come from a country where there was once the East India Company, and so there is special interest in the operations of companies. How many security people do they employ? And the fact that they have security people, does it mean that they cannot depend on the local governments to provide the security in their companies?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: I have no idea how many security personnel they employ. But the question is not how many they employ, but what are the standards and practices to which those security personnel are held, and what are the expectations with regard to their conduct. And what these Principles are designed to do is to set those standards at a level which is fully consistent with human rights norms and which can be followed by other corporations that have similar commitments.
QUESTION: Harold, as follows this UN Security resolution on Afghanistan is concerned, how much is playing the role of the human rights in Afghanistan is concerned? And, also, you said you had traveled to almost every country in your 25 months in the job. Have you traveled to India, and what are you views on human rights in India?
MR. REEKER: Why don't we save that for an appropriate time? This is a briefing on a particular set of subjects.
QUESTION: Well, I have two totally unrelated questions, but I'll ask them both. The first is that you say these are voluntary principles, but it sort of sounded like there was a suggestion that there might be a nongovernmental consumer boycott against violations of that. Is that a right perception?
And the second one is I noticed the absence of Unocal from this list. And considering the controversy over what they're doing in Burma, did you try to get them and they refused, or you have a chance of getting them later?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, we would prefer to focus on the names of the corporations that are on the list, which are major corporations. And the fact that they are in the ground floor doesn't mean that others aren't also going to join as this process evolves.
I think the main point to be made here is that, as I have said from this podium in other contexts, a lot of so-called human rights enforcement is internalization of certain standards by key actors and the willingness of leading corporate actors to not only have the kind of dialogue that they have had to articulate certain principles to such a degree of specificity. And then to not just support the process, but to welcome the principles in a transparent way that can then be monitored by NGOs and by the press, is a major step forward. And it is an important part of internalizing these norms into the conduct of not just these companies, but others who might have the same sets of concerns.
QUESTION: I just want to follow up on that. I wondered if you could spell out in slightly more detail the grounds on which some companies have obviously declined to sign up to this. And could you tell us what you plan to do to persuade them that it would be a good idea to join and adopt these Principles?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: To be honest, Jonathan, we haven't really -- this was not the kind of thing in which words were going back and forth at the last minute for some sort of contract to be made. What was going on was initially the thought that there ought to be a dialogue in which the two governments which have a strong interest, the United States and the UK, and then a number of the large corporate players in the extractive sector -- eight corporations -- a number of the leading corporate social responsibility groups and the leading human rights NGOs, and then the federation of unions that have interest in the mining and extractive sectors to get together and to talk about whether they could isolate areas in which principles could be generated. And they did. They identified three areas: the area of risk assessment, relationships with public security forces and private security forces.
And then over the course of a series of discussions facilitated by the US and the UK Government, primarily in London over the course of the last year, these Principles took shape. And everybody who was at the table made contributions. And then the question came as to the extent to which these could be then set forth in a document which would represent the will of the group. And that is what has happened.
QUESTION: Given the vast amount of money that are at play for these companies in the areas, and also given the amount of power the companies are used to exercising in these areas, for any of you on the stage, why are you confident that voluntary measures like these will actually have an impact? And was there a desire at any point, or thought at any point, to try to make more binding measures that had some teeth to them apart from voluntary ones that, on the surface, don't appear to have much in the way of enforcing them if a company chooses not to then comply?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: I think Tony's remarks made it clear they have a strong interest in being good corporate citizens. This in their self-interest, is in their interest to have good standards and to be good corporate citizens in the environment in which they operate, and to know that others who work in the same environments adhere to the same standards. And it is in our interest as a government that has promoted the same set of principles and in the interests of the NGOs to be supporting that activity.
QUESTION: If I could try and stretch the rubber band a little bit and address Secretary Carpenter. Since we're coming into the holiday season, David, could you bring us up to date on the security situation overseas, as you see it? I mean, we have had a lot of worldwide threats issued, and I know you don't want to talk about things maybe specifically, but since we're coming into this season where a lot of people are traveling, could you address that?
MR. REEKER: It's a stretch, Charlie.
QUESTION: I said I was going to stretch the rubber band. We don't see him very often, and it's the right time of year.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Why don't we vote on it? (Laughter.)
MR. REEKER: While we've got the momentum, if there are other questions on the issue at hand.
QUESTION: Could I ask you -- obviously we don't know how the Bush Administration is going to regard this agreement, but can it be effective without strong support from both the governments that are on board now?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, I think the two governments have given their strong support. I think that it is in the interest of the two governments to maintain it. I think that this should not be viewed as some sort of partisan effort put forward by one administration which poses some great dilemma for the next administration. The fact of the matter is that in the whole area of good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption, democracy building, and in this area too -- security and human rights -- there are very strong continuing concerns that both the US and the UK Government have that are sustained over time. And the corporate actors in the field also have those same sustained set of interests.
I don't think anybody should misunderstand that this is a long-term process that has to be understood in the same kind of way. I like to use the analogy to the corruption field. In the early '70s, I think most people thought that corporations were never going to be able to coordinate their activities and have a "race to the top"; there was never going to be a governmental structure that could support that; there was never going to be an NGO structure that could support that; and there would never be principles or other kinds of inter-governmental discussions on that issue.
Now we have national laws on the books in a number of different countries, a number of international conventions, a whole NGO network, Transparency International. And the most interesting thing is we have agreement across the board that fighting corruption is in everybody's interest. And it should not be something that gets turned on or off depending on which way an election may turn out, and I think this is very much in the same league.
QUESTION: This question is for Assistant Secretary Carpenter. On some of these areas where the oil companies are operating, such as Ecuador, there have been a lot of problems with -- we're not sure whether they are criminal operations, or perhaps FARC guerillas. You're dealing in a whole different thing, where you could be dealing -- these companies could be dealing -- their employees are under threat from terrorist groups or guerilla groups. And how do you -- what do you say to these companies who might need a more robust kind of security arrangement, where it might cross the line as to what constitutes a human rights violation against these groups?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Well, let me just try to draw on what Harold was saying. The rule of law would dictate -- the rule of law, as we understand it in this country, would dictate that any security program be principled. And what we are trying to do in this is set forth what we think those principles are for the consumption of those who are operating overseas.
My statement referred to OSAC. OSAC is an outreach program from the Department of State that is comprised of 1,800 directors of security of companies that have -- most of which have operations overseas. We are in the process of engaging with them, discussing these Principles with them, and getting feedback with them on the practicality of some of these Principles, how effective they can be.
So it is going to be an ongoing process, the fact that these principles have been run by the leadership of OSAC, and basically they subscribe to them; they think this is a good idea. And, again, I think the key here is, in order to have a good security program, that has to be based on a set of principles, and that is what we are trying to set forth here.
QUESTION: But, I mean, are those principles always practical, I guess, is what you were trying to get at?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Sometimes they may be more difficult, but that is not to say that we shouldn't attempt to keep working toward those principles.
QUESTION: I'm confused, Harold. Where did this whole idea begin? Did it begin with the NGOs complaining about these companies, or companies in general? Or did it begin with -- I don't understand why the State Department and the Foreign Office are involved at all, except if they are supposed to be setting up what they -- telling these companies what they think should be done or what they think these guidelines should be.
Why don't these companies just get together themselves and decide this? Why would they need any government -- especially if it is voluntary -- why do they need any government assistance, as it were? And I didn't -- in the list, was there any -- do you have any logging companies in there?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: I don't know what all of their corporate activities are, but --
QUESTION: Well, is there any thought to trying to get logging companies into this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, let me go back to the first point, Matt. Obviously lots of corporations are having lots of discussions about corporate social responsibilities, one of the prime topics for discussion. If you go to Davos, it is one of the main subjects of discussion, and in a whole set of nongovernmental settings. The Global Sullivan Principles have occurred in the context largely of a private discussion.
And the real question is to what extent can governmental actors who are interested in the same set of issues take a governmental discussion and bridge that discussion into one that is being held among corporate entities. And that is essentially what happened here. We found that we had a very strong set of common interests. There was a value in having a multipartheid dialogue, and then that dialogue began, and then the notion of actually developing these Principles and crystallizing them into a form that could be made public came out. And the idea that it should be done on a continuing basis also came out.
QUESTION: Well, let me put it this way: Why don't you have any representatives of the companies up here? Are we to assume that they really love this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: You are free to call any of the companies --
QUESTION: Well, no, I mean, it just seems that you are announcing this great big thing, so you say, that --
QUESTION: This is the State Department briefing room, Matt. I mean, we are --
QUESTION: Well, I agree, but apparently you want -- I mean, if they are really happy with it, why aren't we getting bombarded with faxes and things saying how wonderful this is?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: It's only 12:30, Matt. I would go back to your inbox and check.
QUESTION: All right. But how about the logging company? How about the logging issue? It seems to me that most of -- a lot of complaints, if they're not directed at the oil companies, are directed at logging, and I don't think there are any on this list. Is there --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, again, Matt, these Principles are neither country-specific nor any particular sector-specific, but they are generalizeable and --
QUESTION: But they are extractive, which is what you said. Presumably, logging is extractive.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Right. And now they have something to look toward, which is --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: No, if you are saying that there is an area of need, you've just got a solution, Matt. And it's one that can be used by a lot of different sectors in a lot of creative ways.
QUESTION: What about the Nike and the small manufacturing companies overseas -- not small, but the light-scale manufacturing overseas? There are a lot of reports of abuse of these people. Are these people not included in this agreement, and there is no provision to expand this to light manufacturing?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: Well, anti-sweatshop discussions is another aspect of this, and that is something you will hear about in other settings. But the fact of the matter is, what you are simply showing is the degree to which this kind of private-public partnership among governments, corporations, NGOs and labor unions can address a whole set of important issues which bridge business, human rights and other concerns.
QUESTION: Yes, I just want to get back to the voluntary nature of this. Does the State Department plan on publishing any kind of report in terms of how well these companies live up to these Principles? And also, on a specific example, do you consider the recent Chad example to be a violation of these Principles, where they spent
QUESTION: Are we talking about Florida or -- (laughter)
QUESTION: The Government of Chad (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KOH: A set of Voluntary Principles. I mean, that they are designed to set a standard, and that the transparency means that whatever modes of reporting, either by NGOs or other sources, can be pursued. You know, our mandate is to report on the activities of governments, and that is primarily what we do. We have rarely been criticized for not doing enough reporting. I think we, in fact, regularly have briefings here about all the countries in the world, both on human rights conditions generally and on religious freedom.
But it is pretty clear that the corporations who have welcomed these Principles have made it clear that their expectation is that they will live up to these Principles, and then their activities can be observed by whoever wants to and can write whatever report they want. I think that the corporations themselves have endeavored to keep track of incidents and events and to have internal processes that make sure that they live up to these Principles.
QUESTION: Can we ask Dave how the Department did on the embassy security component of the budget, since that's part of this overall briefing?
MR. REEKER: Why don't we go ahead, and Dave can answer that and can answer Charlie's question, and that will wrap it up for the day.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Charlie, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address this. Let me just say, in the last two and a half years since the bombing of our embassies in East Africa, it has, I think, been very clear and well publicized that our facilities and our people operating overseas have been threatened by a number of different groups and/or individuals.
In that two-and-a-half-year period, we have attempted to stand up as appropriate a security program as we can in and around our embassies, tried to provide every bit of information that was available to us through the intelligence community and law enforcement authorities, either in host countries or elsewhere, that we could provide American citizens traveling so that they could -- to try to ensure their safety.
Christmas, which I think Charlie is alluding to in his question, has for the last two years been a focal point for concern, and that that is a time when a number of Americans traveling overseas and there are large gatherings of Americans for parties, et cetera. This year is certainly no different than any previous year. We have put out notices to our embassies to be on the alert. We have asked our regional security offices at our embassies to ensure that parties are appropriately orchestrated, that ample security is in effect, that basically we don't take our eye off the ball during this period of time.
Now, absent any specific information -- if we have specific information relative to Americans traveling in any part of the world, we would certainly make that available to the traveling American public. But, at this point, we simply do not, other than travel advisories that have been in existence for some countries over the past few months. That is not meant to say that this is a time when people shouldn't be alert, because it isn't. That is not where I'm coming from. People need to be alert during this period.
At the same time, we are not in possession of any information that indicates anything is going to happen in any specific country at any specific time. That could change this afternoon. If it does, we would certainly make that information available.
We have a very robust security program. I have been very, very proud of the way that I have seen US Government agencies involved in intelligence and law enforcement, as well as host government resources, working together in what I believe to be almost an unprecedented manner to ensure the safety of not only Americans but citizens of all countries.
This is a matter that is not going to dissipate with the holiday season; it is going to extend on into 2001 and beyond. But I think that we are prepared for it.
QUESTION: The change of the millennium -- I mean, some people say this year is the real change of the millennium. But we don't have any of the same kind of worries, do we, or at least not the height of concern of last year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: As you will remember -- I'm concerned all the time. I mean, that's the nature of my job, that we can't allow ourselves to not be concerned.
The intelligence that we had last year surrounding the millennium was certainly more specific than the information that we have at this point. Yes, this is, in some people's mind, the real millennium, and as such we have made that information -- everybody -- our folks overseas are aware of that. And, again, the key here is not to let down your guard.
QUESTION: Is it unusual or anomalous this year? I mean, forget about last year just for a second. But, I mean, is it unusual for there not to be any -- or is it -- unusual is probably the wrong word. But is this year different than past years, not including last year with the surge, in terms of not having any specific threat about any specific country -- the lack of?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: It is unusual as to today. That could change, as I said, this afternoon, Matt. I mean, we have nothing right now. We are not in possession of any information today, as of 12:35, that there is a specific target out there or plans at a specific location. But that is part of this business; it is an ongoing evaluation of our security.
QUESTION: How well did you do with the Congress on your embassy security budget request?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: The money we requested we received, or will receive in 2001.
QUESTION: One more just to follow up. Last year we had a lot of open publicly threats from Usama bin Laden. But like this fellow, Matt --
MR. REEKER: I think he has answered --
QUESTION: No, but my question is differently. You think from last year to today there is not bin Laden's power got stronger, or where he stand today?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: We stand today exactly where we did a year ago. We are focused on protecting our facilities to the fullest extent. Mr. bin Laden is not the only person out there that has threatened our facilities, and we will continue to, as I said before, keep our eye on the ball.
MR. REEKER: Thank you very much.
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