GAO Report: US Compounds Still in Danger 2 Years After Benghazi

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 11:01 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Nearly two years after four Americans were killed at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, American diplomatic compounds are still in danger of terrorist attacks due to insufficient security, the Government Accountability Office warns.

The State Department "has not fully developed and implemented a risk management policy for overseas facilities," according to a report by the government oversight office.

The report said that for almost a decade, the State Department has failed to draw up proper measures to deal with the potential threat to U.S. personnel in highly vulnerable American compounds.

The lax security problem means that many facilities in dangerous regions are at risk despite a series of congressional warnings in the wake of the deadly September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

The report says, "While each of these problems is a reason for concern, in and of itself, taken as a whole they raise a greater concern that decision makers at State may not have complete and accurate information with which to make risk management decisions.

"As a result, there is a greater likelihood that security risks to overseas diplomatic facilities will not be adequately addressed — a situation that could have tragic consequences for U.S. government personnel working overseas."

The security issues at "high-threat, high-risk posts overseas" are more prevalent at older facilities where "temporary work facilities that do not meet the same security standards as more recently constructed permanent facilities," according to the report.

In the midst of these decade-long deficient security standards, there have been 336 attacks on U.S. overseas government facilities from 1998-2013.

The report also slammed the State Department for employing outdated security measures, and for placing more importance on security in some diplomatic compounds compared to others.

The findings show that "updated [security] standards took more than eight years" in some cases, while the GAO also warned, "Gaps in categorization and tracking of facilities could hamper the proper implementation of physical security standards."

The report noted one facility was categorized as a warehouse, even though it contained offices for U.S. personnel and "therefore should have been subject to more stringent standards," the Free Beacon reported.

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