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WASHINGTON – Senators Joe Lieberman (I/D-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today asked the Deputy Inspector General of the State Department to conduct a thorough investigation of the Department’s security requirements at overseas facilities. In the wake of unrest at U.S. embassies in the Middle East and the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, the Senators wrote to Deputy IG Harold Geisel and asked for a review of security protocol and recommendations for improvements.
Senators Lieberman and Collins are the Chairman and Ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
September 14, 2012
Harold W. Geisel
Deputy Inspector General
Office of Inspector General
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Geisel:
In light of the horrific attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and tragic death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel there, we write to request that you conduct a thorough investigation of the Department’s development of security requirements for the Benghazi Consulate as well as the resource decision-making process to provide security for this post. Upon completion of your findings, we urge you to provide recommendations to improve security at other diplomatic posts around the world, with a focus on smaller posts and non-permanent facilities established by the Department in post-conflict nations like Libya.
We request you consider the following elements in your investigation:
1. We request that you examine and make recommendations regarding the nature and sufficiency of security at the Benghazi facility, including whether a process for establishing security requirements existed and whether security at the Benghazi facility was established and maintained according to that process. In particular:
A. Who is responsible for determining the security requirements, including personnel, equipment, and other assets, that are necessary to maintain the protection of the Chief of Mission and other personnel at each overseas facility, and was this procedure followed in Benghazi?
B. Is the official responsible for establishing the security requirements empowered with the responsibility and authority for resourcing and allocating limited security assets and personnel across the Department of State’s overseas facilities, and was this procedure followed in Benghazi?
C. Are security requirements at interim facilities such as the Benghazi Consulate equal to the security requirements at permanent State Department installations?
D. Does the risk assessment process consider the capacity or lack thereof of the host country to provide security?
2. We request you examine what if any process existed to assess the security situation in Benghazi and make appropriate modifications based on this information, and whether this procedure was in fact followed. The Libyan Deputy Minister of the Interior, Wasif al-Sharif, reportedly said that the Libyan government had previously advised Department of State personnel to relocate or improve security in Benghazi because of concerns about jihadist attacks.
A. Did the Libyan government request or suggest that security could be improved at the Benghazi facility prior to September 12, 2012?
B. Was security at the Consulate in Benghazi strengthened after a bomb reportedly exploded outside of the same Consulate less than four months ago or after an attack was carried out on a convoy that included the British ambassador to Libya as his car was leaving the British consulate?
C. What, if any, response was taken by the Department following these incidents and alleged warnings?
3. We request you investigate and make recommendations regarding the vetting, hiring, and effectiveness of local nationals hired to defend Embassy property and buildings. The media has reported that one of the Foreign Service Officers killed in the attack, Sean Smith, may have expressed concern about the security provided by the local security forces hours before his death. Minister al-Sharif reportedly told media outlets that local security forces pointed extremists towards the annex site after U.S. personnel managed to escape the main compound.
A. Did any Department of State official request or suggest that security be improved at the Benghazi facility prior to September 12, 2012?
B. If so, what was the outcome of that request?
4. We request that you also examine the operational security associated with Ambassador Stevens’ schedule, including procedures to determine how broadly the scheduled was disseminated prior to his arrival in a location and whether those procedures were followed.
Our staff will be in touch with you to establish a timeline for completing this urgent request.
Joseph I. Lieberman Susan M. Collins
Chairman Ranking Member