The Federal Times reported recently that seven members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were on a mission inspecting security arrangements for State Department personnel in various diplomatic posts in the Middle East. Apparently the aim is to better evaluate the commitments of host nations’ to keeping American embassies and consulates secure.
Woohoo! Excerpt below:
To better protect its diplomatic personnel abroad, the United States must better evaluate the commitments of host nations’ to keeping American embassies and consulates secure, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., said during a tour of the Middle East on Wednesday.
DesJarlais is one of seven members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee inspecting security arrangements for State Department personnel in the region as part of its ongoing inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead.
“You want to ensure against future loss of American life,” DesJarlais said as he spoke with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on a conference call from Cyprus. Issa is the committee chairman.
So far, the group has inspected American facilities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel and in Turkey and Lebanon. Issa said plans call for three more stops but for security reasons could not reveal the destinations.
“We’re seeing quite a diversity in the needs of the different embassies,” DesJarlais said.
The United States, DesJarlais and Issa added, also needs to evaluate the locations of some of its diplomatic outposts. Some places, they said, may just be too fraught with security risks.
As for what’s needed from Washington, both members downplayed calls for new major spending on embassy security, even though Democrats have complained about Republican appropriators failing to meet the Obama administration’s recent annual budget requests for embassy security by amounts ranging from $90 million to $300 million.
Read in full here.
The Tennessean also reported that the group is not stopping in Benghazi itself, since apparently, according to Congressman DesJarlais, aerial photography and other means have already shown what the problems were there. But here is the important detail:
“In addition to visiting American facilities, the congressional delegation is talking to key officials in the host countries as part of their assessment of those nations’ commitment to using their own resources to protect embassies and consulates.”
How come this guy DesJarlais sounds familiar? Oh …
Anyway – the congressional delegation reportedly went and visited Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel, and also visited Turkey and Lebanon. Possibly Cyprus and 2-3 more posts not revealed for “security purposes.” Yes, the delegation did not stop in Benghazi, and we don’t know if they have plans to stop in Tripoli or the US Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen or the US Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, or the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. And Khartoum.
Hey, are we to understand that the delegation were also in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus for some inspection? Any recent anti-U.S. demos and mobs attacking our American facilities there?
So here we are supremely perplexed. Have you ever heard of an incident where the Government of Israel allowed protesters to over run our diplomatic compounds in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv without an appropriate response? No? Have you ever heard of an incident where the Government of Turkey took 4-6 hours to respond to a mob attack in Ankara or Istanbul or Adana? Or that they never showed up? Nope, we don’t remember that happening either. Well, have you?
So why the foxtrot are these congressional folks wasting taxpayer dollars visiting Israel and Turkey to assess “those nations’ commitment to using their own resources to protect” our embassies and consulates?
We did have problematic responses from host countries in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Sudan as evidenced by damages from the September 2012 embassy attacks. Is the CODEL visiting those countries and talking to host country officials about rapid response in protecting our diplomatic facilities there?
Or for that matter, why the heck are they not inspecting all the newly designated 17 high threat posts of the State Department and assessing those countries commitment to protecting our people and facilities? There’s a good number of garden posts to choose from — Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen. Why not visit those?
Well — if they’ve got second thoughts about visiting and inspecting Afghanistan, they should listen to Mr. Farahi quoted in the NYT: “Afghanistan is a country very suitable for attracting tourists …. It’s a place where tourists can have all their wishes come true.”
Seriously, if it’s a place suitable for tourists, dammit it should be suitable for a CODEL visit, too.
- Mortonhall scandal: US diplomat and ex-wife write to consulate demanding Holyrood inquiry (scotsman.com)
- Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities/Personnel: Funding, Sequestration, Affordability and Risks (diplopundit.net)
- Senate Report on Benghazi Cites “Grievous Mistake” for Non-Suspension of Operations Despite Vulnerabilities (diplopundit.net)