- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Mourning the victims

The parents of a soldier killed in the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya are disappointed the State Department failed to invite them to a memorial ceremony last week to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy.

Evelyn and Delbert Olds hold the State Department responsible for the death of their daughter, Senior Master Sgt. Sherry Lynn Olds.

She was one of 12 Americans killed in the Aug. 7, 1998, explosion in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The blast claimed the lives of 201 Kenyans and injured 5,000 others.

A nearly simultaneous car bomb outside the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 11 persons and wounded 70.

"It is too bad that the families of the victims didn't know about this," Mrs. Olds wrote in a letter to Embassy Row after reading an item about the memorial service.

A State Department spokesman said he did not know whether the relatives of the victims had been invited to the service.

Spokesman Adam Ereli expressed sympathy for the suffering of the relatives of the victims.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he said.

In her letter, Mrs. Olds said, "My lovely daughter … was one of the murdered victims, and it could have been prevented if only the State Department had paid attention."

The safety of the embassy staff "should have been top priority" at the State Department, she said.

"It wasn't just Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that were soft targets. It was the whole continent of Africa," Mrs. Olds wrote.

The Olds are also angry at the failure to capture Osama bin Laden, the Saudi dissident and suspected mastermind of the bombings. He is believed to be in Afghanistan, sheltered by the Islamic fundamentalist Taleban government.

"They blew my precious baby apart, and they're not going to get bin Laden," Mrs. Olds wrote.

An investigation headed by Ret. Adm. William Crowe faulted the government for failing to provide proper security at the embassies.

A report released last year cited "the collective failure of the U.S. government over the past decade to provide adequate resources to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. diplomatic missions to terrorist attacks in most countries."

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, responding to the report last year, accepted partial blame for the tragedy.

At the memorial service on Aug. 7, Mrs. Albright said, "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those, American and African, who were killed or seriously injured."

She said the victims "have joined the roll of heroes we will never forget."

Such expressions of condolences are of little comfort, the Oldses said.

"These young men and women had love ones, hopes and dreams and aspirations," Mrs. Olds said in her letter.

"They were all volunteers. They were trying to help in a Third World nation, dealing with local crime, disease and civil unrest on a daily basis."

Mrs. Olds restated a line from her daughter's memorial service in Florida two years ago and said it remains true today:

"There is not honor where their is no justice."

No assassination plot

Lies. All lies. False and baseless lies.

With those demonstrative words, the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Bismarck Myrick, yesterday denounced a report in a pro-government newspaper that accused the United States of plotting to assassinate Liberian President Charles Taylor.

"The allegations attributed to reliable sources in the Patriot newspaper edition of Saturday, Aug. 12, 2000, and broadcasts of the Liberia communications network are completely false and baseless," the ambassador said in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

The Patriot said the United States is offering $2 million for the assassination of Mr. Taylor.

It claimed that American citizens posing as priests and embassy officials are "clandestinely observing strategic installations and planning the assassination."

The allegations come at a time of tense relations between the United States and Liberia. Washington suspects Mr. Taylor is supporting cutthroat rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in return for diamonds.

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