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Letter to The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), all members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling for an updated assessment of security protocols, especially the use of local security forces in providing perimeter security, at U.S. Diplomatic Posts around the world following the vicious attacks on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests in Egypt, Yemen and across the Middle East and North Africa.

The full text of the letter follows:

September 14, 2012

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We join you in condemning in no uncertain terms the vicious attack against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the violent demonstrations at the U.S. Embassies in Cairo, Egypt; Sana'a, Yemen; and elsewhere in the region. We especially mourn the tragic loss of Ambassador Stevens and the three other diplomats, who died in honorable service to this nation while working to build democracy and friendship with the people of Libya.

The violence in Benghazi, Cairo, Sana'a and other diplomatic compounds clearly underscores the need for an updated assessment of security protocols and arrangements at our embassies around the world, which house personnel from the State Department and agencies across the U.S. Government. While we laud reports that many Libyan security staff bravely fought to protect U.S. personnel in Benghazi, the incident raises the broader question of the adequacy of indigenous security forces in providing perimeter security, particularly in conflict and transitional countries.

We appreciate that certain security arrangements for U.S. Missions with host countries are both necessary and desirable, and we recognize the professionalism of the Uniformed Secret Service in providing such security to foreign embassies in Washington, D.C. We also recognize the service of the United States Marine Corps in protecting our embassies abroad and of the many Foreign Service nationals who serve our embassies with distinction. However, we believe that the recent incidents in Benghazi, Cairo, and Sana'a serve as an impetus for a thorough interagency security review of embassies in conflict and transitional countries, to be led by the State Department and coordinated with the Intelligence Community and other relevant agencies. Such a review should consider the adequacy of indigenous forces in providing external security, options for increasing internal security at vulnerable missions, and an assessment of additional personnel and resources that may be required to heighten security.

The ferocity and swiftness with which the Benghazi, Cairo, and Sana'a attacks took place attest to the rapidly changing and often unpredictable security environment in which U.S. embassies now find themselves. The events also serve a reminder of how State Department employees, other members of U.S. Missions, and their families put their lives on the line for our country, day in and day out. We share your unwavering commitment to their security and urge you to redouble immediately efforts to assess and verify the appropriateness and capabilities of local security partners. We stand ready to work with you on this important effort.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator

Dan Coats
United States Senator

Roy Blunt
United States Senator

Bill Nelson
United States Senator


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