|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and|
Director General Edward Gnehm
Remarks to Department of State Employees on the East Africa Bombings
Washington, D.C., August 10, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning, and thank you all for joining us in person and by television at this very painful time.
I have just spoken with Ambassador Prudence Bushnell and Charge John Lange. I told them how much we supported all their efforts there and how much we admired everything that they were doing. They, in turn, both were very grateful for all the work that is going on here in support of their efforts.
By coming together, we're reminded of something very important: though we may be scattered geographically and varied in our fields of specialty, in the ways that truly matter we are one family. We share the same aims, the same risks and the same feelings of sorrow and grief when any member of our family is lost. Today, we say farewell to friends from every part of our family -- to Jay Bartley, to Julian Bartley, to Jean Dalizu, to Ken Hobson, to Arlene Kirk, to Michelle O'Connor, to Sherry Olds, to Molly Hardy, to Tom Shah, to Prabhi Kavaler, to Sgt. Nathan Aliganga, to Louise Martin.
The victims we mourn came from the Foreign Service and the Civil Service and the armed services. Others were dedicated Foreign Service Nationals, without whom we couldn't possibly run our missions abroad. And of course, many were Kenyans and Tanzanians from all walks of life who no longer walk the Earth because one day they happened to be working or passing by an American embassy.
So once again, a senseless, cowardly act of terror has destroyed innocent lives and tested our faith in a more peaceful future. Once again, we come together to grieve for friends and colleagues who have perished far from home. Once again we ask, why this; why now; why them and not us? And once again, there are no good answers to our questions.
The most important thing we can do is to help the survivors to honor the friends we have lost; to add our prayers to those of the loved ones they leave behind; and most important, to keep alive the spirit of service and commitment that lent such meaning to their lives. For these were honorable lives spent in service to our country and its ideals. These were good people who understood that life without purpose is merely existence and that the highest purpose resides not in what we can acquire for ourselves, but in what we can achieve through our kinship with each other. These were dedicated professionals who knew what we all know but seldom consciously feel or express -- that this work we do is dangerous.
We all walk past the memorial plaques in our lobby and we think about the people whose names are inscribed there. Sometimes our eyes fall to the empty space on the second plaque, and we know in our very soul that as long as the world is as it is, as long as we have Americans who love their country as we do, more names will fill that space.
As we stand there, we're reminded that foreign policy is not an abstraction carried out by acronyms; that in the final analysis, it's conducted not by nations, departments, or ministries, but by people -- by people who go where comforts are few and dangers are many; by people who promote our ideals, manage our relationships, distribute our aid and protect our citizens; by people who take pride and joy in the challenge and adventure of representing America to the world. Such were the people we remember and honor today.
I can't possibly give voice today to the feelings of those who knew them well -- especially those who knew them not just as colleagues, but as parents, as children, as husbands and wives, as brothers and sisters. But I can say a few words about what they were doing in Africa and why they were there. Our colleagues were working with the people of Kenya and Tanzania to help overcome poverty, to help build democracy, to help protect the environment and to help fight disease. They were helping Americans and Africans create jobs by expanding trade between our continents. They were helping American citizens in need and in distress. They were providing support to each other to accomplish these goals.
So we are led yet again to ask how such a terrible thing could have happened to a group of people who were doing so much good. Perhaps part of the answer is that they were attacked because they were doing so much good. Perhaps they were singled out because they represent a country that is the world's most powerful defender of freedom and justice and law. Because as imperfect as we are, we stand for the values of tolerance and openness and pluralism that are now ascendant in every part of the world, because we are strong and because we use our strength to resolve conflicts that some wish would go on forever.
So how are we to respond to this horrific crime? Obviously, our first responsibility is to the survivors and to the families. We will continue to clear the rubble, reach the victims, fly in the doctors and the medicine and the blood that is needed to treat the wounded. We will do everything in our power to comfort the families of those who have died and to lighten the terrible burden they are feeling. To that end I am going to fly out to Germany to visit the injured, to honor our fallen colleagues and to bring them home.
We will work with the people and the governments of Tanzania and Kenya to help them deal with their losses, which we must remember are even greater than ours.
These are things we have been doing around the clock since the moment this tragedy struck. I'm so proud of the people in our missions abroad and here in the Department who have been mobilizing our response with incredible competence and compassion under the most difficult of circumstances. Once again, the worst of tragedies has brought out the best in all of you.
I know that the coming days will be hard for many of our colleagues, and we need to help each other get our jobs done. But we also need to give each other space and time to breathe. President Clinton and I will also do all we can to protect our citizens and employees abroad, as well as the citizens of our host countries. We're working with others in the Administration and Congress to prepare a budget request that will allow us to rebuild and continue our presence in Kenya and Tanzania, and that will provide essential security for posts around the world that may have additional needs for such things as armored vehicles, metal detectors, barricades and communication links.
For the longer term, we are also assessing additional personnel and operations requirements needed to sustain secure operations worldwide. We will also be consulting with representatives of the people of Tanzania and Kenya to determine appropriate ways to support them in this time of loss.
We must also find and punish the cowards who committed this act. President Clinton has made it absolutely clear that we will not rest until that happens; and it will happen. For our nation's memory is long and our reach is far. This morning I want to announce a reward of up to $2 million for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
We have another responsibility today that is equally fundamental to those who died, to those who lived and to all Americans. These United States, this principled, purposeful nation will not be intimidated. We will redouble our efforts to build peace and to fight intolerance. We will meet our responsibility to stay engaged in the world, to keep standing up for the values that the peace-makers cherish and for the future that the bomb-throwers fear. For although terror can turn buildings to rubble and laughter to tears, it can never, will never deter America from its purpose or presence around the globe.
That is the best answer we can give to the despicable cowards who did this. That is the best thing we can do to honor the service of the men and women who lost their lives in this tragedy -- to choose as they chose not to be prisoners of history, but to shape it. That is what I pledge to you I will strive to do will every ounce of my determination and all that I can muster with your counsel, leadership and support in the weeks and months and years ahead.
It is said that all work worth doing is done in faith. Let us depart this morning, each with unshatterable faith in the value of the work we together are doing to keep our people safe to build a world that is more secure, prosperous, healthy and free. Thank you all, and God bless you.
Now I would be very happy to take any questions you may have. But before I do, the Director General is going to speak with you about the steps we are taking to help our colleagues and the Kenyans and Tanzanians. Thank you.
DIRECTOR GENERAL GNEHM: Thank you, Madame Secretary. I wanted to just take a very brief minute. I think the Secretary's words are profound, and I don't really wish to try and say more on that regard. There are in our family so many times some skepticisms about how we treat ourselves and what we do for each other. I want to just tell you how very proud I am of this morning to share with you things that happened very quickly and are going to happen as we, indeed, do respond to our people's needs.
The Medical Division of this Department acted in what I consider incredible speed. Dr. Dumont and his team -- not only were they on the scene upstairs within minutes, but they had three of our medical people who were in a nearby post in Nairobi in a matter of hours, before the sun set the day of the explosion. He had moving a Medivac plane from South Africa with blood and supplies and other medical support who were in Nairobi in the evening. He also coordinated as they did the medical support from so many other branches of government to get the people that we needed there quite rapidly. As you all know, we received enormously important support from friends and allies -- other countries like Israel that brought in dogs and teams to work in the rubble.
Indeed, our Kenyan and Tanzanian friends in both places, in spite of the enormous problems that they faced, provided us support and resources to help us deal with our problem. We had blood donations from many people here in the country that were on those flights that went out, along with medical supplies. Now that we have moved a bit beyond the first day in the crisis, I can report to you that we have over 50 American military and civilian medical personnel working in Nairobi with Kenyans and their facilities to provide medical support for them and their problems. We have made available all of the supplies that we sent in, including the blood, because their needs are so much larger than ours at this point.
I know that some of you often feel that perhaps we don't treat our own national employees as well as we do Americans. I want to stand here in front of you and say that that's not true; that's not true in this case at all. When we had our casualties at both posts, we moved to take care of them as we did our own. You would know from the press that we medically evacuated from Nairobi five of our FSNs to Germany along with our Americans. These were people that we assessed needed the special intensive or specialized medical treatment that they could not get in Kenya. We may, in fact, be evacuating seven more as we evaluate their conditions. Also remember that many, many of our Americans suffered terrible injuries in this, and they were treated locally in Kenyan hospitals, as were many of our other Kenyan employees.
I want you also to know that the [Family Liaison Office] FLO Office, which is here on the first floor has worked, mobilized in a big way to be in touch with all of the families, the relatives of families. They have done a great job of touching and reaching out. We're working toward the return of the bodies, as the Secretary spoke. We are going to bring to Washington the families of the deceased as we have done in more limited numbers in the past. We will be very generous in doing that and having them participate with us here in the arrival. We will continue to support them in any way that we can.
I want you to know that we've already established a task force in our FSN area to deal with all of the problems that we will need to deal with with our national employees abroad and their catastrophe. I remind you all that we have a fund for our FSNs that you'll be hearing more about that we will seek to put in some of our own funds. You may wish to consider that as well.
Finally, just to say we are a family and if I ever or if you ever doubted the kind of feelings that you and I have when we have a problem, you would be very proud of the way people reacted over the last few days. Everything from the brand new junior officer class volunteering their time to work nights and still go to class in the day to many of you and others who volunteered their time on the task forces, who volunteered their time to work in the hotel when the families come to Washington, to everything that needs to be done; you can rest assured we're going to do what is right for our people.
[End of Document]
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