- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2002

The State Department has warned American Foreign Service officers and employees at more than 250 U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide to stop sending "abusive, obscene" e-mails such as those that recently ridiculed members of Congress.
"Disparaging or abusive remarks about individuals do not further the goals of the department and will not be tolerated," said a cable sent Monday night to American embassies, consulates, bureaus and offices worldwide.
"Employees who misuse government e-mail will be subject to disciplinary action," said the cable, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
The State Department, which depends on Congress for its funding, has been embarrassed by the publication in the past two weeks of internal e-mails hostile to two congressmen.
Two U.S. diplomats, in one exchange of messages, called Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican and a former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, brainless. Both officials received letters of reprimand, the State Department said.
Two other officials, U.S. Consul General in Rome Charles Keil and diplomat Colombia A. Barrosse, exchanged e-mails in which Mr. Keil called Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, a witch hunter in the tradition of former Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Ms. Barrosse responded with an e-mail saying that a "neo-Nazi" probably would take over the State Department division responsible for issuing visas.
Ten congressmen sent a letter yesterday to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanding that he fire Mr. Keil and Ms. Barrosse.
"Charles Keil must be retired immediately," the letter said. "Colombia Barrosse must also be dealt with similarly."
"These remarks are egregious, offensive and grossly insubordinate," said the letter, issued by the office of Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican. It also was signed by Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican.
The cases of Mr. Keil and Ms. Barrosse have been referred to the department's bureau of human resources for possible disciplinary action.
The letter also said that Mary Ryan, recently ousted as chief of the department's visa division, was "asked to retire because her Bureau was negligent in the issuance of numerous visas, including issuing visas to 15 of the 18 hijackers who committed the atrocity of September 11, 2001, while she was at the helm."
Although the letter said there were 18 hijackers, 19 hijackers were involved in the suicide attacks, all of whom made it into the United States on legal visas.
The letter also said that reprimands, such as those given to two employees who ridiculed Mr. Gilman, would be "insufficient" for Mr. Keil and Ms. Barrosse because reprimands are erased from files after 12 months.
The State Department cable told diplomats and other employees of the Foreign Service to avoid "abusive, obscene or otherwise offensive language."
It also banned "language intended to hurt or disparage another individual, including innuendo, libel and slander."
The furor about visas is part of a turf battle between career State Department employees and Congress as lawmakers create the new Department of Homeland Security sought by President Bush.
A pending compromise would let State Department employees continue to issue visas, while the Department of Homeland Security would oversee the process.
Since the criticism about visa policy, the State Department has canceled its Saudi "Visa Express" system that allowed Saudis, including some of the September 11 hijackers, to apply through travel agents and get their visas without ever seeing a U.S. consular official.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide