Panel: Diplomatic security must be priority at U.S. State Department

Sept. 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A panel said U.S. diplomatic facilities face an increasing threat of terrorist attacks and diplomatic security must be a priority at the State Department.

A broad inquiry into the Sept 11, 2012 attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans died blamed the diplomatic security bureau and another State Department office for not coordinating and planning adequate security. Diplomatic security is one function of Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management.

The New York Times said the panel's new findings, which have not yet been publicly released, don't specifically address the department's handling of the Benghazi attacks but intimated Kennedy's office did not pay enough attention to the bureau that oversees security at the department's 275 installations and recommended establishing a new undersecretary job to give higher priority to security matters.

"The department's present direction of expeditionary diplomacy, operating with an increasing number of temporary and permanent posts in complex, high-risk environments, requires an organizational paradigm change," the panel's report said. "The threats foreign service personnel face requires the department's security function not to be relegated to the same status as other important but distinctly different, support functions."

The panel unofficially gave its report to the department last week. A copy was given to the Times.

Creating the review panel, led by former Secret Service head Mark Sullivan, was one of 29 recommendations proposed by the Accountability Review Board last fall. Sullivan's five-member panel was tasked with identifying best practices in public and private sectors concerning security, intelligence, accountability and risk management, the Times said.

State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach declined to comment on the report until it is formally submitted.

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