February 5, 2002
Mr. Don Hewitt
Dear Mr. Hewitt:
I appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to call me and Mr. Rossides yesterday regarding my letter to you of January 10th concerning your segment on the threat of terrorism in Greece from "November 17" and the implications for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
It was disappointing to learn that the reason that Foreign Minister George Papandreou's interview was not used was because the Greek Foreign Ministry released it to the Greek newspaper "To VIMA" prior to your airing of the story.
While I concur with your sentiment that "November 17" is a story that needs to be told, it has been told many times in print, TV and radio. Your segment added nothing new.
While we share in the frustration that no arrests have been made regarding this group, nevertheless, I still feel that your reporting did not provide a fair assessment of the story. This is especially true regarding the implication to the 2004 Olympic Games. When I asked you if you had contacted anyone from the 2004 Olympic Games, your answer surprised me when you stated that you had not. It would have been appropriate to speak to an official from the 2004 Games regarding security issues.
Also, was Mr. Michalis Chrysochoidis, Minister of Public Order, contacted for an interview? Minister Chrysochoidis has been at the forefront of combating crime and terrorist activities in Greece and worked closely with Ambassador Nick Burns to strengthen Greece's anti-terrorism capabilities. For the record, Mr. Chrysochoidis signed a bilateral memorandum on combating crime with Attorney General Janet Reno on September 8, 2000. During that same visit to Washington, Mr. Chrysochoidis also met with high-level officials at the FBI and CIA, further underscoring the close cooperation between U.S. law enforcement agencies and the Greek police. Terrorism is an issue that Greece takes very seriously.
However, as we unfortunately all know very well in the aftermath of 9/11, the scourge of terrorism is a universal threat, and can affect any country at anytime.
Further, one of the most disturbing points in your story is that to the average American viewing this story, Greece is depicted as a country which is unsafe to walk the streets and that terrorist activity is common place. As you very well know, nothing can be further from the truth. Greece is one of the safest countries in the world. As such, your story does great damage to fostering better relations between the U.S. and Greece. Which, by the way, is the main purpose of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI).
Finally, the AHI is an American membership based organization incorporated as a 501 (c) (6) business league and which is totally independent of government influence. Our goals and objectives are to foster and strengthen a strong U.S. relationship with Greece and Cyprus as in the best interests of the United States. The officers and directors are volunteers. The only paid positions are myself as executive director and four other staff persons.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to call us.
02-05-02 Letter to 60 Minutes, CBS