- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2000

Diplomatic security risk

Sen. Rod Grams fears he has found the latest diplomatic security risk right in the ranks of career Foreign Service officers nominated to serve as U.S. ambassadors.

The Minnesota Republican has written Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright to complain about "an unusually high number of nominees charged with security violations during their careers." Mrs. Albright has assured him that there is nothing to worry about, and that most of the violations were committed more than 10 years ago.

Mr. Grams, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on international operations, referred to problems with six nominees out of 36 pending ambassadorial appointments. He would not identify the nominees with security violations on their records.

"In total, these nominees have committed 62 violations. One nominee has 22 violations, and several others have violations in the double digits," he wrote in his June 1 letter.

Mr. Grams also reminded Mrs. Albright of statements she made after the embarrassing discovery of eavesdropping devices planted inside the State Department with a Russian diplomat listening outside, and the theft from the department of a laptop computer with top-secret files.

At a May 3 meeting on security, Mrs. Albright said, "I don't care how skilled you are as a diplomat, how brilliant you may be at meetings, or how creative you are as an administrator. If you are not professional about security, you are a failure."

Mr. Grams asked her to "reconcile" that statement with "the fact that the president has chosen to reward individuals whom you describe as 'failures' with high honors and the responsibility of representing the United States and her interests in foreign countries."

Mrs. Albright defended the choice of nominees in her response last week.

"The majority of the security incidents received by some nominees awaiting confirmation in the Senate this year were incurred over 10 years ago," she wrote. "In those instances of recent security incidents, officers have received security warnings, counseling or briefings by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security."

Mrs. Albright said she is "firmly committed" to the "highest standards of security" and understands the "gravity of the issues" Mr. Grams raised.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• President Fernando de la Rua of Argentina, who meets President Clinton and also visits the Holocaust Museum. He holds a news conference tomorrow at the National Press Club at 4:30 p.m. On Wednesday he meets with Cesar Gaviria, secretary-general of the Organization of American States.

• Israeli Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben Ami and Palestinian legislative council Speaker Ahmed Qorei at the head of their respective delegations for peace talks to be held at an undisclosed location in or near Washington.


• Elena Nemirovskaya, director of the Moscow School of Political Studies, who discusses democracy in Russia with invited guests of the International Republican Institute.


• Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who meets President Clinton to discuss progress in Middle East peace talks.

• Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, who meets Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott Thursday for talks on security, nonproliferation and peace issues in South Asia.


• Estonian President Lennart Meri, who will discuss his country's efforts to gain NATO membership at 10 a.m. at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street NW.

• Financial Secretary Donald Tsang of Hong Kong, who has meetings with the International Monetary Fund and several think tanks.


• Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who meets Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and delivers a speech on security and humanitarian intervention at the Canadian Embassy.[p

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