7 FAM 050

(CT:CON-986;   06-06-2023)
(Office of Origin:  CA/OCS)

7 FAM 051  Unassigned

(CT:CON-772;   01-05-2018)


7 FAM 052.1  Statement of Policy

(CT:CON-662;   04-27-2016)

In administering the Consular Information Program, the Department of State applies a “no double standard” policy to important security threat information, including criminal information.

·         Generally, if the Department shares information with the official U.S. community, it should also make the same or similar information available to the non-official U.S. community if the underlying threat applies to both official and non-official U.S. citizens/nationals.

·         If a post issues information to its employees about potentially dangerous situations, it should evaluate whether the potential danger could also affect private U.S. citizens/nationals living in or traveling through the affected area.

·         If so, post should notify the Department and request approval of dissemination of the post-issued information to the public.  In such cases, the CA/OCS/ACS Director will coordinate with the CA/OCS Managing Director, CA/OCS/ACS staff, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Threat Investigations and Analysis (DS/ITA) country officer, the regional desk officer, and others as appropriate to the situation at hand.

·         The policy is not intended to prevent the limited distribution of information about threats to specific U.S. citizens/nationals or U.S. organizations.  The Department may share credible security-related information on a limited basis when directed toward a specific target or when appropriate to counter a particular threat.  The Regional Security Officer normally performs this "duty to warn" function at post.

·         All "duty to warn" threat notifications made to U.S. private sector organizations at post must be coordinated with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Threat Investigations and Analysis, Overseas Security Advisory Council (DS/TIA/OSAC) to ensure simultaneous or near-simultaneous threat warning is also conveyed to the domestic headquarters of the U.S. organization.

7 FAM 052.2  Security Threats

7 FAM 052.2-1  Department’s Role

(CT:CON-984;   05-25-2023)

a. The security threat information contained in Travel Advisories, Country Information Pages, Worldwide Cautions, and Alerts is derived from threat information gathered from multiple sources, including our posts, the U.S. intelligence community, open sources, and our allies.

b. When security threat information is received, the relevant bureaus in the Department and other U.S. Government agencies attempt to evaluate whether a security threat is credible, specific (aimed at a particular individual or group and/or identifying a time and place), and non-counterable (cannot be avoided by taking appropriate measures).

c.  If a threat evaluated as credible, specific, and non-counterable is targeted to a specific U.S. organization or individual, and is unlikely to impact others, then the Department, either directly or through post, may notify only that organization or individual of the threat without risk of triggering the Department's "No Double Standard" policy (see 7 FAM 052.1).  For example, if easily identifiable members of the local U.S. community, such as employees of a particular U.S. company, are targeted, there would normally be no need to disseminate the threat information beyond that identified organization.

d. If a threat evaluated as credible, specific, and non-counterable is aimed at a broad group (e.g., U.S. citizens/nationals, and/or U.S. interests generally), the Department may authorize the relevant post(s) to issue an Alert, and may also issue or update a Travel Advisory, Country Information Page, or Worldwide Caution.

7 FAM 052.2-2  Origin of Policy

(CT:CON-453;   04-01-2013)

In 1990, Congress passed the Aviation Security Improvement Act, which, in Section 109, added to the Federal Aviation Act a requirement that the President "develop guidelines for ensuring notification to the public of threats to civil aviation in appropriate cases.”  The Act requires that the guidelines identify the officials responsible for deciding whether public notification of a threat is in the best interests of the United States and the traveling public, based on a consideration of, inter alia, the specificity of the threat, the credibility of the information, and the ability to counter the threat.  The guidelines were to be distributed to appropriate officials in the Departments of Transportation, State, and Justice, as well as to air carriers.  The law prohibits selective notification of a threat to civil aviation to only selective potential travelers unless the threat applies only to them.  These and other related provisions are now codified in 49 U.S.C. 44905.  After enactment of these provisions, the Department decided to follow similar policies in non-civil aviation contexts.

7 FAM 053  Coordination of Threat Information with the Military Under the No Double Standard Policy

(CT:CON-772;   01-05-2018)

a. It can be consistent with the "no double standard" policy for the Department of State to determine that sharing information with private U.S. citizens is not appropriate in cases where the Department of Defense (DoD) releases threat information to military personnel.  For example, upon receiving information concerning a possible threat to U.S. citizens in a particular country, the chief of mission (COM) may conclude that the information is not credible.  In this case, the Emergency Action Committee (EAC) would not recommend releasing the information to other DOS personnel and private U.S. citizens in country.  However, a military commander, upon receiving the same threat information, might decide to release the threat information to U.S. troops in country, or might confine the troops to their base without informing them of the alleged threat.  The paragraphs below provide a clarification of how military procedures relate to the "no double standard" policy.

b. DoD Personnel Under Military Command:  The Department of Defense is responsible for the safety and security of DoD personnel under military command.  U.S. military commanders therefore make independent decisions about whether or when to disseminate threat information to their personnel.  Should post become aware of a DoD notification made locally, post should immediately inform the Department.  Once notified that DoD has disseminated threat formation to their personnel, the Department of State decides, in conjunction with relevant posts, whether information about the threat is such that the Department of State should also disseminate it to the non-official U.S. community.

c.  DoD Personnel Under Chief of Mission Authority:  If a DoD officer under COM (for example, Defense Attaché) issues a security warning for other COM personnel (for example, within the DoD Attaché office) that includes threat information that falls under No Double Standard policy, such information should be shared with the non-official U.S. community.

d. To ensure that the Department and posts avoid providing contradictory information on security threats to U.S. citizens/nationals, it is essential that post coordinate with the Department on public dissemination of any information about potential threats to the safety and travel of U.S. citizens/nationals.  At post, it is essential for the consular section and the Regional Security Office to put in place standard operating procedures that ensure close coordination on disseminating information to the official and/or private U.S. citizen communities.

e. If you learn of a security threat, report it to the Department following the established procedures at your post.  At this stage, you should not disseminate information about the threat beyond those with a "need to know" (i.e., persons who could develop additional information, help to counter the threat, or help assess appropriate dissemination) to avoid violating the “no double standard” policy.  In the event the information is disseminated to U.S. Government employees and/or others outside of those with a need to know, post should notify the Department immediately, with the post’s senior consular officer responsible for ensuring that CA/OCS/ACS is among those notified.

f.  Remember that if post concludes it should warn, or has warned, its personnel or any U.S. Government employees beyond those with a strict need-to-know, whether permanently stationed or on temporary duty abroad, about a security threat, post should share that same information with the non-official U.S. community under the "No Double Standard" policy (see 7 FAM 052).  The Department strongly advises Consular Section Chiefs to review this policy periodically with the Deputy Chief of Mission and the Regional Security Officer to ensure close coordination when publishing safety or security threat information.  The policy applies whether the information is shared with U.S. Government employees in town meetings, in post newsletters, by email, on the telephone, or by any other means.  The threat or warning information might include information about locations within the host country including hotels, restaurants, entertainment spots, places of worship, tourist sites, etc.

g. Post should also refrain from developing lists of "approved" hotels.  In providing such lists to the community, you may actually increase the risk that perpetrators could change the target, thus increasing the risk to U.S. citizens/nationals who may be relying on such lists.

h. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Overseas Security Advisory Council (DS/TIA/OSAC) was created to foster the exchange of security related information between the U.S. Government and the U.S. private sector operating abroad.  OSAC provides the U.S. private sector with timely information on which to make informed decisions on how best to protect their personnel, facilities, and other equities.  In addition to this, OSAC is responsible for the interagency coordination of specific and credible threat warning to U.S. private sector organizations under the Department's "duty to warn" mandate. Such "tearline" passage is conveyed domestically by DS/TIA/OSAC to the named organization's U.S.-based corporate security management and overseas by the Regional Security Office at the relevant post(s).

i.  Post should not disseminate threat information of a specific, credible, and non-counterable nature beyond the specific party/parties named in reporting and under threat. This includes dissemination to the broader OSAC constituency in a country (i.e., the OSAC Country Council membership, OSAC steering committee, etc.).  (This includes warning conducted in-person (i.e. OSAC Country Council meeting), via telephone (i.e. conference call), electronically (i.e. an OSAC Google Group or e-mail), or through any other medium.)

j.  Post management should ensure U.S. Government agencies with personnel under Chief of Mission Authority understand fully the U.S. Government's "No Double Standard" policy and Department's guidance on the policy.  Chiefs of mission should advise these U.S. Government agencies that if they share information on a specific, credible, non-counterable threat with their employees beyond those with a legitimate "need to know," post must share that same information with the non-official U.S. community.

k. Nothing in this section should be interpreted to limit or otherwise hinder the Regional Security Officer's (RSO) ability to perform the duties and responsibilities required in 12 FAM 420.  Those duties may, however, trigger the "No Double Standard" policy and require post to take action to warn the non-official U.S. community using the Consular Information Program mechanism.

7 FAM 054  through 7 FAM 059 Unassigned