CBS News has a report on December 8 on the State Department’s new directorate within Diplomatic Security (DSS) that focuses on seventeen high threat diplomatic posts overseas. The posts listed in the report includes Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. These are in addition to previously designated high threat posts in Iraq and
The new office will reportedly have Bill Miller as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. According to CBS News, he was described as “an experienced Diplomatic Security Official” by a senior State Department official. A National Review report dated November 30, said that Bill Miller was a former State Department special agent who coordinated regional security for the Coalition Provisional Authority and the American Embassy in Baghdad. We missed the official announcement on this and could not locate it but according to NR, the State Department said in an announcement that the new assistant secretary will be responsible for “evaluating, managing, and mitigating the security threats, as well as the direction of resource requirements at high threat diplomatic missions.”
These posts previously fell under the portfolio of Charlene Lamb, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, but apparently the unnamed senior officials who spoke to CBS News denied that this was a demotion for Ms. Lamb or anything like that. The report also described how her appearance in Congress was widely viewed within Foggy Bottom:
Two senior officials described the decision to CBS News as a matter of shifting of personnel and resources to “elevate the level” of oversight at risky posts and gave those duties to a specifically assigned Deputy Assistant Secretary. They denied that this was a demotion of Charlene Lamb though these posts no longer fall under her portfolio.
During the night of the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Lamb was the U.S. official at Diplomatic Security Command Center who monitored the fatal assault on “multiple open lines” in “almost real-time” via audio-only feeds according to the testimony that she delivered to the House Oversight Committee on October 10. Her hesitant responses during that questioning was widely viewed within the department as damaging to the agency. She described her role as being responsible for the “safety and security of more than 275 diplomatic facilities.”
Read in full via CBS News: State Department security overhaul
We should note that Kenya was considered a medium threat post when it was bombed in 1998. Of particular concern here is what happens to posts that are not/not listed in the “high threat” category? According to the IntelCenter cited by the NYT, Al Qaeda has six regional branches and affiliations with at least 14 other terrorist groups. All together, the organizations reportedly have operations in almost 30 countries. Check out the map of operations here. So again, what happens to posts not in the “high threat” category? Do you know?
In any case, if this was not a demotion for Charlene Lamb what have they done to her official biography? (h/t to A who writes “either I’m having very selective network problems, or it appears Charlene Lamb’s official bio is no longer available from State’s website.”)
Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs — Charlene R. Lamb
The Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs is responsible for managing and directing all Bureau of Diplomatic Security programs and policies that protect the Department of State’s international missions and personnel from the threats of terrorism, espionage (human and technical), and crime. [biography]
Don’t know what’s going on. But that [biography] link now lands on a “We’re sorry. That page can’t be found and may have moved” page.
In related news, the WSJ reported (registration required) that Egyptian authorities have detained Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, the alleged ringleader of an Egyptian terrorist network whose members are suspected of participating in the September 11 attack on Benghazi. Abu Ahmad is reportedly a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad who was freed from prison in March 2011 following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak
The AP reported yesterday that the Accountability Review Board report is imminent. The news report also said that Senator Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had asked that Ambassador Pickering (ARB chairman)and retired Adm. Mike Mullen (ARB member) appear before the committee before Secretary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton officially convened the Board for 60 days on October 4, 2012. The 60-day deadline hit its mark on December 4. No announcement of extension was made so we presume that the final report may already be available to the Secretary. If we recall correctly, the regs also says that Secretary Clinton has no later than 90 days after receipt of the ARB recommendations to submit a report to Congress.
Various news report said that Secretary Clinton will appear before both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after the Accountability Review Board report is released. No date has been set for the hearings. But it looks like the target adjourned date for the House is December 14, with December 31 for the Senate.
Given the intense public and congressional interest on this case, we suspect that the report will be publicly released sooner rather than later. Probably as early as the next week as we don’t think Congress would want to stay in DC holding hearings for the holidays. Of course, those dates can always change, especially with the fiscal cliffhanger looming large.
- State Department security overhaul (cbsnews.com)
- Benghazi Hearing: Looking for Truth Amidst a Partisan Divide, Outing OGA, Zingers (diplopundit.net)
- Where are the Accountability Review Boards for Embassy Breaches in Tunisia and Yemen? (diplopundit.net)
- Panel seeks accountability after Benghazi attacks (reuters.com)
- Benghazi Attack: Closed-Door Briefings and Hearings All This Week (diplopundit.net)