tv American Artifacts 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings in Africa CSPAN September 29, 2018 10:00am-10:46am EDT
and explain how it divines -- defines the american experience. we are awarding cash prizes, including a grand prize of $5,000. the deadline is january 20, 2019. for more information go to our website. on august 7, 1998 truck bombs exploded simultaneously outside the u.s. embassies and nairobi, kenya and tanzania. 224,ttacks killed including 12 americans and wounded more than 5000. the terrorist group al qaeda and its leader osama bin laden claimed responsibility. artifacts, wecan visit the u.s. diplomacy center in washington dc to tour and exhibit marking the 20th anniversary of the bombings. we are joined by the state
department officials in charge of the embassies at the time. >> hello, i am john. the topic of the east africa bombings i was chief of mission at the american embassy and tanzania. there was a gap between ambassadors, i was in charge at the time. good morning, i am prudence. i was the ambassador to kenya at the time of the bombing. 20 years later we are in the and we are going to look at some of the artifacts and telling stories behind them. diplomacy does not always mean sitting behind a desk and wearing nice close. close getthose nice
bloody and dirty because of the dangerous position. example, this is the suit i was wearing and i would like to point out it is will. nairobi is the land of eternal springtime and is close to the equator. our august in washington is a cool springtime august. most of the bloodstains on the suit are in the back. because i was on top of a one-story building with a colleague from the department of commerce represented by the suit he was wearing at the time. we were meeting with the minister of commerce, heard an explosion. most of us went to the window. later, a freight
train sound of impact of high energy hit all of us. head, wounded.he you can see some of the shrapnel wass which shows where he closer to the window. wounded, had some cuts. colleague, i went down the stairs. they were kenyans going down as well. which is why the blood is in the back and not the front. the reason there is still blood, when i took it off i put it in a plastic bag. the suit moved with me to
guatemala which was our next assignment. i could never bear to throw it away. i am unsentimental and know how to throw things out, but i could not bear to do that. the diplomacy center requested it and it makes my heart feel good that the suit has a home in such a peaceful place. one of the things that saved , therefrom being injured was not aching is -- a concussion grade -- grenade. i am thankful because when the bomb went off my instinct was to look at the window. and so many people did that. all over downtown.
so many had high injuries when the bomb went off seconds later. >> there were 5000 people injured in nairobi because one of the perpetrators through a stun grenade. human instinct, is to go to the window if you hear allows noise. ironically, i was the last one up. good butses are pretty after so many security briefings, i don't think i did get up. most of the wounds of the were from the chest up and very bloody.
i returned to the bomb site the once i had left the building with my colleagues, we got first a, then i went to our building being used as a crisis center. returned toning i what was a tomb of an mc. i was given by our security engineer a hard hat he had made overnight with the seal. we got through this together as a community. this is the hat of one of the marine security guards who was on duty at the time. laws and both of
our embassies the security guards kept. ambassador on board when i arrived on august the seventh and when i went to the meeting with the department of commerce, it notes ambassador on shore. i swam across the parking lot. we were in business all the time. it is striking, from august 7, 1998, 10:00 they conducted a test. >> i remember that. >> i had just started a meeting in my office. after the actual bomb went off, the same marine got on the andophone, the loudspeaker
said this is not a test. we estimate 10:39, the marine reacted and 11:00 evacuated. tell with by the printing it was an excited marine. i had never seen this before. >> neither had i. this points out one of our marines who had gone up to cash a check died. another got a purple heart for his actions on august 7. wife wasrgeant, his our community liaison officer and she was badly injured.
she lost most of the site and one of her eyes and they had to medically evacuate her. dutyayed on as was his even though his wife was evacuated. whohe marine security guard was wearing this hat was in the , it was built in the 1970's to earthquake standards which is why on the outside it looks pretty secure. on the inside, as you can tell from the mangled remains of a television set, we were devastated. the rock that came from our embassy was blown into one of the vehicles. somebody found it in her vehicle. at the time of the bombing, i
was on the 21st floor. with the tnt exploded here. this was once a seven-story office building. when thousands of kenyans arrived, what they found was a building that looked pretty ok the house that was now in total rubble. created a public relations issue because our marines did what they were trained to do when the bomb went off, they put on their flak jackets, got their guns, helmets and provided perimeter security. theythousands of kenyans saw white men with guns and very
determined expressions. outraged at the point of which they needed so much help particularly the hundreds of people who were under the rubble. they were struggling to survive and we looked as though we were doing nothing but taking care of our own. learned, as for me as a person and a diplomat is you have to hear somebody's anger. it is a different perception when i tried to explain what happened, i made the situation worse. sometimes you need to understand people have a reason to be angry. as i'm sure happen to you. embassyited you in the before the bombing in june.
as we looked out. into the busy street. time. just a matter of he was referring to the carjackings that were going on. nobody envisioned a bombing. you knew of the security concerns, a bomb this devastating was not something we expected. >> we did not. been complaining about the fact the embassy did not meet our own department of state security standards. the reason for that setback is because our embassy in beirut was goma -- blown up by a truck bomb.
unfortunately, i was not listened to. and people who suffered as a result will always be with me. off, 213bomb went people were instantly killed. 48 were employees of the united states government including 12 americans. rate, had0% casualty we been part of the military, we would have been evacuated, instead we stay. we all stayed for the next 10 months to re-create our assistation, and to kenyans who had been devastated. up,usinesses were blown , thereds were injured
was a school bus of little boys waiting at the streetcorner at the light. andher busload of nairobi -- citizens was instantly incinerated. it was a site from hell. no one from nairobi will ever forget. i would like to point out, on this corner is aps core -- a citizens, created by they have named everyone who died. the people we remember today. the photo was taken on august 12
because the aircraft carrying american rescuers and fire squad werecanine late, the israelis arrived first. they went through the rubble, a woman named rose was called a kenyan rose because for four days she survived under rubble. 15 minutes before they got to her she died. she was the last person to die in the rubble. the israelis had the ceremony replaying --d a many what -- one of the photographers caught this image of that day. my husband complain because they cut him out. theas right next to me area
photograph shows everything. pictures thatthe say a thousand words. the u.s. government clocks are battery operated. and none are runtime. they all stopped when the bomb went off because the shock was so great, every battery-operated clock stopped. 10:3 nine, time was which is when we decided the bomb went off. this is one of the clocks that was recovered. this is something i recovered from my office, one of the reasons why people in our embassy were not killed because of the shatter resistant window. >> the mylar.
>> yes, the mylar. with sitting in my office my back to the outer wall in a meeting. window and the glass flew over my head and landed on the people in front of me. they had some injuries, but nobody was badly injured because it was shatter resistant. when i look at this embassy, it is been built in 1960 by the israelis. when tanzania broke off relations with israel we were able to take it over in 1980. the fbi director of the investigation told me it was built like a bunker. high windows, etc..
truckyou see a water tank and that is what took the brunt of the blast. we chat to get out of the parking area, when the bomb went off the water truck was seen by and people coming down from three stories. two employees were in it and died. i had been the deputy chief and inided i was going to stay the office rather than move into the ambassador's office. it kept getting extended.
the regional security officer told me had i been in the office, i would have been killed. he showed pictures of the ambassador's desk. things that came crushing on the desk including the flagpole with the american flag on it. that photograph which is hard to is of benjamin, who i gave a tour. general of the organization at the time and former tanzanian president. kenyans did everything they could.
diplomacy is, regaining friendship when somebody -- somebody tries to blow it up. >> this is a photograph of my residence. building after the bomb went off. the building options were not secure so we moved for 72 hours. temporary moved to a embassy in another residence. this was taken from above just before a press conference. it had been difficult to get washington to agree to have this interview which was a human interest story about how these
americans have been in the and have this bombing been hurt to some extent. difficult for a public affairs officer to get approval for that from washington. once it was shown, they simply would like more. that is one of the frustrations we had. we still had that. many foreign service couples have to go on separate assignments because embassies cannot accommodate both. lizzie ande case of charlie. she was going to tanzania as a communications officer, and charlie was going to nairobi as head of our financial center. salonhad arrived and our
dar saalam. when charlie heard about the bombing, he got on the plane, he was edged in mental and helping -- instrumental in helping us. one of the first things i was tryingrking on to get washington to approve lizzie's transfer to nairobi to reunite the couple. that was the first thing area -- it took a long time. it took far too long. of the community liaison
officers, that is where lizzie was when the bomb went off. the concrete outer wall blue when and i remember when i left my office which was around the -- they were trying to lift the rubble off of lizzie. she was sitting at the desk. move and wele to had to take the rubble off her. lizzie being separated from charlie and having to go through , even though she was injured and later had to be evacuated, she was a strong-willed person. husband, a note to her here it is.
i am alive and well i hope to see you soon. it is a blast. -- tdy mating tour of duty. -- meaning tour of duty. see how wething to were trying to communicate. nowadays, one could send text messages at things like that and the world would know immediately. back then, one of the things i am proud of and why i think it was important that senior officials at the embassy have experience in foreign service, i said because i knew munication were so bad. very few of us had cell phones at the time.
section, the counselor please call the state department operations center and ask them to contact every americans immediately -- immediate family and let them know they are right. the state department balked at doing that. my mother got a call about 6:00 in the morning in milwaukee were she was living. surprised, heard i was all right. at 7:00, if she had turned on the today show and seen the ,evastation of the embassies hundreds killed, she would have had a heart attack. it was important to alert family members of the living. injured, died, 85 were of those 11, there were nine or 10 -- once among them, one
who was married to susan -- i really believe the only reason we did not have many , was because of the way the building was constructed, like a bunker. , the embassies were in different locations. of thisin the middle big city with a lot of high-rise buildings and the shockwave went back-and-forth. out, it wass spread in thethe center, it was outskirts, no building was higher than three stories, so the bomb went that way instead of going back-and-forth between buildings.
i think that save lives. the nigerian embassy next us, the french embassy next was, the russian ambassador's residence were all damaged. just from the proximity from the bomb. page the tribune front from august 10, 1998. i did not know i was on the cover until two weeks later when it showed up in the mail. it was mailed from paris. we did not have access to them on the internet. description, and the only reason it says that is because i was under instructions not to confirm whether or not the cameras outside the embassy had tape. so they could have recorded what was going on. they did not have tape at the time.
grouptold by the security we did not want to expose that. we did not wonder perpetrators to know we did not have tape. when the question came at the press conference, i said i cannot confirm or deny that we had tape. the i find the front page question was a blast videotaped. i knew it was not that i was not able to say that. being an ambassador, you were given more leeway. they give you permission, and you took it to be more outspoken in the press. serviceis mid-level person. i always asked for permission. there was a huge amount of i was in nairobi
because i had been meeting with the minister of commerce and her per protocol, we had a prayer. we were leaving the building just as the bomb went off. one of the journalists began recording and everybody in nairobi was glued to their tv station watching the raw film of in total carnage that came the immediate aftermath of the bombing. tensionheightened the of the people in nairobi. -- i have not seen it. i have seen some video footage
when they were tried and sentenced. i do not know where these people came from but they ended up with videotape of a couple of minutes after the bomb went off. it was gruesome what they show. trial, there was a poster that is put around of wanted for murder, showing photographs of the people who were believed to be in the conspiracy. when i later became the u.s. ambassador to botswana, i had it on my wall. non-americans who came to visit me wondered why an ambassador had a wanted poster on his wall. the international tribune front
page, the photograph is taken from a street half a block from the embassy with a marine security guard all around him. embassy as i the did a couple of times a day. i came out and chatted with the marines. i have always wondered if anybody look at it carefully because i am there and i'm leaning on what is called a gentleman's valet, this wooden structure where a man can put their suit coat on and here i am in the middle of the dirt street leaning on this. image of the diplomat, although i do not think of myself of one. ien i went back to the office tried to salvage a few things, including the glass shard we saw earlier. theded up thinking this was
only time in my career i had never had one of these in my office, i better save it. case we can talk about the world wide reaction which was something i believe the president called you, president clinton called me. secretary of state albright visited the day after the bombing. there was a memorial service cathedral which you and i both were at. it was the president and vice president, secretaries of state and defense. i remember jesse jackson gave a sermon. it was spooky to me, but the date of that was september 11, 1998. >> i remember that.
>> three years before september 11. the operations -- >> the operations task force, the first question they asked was where are the americans. what is the status of americans. pad's had the number of americans, numbers cap shifting as time went on and they discovered more. it was typical of the kinds of data you will find among people. chastityypical after a is the diplomatic immunity at large is that embassies will open up condolence letters to encourage members of the public to write letters or messages of
hope. the condolenceof folks from our embassies around the world. bombing, weof the two members of our marine detachment, one killed one injured, to provide security. the british had a training group who came to help overnight. plane on which our rescuers were coming had malfunctioned. openedadian ambassador -- i had british colleagues amediately providing satellite radio because it was the only way we had to communicate. people around the world, our communities cared about us as
people. they cared about what happened. i remember one of the first people i saw after i evacuated was the french ambassador because his office was across the street and was damaged. and he said come on in if you want. say, if i can read this. it is a condolence message from the ambassador from turkey. it is something. it is with a mixture of sorrow and resolve this dedicated to our colleagues in nairobi and's we was comfort to the families of those who perished. we are determined that the perpetrators of this cowardly act did not achieve their aims.
rio to the victims, americans and non-americans to carry on the vital work of representing the united states of america throughout the dangerous world. had an ane spirit we know you had in nairobi afterward, when people united every single employee. american, or tanzanian, or canyon. -- kenyon. we grieved for the dead and help the injured, but we also had to move forward and not let terrorists win. we ended up putting a major effort into resurrecting those embassy operation so the point where we made a major show of raising the american flag over our new temporary office building. we had the marines gathered. and they provided additional security when they sent additional or mean -- greens.
it was so important that united states would not back down. we had groups of people, kenyans and americans who went to hospitals seeking our employees that die. died oramericans that wounded were mixed up with kenyan bodies. we have members of our kenyan staff on telephones overnight to provide information to the family members who had no idea where their loved ones were. i had been told you not tell anyone if they were dead, tell them to come in. these were trained professionals, and they were given the task of dealing with the impossible, jetty and
devastation. physically, some of us psychologically, and we did it anyway. colleagues from around the world we had a foreign service national from london who came and did nothing for six weeks but did position descriptions because we could not replace the 34 kenyan colleagues who were so jobical to us because there descriptions had been blown up. newspaper and the people were willing to come and do work for us. in order to keep us going. look at us, we are here to talk about it. peoplepoint we had 350 and filling up almost every hotel in town.
over half of them were from the fbi doing the investigation. i am so impressed how they did that. i saw in the first trial where you and i testified, you can see their testimony was so critical to connect the bombing to the perpetrators. you mention president clinton called you, and he called me too. as i was waiting on the phone for his staff to bring him, i was thinking of what to say. i was in a state of shock. when he came on he said how are you? i said, mr. president, my heart is bursting with sorrow at what happened. and with pride at the way we are responding. 20 years later, i opened that your and i was filled with sorrow and pride and the
is that theesson --ders of this country and in the white house, senate, and state department, have a responsibility to maintain and an evenflo of people around the world to conduct our interest without guns. people often underestimate the risks that we go through. -- twoere too horrific horrific bombings. that u.s.o maintain presence but it has to be in the the best youects
can the people who were risking their lives. say, those of us that cannotrough the bombing forget it and will not forget it. ,t is something that comes up as you see the newspaper references to the east african bombings. i watched the video on cable news which will have the u.s. embassy with smoke coming from it. i was still in the embassy when that video was taken. and some of our people sadly have suffered from post genetic stress disorder, it is quite clear they needed help for that oweshe state department them help for that. we should always keep in mind
and be sensitive to that when we talk to people who went to these bombings. it is something that lives with you forever. you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website. announcer: tonight on railamerica, historians edward and julie join us to explain the 1919 film the lost battalion about a world war i battle on the western front in france. here is a preview. he was a real character although he did not wear that ridiculous helmet. now, as the troops here the germans are telling them to --render, it revised them
revise them and makes them more angry and determined to fight harder. >> according to the forward of the film, these were the actual documents used during the real event. we do not see any close-ups of those, so it is hard to say if that is true. it is adjusting to know. >> both sides are emboldened by this. the germans are determined to wipe out the lost battalion before they have to leave. death -- >> i want to go back to the title of your book, explain the story behind the title or similar -- title? >> when the troops were relieved, charles turned and said to george, we will never be in finer company then we are now.
year, when they had a reunion of the lost battalion survivors. george, particularly after charles passed away and said gentleman we will never be in finer company than we are now. >> how did he die? tormented for many years after the war by nightmares, by china to help his troops -- trying to help his troops do with their own trauma. ofwanted to witness the tomb the unknown soldier in arlington cemetery. george was there. that tormented him. at the twoo george and said i should not have come here, george. i can hear the cries of my men.
he climbed on board, he watched this movie the night before he ended his life. you have to imagine what he was thinking when he was seeing this. he climbed on board a steamer that is going to cuba and stepped overboard and ended his life. great tragedy. watch the entire world war i film, tonight at 10:00 eastern on railamerica. you are watching american history tv. next, military historian william talks about service, grants secret the intelligence war from belmont to appomattox. in which he explores the way ulysses s. grant used military intelligence to help defeat confederate counterpart, robert e. lee. the national civil war