Why U.S. Embassy Closures Will Keep Coming

Unable to fully secure most facilities, but unwilling to shut them down, State chooses to shut them down temporarily in risky situations

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Khaled Abdullah / REUTERS

An army trooper sits beside a machinegun that is mounted on a patrol vehicle at at checkpoint in Sanaa August 5, 2013.

The U.S. shuttered 22 of its embassies this week across the Middle East and North Africa due to “credible threats” from al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations, a phenomenon that is likely to become the norm rather than the exception.

In the age of terrorism, U.S. embassies have become appealing and symbolic targets. Following twin attacks in 1998 on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed hundreds of people, funding for embassy security rose 1,000-fold to a high of $2.6 billion in 2012. And yet, that was still not enough to save the lives of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last September. Since then, Congress has made yet another push to beef up embassy security, doubling Marine guards and allotting more money to building walls, barriers and in some cases even moats.

State is in the process of implementing all 29 recommendations of the Accountability Review Board, which was set up to review the failures that allowed the Benghazi attack to succeed. And money for the most part has been flowing in ways not seen since post-9/11 years. Some 150 new diplomatic security personnel have been added or are in training. President Obama requested money in his 2014 budget to retrain Marines to protect personnel in addition to top-secret documentation, which was until recently the Marines’ primary objective in deploying to the 270 diplomatic posts the U.S. maintains around the world. New alarms and cameras are being installed, with new abilities. Some cameras even give off alerts when they detect a car going the wrong way down an adjacent one-way street.

But in the meantime, no amount of security is going to be able to protect all embassies and U.S. personnel 100% of the time. And despite the risk to American lives, it is diplomacy in the most dangerous of places that yields the greatest reward. “If we are going to bring light to the world, we have to go where it is dark,” Secretary of State John Kerry told the Foreign Service Institute’s Overseas Security Seminar in May. As the Arab Spring roils on, the State Department has decided shuttering embassies when there are serious threats is a preferable compromise to closing them permanently, or walling them off in ivory towers. “Retreating behind the wire,” Kerry said, “cannot be the way that we do business.”

So the current U.S. policy is to strike a balance, with temporary closures in high risk areas, and a permanent presence in parts of the world where U.S. officials know they will not be able to always conduct regular business every day.

With reporting by Qhelile Nyathi and Katie Harris in London.

12 comments
ouija
ouija

They tell us that Al Qaeda is a sophisticated terrorist organization

So this means that they are smart enough to know we are monitoring their cell phones and email com's

They are planning a terrorist attack on a significant day

They then use cell phone and e-mail to talk about this planned event?


Is the NSA trying to justify their Fourth Amendment violating mass surveillance? 

Or is this AQ causing panic just by making a few phone calls and emails?


Either way, this is self serving behavior by aq and nsa.

One of OBL stated goals was to make us live in terror.

The NSA goal is to keep its budget growing

AQ leaks phoney plans

NSA releases said phoney plans


It's a win win for everyone but the citizens of the USA! 

This doesn't even pass the laugh test.

MrObvious
MrObvious

 State is in the process of implementing all 29 recommendations of the Accountability Review Board, which was set up to review the failures that allowed the Benghazi attack to succeed. 

Of course this proves Obama is on the run. The problem with 'wingers is that they're not idealists - they stand for attacking Obama, whether or not he try to fix something that's broken. He's both the 'evil author' of the failure of Benghazi, and the coward running away from the terrorists. Regardless if what we're doing was recommended to the state department following Benghazi. See 'wingers don't want solutions - they like to point. Aimlessly. There's just not interested in avoiding carnage, they just want to feed off it then move onto the next bright object.


So what have Issa and the Benghazi screamers proposed as solutions? Nothing - they're now on the 'USA on the run' bandwagon. Fixin' things gets in the way of screaming bloody murder all day long.

paulejb
paulejb

"Wishful thinking on the war on terror"

"THE STATE Department has shuttered 19 embassies for a week, fearing terrorist attacks. Hundreds of prisoners, including senior al-Qaeda operatives, have busted loose in prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. At Bagram air base in Afghanistan, The Post’s Kevin Sieff reports, U.S. forces are holding 67 non-Afghan prisoners, many of whom can’t be tried in court but are too dangerous to release.

Meanwhile President Obama says he wants to “refine and ultimately repeal” the mandate Congress has given him to fight the war on terror. What’s going on here?"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/wishful-thinking-on-the-war-on-terror/2013/08/05/3485e982-fde3-11e2-9711-3708310f6f4d_story.html

Has any other president been quite so clueless as Barack Hussein Obama?

paulejb
paulejb

Well, now we know just how much Barack Obama's claim that al-Qaeda is on the run is worth. Detroit is just about dead and al-Qaeda is running amok.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I hope Jay's thread here does NOT descend into Troll Hell with righties moaning about Obama, Hillary, and Ben Ghazi all damn day. Then again, I've often predicted similar doom at other posts and it doesn't happen as they stay away. IF that happens here, you're welcome.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Jay, more posts from you, please. And thanks to the GOP for their long history of dealing with embassy staffing and funding in a responsible, patriotic fashion. (My thanks to JNS sincere, thanks to GOP 100% sarcastic.) So what happens to US citizens (tourists, biz, etc.) who are in these countries when embassies are closed? And why would anyone be crazy enough to go to said places right now? Well, the blinding obvious scenario is HERE at swampland - I think JNS does a lot of her best work overseas, so when the High Sheriffs send her to risky places, I'd ask her, what the hell do YOU do when you need OUR embassies' services (or protection) and they're not open for biz?

JNSmall
JNSmall moderator

@deconstructiva Actually, I'm a dual citizen. So when I was in Iran, for example, and there was no US embassy, I checking in with the Australian embassy. But not everyone is so lucky!

JNS

MrObvious
MrObvious

@deconstructiva 

As evident of trollbots regular word vomits. Yeah, he have found a new way to get off. Should anyone get killed - well there's a new way to score some emotional jack-off points. So it goes. Round and round.