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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 10, 2014 8:30pm-10:31pm EST

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to say that generally you were charged with ensuring in this case the state department is effectively managed and accountable for its decisions? is that what inspector generals do? >> yes. >> and you conduct audits. we have heard you talked about audits and the way inspector general do that as they conduct audits of valuations and inspections and he does mention some of those. is that correct? >> yes and we look at programs and operations as well. >> you are likely to turn watchdog or eternal police department -- internal watchdog for these state department that you are not appointed by the secretary of state. is that correct? >> was appointed by the secretary and confirmed by the senate. i was appointed in september 2013. >> that means you have complete independence from the state department and the decisions they make. >> yes we are independent. >> before that you as a
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understand like myself were a federal prosecutor focused on fraud type of batters. >> i was for 16 years. >> and in your finding that you undertook of the arb it's my understanding that you felt and this is quoting, your most important finding was the oversight of the arb recommendations at the highest levels within the department. is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and what highest level were you referring to? >> release of the deputy secretary level. >> and in your opinion is that where the implementation of the arb recommendations stands at this point? the. >> that remains an unresolved recommendation. we did receive revisions to the foreign affairs manual yesterday and we are looking at them now. >> and so there, that
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recommendation was made by the aig and the foreign affairs manual she specifically state to other employees of the department that these recommendations will be undertaken by the deputy at a minimum secretary of state or highest level like the deputy secretary? >> that is correct. >> you stated in that they have provided that to you yesterday. >> yes we did receive a vision to the foreign affairs manual that we have not analyzed to get so the recommendation remains unresolved. >> let's talk about unresolved findings. when inspector general makes recommendations and brings forth their findings they are in several different categories. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> unresolved, close, result. >> exactly. >> can you share with those with an result means? >> so there are really two buckets. they're open recommendations and
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close recommendations. open recommendations can either come into forms. they can be resolved there and results of the department agrees in principle with a recommendation that will be open and result. it will not be closed until the department proves to us because we are in the trust but verify business that is in fact has been implemented. an open recommendation which is unresolved means generally the department disagrees with the oig and we don't have resolution on that sewer mains open as well. >> can i just ask, sorry to interrupt, approximately how many open and resolve recommendations are there? >> in the arb report? at this time there there are seven and resolved recommendations. like i said a couple of them but that might change. we are also doing compliance follow-up review which means we are doing another inspection to see whether or not our
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recommendations actually have been complied with. >> is that, in practice that you always do compliance reviews of your recommendations? >> we don't always do that. it's very resource intensive. typically what would happen is the department would come back and say here is documentation showing we have implemented your recommendation. the compliance follow-up review is a different animal because we do completely separate inspection are audit and do interviews whether or not implementation has occurred. it's not something we do frequently. we do it in cases where we believe the recommendations are significant horror where we have felt that compliance was lacking. >> and do you also when you go back into the compliance review do you also look into recommendations that have been closed? >> yes, we look at all the recommendations.
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from soup to, to see where they stand. just because we close them we have documentation we are going to go behind that documentation and verify whether in fact it has been implemented. >> are you aware as to whether or not prior inspector general's actually ever did what you are doing with respect to compliance reviews when it comes to physical security of our embassies? >> i believe our office has done some compliance follow-up reviews. >> is it fair to say that a number of the recommendations that were in the benghazi arb were also in the nairobi arp? >> absolutely. we didn't see an number of repeat recommendations from training to the marine security guard program and sharing and so forth. >> so there've obviously been previous arb recommendations made where the state department closed or agreed with recommendations that yet we still have the same problem.
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in 2012. >> that is correct. >> with respect to the closed-end there are number of close recommendations what do you expect to happen? what does closed main? he talked about open and unresolved but what disclose recommendation in? >> was recommendation means they provided documentation to us to prove that they have complied with recommendations. in our follow-up review we will interview and look more closely and drill down to see whether or not it is in fact close. our preliminary conclusion if you will about the status of the recommendations. >> in fact when would you have received, when we knew you have made the decision that something was closed or not close back. >> we would make that decision after our compliance team reviews the documentation and then determines whether that documentation needs to be the intent of our recommendation.
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>> in fact is later as june of 2014 in fact you just mentioned physical security deficiencies inspections and waivers stove piping and vetting of local guards are still unresolved and they are not close. >> those were recommendations from other reports. in other words we have done the arb review and focused on process and we have focused on how they implemented the recommendations that we have issued a number of other reports which capture lack of compliance for the standards which capture inadequate vetting of local guards and those recommendations a whole bunch more recommendations and connections with those reports and they are at various stages of closure etc.. >> the best practices panel's most important recommendations and you are familiar with the best practices panel what happened after arb in fact a too
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indicated that elevating the importance of security and making diplomatic security and equal partner was its most important recommendation. is that correct? >> i believe that was the recommendation number one. >> and yet we learned at that time in our last hearing that the state department rejected that recommendation. has there have been a change from our last hearing until today? >> we are not monitoring compliance with that recommendation so i don't know the answer to that question. >> do you know with respect to this exact recommendation and that is the fact that we believe and the panels have made the recommendations that in fact all of the implementation of the various recommendations should be made at one of the highest levels. is that correct? the principles under the secretary of state?
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>> yes, that is correct. >> and that the oversight renown implementation being made in the office of management policy. is that correct? >> i believe they are tracking implementation. >> so tracking just means is it being done. is that correct? >> we think that the deputy secretary ought to take responsibility for oversight of implementation and she take responsibility for making sure those recommendations are followed through the finding to ensure they are completed and they are adequately shared among the state department community so everybody knows what they are and why they're important. that is why we are seeking our particular recommendation. >> dino who at the state department at the time that they rejected that recommendation and that recommendation was rejected, do you know who at the state department made that decision to reject that recommendation? >> the sullivan recommendation
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or our recommendation? >> both. the recommendation to reject the deputy secretary should be the level responsible for these recommendations. >> as to the sullivan recommendation i don't know who if anyone rejected that. i know the deputy secretary is considering our recommendation and in fact i believe like i said there's a revision to the foreign affairs manual which apparently does embody that. we haven't closed that yet because we haven't had the opportunity to analyze it and assess it. >> mr. starr do you know who made that decision at the time? >> i don't believe that there was a decision not to comply with that recommendation. one, it was the secretary himself who ultimately decided we did not need the undersecretary after consideration through various levels of the department. in terms of the implementation of the arb that paperwork that
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we have put forward to modify the show that it is the deputy secretary for management of resources who will be the oversight officer for arb's. if you would permit me for just a second, while this is a change to the fans i have been in multiple meetings since the arrival of deputy secretary higginbotham and i was a multiple meetings beforehand while tom nides was the deputy secretaries taking direct charge of the oversight of implementation of arb recommendations. the fact that they manage and pri group is the staff that is tracking them and bringing these up and presenting them to the deputy secretary we have had multiple meetings with myself major embassy officers from their regional bureau's deputy secretaries heading the meetings
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plus and pri plus e.t. plus the other girls have been in the soap i think it's very clear the deputy secretary at the highest levels have been involved in the implementation of the arb. what we are doing now is making sure it's codified in the fans. >> thank you mr. chairman. i yield back but i would like to add its about time. thank you. >> i think the gentlelady from indiana and the chair recognizes the gentlelady from california. >> thank you mr. chairman i want to welcome and thank both witnesses for being here today and i want to follow up on the line of questioning with respect to the security of embassies and commission facilities. two of the past recommendations that remain open if i'm not mistaken are from the 1999 nairobi arb's and in those arb's they recommended physical security upgrades be made immediately and that state worked to obtain sufficient funding for building programs.
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that was the knee that was identified. as a result of those recommendations the capital security cost-sharing program was initiated to pay for the cost of building new embassies and consulates. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> with funding constraints and other challenges delaying efforts to better secure these facilities how is the state department addressing the need to provide necessary security at this point? >> congresswoman thank you for the question. congress has been extraordinarily generous with the department. since the nairobi bombings in 1998 we have constructed nearly 100 new facilities around the world. we have done major security upgrades to our facilities around the world that we could not replace right at that moment. there is not a post out there that doesn't have walls and vehicle parsing gates does not
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have police protecting force entry doors and windows shatter a system window film. now after benghazi additional marines, additional rso's. we have been committed quite frankly since 1985 of increasing the programs. i think the funding that we originally got under the capital cost-sharing program was about a $1.3 billion a year and by 2012, in 2013 is that of the original six varied facilities we were able to build we were building perhaps one or two, perhaps three because of inflation costs. after benghazi congress was again very generous within the department and has authorized almost another $1 million and we are now again on an enhanced building program, building six or seven new facilities a year. i would say while that
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recommendation remained open technically the department with the help of congress has done an amazing job enhancing the safety and security of our people through the years. i will not say it's perfect. clearly i am here and my job is to implement reforms after benghazi and lessons we have learned. we have made mistakes there but for the vast majority of places i would tell you the recommendations that came out of nairobi we have assiduously been trying to implement those and congress has been very helpful. >> could you give me an idea mr. starr because it's a big job to go back and renovate facilities and bring them up to modern security standards. could you estimate how many facilities you are talking about that you have to deal with in terms of assessing the physical security of those buildings? >> there are 275 u.s. embassies, consulates and consulate generals. there are approximately 10 other special missions.
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the facilities that make up those missions number over 1000 different buildings. >> quite an undertaking than to consistently be upgrading security. would that be a fair statement? >> i think that's a fair statement. >> the benghazi arb found the state department must work with congress to restore the capital security car sharing program at its full capacity. can you talk a little bit about the history of the funding and why congress needed to restore it to the full level the capital secured a car sharing? >> thank you congressman. as i alluded to a moment ago the original cost coming out of the nairobi and our salam were approximately $1.3 million level year and in 1999 and 2,002,001 as we get up a program that gave us the ability to replace sometimes find facilities a year
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or individual buildings at least induce a major security upgrades. but that funding level was constant from about 2,122,012 and increased building costs inflation and other things are reduced what we could do with that $1.3 billion so we were hopeful and as i say congress was very generous and recognizing that number had been eroded by inflation and after benghazi and in line with the arb recommendations work with the department and added nearly another billion dollars to that. we are currently at approximately $2.3 billion under the capital cost-sharing program per year which has allowed us to enforce security enhancements and replace more secure facilities. >> thank you it's important to note that congress does play a role in ensuring the facilities
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are physically secure. mr. starr i would like to ask you about temporary facilities are you during our previous hearing a number of members had questions about the diplomatic facility in benghazi whether it was a special mission compound or a temporary mission facility and whether the term used meant less stringent physical security was applied to that facility? that issue was investigated by arb and numerous congressional committees over the past two years and at our last hearing you adjust the concerned explaining and i'm going to quote for her testimony whether temporary or internal or permanent that we should be applying the same security standards that the ospb has put in place. is that still your understanding of how the department is applying these interest today? >> yes, that is a very hard lesson that we learned after benghazi. i can tell you in one particular
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location in the world where we have had to have operations where we were under great pressure to put people in and establish a temporary facility, i turned that down and said we will continue to operate solely on a tty basis in the time we can identify facility and bring it up to the necessary level the facility i.e. meeting the ospb standards for that type of facility. i got no pushback on the department and a tremendous amount of support for this. i think you have correctly identified that whatever you call temporary facility are special mission facility despite efforts to do security upgrades we know it did not meet all the standards and we want to avoid a situation like that going forward. >> i just want to point out that mr. linick in his written
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testimony noted in a march 2014 audit on physical security funding diplomatic security and overseas operations have differing interpretations of what a required physical security standards are for those overseas facilities. and the same ig report noted in january 2015 the department clarified a single standard applied to all facilities. in june 2013 the department further clarified that the ospb standards set forth minimum requirements. have there have been better communications now between the department and the diplomatic security and overseas building operations and finally an agreed-upon standard for what those physical standard should be? >> there is no disagreement on what the physical security standard should be. those standards are in our foreign affairs manuals approved by the overseas security policy board and there is no disagreement on the standards.
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we do have different standards for stand-alone building or rebuilding the others or an office intended for commercial office space but ob zero is very clear and understands what the standards are. there is no misunderstanding that the standards are what they are and are there. i do think the inspector general's inspections have been very helpful to us in many ways although sometimes i will disagree with some of the recommendations as steve alluded to. we have some open recommendations where we may disagree. ultimately we come to resolution on the vast majority of them. in terms of what the inspectors found in some of their reports it is my job as the head of security when we find a security deficiency that the aig might find to make sure we are addressing them as fast as possible.
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inspectors in one instance did find we have significant differences between obo and ds as opposed overseas. i met two days after the inspectors came back with the head of the opl. we resolve those differences and moved on and settled those differences and made the decisions on where we had to go. i meet virtually every week with the head of obo. my staff meets at lower levels with mobile. we have taken out recommendation very seriously. >> i appreciate your testimony and i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes an omen from georgia. >> thank you mr. chairman thank you for being here. mr. starr a point of clarification. when they use the term closed on the recommendations that does not mean they are completed, correct? >> i didn't know it was that
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hard a question. >> as steve alluded alluded to their alluded to there shesol been there as close. we do our best when you get a recommendation to look at. >> but closed is not mean the recommendations fully been implemented. >> in most cases it does. it means we have in fact effected the change necessary to make that recommendation. there are some recommendations that i would say are an evergreen recommendation. if we put the policies and procedures in place we have to go through them and ignore them for longer period of time. >> you are the diplomatic security at the state department from 1980. apartment in 2009. is that correct? >> yes sir i was an agent. >> and from there he went to head of security for united nations. >> correct. >> and you were secretary for safety and security. through your office or diplomat diplomat security and the bureau oversees operations for the opl
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are the two offices within the state department have the primary duty to ensure the safety and security of these overseas facilities? >> that is inaccurate statement. >> according to the foreign affairs manual your office is expressly charged with a responsibly for ensuring that all new construction makes renovations to comply with physical security standards even though the opl does the actual construction. is that true? >> correct. >> which undersecretary is the des? >> i am undersecretary kennedy the undersecretary for management. >> and who is the undersecreta undersecretary? ovl? >> yes. >> the undersecretary for management mr. kennedy has been in the position since november of 2007 i believe. is that correct? you don't no?
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>> i believe so sir but i'm not certain. >> is mr. kennedy been with the state department sergey know from the early 70's? >> i think pat came in and about 1975. >> okay. in fact an east african embassies were bombed in 1998 mr. kennedy was in your position. is that correct? >> at the time of the bombing sir my recollection is we have a vacancy in the position. >> although you return to the state department after the benghazi attacks you are aware that virtually each and every finding in the resulting recommendation and benghazi arp centered on the special mission compound or facility being a high threat posed sorely lacking in personnel and physical security. is that correct? >> i am aware of those recommendations of the arp. >> are you aware that your own
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inspector general mr. linick since benghazi has conducted three reviews or audits on physical security issues and overseas pose? >> yes i am sir. >> are you also aware that the ig issued to weather reports, one that looks looked at how you manage your local garden program and another that looks at how you manage your marine security? >> yes sir i am. >> let's take a look at the ig report issued in june of 2013 that look at how you complied with fiscal security standards at five specific overseas pose that are considered high threat. do you recall that report? >> yes, sir. >> as i understand that report only look at embassies or consulates there were constructed after the year 2000.
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is that correct? >> i believe so, sir. >> after the east african embassy lamington 1998 where arp was sharply critical of the existing physical security standards. is that correct? >> i would say the inspector general pointed out that there were some deficiencies in not meeting some of the standards. >> that means that they were all built after congress passed the secure embassy construction and counterterrorism act as it's known and gave the state department a whole lot of money to improve those fiscal securi security -- security overseas. is that correct? >> correct. >> in this report the ig team looked at physical security at the five pose that had a high threat level and the team looked
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at such things as the height of the parmertor walls and outside boundaries, how far the buildings were from those outside walls, looking to anteroom barriers, the procedural other barriers of persistent doors. whether local guards which we talked about properly inspecting, whether they were safe havens inside the building and the like. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> let me ask you how the five embassies and consulates did. in the of them complied with all of security standards that were reviewed? >> no sir none of them are perfect. but if i may sir every one of those facilities as police and guards on the outside. everyone of those. >> my question was all of them in answer was no. >> i want to make it clear that
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most of the things the inspector general found were minor, do not present major vulnerabilities to us. our philosophy of concentric security i don't expect that any inspector general is going to find something that can be improved. >> by your answer was no, correct? >> now the question once the problems were identified and corrected deficiencies he said that was very small deficiencies. is that correct? .. to make sure that any time we see one of these vulnerabilities -- >> are they fixed? >> yes, they are.
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they're resolved. >> did the inspector general ask that you issue a districtive to all your posts worldwide to see whether other posts have the same problems? >> for some things, yes. >> okay. did you agree to do this? >> no, i did not. >> okay. mr. linick, i want to follow up on another review >> i understand that your office hired outside to review how the state department processes the request and prioritizes those requests with the security upgrades. >> yes, sir. >> when the individuals looked at this, did they find a comprehensive list of all of these reports of the deficiencies? >> they did not find a complex list of security needs or complex list. >> they did not find it.
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>> okay. were they able to review a list of these funding requests? or the lists of which requests were denied or granted? >> there was not a list. >> from the ds, were there any lists? lbo? any list? >> no, there were not. i understand that they are working on that now. >> okay. is it true that they did not coordinate with each other, the ds and the ovl, to determine what should be given priority? >> they did find that there are disagreements about the standards which have since been are mediated which had been mentioned. >> the fact that mr. starr gets
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together with them once a year or whatever, that it could be looked at in this way? >> i don't believe that we have seen a part of that. >> do you know of any list that may have been put into the long-term planning. >> there is a long-term planning a request. >> i know department has been agreeing to that and that has been involved but it is still existent. >> thank you. >> i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman from georgia and we will not try to go to the gentleman from washington. >> thank you, mr. chairman. can everyone hear me? >> yes, sir. >> make you come i really appreciate everyone here today. and i appreciate the opportunity
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to speak. there are a couple of questions. first of all, one of the allegations is about the state department and there have been reports on this in the same place. i think there actually have been and there have been attacks with some of these gentlemen who have been out of line. and so what responses were back to prove this to the state department. >> adam, i may get you -- acting like you're mad and yelling a little better. we can hear you pretty good, but not great, so if you could just
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act like we are talking and you're yelling at me. >> you need me to repeat what i just asked? >> yes, sir. the witnesses are kind of leaning forward and if you could just yell as loud as you're willing to do it. >> i will do that, i will repeat the question. my question is there have been one of the allegations on the panel to some extent it is is after the attacks like the embassy bombing, we issued a report and we don't make improvements, we don't respond and in my reading of what has happened, we sent some send some of those previous attacks and i don't believe that that is exactly accurate. i was wondering if you could outline as one example, the 1998 embassy bombings in africa, what improvements were made as a result of that when money was
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spent, how things were upgraded. what has been done prior to benghazi to blues to security? >> congresman griffin thank you. this is great. i recognize that there are some similarities in the types of recommendations that were made going back through the years on the arb's. i find it difficult to accept that it is groundhog day in that we are just revisiting the same thing. as i said before, a tremendous amount of progress was made through the years in building new facilities and in training from personnel. and in adding local our programs, much of this work was done in concert with congress.
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congress has been very helpful in many ways in terms of running an oversight. from 1988 to 1992 after the original commission, we built 22 new facilities and then after the end of the cold war the money dried up and ran out even the we wanted to build nearly 100 after the bombings in 1998, the money flow for building new embassies was given to us by congress, very generously, we have replaced a tremendous amount of facilities and we have never had to give up one of those new facilities that we built as of yet. i think the increases that we have done in training for the personnel and additional marine detachments and things like more armored cars and the things that we have done after benghazi, the much closer relationships with the intelligence communities and the dod, i think that some of those things you can say, weren't you doing those things after nairobi? and some of those part of this?
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there are similarities, but i think that the types of things that we are facing are similar as well and i think that we are going to the similar types of attacks and you make it even in the future the need for more training than we are even doing now. so i appreciate the comments because i believe, as you do, while there might be some similarities, this is not groundhog day. we have made significant progress and there are very few recommendations through all of these that have been left open. the few that were left open we are working to close. so thank you for the question, sir. >> one of the big issues about this, i'll state department facilities are the same. when we think of our state department oversees, most people typically imagine our embassy.
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but as everybody knows, we have a number of different facilities where people are located around the country. some of the most dangerous places i went to where we have a consulate in pakistan a few years back. a very dangerous place. when you are determining what securities to provide, you go to these facilities or the consulate and in specific to the two facilities that were attacked how would they have gone under to the new rules with properly providing there's an ungodly, which were not traditional or even a consulate for that matter. is this something that has been contemplated previously and if so, what was the discussion about how to properly provide security for these different types of authority?
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>> unfortunately, i am at a little bit of a loss. as one of the congressmen had pointed out, while those discussions were taking place on what was going to happen with ben causey, i was at the united nations. i do know that we have all accepted the recommendations that perhaps it's a little too much confidence in what the chief was saying that we know that we did not meet all of the standards for either of those two locations, either the special annex or the special mission. i know that we are concentrating on learning the lessons from that and we have no temporary facilities today and none at all and should we have to have those types of facilities, we will have a very long and hard discussion about what needs to go into that and make sure that they are secured as soon as
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possible before we let them be occupied. i can't comment on that happening when i wasn't here, sir. >> talking about two other huge issues with providing security at our facilities. number one is the money particularly at this point. i might also add with precisely the moment that i thought he was attacked. i don't imagine too many times in the history of the country we had as many facilities throughout the globe that could not have been perceived in a high threat level. first of all, the anniversary of 9/11, and second of all, they had already had this with how many different countries, certainly the embassy was attacked and i think somewhere close to a dozen others we have that. and the number one issue, simple
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resources. in a world full of incredibly dangerously places, how do you decide how to properly allocate resources between ben ghazi and cairo and yemen and others, and all of the different places. and congress has been generous, but there is still finite resources. so how do you make those decisions when there are so many places to talk about this? the second issue is quite frequently the chief admission that we will disagree, it will go to places where maybe the folks back in washington dc have said that he or she should not. there are many state departments out in other countries who feel that their hands are tied and in fact i have heard this pointed
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out from a large number of state department people referring to it as the ben got the effect that they could no longer keep jobs because you've gone back the other way and try to be too cautious. those are two very difficult issues. the resources and then the conflict between a member of the state department, trying to do his or her job with security. how do those things get balanced throughout the state department and the security? >> before they answer, there is less than a minute on the clock. given the technical difficulties, i'm going to let them answer this question in full and give you another question, given the difficult is that we had on the end. i wanted to let you know where we were. >> bev that's great, that's for my last question. >> answer as long as you need to. >> thank you, congressman. on the question of resources,
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you are correct. while congress has been very generous with us, i am not going to say that it is solely a question of resources. every year we look at every post in the world in concert with the american action committee and my threat analysis and the regional bureaus and we have rated those threats for civil disorder and crime in for a couple of other things and we rate them critical or high or medium or low threats. those ratings help us to determine how to best allocate resources. we start with a basic position that every one of our facilities should meet the minimum standards. as steve has pointed out, there are times where we have problems doing that and when we find that we upgrade them assesses we assess as we can and make sure that they are there. and there are many posts that we
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have to make sure that we go above the standards because of the threats and the threats can differ. at a place where it is a thread, we are looking for additional setback, additional barriers. we may be looking at additional reinforcement in terms of the military on the ground and we look at those threats at least for every single post in a formalized manner every single year, and i start my day every single morning looking at what is out there and making determinations as to whether or not we need to reinforce or do something at our embassies are it as you pointed out, that translates into problems really have officers at feel like they can't get out. we often have places where we have to balance getting the job done with officers individual security and let the what the threats are and i think that that is a healthy tension and i want foreign service officers that want to get out and get the job done. and i want those that are
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looking closely at what the threats are and whether they should get out. and our highest threat level post i think you'll find that some of the officers may be frustrated because the security has to be overwhelming in many ways and very strong. our people are getting out. our people are engaging. foreign service officers are building democracy and the rule of law programs, justice programs, humanitarian programs, and they are filling those requirements and it is a balance and the dance, but it is an important one and the tension is good. >> congressman, just a couple of comments to add on to that. we haven't looked at resources for the sufficiency of resources, but our work here concerns how the resources are prioritized and does the department know what it's resources are and does the department no what requests are made and do they know how to
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prioritize across the board. that is really the point to the point of the report that we issued bit. if the department is not making a determination as to which high-priority, it's going to be difficult to solve problems and develop budgets are you as for the second question, i think ultimately this comes down to good risk management and the first recommendations discussing the need for the department and to make sure to weigh these policy concerns against risks. this is something that should be elevated so that someone who is in a position of weighing policy considerations and maintaining a presence in certain dangerous areas can make that
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determination and also be responsible when they have to sign the dotted line and put people in high-threat posts. >> let me quickly follow up and i will be done. i ain't that the problem when you say take a look at this higher level, once you take it up to the higher level, isn't that person further away from the specific understanding of the different country where the different area? in some ways going up to someone who is at that deputy level they are more existent from the problem and in some ways probably less qualified to make the call on whether or not a given action is proper security. so is in that one of the reasons why the state department has been reluctant to implement that specific recommendation? >> i am not sure whether or not we have been reluctant to adopt that recommendation.
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i know that we have the risk management system and i don't know to what extent that raises a at a higher level. i would say that we know that some of the decisions involved competing interests that the low-level and you have your policy folks in your security folks and someone has to be in charge of reconciling some of these competing interests because we know that the policy folks want us to be in places and they want us to be doing diplomacy. the security folks want to minimize risks. so what we are saying and what we are saying is there needs to be someone who takes responsibility for the decisions. >> thank you so much and thank you to the committee for allowing this. >> and you for participating. take care of yourself and we will see you in january. >> thank you. >> with that, we recognize mr. gordon from ohio.
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>> safety is critically important and i appreciate what you said in your written testimony. you said that we want to keep our people safe and we will continue doing everything that we can support and protect them. it shouldn't be a partisan issue. republican, democrat, it shouldn't matter. >> i've never had a problem of that being an issue. >> i'm just saying that this -- these people put their lives on the line and it doesn't matter who you are or what side you come from. it includes the policies and actions that we are putting in place. and my guess is she said this, even a score of 99 out of 100 is a failing grade and that's a pretty strong statement. and i understand we don't live in a perfect world. we live in a dangerous world and we have to balance diplomacy with security and safety concerns. but i think the tenor of this
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e-mail was what we just talked about. we should do everything we can to make sure that our people are safe. wouldn't you agree? >> i want to try to do that, sir. but i will just add one inflection on this, that our primary and most important goal is to carry out the foreign policy and united states. while doing that we have to do everything we can. >> i get it, i get it. the number one question i get back home about ben dockery is why were we there. why were we there? it seems to be a fundamental question especially in light of the very dangerous security situation that existed in benghazi and frankly some other key facts as well. we talked about this before, but the state department has its own standards for physical security,
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overseas policy standards. were those followed as well? >> no, sir. >> when you deviate from the standards, there's a waiver process the were supposed to adhere to. was this followed? the waiver process? >> i do not believe so. >> the gentleman was here just a few months ago and he said that as well. the state department had a special designation for the benghazi facility. it's not correct? didn't you guys call up the temporary admissions facilities? >> estimate a special mission facility. >> was this created solely to do it around the standards of the labor process? >> sir, i don't believe anybody intentionally tried to run around. i think it was a question that we are trying to find. >> when the gentleman testified as three months ago right beside you, it he said in talking with
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people based on my experience, it was a purposeful effort to skirt the standards. >> i would disagree about that. >> okay, he has a pretty good record like you do as well. how many facilities does the state department currently have around the world? >> 275 embassies and consulates and composing approximately 1000 buildings. >> the website says you have more, is that not accurate? >> 275 consulates and generals and 10 special missions such as -- >> of the 275 of the 285 -- whatever you want to use, are any of those today designated a special mission compound? >> no. >> none of them? >> none of them. >> bringing me back to my question, what was so important
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about benghazi that we didn't follow our own standards and we didn't follow the waiver process and we created a term that is not used at any of the facilities today and what was so important that we do all that, we do all that to be in a place where four americans were killed? >> sir, i would have to refer you to the results of the arb, which i think we need to address that. >> you're the witness from the state department. >> i was not here when those determinations were made. and today i do not have facilities like that. >> i'm asking you as a representative from the state department to tell me what was so important that we don't follow the standards are the waiver process, and none of the facilities today -- we have none
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of them that are using this designation today. >> that is correct. >> we were in that space, why did we have to be in benghazi? >> i would have to refer you to the arb. >> maybe this will help you think about giving us an answer. in the 13 months prior to the attack on 9/11 of 2012, there were 200 security incidents in libya. i mean, this was the wild west and repeated requests from our security personnel at the facility for additional security. they say that we need more good guys. they say no. so again i ask, that situation, probably the most chaotic that we have at any of our facilities, why were we there?
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>> sir, i think the arb points out that they are honest about making mistakes. we had a tragedy occur and i am not being dishonest in saying that it did occur. i am not the witness to tell you what happened. >> you are the state department representative to find out what happened. >> i am hearing to discuss what we have put in place and what we are doing. >> you happen to know the name of the government that was in place when we had those security incidents in the 13 months leading up to this tragedy? do you know the name of the government and what was the name of the libyan government at the time? >> i do not know off hand. >> the transitional national
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council. not exactly a title that inspires confidence or stability. and yet we have to be there. we just had to be there. and this committee is going to try to find out the answer. this committee is good to try and find out the answer but in the meantime we are going to make sure that we keep focused on what we started our conversation here about and that is the safety of the people that serve abroad. there was one could anger came out of this. they said that we are going to have a best practices panel and they made 40 recommendations. the most important one is the one we talked about earlier. the number one recommendation and the one that many of the others hinge upon. saying that we need to create the undersecretary level in undersecretary for diplomatic security. is the state department going to do that? at the undersecretary level amax. >> a decision has been made not to implement that.
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>> how many undersecretaries grab that state department? >> i believe there are seven. >> i think there are six under the secretary of political affairs [inaudible] the undersecretary for civilian human rights and the undersecretary for public affairs. and yet we can't have an undersecretary due to the security of the people who risk their lives. the undersecretary for public affairs, do you want to foster cultural exchange and international broadcast? and i'm not saying cultural exchange and broadcasting isn't important. on saying is that he should be just as important and you guys should know that we are going to keep you down here and that is your responsibility.
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the assistant secretary is way down in the charts. why don't you want to move from the kids table to the adult table. to the undersecretary level two i think security is important enough that we should get to the undersecretary level. >> the case that i made to the secretary was than in any instance that i needed to get to the secretary and the access that i needed with him or the deputy secretary or the assistant secretary, i had to have access necessary to do my job. today i have the access when i'm in undersecretary or the secretary, and i have been the undersecretary and it's a different organization. i can tell you that regardless of whether i am the undersecretary or the assistant secretary.
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i have the control and access that i need to fill my obligations. >> is giving was a lot easier to make the argument. i would rather be there. in fact, i'm not the one who thinks the greatest idea in the world. clear back in 1999, secretary albright said the same thing. she felt that we should have this at the undersecretary level. the best practices thought that we should have at the undersecretary level and the guy sitting beside you said we need to elevate this to the highest level. so we have two big questions. ..mittee needs to answer. why in the world won't the state department do what everyone in the world knows needs to this be done? elevate this to the highest that we? make it equal to cultural exchange and international broadcasting, and then the big question again that i hope we get an answer to in this
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committee. why were we there? why were we there with these facts and circumstances? that's a fundamental question that the the american people want to know and these four individuals, these families who gave their lives would like to know as well. with that i yield back. >> thank the gentleman from ohio. the chair now recognizes ranking member mr. cummings. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. first of all, i would like to thank our witnesses for being here today. in particular, i want to thank you, secretary starr. i listened to what was just stated and asked, but my what stated. but my concern, and i'm sure it's the concern of the entire committee is when all the dust settles, that the request of every single family member that we met, when the dust settles i hope it's carried out, and that is, that our facilities are safer. so that things are not like
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this, an unfortunate incident does not happen again. the department's update shows continued strong progress towards full implementation of the arb recommendation. the total elimination of risks is a nonstarter. for u.s. diplomacy given the need for the united states government to be present and places where stability and security are often most profo d profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent, end quote. nonetheless, we serve americans serving overseas our best effort to keep them as safe as i have no doubt that you are in it and determined to see the
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implementation of these recommendations through. according to your testimony, since september 17 the hearing we held that day, the department has closed three more than gauzy arb recommendations. one of the three that you closed involves the hiring of additional diplomatic security personnel. is that right? was that recommendation number 12? >> yes sir. >> the october letter said that you had filled 120 of those 151 newly-created slots. do you expect to complete your hiring by early 2015? >> we are on track to do that sir. >> what is entailed in that? >> in some cases actually because we have high standards and some of these positions are
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technical we have had some difficulties. i would like to point something out. the recommendation was to get increased diplomatic security personnel for high-end critical threat posed and additional mobile security deployment teams. the 151 positions asked for additional people for positions beyond those two things. we have already created and every one of the positions in msd for the mobile security teams and their posts overseas, taken agents that were already on board, fill those positions and those locations and what we do is back higher now to fill the positions we took those more experienced agents out and put them there so we have fulfilled the recommendation even though we continue to hire additional personnel. i think we have more than fulfill that recommendation. >> so you are still missing some people. you are moving people. >> we are still hiring to fill people we put them behind their
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although the agents have been hired. it's technical specialties where filling in. >> you also close to a recommendation related to risk management and enhanced threat training for personnel posts. how will this training better prepared our diplomats and high threat regions? >> we have increased the foreign affairs counter threat training that we offer to our foreign service personnel now, not just people going to our high threat high-risk posts. everyone of them has to go through that training and prior to this we did not quite have the capacity to do that. we are now increasing that training to everyone in the entire foreign service over the next 40 years. additionally the foreign service institute in the courses that are complementing our skills-based training, courses like how to conduct diplomacy
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and a high threat environment which trains officers, brings back officers from some of these tough places and shows best practices on how you accomplish your job when you are faced to things like sometimes you can travel to the ministry. sometimes there are different types of security requirements. i think we are addressing it for skills-based training on security and foreign service institute on training our people before they go into these high threat environments. how do we best do our jobs? >> and a thirst -- third close reclamation was to deter fire safety grumet high threat posed. >> it is complete with one exception sir. i have one post where the equipment is sitting, specific type of respirator mask sitting one country away and i'm trying to get it in today and tomorrow to that post and we have had some customs issues. but we have delivered the types
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of equipment and the training in conjunction after talking with the new york city fire department and others to oliver high threat posts around the world. >> would you get us notification when you have completed that one thing you just said? >> i will sir. >> so everybody has received the training? >> we have worked closely with the fire department to identify the equipment and when we ship the equipment out there training programs on equipment and their other things that obo does with fire safety as well. >> with the closure of those recommendation that leaves for recommendation still open. your october letter said with a target this complete implementation of the spinal for recommendations are you on track to complete those recommendations? >> we are on track sir. the one that will stretch the longest is the implementation of the new type of ccd camera. the technical requirements
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associated with that have been more difficult than we first envisioned. we have a schedule to do it. i hope to have it done by the fall of 2015. i am leery that i might go longer than that so one of the things we are saying is that it will absolutely be done by the summer of 2016 but we are pushing to get it done earlier. >> and the other three would hope they be completed? >> i believe the recommendation concerning coal location waiver shall be done within probably two months. the recommendation concerning a high threat posts, we have essentially fulfilled that recommendation. we are working with congress to look at something called a dual compensation issue so if necessary we can bring back highly talented officers. i believe that we can close that recommendation regardless of whether or not we get approval for the compensation waiver so i think we will have an answer in
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terms of closing that recommendation within two months as well and there is one further recommendation that we on track to close that i would prefer not to discuss it in this hearing. >> as i said in a previous hearing i want to make sure things get done, and so i want you to get back exactly when you expect -- i would like to have it in writing when you expect things to be done and provide the committee with that information because we want to hold you to that. >> as the inspector general has said there is going to be a review of our compliance as we well. >> we will call it double coverage. >> exactly and i will get back to him that. >> mr. starr mr. westmoreland discussed with you the june 2013 audit that took place before the creation of a high threat
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program directors audit found some security deficiencies. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> mr. starr and i will ask the inspector general's office to release its 2014 report on high threat programs directly. one of the inspector general's key findings in that report is that this newly-created body was quote helping to create a culture of shared responsibility of security within the department and has enforced strong partnerships with regional security officers and counterparts in regional and functional bureaus as well as within the interagency community. i think that's an extremely positive finding given the fact that the accountability review board considered the lack of responsibility around security issues to be systemic failure
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just two years ago. mr. starr could you discuss how you think the creation of the high threat program has created a culture of shared responsibility at the state department and my final question tell us how does this culture shared responsibility to improve the safety and security at our embassies abroad? >> thank you for the question congressman. we have addressed this in many different ways. the high threat directorate itself just by the fact that we concentrate on liking every single year at our top 30 post the ones that we worry about the most, the vp2 process we are in the process of conducting for those 30 posts the fact that we have written into every senior officer's job description and every officer in the state department their individual responsibilities for security. the fact that i have officers that are attending the meetings
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of the regional bureaus every single weekend in some cases every single day and when we are looking at the programs we are also talking about the security implications therefore. i think we have highlighted the fact that none of us can operate independently of considerations of security at this point. i think there has been a culture change in the department. i think having to weigh the importance of our programs and why we are in the very dangerous places under the vp2 process has brought a laser like focus on why we are there, what the real threats are and have a clear understanding of the threats, not ignoring the threats. what we have done to mitigate those threats in the decision at the end of that, it is her presence still adequate and does their presence warranted despite all these things? i think it is brought a new
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culture to the department in many ways. i think that i have never seen security taken as seriously as it has been in the last two years and i say that not lately because i have been here a long time and security has been taken seriously for many many years in the department. for some of these processes that we have put in place at this time are new to the department and are doing exactly what the aarp wanted and what you are talking about. is it working itself into the culture? >> and the culture is very significant. it's one thing when you believe in something and you are doing it every day and it becomes a part of your dna, that is the dna of the state department. >> yes, sir. i would add one other thing sir. the officers that are reaching the senior ranks of the department today in many cases has spent significant amounts of time over the last decade in
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places like iraq, pakistan, afghanistan, so not a yemen, cairo, other places where beatriz security problems. the officers that i work with today every single day at my level and above are keenly aware that security must be balanced with their program implementation. they have lived it. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. >> i think the john from maryland. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from alabama ms. roe v.. >> thank you chairman gaby. mr. linick are you familiar with the 1997 recommendation regarding the need -- need to prioritize detachments at diplomatic posts in the methodology based on a ospb security standards? >> i am vaguely familiar with it. i was not here in 1997. >> are you aware that it was closed in 1998? >> i think that's right.
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>> and wasn't to the extent you can answer, it was closed but the department amended its memorandum of agreement with the marine corps to include procedures for establishing the existing attachment procedures for activation and deactivation. is that correct? >> i don't recall why it was closed. >> in 2014 your office again but that whether and where and how the security guard detachments were being utilized at the state department posts overseas. correct? >> that is correct. >> are you able to tell me whether there's a methodology and assigning new attachments to overseas posts and whether that methodology was effective? >> our auditors found in that report that there were former procedures at identified posts.
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they couldn't show how the marine security guard units compared with other posts. there was no formal plan for expansion. they simply just didn't have the processes and procedures one would normally think you would have. >> so you weren't able to figure out how they make a determination of where the marines go? >> we would not. >> is at the same for similar issues to your knowledge? i know you are not as familiar with 1997 but the inspector general band was told he had to create a process for methodologies to select posts so this is a similar situation. >> so how can we on this committee have confidence that recommendation 11 from the benghazi arrow the benghazi arabi made two years ago that the department dod will provide our capabilities at higher risk of post? how can we have the confidence
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of that will be fully implemented? >> well that's the challenge of closing recommendations. we have a complaints follow-up group and i can tell you what they do now. they do look closely at the actions the department takes to close recommendations. they wouldn't close unless they felt there were significant progress. >> mr. starr i want to follow-up with you. according to the arg only 40% of the new msc detachments assigned to pose had higher critical violence or for terrorism. in light of your last statement and the previous questions you said you have never seen security taken so seriously in the past two years. how does the fact that only 40% of the high-risk, high threat posed have the marine security guard detachment, how did this
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satisfy the aarp recommendations in that program to provide more capability and capacity to high-risk posts? >> thank you for the question congressman. there's actually a very clear and simple answer to this. most of the posts that are high threat high-risk already had marine security guard detachments at them and that is why the 40% number is there. of the 30 posts that we ranked as our highest threats, highest bolder ability 19 of them already had marine security guard detachments. we have attitude to those. of the remaining nine posts five of those posts, there is no one there. the post is in name only. we don't have people on the ground. mogadishu, herat. >> let me interrupt you for a second. do you agree with this? >> i haven't confirm those numbers so i don't know.
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>> okay. >> there are several other posts, about four posts in the high threat risk where we would put marine detachments. the host government has not allowed us to do that. >> the reason that figure seems very strange is the vast majority of cases we have already got marine detachments. >> mr. starr how many current threads did not have msg attachments? >> of the 30 highest risk highest threat level post nine do not but five of those nine are not functioning post. they are closed, so far. >> do you agree with that mr. linick? >> i don't know. >> is there a timetable mr. starr for signing msg attachments to use a four posts. >> i would like to do it tomorrow but i find it unlikely
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i'm going to be able to assign marine detachments to those posts. >> you say is because of post-nation problems? >> when i talk to you last time three months ago it doesn't seem like we have made much progress but i asked you what is your plan? if you have host nation problems are there other ways to get security there? you said in your testimony that if you find we don't have those adding tsa agents and several other mitigating things and you said if you don't find we don't have that protection we think the resort to high then we won't be there. so why have we not made progression on those four posts you are stating now and you still don't have those protections in place? >> in some ways the host nation has stepped up and given us high levels of protection. in some cases i have a tremendous amount about the
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resources they are. putting diplomatic security agents and armed contractors that meet the threat. in some cases we have made a determination that the host government is standing up in fulfilling its responsibilities and while it would still like to have marines they are the fact that we don't does not mean that we cannot continue. these are some of the things we are looking at as we do the vp2 process. what the threats are what resources we have overall and as they say marines are one tool in our toolkit. >> mr. linick i'm at -- want to take mr. starr's answered follow-up with you. do you think that's sufficient? >> my question is along the lines of the report what are the plans? where are the plans? where's the methodology? what plans out there are negotiating with the government unwilling to take the test.
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>> and you have not gotten a clear answer on how this is going to be handled? >> all the recommendations are open at this time. >> all the recommendations are open and based on questions earlier open means they are unresolved and there is no evidence you are doing anything to make it better? >> actually there are a number of openly resolved recommendations. in other words the department has agreed in principle to comply but they there are two recommendations which are unresolved and we just disagree. >> there are for unresolved. there are four resolved into unresolved. but even the resolved have got meant to say they want to do something that you have no action to back up their words. >> that is correct. >> we still have according to mr. starr's testimony we have
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four places, very dangerous places in the world where american lives are -- and we don't have the proper security in place. this is for mr. linick. >> i have to accept those facts because i don't know independently whether that's true. >> recommendations in your report recommend that ds marine security guard programs conduct a staffing and resources assessment and judiciously allocate a periphery of resources to facilitate compliance with the benghazi accountability report to upgrade security for personnel and high threat posed. has this been than? >> not according to the fact that i have heard. >> and that the department has yet to comply with benghazi's arb recommendation 11. >> we believe benghazi arv 11
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intended there to be msg marine security guards at all threat posed. that is correct. >> thank you very much. i have got 24 seconds left. i did want to touch a little bit on the local guard force and real quiz -- real quick mr. linick effect you get to the point with you. you have to bindings in your report. security contractors do not fully comply with the vetting requirements called for in the contract and a regional security overseas post took it upon themselves to and failed to ensure that the security contractors provided all the required documentation. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> any of the security companies that have contracts fully perform all vetting required in the contract? >> no, we looked at 87 personnel files and other security
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contractors followed any requirements. >> end of the six embassies did any of them allow guards to work who are being fully bedded? >> yes they allow them to work without them. >> mr. chairman i do not and did out two years after four americans were killed in benghazi we have local guards that are not fully bedded that clearly mr. chairman shows we have a severe security threat in very dangerous places where american lives are at stake today. thank you so much. thank you for being here and i yield back. >> i thank the gentlelady from alabama. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california mr. schiff. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you. i appreciate your service very much. mr. starr i wanted to ask you for historical perspective because i think many americans may be under the impression that
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what took place and benghazi was extraordinary in the sense that we never had a tax on our diplomatic facilities or tragedies like this in the past. tragically we have had a great many over the years and i wonder if you could shed little light on the last 20 years. how many times of our facilities been attacked quite how many times is that resulted in injuries or facilities -- fatalities? is it getting worse because the world is born stable? it seems like there are more high threat posed them ever. is that an impression or is that the reality and what does that mean in terms of the prioritization you mentioned at the outset and that is the priority is for diplomatic posts in the united states. that has to be done in a way to protect people but they are there for a reason.
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and there are many posts where we are where we get asked the same questions and why are we in yemen? why are we in any of these places that are inherently dangerous? there are foreign-policy objectives as there was in lib libya. we have increasingly difficult calls to make about where we post our people and what risks we are able to undertake an inference or policy. as one of the reasons i have such great respect for people in the diplomatic corps because they are at risk. there is no avoiding it these days. can you set the historic trend for us what has been our experience with violence in our facilities and to what degree is that phenomenon changing and the changing for the worse? >> we have's more posts today categorized as higher critical threat for civil disorder or
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terrorism that at any time in my service in the department. i think we are seeing a lot of different threats emerging. i don't think that's a surprise to anyone. we are challenged in many ways but again going back to what we have been doing since nairobi and dar es salaam when i'll qaeda first came in our view full face, that we had to recognize that we had they determined nonstate enemy against us. a lot of the programs that we put in place and the buildings we have built have helped to make us balance of security. congressman as you say, over the last 10 or more years we have had multiple, multiple attacks in our facilities and their
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people in iraq. many, many attacks in afghanistan and herat last year we had a horrific attack with truck bombs trying to kill our people at the consulate in iraq. our security systems killed all of them. we lost tragically third country national guards, armed security guards and afghan police officers but no americans were killed in now. as has been alluded to here at the same time the benghazi attack we have had huge crowds and mobs that were coming over facilities and attacking us at our facilities in cairo in tunisia and sudan and in the last two posts a .5 hours before the host country came to our support. no americans were injured. we have had and lost certain foreign service officers in lone wolf types of attacks.
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we have had rpg attacks, truck bomb attacks, car bomb attacks on our more dictates. we have had aircraft that has been shot at. we have had almost innumerable attacks on our facilities over the last 20 years and you are right, they are going up. it is a challenge. i would first say that a testament to the foreign service that our officer still want to get out and implement the foreign service schools that we have to. it is a testament to their willingness to take new types of training and for the department to take on the security risk. congress has been a very important partner in how we have met these risks particularly since the 1998 bombings and dar es salaam and nairobi. we'll continue to work on these things but i don't think it's a surprise to anybody that we are living in a world that has a
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high degree of instability in many countries. there is a lot of open discussion about how extremism is drawing in new youth, disaffected personnel and has a calling that is being heard by certain people. we have our challenges cut out for us and we will do the best we can to meet those challenges while still implementing foreign policy in the united states government. >> thank you mr. starr. let me drill down a couple of specifics that i think have manifest themselves in light of this increasing threat environment and increasing number of high-risk posts. that is more people are on temporary assignment and people that are of short duration some of these high-risk threats. many of us that have
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investigated these diplomatic facilities overseas for short tours, you talk about one way of trying to fill the gap with retirees. it may be desirable to bring in for tires with more experience but why is that necessary? are we having trouble attracting personnel to go to these high threat posed? is very good chile reinforcing cycle for people to go to a higher threat posed and therefore get recommendations from people in those posts for future assignments and are locked into the post? what is the impact on our personnel of the proliferation of dangerous places? >> congressman the situation we face is that most of these high threat posts are an company. we are asking more and more of our personnel to take unaccompanied tours away from their families for longer periods of time. generally speaking up and when you're tours but we are now at a point where we are asking more
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for officers to serve two-year unaccompanied tours overseas without their families. we have rotated many of our foreign service officers and security agents and security personnel through multiple hardship tours without their families at these high threat posed at this point. the foreign service has a certain amount of personnel. we have not had to rely particularly on very many tdy personnel. some of the other agencies that are present at our posts overseas have greatly relied on temporary duty personnel, not so much the department. we have had officers that have stood up and continue to stand up and serve in these places but it is not without cost. it is not without in some cases fracturing families. are we asking people to serve tour after tour in high threat posed multiple times in these places? do we have behavioral problems
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coming out of this? been answered some cases is yes. so in many cases where we have the need to put our best people in some tough places where we are asking sometimes for temporary personnel but sometimes for longer periods of time. the department is asking to bring back some retired people. somebody's going to use that fast experience and if we are going to pay them for it would like to avail ourselves of that if possible. i do think the state department has been at the forefront of filling her positions with mostly full-time assigned personnel although we too are occasionally. >> just one last question and then i wanted to follow up. i think we all recognize the importance of having high-level attention paid to the arb recommendations by the top principles and the state department.
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i fully concur that secretary clinton and kerry have embraced and established this best practice. you had mentioned it was codified in the foreign affairs manual very recently that the embrace of that by the top principles was from the very beginning. that was the standard that they set was it not? >> i think it was very evident from the statements secretary kerry and of principles that we were in this together and everybody had to get on board. what we are now doing is bringing it back and putting it in the policy great as mr. stevens pointed out it's importantly we need to make those changes and codify this going forward and we are doing this but i agree with you that i've spent many hours in many days with the deputy secretaries and many others and i have had discussions with the secretary about what security means to us. >> thank you mr. chairman pig eye you bet. >> the chair now recognizes woman from illinois mr. roskam.
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>> thank you mr. chairman. secretary starr in mr. linick thank you for your time. secretary i find your argument inconsistent in a sense and i just want to bring your attention a couple of statements that you made to my colleagues. some of the reality is that perceived and walk you through my thinking. a couple of minutes ago you told ranking ranking member cummings that there has been a culture change in the department. and if there has been a culture change in the department that presupposes you basically offer everything up as an obstacle. this is the problem and we are going to rid ourselves of every single problem that was an obstacle to a remedy. a couple of minutes ago you made the argument to mr. schiff, not an argument that you made the point increasingly dangerous world. nobody here disagrees with that. it was compelling you used words
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like extremism disaffected youth in these posts that are unaccompanied because they are miserable places to go. and yet one of the things that is the remedy to that is the waiver authority and recommendation number 13 that the department continues to complain. the recommendation of best practices panel says this. it says waivers to establish security standards should only be pursued subsequent implementation of mitigating measures as agreed by regional bureau or other program managers and is informed by the department of risk management model. that is a great idea. now here's the problem. the department, and i don't know where you were in the discussion but the department has said we don't think it's a great idea. in fact we think this. in certain cases involving national security. i'm going to come back to that because of such an ambiguous term. an exception can be approved based on the mitigating purposes
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in case presuming they're an mitigating measures i might add even though future mitigating measures may be planned to bring a facility closer to oren conformance with the ospb standards. in such cases when time is of the essence to further u.s. national security interest the public requires grant an exception prior to the implementation of plans mitigating measures. so here is my point. that is a gaping exception. that is an exception mr. secretary that anything could get through and i mean anything. so if it's simply look, this is national security. all of a sudden that becomes a laminated hall pass for somebody at the department of state to say we are declaring this a national security emergency. now we have gone to through the whole process that you described identifying the high-risk high threat high-risk posts going
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through vp2. so far no restraining influence. then there are two choices either re-characterize something as a special mention compound or something else or go through another process and even within the other formalized process there still is waiver authority and people around you mr. secretary are saying give it up. by your own argument i might add you are making the argument that you should give it up. if there's a culture culture change is that so that you were inviting ranking member cummings and a world that is so dangerous that you are using all kinds of words we all agree with. so why in the world hang onto this thing? >> for a very specific technical reasons sir. we pick a place. sometimes the best that we can get in short duration if we are going to go back and. we have to make decisions on what needs to be done and what
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levels of things we can't possibly do. i can't create 100 feet of setback when there isn't 100 biggest setback. we may have to accept that. at a certain point we have to make decisions are we going to accept that? are the rest of the things we need to do or are we just going to say no we are not going to accept that and the need to continue looking until we find a place. by the way i've never found a place to lease in 30 years in the department that had 100 feet of setback available. >> secretary starr what is different in the reasoning that you just articulated to me just now from the reasoning that according to benghazi allowed for people to the killed? what is different? >> i will admit that there is are some measure of risk to what i am saying. >> a huge risk. >> i don't agree that it's a huge risk.
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>> we have this dangerous world with this disaffected youth. that was five minutes ago. >> true but i think we have to be able to make decisions. in some cases that we are going to lease a new facility we are going to have to admit that we are going to have to get waivers to certain things in order to fulfill that. >> what is different about what you just articulated in the differences in waivers that there has to be a decision process. >> then why don't you agree to the mitigation? that was the key finding. >> in some places we can't get the mitigation. i cannot get a glass brick building unless i build it. >> then why do we ask people to go to these places? >> because some cases the foreign-policy imperatives in why we need to be there mean that we are going to take reasonable levels of risk. now what we have to be careful
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of is that we don't take unreasonable levels of risk. there has to be an open and also discussion about why we need to be there, what risks are we running into and you understand the threats? >> the practice panel recommendation is trying to codify that risk discussion and if you rewind the tape today and you listen to the answers that you gave and i was carefully listening to this. earlier in our last discussion time in the last hearing ms. roby asked you a question and you and i had an exchange about your answer but just to refresh your memory she asked as a possible for the state department to open a temporary residential facility. you said we don't have any at the moment and i can imagine that we would or i would approve it, you singularly mr. starr. earlier today imparted the exchange he said i'm committed to keeping our people as safe as
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possible. that was your opening statement and there's nothing wrong with that. he then told ms. sanchez i turned that -- you then told mr. jordan i have access and your verso was up a little bit because you were pushing around but he said i have access to the secretary of state. now here is the problem. when you are gone that next person will be confronted with the same discussion that she admitted is basically there something different about the thing of benghazi to your knowledge because i'm telling you i think it's very similar that line of thinking that says we have got to go and yeah there's no time and we have to check these boxes and yeah yale and you have this national security exception like i have described is this big and we are right back into the situation. notwithstanding the culture
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change that you offered up. you see where this is going which is why people around you are saying give it up. offer it up. you don't need it. >> i think relying on one recommendation great. >> this is not one recommendation. >> that is one particular recommendation that we don't agree with. because of the technical reason that we have to be able to say in advance and write the waivers and say we are going to accept waiting that security standard. it gives us the ability to do these things. the larger issue though is things like vp2 and having processes in place. i recognize that this one particular one is confusing in terms of it seems like we don't want to process. it seems like we don't want to process. >> i don't think there's anything confusing about this. you're basically saying we are not going to mitigate. you are saying we are not going to mitigate and these answers at
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the state department has offered predisposes mitigation authority in place and it's relying on a speculation of possible mitigation. in fact it says it may be planned, may be planned. this is speculation upon speculation. do you see how it is that people are coming to the conclusion that in a post-start era like it or not a post-starr era with special committees are not around there is going be every bit of possibility and pressure based on the national security attention which as i described describe it is this big? all of a sudden we are right back in the situation and grieving the loss of life. i ask you to revisit this. i ask you to reconsider this and something you are clinging to. i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes
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gentleman from maryland. >> mr. starr ms. roby asked mr. linick about the vetting of local security guards. she had an excellent line of questioning. i want to make sure i understand what's going on here. because when the dust settles i want to make sure people are safe. in june, when we talk about vetting can you tell me why there is no vetting in those four countries? >> six countries, six countries. >> congressman the answer is it is not true that there was no vetting. what the report points out is that they fully complied with
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the vetting requirements. there are places around the world that our normal vetting requirements, things like requiring police checks, can't be accomplished. there are places where we were the contractors not not allowed to perform a background investigation. this is of all places in one place in italy. we cannot vet contractors in italy because of personal rights and statements that they have in the law. it does not mean that we don't do our best job. now i want to say one thing clearly. when steve and his inspectors go out and they find a circumstance where they say hey we don't think you're contractors living up to the vetting requirements i want to know that. we take that seriously and we go back and say okay what is happening here? in some cases we may find that there's a reason the contractors and fully vetting the people. he may have to use alternate
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methods. but there may be cases and these people may find out that he's trying to put shortcuts in place. he doesn't want to pay for the vetting and when he didn't know those things. that is valued at inspector general teams are bringing back to us so i think it's a dual answer. one, i want to know what they are finding because these inspections are important to us. second, there may be reasons in some cases that there may not be a full day, cases that we can't do it. they're different types of workarounds in certain places because we can't do police checks or they don't make us us do please check essentially. we are looking at family ties. as everybody knows this person and as the person really want to work in the embassy and people who have known his character for a long time and there may be workarounds. finally there are places where we know we have significant
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issues hiring local employees to be guards. and some of those places we have made the decision we bring in third country contractors at tremendous expense because there is no other way to get the vetting done and we don't trust the people. so it's a holistic answer. i don't want to say that we don't value and i necessarily disagree with the ig on some of these things. they play a really important role. the inspection process is important to us and wednesday's people come come back and say hey something is not right here, we look at it. we try to correct it as fast as possible or we have an understanding that they did doesn't quite meet the needs and then we will have an older recommendation and go back and forthwith the inspector on that. i would note sir that our cards tested by us us through thick and thin. some have stayed years after we have closed their facilities to protect them. we have never had a green and
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blue incident with any of our guards. in many cases they have shown loyalty to us far beyond what we could never do. our programs and our guard programs perfect? no and we strive to keep them up to snuff every single day. we try to require the highest possible compliance with the rules and regulations we put in place. all told i need those guards and we will continue doing that and i think we are doing overwhelmingly a very good job. are there some things we need to work on? >> guest: and only find them we are going to work on them. >> thank you for meeting with the 2014 inspector general's report with regard to an audit of the department's oversight of the vetting process. are you familiar with that audit? >> yes, sir. >> and he reported and explained
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the challenge of vetting local security forces because of local privacy laws, lack of credit reports difficult in obtaining official records in the host country. and how do you operate within those kinds of constraints? do you get as much as you can? you want to that and so is there a certain point where you say there's just not enough setting that we can do that we can hire these folks? >> when we look at the determination that we really can't do any vetting and we have no confidence in the guard force that is where we may turn to this other alternative to the country nationals would bring in from another country if we get permission from a host country to do that. in many cases it's more subtle than that and the police check
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may not be worth a piece of paper that it's printed on or privacy laws in many cases we look at who the no's this person? what recommendations have they got? are they family? are they tied to the embassy in someplace? we have got to have guards. we have got to have people manning those posts and we have to people that are checking people as they come in, checking their packages and inspecting their cars. even when some of those vetting procedures may not comport with what we do in terms of security clearance in the united states we have a great deal of faith and confidence in them even though in some cases we may not meet every requirement. we may not be able to cross every t and dot every i. we have to take certain levels of risk. >> just one other thing mr. starr. we spoke extensively about risk management. during our last hearing you spoke about how important it was to assess both the willingness and the capability of country
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forces to provide local security. how does the state department consider potential issues with local guardsmen considering whether to operate in a certain country and how has it been since the nazi? >> i don't know that has actually changed since benghazi sir. i would say it's been an ongoing issue for us. there are some countries that will not allow us to have guard contractors and in some cases we can hire them directly. there are some countries where we have made that determination that because of counterintelligence issues or we think the guard force could be infiltrated and we don't have confidence that we may use third country contractors this has
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been an ongoing issue since 20 2002. we look at every country very carefully. we make a determination as to how we can best fulfill security requirements in the country whether it's a contract or psa or a third country national guard force. we were lied in great part on the experience of the rso in the field in the contracting officers in the general services officers to give us advice here in washington and listen to them and then make recommendations and decisions based on the best knowledge that we have. >> let me say this. i want to thank both of our witnesses for being here today. we really do appreciate it and we appreciate your willingness to work hard every day to make our people safer. as i know mr. starr, i know we have press too hard today.
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please recognize and understand we do so to ensure that departments feet are held to the fire because it's important for all of us if we do this right. i remind you again it is our watch. your testimony in september or october provided us we appreciate in your testimony today shows continuing progress. we appreciate your willingness to work with us and anyone else who helps to make our embassy safer. i want to thank you for that and i want to thank you mr. linick for all you are doing because you too help us. with regard to the arb i think we are making good progress but i want to make sure everything gets done. i know there are eight -- arb recommendations quite a few of
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them from past arb's. i think we need to take these opportunities and try to address as much as we possibly can to fact that those things are still ongoing. there are still problems so again i want to thank both of you. again mr. starr don't forget we want to know when those other recommendations of arb will be completed and to let us know when they are in fact done. okay? thank you. >> yes sir we will get those answers to you and sir i expect it to be pressed pretty art. this is a tough business and its important business. you can press as hard as you want. we are pretty tough guys do we appreciate the tough questioning. the opportunity to put these things on the table with you in an important committee like this is important to me too. >> thank you very much. >> i think the john from maryland.
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mr. starr i was going to pursue a line of questioning and i will get to that at some point but when jim jordan asked you why were we in libya and i'm not going to ask you to say, you made it clear you were not the right person for us to ask and i'm going to respect that but i want to make sure you understand why jimmy would ask you that question and why all of us are asked that question with alarming frequency in our districts. the last hearing we had you did a good job of explaining to those of us who are not in diplomacy that you have to weigh and balance. i think you said you have to weigh and balance the policy with a wrist to determine not you should have a presence. it just struck me that there's no way you can possibly weigh and balance policy versus risk if you don't understand what the policy is. then when jimmy was talking i wondered where the question came from. i knew i had seen this somewhere.
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did you know someone by the name of ben rhodes? >> i don't know if been wrote personally. i know the position he was filling. >> i don't know him either but there was a memo for days after our fellow americans were killed in benghazi and goal number one of his communications memo, says to convey the u.s. is doing everything we can to protect their people and their facilities and a just struck me if you really were doing everything we could we would not have 50 separate recommendations at the rope that memo and this is the second hearing to make sure those limitations were recommended. i'm going to skip over that goal to get to the second goal. the second goal secretary starr was to underscore these were in a video -- so i'm going to skip over the video part of that for now and get to the second clau clause, the dependent clause,
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not a broader failure of policy. how can we judge whether or not a policy has failed or succeeded if no one tells us what the policy objectives were? how do we do that? how can you weigh and balance the risk? jimmy has gone through the risks. members on the other side have gone through the escalating episodes of violence in benghazi and it may well be that the reason for us to have been there supersedes all of those episodes of violence. but how, i mean how can a committee in congress know that if no one tells us why we were there? so you are not the right person to ask. who would you ask if you were us? who should we bring to explain why were we in libya? >> policy questions i think should more properly be directed to the nda bureau that had
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responsibility. >> i am looking for a name preferably. who would be old to tell us what policy we were pursuing in libya was so important to skip over all the things pointed out into weigh and balance the episodes of violence in such a way it outplayed the violence? >> at the risk of not having talked to him again the assistant secretary for nea patterson is the highest ranking member in the bureau and at the time of the attack was u.s. ambassador in egypt and i think one of the deputy assistant secretaries in the nea bureau could give you the best answer on that. >> i thank you for that name and i want to make sure you and i are on the same sheet of music. do you understand why we would have that list? do you think that's a fair and legitimate question for us to ask what the policy was to
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weaken than weigh and balance it as you instructed us to do? >> i think that's a reasonable question, certainly. >> thank you. secretary of last time you were with us we not only discuss the most recent arb recommendations that we went back but we went back and highlighted some from the past and one in particular from 1999 said the secretary of state should take a personal and active role in carrying out responsibilities ensuring diplomatic personnel security abroad. .. secretary, just in case someby missed that part of the 1999 arb, the authors reiterated that point with this. the secretary of state should personally review the security situation of embassies and


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