The attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya is unfortunately not a unique event. More than 90 diplomats have died in the line of duty over the last 32 years. Libya is only one of many dangerous diplomatic duty stations among the more than 270 diplomatic missions we maintain around the world.
Congress has failed to recognize that threat. Under pressure from Republicans in the House of Representatives, Congress actually cut the Obama administration’s request for improving the physical security of our embassies by nearly $300 million in the past two fiscal years.
That figure gained a good deal of attention and a lot of requests for more detail and background on the State Department security budget. The picture that emerges from old General Accountability Office reports and State Department budget justifications adds significant perspective on the tragedy in Benghazi; the role Congress played in determining the current preparedness of the State Department to cope with such tragedies; and the continuing challenge we face in reducing the threat posed to our diplomats—particularly in those nations that are struggling to build stable, nonviolent societies.
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