16 September 2012
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U.S. diplomatic security policies share part of the blame for the deaths last week of the Honorable J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. These policies promote weakness, endanger American lives and embolden America’s enemies. As with all State Department scandals, no one will be held accountable and nothing constructive will emerge from this disaster.
The controversy centers around the concepts of Embassy “safe rooms” and “safe houses.” In the event of an assault on a U.S. diplomatic facility, American diplomats and other embassy employees are supposed to retreat to a safe room, which in many cases provides only limited and temporary protection. This is what occurred in Benghazi. The whole concept is wrong. In the event of an assault on a U.S. diplomatic facility, the correct response is to meet that assault.
There is an old saying in New York City that if someone threatens you, “You hit-em with a garbage can.”
The problem within the U.S. Department of State is that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) will not permit this. DS has convinced a long line of Secretaries of State to grant it a monopoly on firearms at U.S. diplomatic facilities. This is a bureaucratic ploy to increase the status of DS. U.S. diplomats deployed to conflict countries include individuals who are not physically fit, individuals who have no military training and no host country language training. They can include employees suffering from severe depression, for which they are taking antidepressants. As a result, these employees are sheep that need to be protected by DS and private security contractor wolves.
In the event of an attack the only way to protect these employees is to herd them into a bunker.
For the past four years this author has been advocating a change in U.S. diplomatic policy. U.S. diplomats assigned to conflict countries should be physically fit and should receive a year of advanced language and paramilitary training prior to deployment. They should all be firing at least 100,000 rounds with a sidearm of their choice before deployment. This is standard practice for any pistol match competitor. When they arrive in-country they need to be willing and able to operate in the countryside with limited escort. If attacked, they need to be armed and they need to fight back.
Currently DS has U.S. diplomats and other employees living in fortified housing and working in fortified offices. They travel to and from these facilities in armored SUVs, having virtually no contact with ordinary citizens of the host country. The logic for even having an embassy under these conditions is questionable.
U.S. Embassies do nothing but radiate fear of al-Qaeda.
Take for example America’s invisible ambassadors. Where is the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Ann Patterson? The U.S. Ambassador should be visible and should be seen as confident. Hiding out in an Embassy safe house is not constructive and sends a terrible message. It is likely that U.S. officials in Egypt have concluded that a very public female Ambassador would not be effective in the present circumstances, which begs the question as to whether Secretary Clinton and President Obama are naming ambassadors based on American political correctness instead of in-country effectiveness.
With the deaths of Ambassador Honorable J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glenn Doherty, one would have expected that Scott P. Bultrowicz, the director of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and other senior security officials, including Eric J. Boswell and Philip S. Goldberg, would have tendered their resignations due to their failure to protect these employees. That has not happened because the buck stops nowhere. Seemingly no one within the Administration has the integrity any more to act with honor. Their sole concern is for their own petty careers.
There are news reports that the Regional Security Officer (RSO) at the consulate in Benghazi “lost track” of the Ambassador during the attack! How can that happen? Why has the RSO not been publicly fired?
The White House has issued a statement that the U.S. had “no actionable intelligence” regarding an attack on the consulate. This begs the question as to why there was an intelligence failure and who should be held responsible. The wheels are already spinning within the Administration and the goal is to avoid responsibility. Officials love authority, perks, titles, special privileges and large salaries, but if there is no accountability, the failures (and casualties) will continue.
For further reading See: “A New Type of U.S. Diplomat is Needed for Countries in Conflict;” “U.S. Diplomats Fear Bureau of Diplomatic Security;” and “U.S. May Regret Crushing the Communist Party in Egypt” (It acted out of ignorance, not caring who filled the void).