Just two weeks ago, we were talking about the lack of coordination between DHS agencies and known intelligence on the brothers responsible.
Now we have the Benghazi Senate hearings, and here is the same problem again – lack of coordination between different parts of the State Department, and with the Defense Department, AND with the CIA and the intelligence community.
Add to this, the appalling cuts in funding for diplomatic security, and a flawed process about what needs to be done about security and protection to our embassies around the world.
“In these tight budget times, the committee has had to make some tough choices to prioritize funding.”, said a GOP aide in The Hill article (GOP cuts to embassy security draw scrutiny), by Alexander Bolton on September 18, 2012. In spite of the uncertainly of the Arab Spring, the demonstrations every Friday in streets from Bahrain to Tunesia, the embassies had their budgets cut.
Of course, security experts are used to this, security doesn’t directly generate revenue, and it is often one of the first functions on the chopping block. However, to cut funding to the critical embassy functions in this volatile environment, is obviously a very bad decision on the part of the GOP.
For example, the security risk assessment which are routinely done on these embassies are not done on a systematic basis. As a risk expert, these security risk assessments should be done WEEKLY, and they should be automated so they can instantly be compared to environments in other embassies, and comparisons made by month, by year, and trends can be tracked.
If we can’t afford to do these assessments and just as important, if we can’t afford to fix the problems that assessments reveal, then we should not have embassies in these places.
The security risk assessments that are done properly must also include complete threat assessments. “We need to develop a paradigm for managing risk“, said Gregory Hicks, a Foreign Service Officer who testified today on Capitol Hill.
These paradigms for managing risk already exist and they have been totally ignored by the State Department, which makes it almost impossible to get a clear, unfiltered view of the security situation at any embassy, at any point in time.
At least both sides of the political aisle agree, we do not want this to happen again! Benghazi is not a political problem, it is a massive security failure problem!