John Kerry Faces Tough Questions on U.S. Security Abroad

Patsy Lynch/Polaris/Newscom

Secretary of State John Kerry will be under scrutiny by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m., testifying at a hearing entitled “Securing U.S. Interests Abroad: The FY 2014 Foreign Affairs Budget.” It could be a rough morning for the former Senator.

HFAC Chairman Representative Ed Royce (R–CA) stated:

President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal is yet another plan to raise taxes without adequately addressing our nation’s out of control spending. In light of our serious fiscal situation, it is critical that our limited resources be prioritized in a manner that most effectively meets our many vital foreign policy challenges. This hearing will provide an opportunity for Committee Members to press for an explanation of the Administration’s proposed prioritization of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

The Congressman is right. Prioritizing is critical at this time. Securing U.S. interests involves many things, but it must mean adequately protecting U.S. embassies and other government facilities abroad. During the Benghazi hearings last fall and winter, it became disconcertingly clear that security at the U.S. Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic facility was disgracefully neglected by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Committee Members must demand assurances from Secretary Kerry that the Foreign Affairs budget provides adequate funds for diplomatic security, allocating them where risk assessments by the U.S. intelligence services indicate they are most needed. Hoping that indigenous defense forces in unstable countries—like those of the Libyan government—are enough to protect American diplomats and personnel is both naïve and dangerous.

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In January, during her Benghazi testimony, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Department was working hard to implement the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for ensuring embassy security. Have all ARB recommendations now been implemented? Congress must demand a specific accounting of actions taken.

Getting the Secretary of State in front of a congressional committee offers an opportunity that doesn’t often present itself. Committee Members should grasp it to make sure that scarce taxpayer dollars are being deployed where they are most needed.

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