State warns shutdown risks post-Benghazi security improvements

The State Department warned lawmakers Thursday that their failure to fund the government would hamper the embassy security enhancements called for after the Benghazi, Libya, attack.


House Republicans have led the charge in investigating the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last year, accusing the State Department of a cover-up. 

Department spokeswoman Marie Harf shot back during her press conference Thursday, saying the shutdown could delay training for diplomatic security agents and security enhancements and upgrade projects at U.S. facilities around the world.

“I want to underscore that these include some of the same enhancements recommended by the accountability review board that followed the Benghazi attack,” Harf said. “So I think for a Congress that's never missed an opportunity to talk about embassy security, this is a result of its inability to do its job.”

She said U.S. embassies and consulates would remain open at existing protection levels. But security improvements could be delayed. 

“The longer we go on, the longer the shutdown goes on, and we can't get new D.S. [Diplomatic Security] agents up and trained to go overseas and continue augmenting our security, as we've talked about for a long time,” she said. “But our security posture remains the same.”

Harf added that the shutdown also hurts the peacekeeping mission in the Sinai between Egypt and Israel, as well as sanctions on Iran, both issues lawmakers often boast of supporting.

“So again, for a Congress that talks about its commitment to Israel, here's the impact of its inability to its job,” Harf said. “And for all the talk in Congress about keeping up the sanctions pressure in Iran, Treasury's office of foreign asset control, OFAC as we refer to it, has furloughed nearly all of its staff.”

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