Deputy Spokesman Philip T. Reeker
State Department
Washington, D.C.
September 11, 2001
7:40 P.M. EDT

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the State Department and our alternate briefing facilities here at the Foreign Press Center. Secretary of State Colin Powell is returning to Washington. We expect him to arrive in Washington within the hour. He will, of course, be briefed by Deputy Secretary of State Armitage on the events today, this terrible day of national tragedy.

The Secretary has been kept in the loop and informed all day. The State Department evacuated our buildings as a precaution after the events of this morning and we established an alternate operations center off site, keeping essential functions of the State Department running very smoothly. The senior leadership of the State Department in Washington was split between our presence at the State Department main building, in our operations center there, and our alternate site operations center. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, as I indicated, was in regular contact with Secretary Powell, who cut short his visit to Lima, Peru, to return to Washington. He has had regular calls with the Deputy Secretary throughout the day. He departed Lima at approximately 12:30 Eastern Daylight Time and, as I said, is returning to Washington within the hour.

All of our overseas posts were immediately notified of the domestic incident that occurred this morning in New York and Washington and instructed to evaluate their security and take any action deemed necessary. Some individual posts have decided to close or limit services. I am not in a position at this point to review post-by-post closings. Chiefs of mission at our posts will make individual determinations of necessary action in conjunction with Washington, and we'll try to get you information on posts that have chosen to close today and tomorrow as that information is available.

As I indicated, the Deputy Secretary here in Washington has been in continuous contact with other senior officials, with national security agencies. He briefed the President today on the numerous condolence calls from foreign leaders, the offers for which we are grateful, offers of assistance from around the world. We are evaluating all those offers. We will confer with FEMA and other appropriate agencies on what action we will take. We have been in touch with our friends and our allies around the world through their Washington embassies and directly with capitals. The Deputy Secretary spoke with Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan this afternoon. Just to clear up any misconceptions there may have been based on some earlier news reports, there was no car bomb or other bomb or attack at the State Department. Earlier this afternoon, the Deputy Secretary and our Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security David Carpenter did a perimeter walk around our building, meeting with the guards and thanking them for the extra support they have given as we increased our security during this time, and we were able to verify that there was no bomb or other attack on the State Department.

Deputy Secretary Armitage has briefed the Hill leadership from both houses of Congress from both sides of the aisle and he has kept them informed of his conversations with Secretary Powell and will continue to obviously keep in touch with Congress, keep in touch with our friends and allies, keep in close contact with all of our posts abroad, and of course once the Secretary is back on the ground he will be closely involved in National Security Council meetings with the President and others.