Al Jazeera America Investigative Unit Reveals Panel Report on Failing Diplomatic Security

New York - (September 3, 2013) - In an exclusive report, Al Jazeera America’s Investigative Unit revealed that an internal government report shows that the U.S. Department of State ignored warnings of inadequate security at embassies and consulates around the world, leaving some of America’s most dangerous diplomatic posts vulnerable to attack.

The 29-page report was drafted by a panel of five security and intelligence experts chaired by Mark Sullivan, the former director of the U.S. Secret Service.

The story was first reported on Al Jazeera America’s 8:00 p.m. newscast Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The report describes how the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead, exploited the State Department’s failure to address serious security concerns at diplomatic facilities in high-risk areas.

Among the most damning assessments, the panel concluded that the State Department’s failure to identify worsening conditions in Libya and exemptions from security regulations at the U.S. Special Mission contributed to the tragedy in Benghazi.

Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy approved using Benghazi as a temporary post despite its significant vulnerabilities, according to an internal State Department document included with the report. 

The panel cataloged a series of failures by State Department officials to address security issues and concluded that many Foreign Service officers are unclear about who is in charge of security. 

The panel was convened on the recommendation of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which investigated what happened in Benghazi. Sullivan’s panel evaluated State Department security at high-threat diplomatic missions around the world and issued 40 recommendations linked to safety issues at overseas missions.

Its findings:

  • The State Department’s management of its security structure has led to blurred authority and a serious lack of accountability.
  • The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the State Department security arm created following the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, does not have a review process in place to learn from previous security failures.
  •  No risk management model exists to determine whether high-threat posts, such as the one in Benghazi, are necessary given the danger to U.S. officials.
  • None of the five high-risk diplomatic facilities the panel visited in the Middle East and Africa had an intelligence analyst on staff.
  • Diplomatic security training is inadequate with no designated facility available to train agents to work at high-risk diplomatic posts.


See more press releases from Al Jazeera America here.

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