Report: Weak Security Puts Diplomats in Afghanistan at Risk

Image: Report: Weak Security Puts Diplomats in Afghanistan at Risk An Afghan policeman keeps watch near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on June 26.

Friday, 26 Jul 2013 10:07 AM

By Melanie Batley

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U.S. diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan have serious security lapses that pose "unnecessary risk to staff," according to a confidential report, raising new questions about the State Department's commitment to the safety of foreign diplomats.

The State Department inspector general's report, obtained by The Washington Times, reveals the embassy in Kabul has poor emergency preparedness and inadequate protections that might allow classified materials to fall into enemy hands.

The report is among numerous inspector general findings released over the past year warning of weak security in high-threat diplomatic posts in war zones and dangerous regions, uncovering systematic failures by State Department officials and security personnel in protecting employees overseas, according to the Times.

Moreover, the Times noted, the report is significant because it could be used by Republicans to bolster claims that the State Department's failure to provide adequate security to the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, led to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

The issue has become a focal point of an ongoing congressional investigation.
Questions continue to mount about how much the State Department has done to address security vulnerabilities since then, the Times reported.

The IG report criticizes the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security for failing to perform a physical inspection before approving the embassy security plan. Investigators found inadequate emergency shelters, food, water rations, medical supplies, and backup communication equipment, all of which would be essential to fight off or survive an attack, according to the Times.

The report specifically links the security weaknesses at the embassy in Kabul to the Sept. 13, 2011, attack on the compound by Taliban insurgents. There were no deaths or serious injuries during that attack, but the staff was put at "unnecessary risk," the report found.

"The Department of State has been at war with [al-Qaida] longer than anyone. Since the bombings at the U.S. embassies in Africa in the 1990s, they have had to defend their personnel in some of the most dangerous places on earth," James Carafano, a senior defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation, told the Times.

"It is incredible to believe that more than a decade after Sept. 11 there are shortfalls in this mission," he said.

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