This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Search BBC
BBC World Service
BBC BBC News BBC Sport BBC Weather BBC World Service Worldservice languages
spacer gif
You are in: Home page > News English > Words in the News
Learning English
spacer gif
  Words in the News
  The United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced major security changes at the State Department's Washington headquarters after the loss of a laptop computer containing top secret information.
  Audio Listen to the report in full
Albright: clearly annoyed

27th April 2000

Security breach at the US State Department

  Audio Listen to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
    So today I want to reiterate to every employee in every office, in every bureau and diplomatic post - security must be your top priority in all its aspects, all the time. Our goal should be an environment for security that is second to none.

reiterate: if you reiterate something, you repeat it in order to make it totally clear

top priority: something that comes first; the most important thing

goal: aim

second to none: better, or more secure than anyone else's

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to BBC Washington correspondent Andrew Roy
    The laptop is reported to contain material so secret, it has a special classification above the merely top secret. The so-called code word information is said to detail what America knows about the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and also how it got that information through its network of spies. The loss of the laptop is turning into a debacle for the State Department. It’s not clear whether the computer was stolen on purpose or merely misplaced, nor is it clear when the computer first disappeared. It may have been missing for several weeks before anyone noticed.

laptop: portable computer

to contain: to have inside it

top secret: if something is secret, it is kept from the knowledge of others; the word "top" here means "totally", "to the highest degree"

debacle: absolute disaster

on purpose: deliberately, with a specific intention

misplaced: put in the wrong place by mistake

NEWS 3     Audio Listen to BBC Washington correspondent Andrew Roy
    Congress and a government inspector-general have called for a complete overhaul of security at the State Department. But this is only the latest major security lapse: last year, a Russian listening device was discovered inside a State Department conference room and the year before, a man walked into the State Department executive secretary’s office and carried off classified documents. The man and the documents were never seen again.

complete overhaul: full examination followed by the necessary restructuring

major: serious

lapse: mistake

classified: not for general knowledge, secret

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

BBC copyright
Learning English | News English | Business English | Watch and Listen
Grammar and Vocabulary | Communicate | Quizzes | For teachers
Downloads | FAQ | Contact us