The Cable

State Department suffers massive computer SNAFU

The State Department is always touting how savvy it is with technology, but sometimes that can be a double-edged sword; a massive e-mail and Blackberry outage hit Foggy Bottom today, forcing a large part of the U.S. diplomatic apparatus to get creative with communications.

"I don't know happened, all I know is that it really messed up my day," one State Department official told The Cable about the server error, which resulted in a loss of computer and Blackberry connectivity for a host of bureaus that lasted from Friday morning until about 4:30 p.m..

The bureaus affected include Public Affairs, East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, Near Eastern Affairs, Western Hemisphere Affairs, and many more.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told The Cable that there was no apparent rhyme or reason as to why State Department employees were having technological issues.

"We had rolling network outages today, it seemed just to be a glitch in the network, not related to weather or threats or anything like that," Nuland said. "But diplomacy goes on, we found a way -- and some of us still remember how to use the carbon paper."

One State Department employee told us that he took his Blackberry to the IT help center on the first floor of Foggy Bottom headquarters, known as the "Blackberry hospital," but they were swamped. Eventually, notice was sent out to all employees to stop calling the IT help line.

The SNAFU also affected some, but not all, members of the team traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York. She was there to give a speech on counterterrorism at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice

So how did the Clinton team and the rest of State's busy diplomats manage?

"Let's just say there was more text messaging today than at a high school prom," one State Department official said.

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