Diplomatic Posts Remain a Security Vulnerability

The armed assault on the consulate in Benghazi that took the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens is a good reminder that our diplomats abroad remain vulnerable to attack. After the 1998 Embassy bombings, we spent billions redesigning our embassies worldwide, focusing on vehicle traps, set backs, and so on, mostly designed to foil car or truck bombs. But the reality is that most posts abroad remain vulnerable to armed assault. They have a small contingent of Marines, but not enough to defeat a full-blown assault by a well-equipped or trained force. Defenses that stop car bombs are easily breached by men with ladders and wire cutters. And safe rooms are only safe until the attackers are able to set fire to a building.

But unless you’re going to set up minefields, machine guns, and/or deploy massive security forces, there is little to prevent the sort of attack we saw in Benghazi.

I wish I had some insight about how to fix this situation, but I don’t. And unfortunately, I fear this type of attack could easily be repeated elsewhere.

1 comment to Diplomatic Posts Remain a Security Vulnerability

  • Ken Riley

    Hardening an embassy to the point where locals feel antagonized is a problem that I saw when I lived in Mexico City. Negotiating entry into the US Embassy there was a colossal pain for Americans–there were appointments, lines, and multiple security checks. Backpacks, computers, etc all had to be checked with security before entering the courtyard in front of the building itself. And Americans were lucky–Mexicans seeking visas, applying for which was exorbitantly priced and generally led to rejection were herded into a long outer queue that never even made it into the embassy proper. And this in a comparatively stable country (certainly compared to Libya) with which we have nominally good relations.

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