A highly critical report reviewing the September terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has recommended increased funding for embassy security improvements, including new facilities in high-risk areas.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who requested the independent review panel report, already has asked Congress for authority to transfer $736 million to embassy upgrades and new construction from another State Dept. account.
In transmitting the Accountability Review Board review to Capitol Hill on Dec. 18, Clinton said she agreed with the report's 29 recommendations and has begun to implement them. The $736 million for embassy facilities is part of a $1.4-billion security-related budget reprogramming request she sent to Congress.
The report said there were "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at two State Dept. bureaus that resulted in a security situation in Benghazi that was “grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”
The attacks on Sept. 11 and 12 resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel.
State released to the public an unclassified version that includes 24 of the 29 recommendations, most of which dealt with operational and management issues.
The major construction-related recommendation is a call for the State Dept. and Congress to fully fund the embassy-security capital program, at a level of about $2.2 billion in fiscal 2015. The fiscal 2012 appropriation for the department’s embassy security, construction and maintenance account was about $1.6 billion, including $775 milion for worldwide security upgrades. Other federal agencies contribute additional funds for overseas facility projects.
The panel said that there also should be “an up-to-10-year program addressing the need, prioritized for construction of new facilities in high-risk, high-threat areas.”
In calling for more funding for embassy improvements, the review panel, which was chaired by Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. Ambassador to several countries, harked back to the 1999 report of a review board formed after attacks on embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. More than 220 people were killed in those August 1998 attacks, including 12 U.S. government employees and family members and 32 Kenyans and eight Tanzanians who worked at those facilities.
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