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State Sends Reprimands on E-Mails

July 17, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department has reprimanded two department officials for using their e-mails to make derogatory comments about Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., the State Department said Wednesday.

In one e-mail, John Bargeron of the State Department’s counternarcotics bureau offered irreverent comments to a colleague in advance of Gilman’s retirement announcement July 2, according to a report in The Washington Times.

According to the account, Bargeron wrote that the 79-year-old Gilman, a former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, will ``announce that he has discovered that he died back in 1992 but that no one noticed until now.″

The next morning, John Puleo of the same bureau, cracked: ``I thought it was he had no brain like the scarecrow.″

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that reprimands were issued to two department officials whom he did not name although they presumably were the same officials mentioned by the Times.

The reprimands were handled by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and the head of the department’s narcotics bureau, Randy Beers.

The Times article prompted several congressmen to send Secretary of State Colin Powell a letter defending Gilman, who is retiring after 30 years in office.

``To have State Department bureaucrats hurl insults at a universally respected member of our body is unacceptable,″ the letter said. It was signed by Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., and some colleagues.

In an undated letter to Barr, Powell condemned the comments by the two officials and said he expressed his anger to the State Department’s leadership. He said he telephoned Gilman to express his regret.

Boucher said Powell told a meeting of senior aides that department officials must work with members of Congress, including those who have cooperated with the administration on global issues.

According to Boucher, Powell also stressed the need for department officials to ``have a little common sense about these things and not start sending e-mails that don’t reflect the kind of responsible attitude we’re supposed to have toward our jobs, and toward the people’s representatives.″

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