- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2002

Double standard
When disaster strikes abroad, Uncle Sam often puts the well-being of his employees above the safety of American citizens traveling or residing there.
So concludes a "sensitive but unclassified" report by the State Department's Office of Inspector General, obtained yesterday by Inside the Beltway. It cites "several instances" in which "U.S. government entities evacuated their own employees or took other protective steps without appropriate timely notice to affected American citizens.
"Those U.S. government entities were concerned with the well-being of their employees," the OIG states. "Their uncoordinated actions have the potential to compromise safety of private citizens abroad."
For example, says the report dated February 2002 and signed by Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin U.S. military commanders have made independent decisions about alerting their personnel to threat information, forcing the State Department to take "after-the-fact" measures to notify potentially affected private citizens.
"Playing catch-up, [the State Department] has apparently been able to redress the lapses, although not without delay in public notification," says the OIG. "It would be useful to remind other departments and agencies of the U.S. Government's 'No Double Standard Policy' and the obligations it entails."
The "No Double Standard Policy," introduced in 1990, states that when a threat against U.S. government personnel, missions, or interests is determined by the State Department, in concert with the intelligence community, "to be credible and specific, that information must be provided without undue delay to private and official Americans when it applies to both."
The OIG recommends interagency guidance from the National Security Council, supported by a national security directive or presidential executive order, to clarify responsibilities under the policy.
It is the primary responsibility of the State Department's Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) to protect Americans abroad, coordinate their evacuations in times of crisis, and manage the return and identification of bodies of U.S. citizen victims.
The office's "workload reflects the troubled state of the world," the OIG observes. "Recently, ACS has operated in a nearly constant state of emergency response due to international crisis threatening the safety of U.S. citizens."

Forgotten partners
Yasser Arafat is holed up in his Ramallah compound, surrounded by Israeli tanks.
Palestinian suicide bombers have killed more than 100 Israeli citizens in the past month.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his nation is now "at war" against terrorism.
So, how did everybody get here?
In 1993, Mr. Arafat was living in Tunisia as an international pariah, exiled from the West Bank since 1967. Then, in September of that year, President Clinton ending a U.S. ban on contacts with Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization negotiated a peace deal between the PLO and Israel.
That treaty, announced with much hooplah on the White House lawn, established five years of Palestinian sovereignty over Gaza and Jericho and promised negotiations for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian accord. Mr. Clinton called it "a shining moment of hope."
Some disagreed. In Lafayette Park, a group of Hasidic Jews protested Mr. Clinton's dealings with the Palestinian terrorist leader. One held a sign: "A bloody hand can't sign a peace treaty."
Now, Mr. Arafat is trying to "find peace" in what remains of his Ramallah headquarters.

Yankee pride
Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said at the Pentagon press briefing yesterday that he had just come out of a luncheon meeting with New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and several Yankee players, in which they discussed the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York.
"We talked about how, with barely a pause, that our Pentagon family went back to work after the attack here and how the Yankees, after a short spell to honor the missing and dead, also went back to work," Gen. Myers said.
Gen. Myers, showing some Yankees pride, also compared the effectiveness of U.S. troops in the war on terrorism with the baseball team's near-championship performance last year in the wake of the terror attacks.
"We talked about how their commitment to excel represents our American spirit and our way of life and how our men and women in uniform are also fighting for this way of life," he said.

Oklahoma is OK
Our apologies yesterday for knocking nine months off of Oklahoma Republican Gov. Frank Keating's current term in office, which does not expire until January 2003.

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