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21. Telegram, State Department, to all diplomatic and consular posts announcing new 3rd category in travel advisory system (May 29, 1998)


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SUMMARY

 

1. THE DEPARTMENT'S FOREMOST RESPONSIBILITY IS THE

PROTECTION OF U.S. CITIZENS OVERSEAS. THIS

RESPONSIBILITY INCLUDES THE DISSEMINATION TO THE

PUBLIC OF INFORMATION ON MATTERS OF SAFETY AND

SECURITY FOR U.S CITIZENS TRAVELING OR RESIDING ABROAD

IN THE FORM OF CONSULAR INFORMATION SHEETS (CIS),

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS (PA), AND TRAVEL WARNINGS (TW).

THIS CABLE REVIEWS THESE THREE ELEMENTS OF THE

PROGRAM. I ASK THAT EACH COUNTRY TEAM ENSURE THAT THE

INFORMATION IN ITS CIS (AND PA OR TW IF APPLICABLE) IS

ACCURATE AND THAT YOU ADVISE THE DEPARTMENT PROMPTLY

WHEN CHANGES ARE APPROPRIATE. IT IS ALSO EXTREMELY

IMPORTANT THAT THE PROGRAM IS IMPLEMENTED IN A MANNER

CONSISTENT WITH THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S "NO DOUBLE

STANDARD" POLICY.

 

BACKGROUND

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2. IN 1992 THE DEPARTMENT ADOPTED A TRAVEL

INFORMATION SYSTEM CONSISTING OF CIS'S AND TW'S, WHICH

WAS LATER EXPANDED TO INCLUDE PA'S, TO REPLACE

INFORMATION FORMERLY PROVIDED IN THE FORM OF "TRAVEL

ADVISORIES" (WARNINGS, CAUTIONS, AND NOTICES). THE

NEW SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED TO BE SIMPLER AND MORE USEFUL

TO THE PUBLIC IN ENABLING THEM TO MAKE EDUCATED

DECISIONS ABOUT FOREIGN TRAVEL. THE TRAVEL

INFORMATION PROGRAM IS ONE OF THE MORE POLITICALLY

SENSITIVE ENDEAVORS UNDERTAKEN BY CA. OCCASIONALLY,

THE INFORMATION RELAYED, ESPECIALLY IN TW'S OR PA'S,

MAY BE UNPOPULAR WITH A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT OR EVEN

WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT. FOR THOSE REASONS, IT IS

IMPORTANT TO HIGHLIGHT THE FACT THAT THE LANGUAGE

CONTAINED IN CIS'S, TW'S AND PA'S IS CLEARED AND

APPROVED BY THE POST, ALL RELEVANT DEPARTMENT BUREAUS

(E.G., COUNTRY DESK/GEOGRAPHIC BUREAU, CA, EB, DS,

S/CT, P, M, INR, PA, S/S) AND OCCASIONALLY OTHER USG

AGENCIES. IN THE EVENT OF DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN

BUREAUS, M AND P ARE ASKED TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE. IF

THE ISSUE REMAINS UNRESOLVED BETWEEN M AND P, A

DETERMINATION IS MADE BY THE DEPUTY SECRETARY. CIS'S,

TW'S, AND PA'S ARE AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET AND CA'S

AUTOMATED TELEPHONE AND TELEFAX SYSTEMS. TRAVEL

INDUSTRY COMPUTER RESERVATIONS SYSTEMS ALSO HAVE

ACCESS TO TW'S AND PA'S.

 

CONSULAR INFORMATION SHEETS (CIS)

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3. CONSULAR INFORMATION SHEETS ARE PREPARED AND

UPDATED ANNUALLY, OR AS NECESSARY, FOR EVERY COUNTRY

IN THE WORLD. THEIR FORMAT AND CORE CATEGORIES ARE

CONSISTENT. SINCE INCEPTION, THE CIS'S HAVE ADDED

SEVERAL NEW CATEGORIES, AND THEY CONTINUE TO EVOLVE.

CORE CATEGORIES INCLUDE A BRIEF COUNTRY DESCRIPTION,

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS, MEDICAL FACILITIES, CRIME

INFORMATION, DRUG PENALTIES, ROAD SAFETY/TRAFFIC

CONDITIONS, AND THE LOCATION OF THE EMBASSY OR

CONSULATE. THEY MAY ALSO INCLUDE COUNTRY-SPECIFIC

INFORMATION, SUCH AS UNUSUAL CURRENCY/CUSTOMS

REGULATIONS, AREAS OF INSTABILITY, OR TERRORIST

ACTIVITIES. CIS'S GENERALLY DO NOT GIVE SUBJECTIVE

ADVICE; RATHER, THEY PRESENT INFORMATION IN A FACTUAL

MANNER SO THAT A TRAVELER CAN MAKE AN INFORMED

DECISION CONCERNING TRAVEL TO A PARTICULAR COUNTRY.

CIS'S MUST BE UPDATED ANNUALLY (OR MORE FREQUENTLY IF -

WARRANTED) TO ENSURE THAT THE INFORMATION IS ACCURATE.

POSTS THAT RECEIVE DANGER PAY MUST ENSURE THAT THE CIS

REFLECTS THE CONDITION THAT ENTITLED THEM TO THAT

BENEFIT. CIS'S ARE SENT TELEGRAPHICALLY TO ALL POSTS

IN THE SAME GEOGRAPHIC REGION.

 

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS (PA)

 

4. PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE ISSUED WHEN SPECIFIC

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EVENTS OF A TRANSITORY NATURE CONCERNING SAFETY,

SECURITY, AND SOMETIMES HEALTH ARE TAKING PLACE THAT

AFFECT A COUNTRY, ONLY PART OF A COUNTRY, OR SEVERAL

COUNTRIES IN A REGION SUCH THAT INCLUSION IN THE MORE

GENERAL CIS OR A TW WOULD BE INAPPROPRIATE. PA'S DO

NOT ADDRESS MATTERS SUCH AS HOTEL ROOM SHORTAGES; THIS

TYPE OF INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE THROUGH TRAVEL

AGENCIES AND OTHER PRIVATE SECTOR SOURCES. THEY ARE

NOT USED TO WARN ABOUT ENDEMIC OR EPIDEMIC DISEASES OR

HEALTH CONDITIONS UNLESS THEY ARE SO GRAVE THAT LOCAL

AUTHORITIES HAVE TAKEN MEASURES DIRECTLY AFFECTING THE

TRAVELING PUBLIC (E.G., QUARANTINE OF AN AREA). IN

GENERAL, PA'S ARE USED TO DISSEMINATE INFORMATION

QUICKLY ABOUT TERRORIST THREATS AND OTHER RELATIVELY

SHORT-TERM AND/OR TRANSNATIONAL CONDITIONS POSING -

SIGNIFICANT RISKS TO THE SECURITY OF U.S. CITIZEN

TRAVELERS. IN EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES, A PA

CONCERNING A WORLDWIDE THREAT MAY BE ISSUED. PA'S ARE

FREQUENTLY USED TO SHARE WITH THE BROADER U.S. PUBLIC

INFORMATION TO BE RELEASED BY A PARTICULAR POST

THROUGH ITS WARDEN NETWORK. THIS ENSURES THAT ALL

CITIZENS HAVE ACCESS TO RELEVANT INFORMATION AND HELPS

AVOID A "DOUBLE STANDARD" PROBLEM. CONSULAR PA'S

SHOULD BE CRAFTED TO PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATION

ABOUT A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION; HOWEVER, THEY

ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE USED AS SITREPS. PUBLIC

ANNOUNCEMENTS HAVE EXPIRATION DATES. IF THE SITUATION

MERITING THE PA IN A SPECIFIC COUNTRY IS LIKELY TO

EXTEND BEYOND THE EXPIRATION DATE OF THE PA, THE CIS

FOR THE COUNTRY SHOULD BE REVISED TO INCLUDE

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INFORMATION ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT TRIGGERED THE

PA. ALL POSTS ARE NOTIFIED BY IMMEDIATE PRECEDENCE

ALDAC CABLE WHENEVER A PA IS ISSUED OR RESCINDED.

 

TRAVEL WARNINGS (TW)

 

5. THE DEPARTMENT ISSUES A TW WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES

WARRANT RECOMMENDING THAT U.S. CITIZENS DEFER TRAVEL

TO AN ENTIRE COUNTRY BECAUSE THE SITUATION IS SO

DANGEROUS OR UNSTABLE THAT U.S. CITIZENS ARE LIKELY TO

BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY PREVAILING CONDITIONS, AND/OR

THE USG'S ABILITY TO ASSIST U.S. CITIZENS IS SEVERELY

CONSTRAINED BY AN EMBASSY DRAWDOWN OR CLOSURE. TW'S

ARE ISSUED AS STAND-ALONE ANNOUNCEMENTS. IN ADDITION,

AFTER A TW IS ISSUED, THE CIS FOR THE COUNTRY IS

UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE LANGUAGE OF THE WARNING. TW'S

DO NOT HAVE EXPIRATION DATES; THE LANGUAGE OF THE TW

SHOULD BE REVIEWED WHENEVER CONDITIONS CHANGE

SIGNIFICANTLY OR THE CIS IS UP FOR ITS ANNUAL

REVISION. HOWEVER, TW'S ARE NOT DESIGNED TO PROVIDE

TRANSITORY CHANGES IN THE SECURITY SITUATION; THEY ARE

INTENDED TO ALERT U.S. CITIZENS TO THE DANGERS OF

TRAVEL TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. ALL POSTS ARE NOTIFIED

BY IMMEDIATE PRECEDENCE ALDAC CABLE WHENEVER TW'S ARE

ISSUED OR RESCINDED.

 

"NO DOUBLE STANDARD" -

COORDINATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT

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6. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU COORDINATE WITH THE

DEPARTMENT, WHENEVER POSSIBLE, ON DISSEMINATING

INFORMATION CONCERNING POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE SAFETY

OF U.S. CITIZENS ABROAD. IF YOU CONCLUDE THAT YOU

MUST WARN YOUR OFFICIAL PERSONNEL AND/OR THE LOCAL

U.S. COMMUNITY, THE PROPOSED TEXT OF THE MESSAGE MUST

BE CABLED TO THE DEPARTMENT FOR APPROVAL. THE

DEPARTMENT WILL EVALUATE THE THREAT INFORMATION (IS IT

CREDIBLE? IS IT SPECIFIC? IS IT BEING EFFECTIVELY

COUNTERED?) AND COORDINATE THE RELEASE OF A WORLDWIDE

PA OR TW REFLECTING THE TIMING AND CONTENT OF YOUR

POST'S WARDEN MESSAGE, IF NECESSARY. PLEASE GIVE US

AS MUCH ADVANCE NOTICE AS POSSIBLE. THE DEPARTMENT

RESPONDS TO POST'S REQUESTS OF THIS NATURE

IMMEDIATELY, ALMOST ALWAYS WITHIN ONE WORKING DAY.

7. WHEN IMMEDIATE NOTICE IS CRITICAL TO THE SECURITY

OF U.S. CITIZENS, YOUR POST DOES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO

DISSEMINATE INFORMATION THROUGH ITS WARDEN NETWORK

WITHOUT PRIOR DEPARTMENT APPROVAL. IN SUCH INSTANCES,

YOU MUST/MUST CABLE THE TEXT OF THE MESSAGEE (BE SURE

TO USE CASC AS THE LEAD TAG) IMMEDIATELY AFTER ITS

ISSUANCE, SPECIFYING HOW IT WAS DISSEMINATED. THE

DEPARTMENT MAY ISSUE A PA OR TW, IF APPROPRIATE.

8. FOR DETAILED GUIDANCE ON "NO DOUBLE STANDARD'

POLICIES RELATING TO THREATS AND THE DISSEMINATION OF

SAFETY INFORMATION, PLEASE SEE AND RETAIN REFTEL A.

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9. DEPARTMENT OF STATEE TRAVEL INFORMATION

PUBLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET:

HTTP://TRAVEL.STATE.GOV. RECORDED INFORMATION IS

AVAILABLE BY CALLING (202)647-3000 FROM THE TELEPHONE

ON A FAX MACHINE.

10. I CANNOT EMPASIZE ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE THE

DEPARTMENT PLACES ON THE TRAVEL INFORMATION PROGRAM.

IN RECENT MONTHS, THIS PROGRAM HAS RECEIVED

CONSIDERABLE MEDIA SCRUTINY, AND THE NUMBER OF "HITS"

ON CA'S HOME PAGE ON THE INTERNET CONTINUES TO GROW.

PLEASE REVIEW THE TRAVEL INFORMATION ON YOUR COUNTRY

TO ENSURE THAT WE RE PROVIDING CURRENT, ACCURATE

INFORMATION. I KNOW THAT YOU ALL SHAREE OUR COMMITMENT

TO THE SECURITY OF U.S. CITIZENS ABROAD, AND I COUNT

ON YOUR COOPERATION.

11. PLEASE KEEP A COPY OF THIS CABLE ON PERMANENT

FILE.

12. JAKARTA, SURABAYA, AND BUJUMBURA MINIMIZE

CONSIDERED.

TALBOTT

UNCLASSIFIED



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