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New State Department Budget Hopes to Right Benghazi Wrongs

The administration wants an additional $600 million next year to increase security at its overseas facilities.

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Kerry said the funds would help cement advances made since a 2012 Benghazi review report.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The State Department is asking Congress for $4.6 billion to boost security at its embassies and consulates, a request that follows 2012's deadly attack on the department's facility in Benghazi, Libya.

The funding would be used, State's fiscal 2015 budget plan says, for security staff and upgrades to infrastructure, and for new embassies or consulate compounds. That's $600 million more than the $4 billion requested for security upgrades last year.

 

A handful of recent congressional reports have questioned, if not outright blamed, the department for its lack of responsiveness leading up the 2012 attack that killed four Americans: Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Secretary of State John Kerry said in a letter submitted with the budget request that the extra funding would help "regularize security enhancements made" since a 2012 Benghazi Accountability Review Board found that security in Benghazi was "grossly inadequate" to withstand the attack.

Kerry is going to Congress this week to explain his department's request. Although the attack happened while Hillary Clinton headed the State Department, staffers say Kerry will face scrutiny over State's security practices and if, or how, they've been improved in the roughly 18 months since Benghazi.

 

"The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: The Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the administration really did anything about it," according to a 2014 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Following up on a recommendation from the review board report, the department's budget backs an interagency effort to provide $2.2 billion for capital security construction.

This article appears in the March 13, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.

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