UNITED NATIONS – Historic position statements were scrubbed and the U.S. flag image deleted from the website for the United States U.N. mission as the organization unveiled its new and “improved” Internet presence.
The move already is stirring controversy in diplomatic hallways.
The launch of the new website coincides with the U.S. assuming the monthly presidency of the Security Council and President Obama’s first trip to the world organization later this month.
The most glaring change to the website has been to eliminate the image of Old Glory from its top position on the home page. Previously, the image of the U.S flag was displayed in a prominent position at the top of the page, paired with the State Department logo.
The old banner featuring the image of the U.S. flag, taken from a separate web location that had not yet been changed
That is no more.
The flag has now been replaced with the crest of the United Nations.
Old Glory replaced by the U.N. logo
Among more than a dozen U.S. embassy websites, from Moscow to Beijing to Mexico City, surveyed by WND, only the U.S.-U.N. mission has eliminated the image of the Stars and Stripes.
More confusingly, the new U.S. mission site uses the same blue and white colors of the U.N. website together with a similar font that could confuse the U.S. government page with the site belonging to the U.N.
“I think the loss of the American flag (from the home page) is a very telling symbol, that they still have the U.N. seal up there. They had that flag up there when I arrived (as ambassador). It was there when I got there and to replace it with the U.N. seal I think is more symbolic perhaps than the Obama administration realizes. It says a lot to the American public what their priorities are,” former Ambassador John Bolton said.
“It has removed the traditional patriotic theme which we thought was important,” says a former U.S.-U.N. mission official who requested confidentiality.
The official added that the design of the new site could also confuse web surfers who may think it is part of the U.N.’s Internet operations.
But more importantly, an important database apparently has been removed.
Until the redesign, the statements and position papers of past United States U.N. ambassadors were kept online.
“We had them all. It went back to I can’t remember when,” confessed the former official.
Now, the entire database has disappeared.
Archived records of former Ambassador John Bolton, with a button to the left of the photograph that lists his position statements
Typical was the entry for Bolton, who has beside his picture a button to click to see his statements.
However, clicking on the button produces a screen that says there are no items archived.
No records appear for Ambassador Bolton
U.S. statements as late as January 2009, when the Bush administration still was in office, are no longer accessible.
“All of the Bush administration U.N. statements are gone,” lamented the official.
When asked if the State Department in Washington would have stored such records, the official confessed that he did not know.
The mission website clearly states it has posted “all statements” since January 2009.
But a check of the web page showed that is wrong.
“I don’t know what their motivation was… But one of the advantages of the Internet is that people can get access to the historical record across the U.S. government. It’s not only a question of my speeches, but everyone’s (at the US/UN mission). History didn’t begin (last) January 20. And that is something the administration needs to understand both at the US/UN and across the government as a whole,” Bolton added
The mission did not return phone calls asking for an explanation.