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Wed Oct 24, 2012, 06:12 PM

House Republicans Persist in Putting Our Foreign Service Officers at Risk


A column I wrote more than a month ago discussed the fact that 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.

I also mentioned that Congress has failed to recognize that threat. Under pressure from Republicans in the House of Representatives, Congress actually cut the Obama administrationís 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. After spending some time culling through the numbers and reading old General Accountability Office reports and State Department budget justifications, I concluded that the picture that emerges 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 diplomatsóparticularly in those nations that are struggling to build stable, nonviolent societies.

from the article he mentioned in first sentence above...(emphases my own)

Diplomats, National Security, and the House Budget

The deaths last week of Stevens, Smith, Doherty, and Woods should remind all of us of the extreme risks and daily discomforts that are taken by a great many of the thousands of men and women who staff the more than 260 embassies, consulates, and missions we maintain in 180 separate countries. We should also recognize that our national security is as dependent on men like Christopher Stevens and the work they do in weaving together alliances and bringing stability to strife-torn regions of the world as by our investments in military hardware or our deployment of military personnel. It is a tough, often dirty businessóit deserves our respect and appreciation.

It also deserves resources. In each of the last two years, Congress has cut President Obamaís request for U.S. Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development staffing levels despite repeated analysis by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, indicating that our embassies are critically understaffed.

But even more inexcusable are the repeated and deep cuts made to embassy security and construction. Thousands of our diplomatic personnel are serving overseas in facilities that do not come close to meeting the minimal requirements for security established by the so-called Inman commissionís report on overseas diplomatic security to President Ronald Reaganís secretary of state more than two decades ago.

Nor is it likely to change anytime soon. In the 2011 continuing resolution, Congress, at the insistence of the House of Representatives, slashed the presidentís request for embassy security and construction and forced another cut in fiscal year 2012. [font color="red"]Altogether Congress has eliminated $296 million from embassy security and construction in the last two years[/font] with additional cuts in other State Department security accounts.

Here's some more specifics from The Hill...(looks like $200 million but there is probably another program which impacts embassy security which the Republicans in across the board, Meat Axe, cuts fashion wanted to cut bringing it up to the $300 million. (note: this is not addressing the cuts required by the so-called "Ryan" proposed budget. Those involved 19% across the board cuts to everything - bigger percentage than demanded cuts below.)

GOP cuts to embassy security draw scrutiny, jabs from Democrats - The Hill

Democrats enacted $1.803 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2010, when they still controlled the Senate and House. After Republicans took control of the House and picked up six Senate seats, Congress reduced the enacted budget to $1.616 billion in fiscal 2011, and to $1.537 billion for 2012.

The administration requested $1.801 billion for security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2012; House Republicans countered with a proposal to cut spending to $1.425 billion. The House agreed to increase it to $1.537 billion after negotiations with the Senate.

The administration requested $1.654 billion for the State Departmentís Worldwide Security Protection program for fiscal 2012. House Republicans proposed funding the program at $1.557 billion. Congress eventually enacted $1.591 billion after the Senate weighed in.

For fiscal 2013, the administration requested $2.15 billion in funding for the worldwide security protection program, a larger increase from the previous year. The House countered with a proposal to increase the program to $1.934 billion.

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Reply House Republicans Persist in Putting Our Foreign Service Officers at Risk (Original post)
Bill USA Oct 2012 OP
blkmusclmachine Oct 2012 #1
Dustlawyer Oct 2012 #2

Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 09:38 PM

1. In other news, water is wet.


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Response to Bill USA (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:08 AM

2. My son wants nothing more than to be a Foriegn Service Officer.

He past all the tests, the interview in D.C. and then was brutally cut in a 1 paragraph letter after he was told he would be in. He will keep trying, but I don't think they deserve him if their lives are weighed with a political budget axe. Repugs are all patriotic send people out, but miserly with the tools and support necessary to allow them to excel and keep them safe. Now we see how they treat the returning Veterans. Send them out w/o bullet proof vests, and deny them proper medical treatment for PTSD and other injuries when they return. None are their sons and daughters of privledge!

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