More On The State Department's Subpar Citizen Services
Sherman Oaks, California
This month's Conde Nast Traveler has an article about the inefficacy of the State Department's citizen services, a topic I've blogged about here and here.
The article by Sallie Brady -- which is not online -- contains the following anecdote from a woman who was in Mumbai with her husband during the November 2008 terrorist attack:
"When I called the consulate, I was told, 'We don't have any information. Stay in your room and keep watching TV,'" recalls Alyssa. Twelve hours later, the couple checked the Web site of the U.S. embassy in Delhi and found nothing related to the attack. Hours after the Western press began reporting on the violence in Mumbai, the photograph of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was still the top news item on the embassy's Web site. And although Alyssa had registered her travel plans on the State Department's site (travel.registration.state.gov), she never received any e-mails related to the Mumbai attack.
The State Department fared little better during last fall's Bangkok airport demonstrations (although I hasten to add that there was little danger to foreigners in that situation). China, Spain and the Philippines sent planes to evacuate citizens. The U.K. kept its people informed by text message. Americans had to fend for themselves.
The article ends with a recommendation that U.S. citizens will be better informed if they electronically register their travels with the Foreign Ministry of a country that's more on the ball.
We spend more than $20 billion a year on the State Department, and they can't update their web page or send timely e-mails.
Pictured: Travelers at U-Tapao International Airport in Thailand during the November 2008 unrest.