- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2002

From combined dispatches
The editor of the National Review yesterday protested the State Department's treatment of one of its reporters who discussed a classified cable, whose contents had been published in both the National Review and The Washington Post, from the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during an on-camera briefing Friday.
In the cablegram, slipped to the magazine by a whistleblower, Ambassador Robert Jordan proposed that a "Visa Express" program for Saudi citizens be canceled because of a "prevailing perception" that "our current practices represent a shameful and inadequate effort on our part."
Fifteen of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. The National Review reported that three of them received U.S. entry visas without an interview, through the Visa Express program, which allows third parties such as travel agencies to facilitate applications.
In the letter to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, the editor, Rich Lowry, said reporter Joel Mowbray "was detained by diplomatic security officers in what I can only conclude was an attempt to intimidate a reporter whose work had proven highly inconvenient to the department."
"Mr. Mowbray appropriately refused to identify the whistle-blower who had given him the document," Mr. Lowry wrote in an open letter published on National Review Online. "He was physically kept from leaving the building, and repeatedly pushed to reveal his source until, for whatever reason, he was allowed to go."
Mr. Boucher told a briefing yesterday that, as a rule, anybody "who has a classified cable is not allowed to leave the building with it, except under appropriate security procedures, and it's our guards' responsibility to make sure that people don't do that."
"Diplomatic Security Service dispatched an agent to speak to the reporter about the cable and to obtain it if it was in his possession," Mr. Boucher said. "The agent ascertained that the reporter did not have the cable with him. The reporter was allowed to depart the building. The entire process took approximately 15 minutes."
On Friday, after Mr. Mowbray cited the cable and said he had it with him, Mr. Boucher said:
"I do have to point out, sir, that you've written a lot of things and said a lot of things recently. You said that visas are decided by travel agents, and that's not true, is it? You said that this is the only country that we do accept documents from third parties, and that's not true, is it? You've said that performance of Foreign Service officers is measured on courtesy, and that's not true, is it? So let's be careful about the facts."
Mr. Mowbray responded, "I am being careful, and no need to smear the work."

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