Daily Dispatches
Secretary of State John Kerry
Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta
Secretary of State John Kerry

Midday Roundup: State Department tries to cover up sexual misconduct

Newsworthy

Cover-up? The U.S. State Department is facing accusations of a cover-up after CBS News published a memo detailing sexual misconduct by several of its employees. Allegations of criminal activity include members of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail, who are accused of hiring prostitutes. A U.S. ambassador also is accused of trolling public parks for paid sex, and a security official in Beirut is accused of committing sexual assaults on foreign nationals. The State Department memo details an attempt by the agency to halt an internal investigation into at least eight instances of wrongdoing. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the allegations of misconduct appalling and has asked for a congressional investigation.

Strike one. The government contractor who hired Edward Snowden, the security analyst who leaked information about secret surveillance programs to two newspapers, has fired him. A representative from Booz Allen Hamilton said the company terminated Snowden Monday “for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy.” The statement went on to pledge the company’s cooperation with federal investigators: “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm.” Snowden has not been charged with any crime, but analysts expect the government to make its case against him soon. The former CIA and NSA employee was holed up in a luxury hotel in Hong Kong, but he checked out on Monday, according to some news reports.

Morality measures. Russia’s lower house of Parliament passed a bill today banning the distribution of information about homosexuality to anyone younger than 18. The measure passed the Duma unanimously and should sail through the upper house, as well. President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign it into law immediately. Parliament also passed a measure imposing heavy penalties for any act that offends the “religious feelings of the faithful.” Russian authorities have been almost universally criticized for imprisoning two members of a punk rock group for staging an anti-Putin protest in an Orthodox church last year. The women received two-year jail sentences.

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Bomb threats. A series of bomb threats and one explosion snarled airport traffic and forced at least one plane to divert to another airport this morning. An electrical fire and explosion at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport briefly evacuated one terminal and caused minor delays. Bomb threats to the nearby state capital and federal courthouse buildings about an hour later forced hundreds to evacuate their offices. Officials at Princeton University sent administrators home after someone called in a bomb threat against several of the school’s buildings. And a Southwest Airlines plane en route to Austin, Texas, from Los Angeles made an emergency landing in Phoenix after someone called in a bomb threat and vaguely mentioned “the Taliban.” After officials questioned passengers and re-screened luggage, the flight continued in another aircraft to Texas.

Leigh Jones
Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Atlanta and is the managing editor of WORLD's website.

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