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US State Department shakeup over missing laptop

No idea what it contained, and Milosivic isn't talking

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US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ordered the Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (note name) to assume responsibility for Department, em, security, from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research after reporting last week that a laptop computer containing sensitive information had gone missing from Department Headquarters in Washington three months ago. Albright characterised the incident as "intolerable". "Like several other recent lapses in security, this is inexcusable and intolerable," the Secretary said during a Monday press conference. "Such failures put our nation's secrets at risk." This is only the most recent in a series of Department security follies. Late last year, FBI agents observed a Russian spy seated in the courtyard outside Department Headquarters listening to conversations in a conference room via a bugging device. In 1998, an unknown man calmly strolled into the Executive Secretary's office and calmly strolled out with a ream of classified documents. And we don't even want to think about the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. "We're talking about extremely sensitive information here," State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters Monday. "The Department, in consultation with other agencies, is now engaged in an analysis of the implications of this potential loss." "Potential loss"? Two Department scapegoats have been temporarily transferred to "other duties" while the incident is under investigation, Rubin indicated. The Department still doesn't know whether the machine was stolen or misplaced. "The conclusion....that we have drawn is that the loss of this laptop is intolerable, even if it turns out to be just missing," Rubin said, echoing his boss's words. Albright plans to hold a Department conference on 3 May to discuss security issues. She said she will ask Congress to establish the new position of Undersecretary of State for security. Not surprisingly, Congress has decided to hold hearings to harangue State Department officials on security matters next month. Perhaps someone there will have the sense to point out that any information which doesn't absolutely need to be on a laptop absolutely shouldn't be on a laptop.... "Given the extreme nature of this information....obviously an intensive effort is being made to try to determine what happened," Rubin noted. Let's hope he comes up with a few answers before his boss's date with Congress, and, for her sake, that they won't require 'additional funds'. ® Related Coverage FBI admits loss of 'top secret' laptop Sneak thief steals state secrets in MI5 laptop Second spy loses laptop Third secret-packed official notebook nicked

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