Amb. Prudence Bushnell

Date : Oct 16, 2018
Time : 5:45pm-7:30pm
Place : Hemisphere Suite, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC

Registration opens at 5:45pm. WAC-DC Member wine & cheese reception 5:45pm-6:30pm. Program 6:30pm -7:30pm.


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The 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were some of the deadliest foreign terror attacks in US history. These bombings brought international infamy to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, serving as a terrible foreshadowing of the 9/11 attacks on US soil.

On October 16th, 2018, the World Affairs Council-Washington, DC hosted former Ambassador to Kenya (1996-1998) Prudence Bushnell to discuss her book Terrorism, Betrayal, and Resilience: My Story of the 1998 US Embassy Bombings. The event was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and was open to both the general public and WAC-DC members.

The event opened with remarks from WAC-DC interim president and CEO, Matt Shank, who shared an overview of Amb. Bushnell’s career as a Foreign Service officer followed by a background in to the 1998 Embassy bombings.

Amb. Bushnell began her address by letting the audience know that her book is not only a description of the events that occurred in Nairobi, but a story about how policy and people interact- and what happens when you put one in front of the other. She was firm in her view that had certain security measures been put in place in the years leading up to the attacks that they may have been prevented. Additionally, if there was a proper investigation in to the network who orchestrated the attacks, Al Qaeda, we may have been able to stop 9/11 before it happened.

She recounted her arrival in Nairobi and how one of the first things she noticed was the embassy’s vulnerability to an attack. Her countless letters to the Department of State requesting that these vulnerabilities be addressed were ignored- in part because the country was transfixed with the Clinton scandal- and the rest is history. This is the problem with policy being made in DC offices instead of with those on the ground.

Amb. Bushnell closed her remarks by stressing the importance of community building, female voices, and resilience in the face of terrible tension. And when it comes to policymaking, “What separates policy and people is humanity”.

In partnership with the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.