State De­part­ment vows changes af­ter Beng­hazi

Congress urged to pro­vide more funds to beef up se­cu­rity for U.S. diplo­mats.

Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - Byjohn H. Cush­manjr.

WASHINGTON — State De­part­ment of­fi­cials promised Thurs­day to quickly carry out the rec­om­men­da­tions of a re­view board to beef up se­cu­rity for the for­eign ser­vice and urged Congress to pro­vide more money to pro­tect U.S. diplo­mats.

The prom­ises came dur­ing a Se­nate hear­ing into the han­dling of diplo­matic se­cu­rity in Beng­hazi, Libya, be­fore a deadly at­tack on a diplo­matic out­post there that led to the deaths of four Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing the U.S. am­bas­sador.

“We have to do bet­ter,” Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Wil­liam Burns said in pre­pared tes­ti­mony to the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

On Wed­nes­day, one de­part­ment of­fi­cial re­signed and three oth­ers were re­lieved of their du­ties af­ter a scathing report was re­leased by an in­quiry panel led by Thomas Pick­er­ing, a re­tired diplo­mat.

In an open­ing state­ment, Sen. John Kerry of Mas­sachusetts, the com­mit­tee’s chair­man, said Congress “also bears some re­spon­si­bil­ity” to pro­vide ad­e­quate fi­nanc­ing for diplo­matic se­cu­rity.

He noted that the board’s report called for spend­ing $2.3 bil­lion a year in the coming decade to pro­tect U.S. em­bassies and of­fices abroad. state, af­ter the with­drawal from con­sid­er­a­tion of Su­san Rice, the am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, af­ter crit­i­cisms of state­ments she made fol­low­ing the at­tack on the Beng­hazi out­post.

Sen. Bob Corker, RTenn., was skep­ti­cal about claims of progress, say­ing that rarely are the rec­om­men­da­tions of re­view boards like the Pick­er­ing panel fully im­ple­mented.

“The cul­ture of the State De­part­ment is one that needs to be re­formed,” he said.

But Sen. Bob Me­nen­dez, D-N.J., said one rea­son for weak se­cu­rity was that Congress had not pro­vided as much money as the ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought and the Pick­er­ing panel rec­om­mended.

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