Originally created 10/25/02

Outlandish



When your government awards a civil servant a special bonus you figure the awardee has done something special to deserve it. After all, isn't that how the world goes 'round? Good works are rewarded, bad works are penalized - it's called holding jobholders accountable.

The U.S. State Department scrupulously follows this policy, a spokesman told The Washington Times. "People get these performance awards on how they performed in their jobs. ... It's a sign they've performed well in terms of serving their country and their government."

If that's true, then why did the State Department recently honor Mary Ryan, former head of the department's consular service, with an "outstanding performance" award of $15,000? This may be the most appalling and undeserving bonus in our government's history.

Hers was the office that allowed 13 of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers into the United States. The consular service gave the 13 Saudi terrorists visas without ever seeing or interviewing them.

The lax visa rules for Saudis - who could get visas over the Internet, no questions asked - continued and was defended by Ryan even after the Sept. 11 attacks, reports The Times, prompting Secretary of State Colin Powell to force the 36-year Foggy Bottom veteran into retirement. Thomas Furey, a consul-general in the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia who helped establish the "Visa Express," also received a bonus.

It is reports like this that make Americans wonder what good it does to send money to Washington. The State Department should be ashamed of what happened, and shouldn't be rewarding it.

How badly do government agencies have to foul up before they're held accountable?