Published On: Tue, Feb 5th, 2013

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Embassy Security bill passes Senate

The US Senate approved a bill that would allow the State Department to transfer $1.1 billion to improve security at U.S. embassies overseas in the aftermath of the deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya last September.

Sen. Patrick LeahyImage/US Congress

Sen. Patrick Leahy
Image/US Congress

The bipartisan bill, S. 227, Embassy Security Funds Transfer Act of 2013 sponsored by Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, would  transfer to embassies for security purposes up $1.1 billion that was previously appropriated for the war in Iraq.

Leahy said, “Hardening our embassy security is something that everyone agrees is needed.  We all want to do what we can to prevent another tragedy like what occurred in Benghazi.  The State Department has done a review, and these funds will be used to expedite construction of Marine security guard posts at overseas facilities, and to build secure embassies.”

Leahy continued, “There already has been unnecessary delay in Congress that has prevented getting this work underway.  I hope the House will give this serious and prompt attention so these security improvements can begin.”

The bill had 17 co-sponsors, 15 Democrats and 2 Republicans.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, one of the two Republican co-sponsors of the legislation said:

As a cosponsor of this important legislation, I am pleased that the Senate will pass this bill and once again provide for stronger security at our diplomatic facilities.

Numerous reports have documented the security failures that resulted in the tragic deaths of four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi.  Both the Administrative Review Board and the report of the Senate Homeland Security Committee found that inexcusable failures of judgment led State Department decision makers to ignore the rising threat levels in Benghazi and the repeated requests for enhanced security at the site.  Marine Security Guards were not on site to protect our consulate in one of the most dangerous and unstable regions in the world.  The failures of management that led to these decisions are reprehensible; the lapses in judgment indefensible.  It is beyond my comprehension why the individuals whose poor decision making directly resulted in the deaths of four Americans remain employed by the State Department, and compensated by the U.S. taxpayers.

One of the most troubling aspects of the Benghazi attack is the complete disregard that State Department leadership gave to the repeated requests for enhanced security from Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  Should funding have been an issue, the State Department always has the option available to come to Congress for approval to transfer funds within accounts.  In fact, this is what S.227 accomplishes – it provides the State Department transfer authority to prioritize diplomatic security in our embassies around the world.  It is a sad, but necessary post script to this tragic event – and a step that, if taken earlier by the State Department, may have saved the lives lost in Benghazi.

It is my hope that the Senate takes into consideration my repeated calls for increased Marine security at our embassies in high threat areas of the world.  In the two budgets I have authored during my Senate tenure, I not only called for increased funding for military protection, but also for reducing the presence of embassies in the most dangerous areas of the globe.  The safety of our men and women in diplomatic service must be prioritized.  This means placing more emphasis on involvement in security by the Defense Department.  But it also means assessing whether our diplomacy in the most dangerous areas of the world is better done from afar.

The bill now goes to the House.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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