• Price of Security at State Department: Really Freaking’ Expensive

    December 29, 2012

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq

    They say you can’t put a price on safety, but the State Department has: $750 million to hire 150 new security agents.

    Wait– that works out to five million per secure person hired. Where do we sign up?

    Baghdad Bonus

    Following the report on State’s security failures in Benghazi, the Department predictably tried to turn tragedy in cash money, asking for $$$ Congress previously assigned to the security needs of the World’s Most Expensive Embassy, the one in Baghdad. In a flurry of Iraq-induced mania, Congress buried State in cash last year to secure the Embassy in the aftermath of America’s victory in Mesopotamia. Because State had neither the personnel nor the programs paid for to need that much security, they haven’t spent it and want to re-purpose the money to the rest of the world, now also officially insecure and dangerous following the decade-long War of Terror.

    Buying What?

    Now before we start adding up dollars and (non)sense for the State Department, let’s take a tiny, tiny peek back at that report from Benghazi. While the report certainly did ask for more money (“The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs”), it seemed that the bulk of the report’s criticisms focused on non-monetary stuff like leadership:

    Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

    The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.


    State Needs Leadership, Not More Money

    Now, it appears that what the State Department really needs is some leaders, people more committed to serving their nation than sucking upward to please their bosses by shaving a few bucks off the security budget in Libya. That kind of thing may be harder to go out and buy, even at five million dollars a head. Indeed, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairm Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) suggested that the State Department might do better to examine its priorities before asking for more money:

    We cannot expect the same bureaucracy at State, whose management failures are now manifest, to objectively review the department’s organization, procedure and performance. Nor can we have any confidence in their assessment of what went wrong and what actions are needed to prevent a repeat.


    Ros-Lehtinen went on to critique Hillary Clinton’s launch this year of a flashy initiative to send American celebrity chefs on goodwill tours abroad, saying it seemed especially misplaced in a time of tight budgets. This blog enjoyed a fine bit of dining out on the stupidity of the chef idea, in a previous posting. Democrats in turn said Ros-Lehtinen was turning tragedy into a political football by turning Ros-Lehtinen’s partisan remark about a partisan remark into a partisan criticism. Whew.

    Where’s Hillary?

    Meanwhile, where’s Slick Hilly?

    Mrs. Clinton, recovering from what must be the World’s Longest Concussion, has not been seen for weeks. With her terrible concussion, she was unable to (again) meet with Congress to discuss her organization’s flop in Benghazi. never mind the uber-flop of Hillary’s blood-thirtsy support for the overthrow of Qaddafi that lead to the deaths in Benghazi that lead, somehow, to the celebrity chefs (I’m not sure of the link but it’s there).

    Hillary had nothing to say about the Benghazi report. Hillary had nothing to say about the Congressional criticism. Hillary had nothing to say about Susan Rice’s self-immolation, Hillary had nothing but a Tweet-length “congrats” to say about John Kerry taking over her job. There remains for Hillary a vague promise to meet with Congress in January.

    Hence, as a public service, here are some questions to ask Hillary if she ever emerges from her concussion, now at three weeks and counting:

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent domestically, on security clearances, admin support, agents with pending murder raps on paid leave, prosecuting State Department employees for extra-marital affairs, domestic staff that never leave DC and the Diplomatic Security sub-offices in places like Miami, Los Angeles and Honolulu?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on protecting the Secretary of State? State Department employees know that Hillary does not even travel inside her own building without a security escort. Overseas she gets the full-meal deal with sniffer dogs and sniper teams.

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    –How much of the State Department’s security budget is spent on the growing fleet of contractor-operated helicopters and fixed wing planes State now enjoys?


    –What’s left for the other 180-some overseas posts Hillary?


    The Money Shot

    And, oh yeah, Congress, ask about this:

    The State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security saw its budget expand about tenfold in the decade after the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Contributing to that growth were the U.S.-launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11 attacks. So where’d all that money go to if not into protecting places like Benghazi? Former FSO Bill answers:

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that the increased budget went to increased personnel and better security. Most of the increased funding is dedicated to Special Agent pensions under Public Law 105-382, which establishes age 57 as the mandatory retirement age for Special Agents, and computes their annuity at 2.5% of high 3 average salary times number of years. This is far more generous, and far more expensive than pension benefits for other State employees. In the late 90s, both State and ICE scrambled to get their officers designated as Special Agents, a designation previously limited to fewer agencies. While it was a prestige and morale issue for both agencies, it has had a major impact on budget expenditures. Those who complain that military pensions are too generous should note that DS uses the same formula as the military, but DS average salaries are much higher than military salaries. Once they retire with a really good pension, they can come right back as contractors, who don’t have any requirement to retire at age 57. That’s where the money goes.


    State doesn’t need more money for security. The State Department urgently needs adult supervision over the money it already has, now, before someone else gets hurt.



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  • Recent Comments

    • pitchfork said...

      1

      quote:”Hence, as a public service, here are some questions to ask Hillary if she ever emerges from her concussion”unquote

      4. –How much of the State Department’s internal budget is spent on flatulence surveillance?

      5. –How much of the State Department’s budget is spent making stupid videos of Ambassadors going gangnam style?

      6. –How much of the State Department’s budget is spent on your dance instructor?

      7. –How much of the State Department’s budget is spent on bribing MSM to close their eyes to brutal arrests of people who turn their back on you while being a flaming hypocrite during a speech.

      8. –How much of the State Department’s budget is spent on redefining the Grand Unified Theory of Stupidity.

      10. –How much of the State Department’s budget is spent on your concussion treatment?

      Well, I have a lot more. But those will suffice for now.

      12/29/12 4:23 PM | Comment Link

    • marc said...

      2

      House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairm Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) suggestion that the State Department might do better to examine its priorities before asking for more money was…uh..less than helpful. Embassy security is already sucking the life blood out of diplomacy. Fortress embassies even in places like London are defeating their own purpose. If we’re there just to be able to say we are there, why be there at all?

      12/29/12 5:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      3

      Marc makes a good point. Why the fuck are we in most of these places?

      Why do we need a huge fortress in every little dickhead country that’s fit to stage a coup?

      Most of these places we have are legacy’s from the Cold War, with no real purpose in the 21st century.

      And just what does the average political/econ officer produce that is so critical that we have to have all them staffing all these Embassy’s??

      One of the most interesting (and not discussed) aspects of the Bradley Manning affair is how much “damage” Bradley inflicted.

      Which doesn’t seem to be . . . much.

      Thinkof it. . .all of the State Department’s secret cables for the last several were relaeased and . . .nothing much happened as a result.

      That’s a damning indictment of the State Department.

      12/29/12 5:24 PM | Comment Link

    • MattieB said...

      4

      This was an especially deadly accurate and painfully funny blog post.
      You are one of a kind, PVB, happy new year to you and please keep on blogging.
      Mattie

      12/29/12 5:38 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      “How much of the State Department’s budget is spent on redefining the Grand Unified Theory of Stupidity.” – Pitchfork

      Pitch,

      Glad to see you have come around to understanding the true nature of State. Conspiracy assumes a level of competence that is lacking in State.

      “We cannot expect the same bureaucracy at State, whose management failures are now manifest, to objectively review the department’s organization, procedure and performance. Nor can we have any confidence in their assessment of what went wrong and what actions are needed to prevent a repeat.”

      12/29/12 8:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      6

      Yep, the State Department leopard won’t change it’s spots.

      DS and CA were once part of the same bureau, and it was called S/CA. They’ve always been the Department’s red headed step-children, and becaue they haven’t been managed well, they have produced the major fuck-ups, sometimes costing people their lives.

      Here are a couple instances where money was thrown at State problems: in the mid-80’s a lot more DS agents were hired, on the recommendation of the Inman commission, after several incidents where diplomats were killed. And after Maura Harty’s great passport debacle of 2007, a lot of money was thrown towards CA, with a lot of new passport offices and production facilites being created.

      One constant in State Department management has been the odious presence of one Pat Kennedy. Kennedy, who at times can do a more than passable imitation of an adult male heterosexual, and who recently demonstrated his bureaucratic skill/slipperiness/evasions at the Benghazi hearings (choose any of these three, they all apply), seems to be involved in managing debacles for over 20 years, with seemingly no consequences.

      Kennedy sems to be a member of that group I refer to as the “not so” foreign service, because his career seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in the U.S. Foreign service officers are supposed to spend a specified amount of time overseas, but of course if the paper work were checked we would find that he has all the required waivers.

      12/29/12 9:33 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      7

      Pat Kennedy was (also) the highest-raking official involved in my own year-long struggle with the State Department over my book/blogging.

      With the exception of a Chief of Staff stint with the CPA in Baghdad 2003-2004, Pat’s last overseas posting was in 1991, Egypt. Prior to that he served in Paris. And not much else abroad. So much for “fair share” and all that.

      Pat’s career is an open book, at least via Wikipedia:

      Under secretary for management, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 2007
      Director Office management Policy, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 2007
      Deputy director management, Office Nat. Intelligence, Washington, 2005–2007
      Chief of staff, Transition Unit, Baghdad, Iraq, 2004
      Chief of staff, Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq, 2003
      Ambassador, United States representative for management and reform, United Nations, 2001–2005
      Coordinator for reorganization of foreign affairs agencies, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 1997–2001
      Acting assistant secretary for diplomatic security, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 1998
      Acting under secretary for management, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 1996–1997
      Assistant secretary for administration, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 1993–2001
      Administrate counselor, U.S. Department of State, Cairo, 1991–93
      Executive director, then deputy executive secretary, U.S. Department of State, Paris, 1985–90
      Supervisory general services officer, U.S. Department of State, Paris, 1981–1985
      Special assistant to under secretary for management, U.S. Department of State, Washington, 1977–81
      Personnel officer, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 1975–76
      Regional administrative officer, Foreign Service, 1973–74

      12/29/12 11:38 PM | Comment Link

    • DR DIAS said...

      8

      Just look at the Embassy in Panama!

      With its over size Southern Command bunker complex.

      No real parking for visitors or for the disabled.

      Local security guards who really do not know that the English language really is a language!!

      Employees that can not be found even at their workstation/desks during regular work/shift hours.

      Employees that are rude to the Panamanians seeking US Visa’s!

      Other wise Panama is model embassy like the one in Saigon or maybe Phenom Phen pre 1975 without Charlie, NVA, ARVN, MP’s, AP’s, press corp, and Pol Pot!

      Of course I jest!!

      OMG!

      WTF!

      Negative SitRep at best!

      I just wish sometimes I could unass this AO!

      12/30/12 1:03 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      9

      Note to future historians (if you indeed appear). Call it Obama’s Folly- the regime change in Libya. But, Hillary and other clueless assholes were goading on that idiot weakling quasi hit list male. Why was it done? Simple! Because we COULD do it. Amerika does things because it can do things. There is no logical or self serving reason others than pure hubris. Unenlightened self interest is the ethos of empire now. Qaddafi could be killed and so State decided it should just kill him. No big deal. We CAN kill him so let’s kill him. It is that simple. Perverse? Of course. “We came , we saw, he died. It’s that easy.

      12/30/12 3:48 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      10

      John Poole wrote:

      “Why was it done? Simple! Because we COULD do it. Amerika does things because it can do things. There is no logical or self serving reason others than pure hubris.”

      I agree that it’s hubris, however there is a kind of hubristic logic behind it, the same logic as the Athenians used when they attacked the tiny and weak nation of Melos. Cf from Thucydides “History of the Peloponnesian War” (431 BC):

      “As far as right goes they think one has as much of it as the other, and that if any maintain their independence it is because they are strong, and that if we do not molest them it is because we are afraid; so that besides extending our empire we should gain in security by your subjection…”

      https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/melian.htm

      12/30/12 2:01 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      11

      meloveconsul………… Yes, that explains Amerika’s periodic bashing of weaker societies. I can’t remember the quote or the Neo Con who said America should periodically just grab some little despot somewhere and bash him against a wall to show that we can do it.

      12/30/12 3:09 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      12

      quote: “Yes, that explains Amerika’s periodic bashing of weaker societies.”unquote

      Yes, just like a cowardly school yard bully who ALWAYS picks on someone smaller. Did ya happen to notice, we never pick on Russia..or North Korea, or China? geewhiz..I wonder why.

      quote:”I can’t remember the quote or the Neo Con who said America should periodically just grab some little despot somewhere and bash him against a wall to show that we can do it.”unquote

      I’d like to meet him. You know..just to illustrate his point personally. Although, he wouldn’t be left with the ability to contemplate the Law of Unintended Consequences.

      12/30/12 4:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      13

      On a side note, finally realizing the fact that the State Department is simply a whorehouse of pathetic talking heads, and a taxpayer fleece re-distributor for a regime of cowardly murdering psychopaths, from what I’ve seen this week, all the crap concerning DOS is of little consequence to me at the moment.

      Bigger fish to fry notwithstanding, having seen the Congressional acquiescence to Totalitarianism Are Us regarding the FISA bullshit, and a fresh read of the Bill of Rights.. I believe a sober re-alignment of my conscientiousness of allegiance is now rational and just.

      Make no mistake. Orwell isn’t laughing. The NSA/DHS Surveillance State has arrived in full body armor and fully automatic machine guns, with Sedition Laws, domestic militarized law enforcement, weaponized drones and mass detainments soon to follow..mark my words. They haven’t built the Bluffdale NSA facility and Fema camps, purchased millions of body bags, and stockpiled an armory of 1.5 BILLION bullets for nothing.

      Meanwhile, most of this lobotomized citizenry haven’t got a fucking clue, while some of those that do, simply shrug. In fact, I submit some portion would welcome Amerika Inc. with open arms, as they think daddy will keep those awful terrorists from hurting them. Well, I just hope these sick bastards live long enough to see their children hauled off to internment camps. In fact…I’d submit..some will even turn in their children, spouses, mothers and fathers…no prob.

      To see my nation spiral down this pit of unconscionable evil, not only nauseates me..but it gives me the fucking creeps.

      Well guys. Sorry for my little rant. Carry on.

      12/30/12 5:11 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...

      14

      12/30/12 5:14 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      15

      ps…ps. In regards to my previous post…

      Two days ago I was introduced to Betrayal Trauma …and Political betrayal

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betrayal

      Seeing that BT is real, having been used by the defense during a Abu Ghraib torture trial, I have reason to believe I may be a BT victim, so I did some searching.

      http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/12/29/us-whistleblowers-on-being-targeted-by-the-secret-security-state/

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_packet_inspection

      http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/handcuffs-deliver-electric-shocks/?src=Outbrain

      http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/12/17/121217fa_fact_khatchadourian?currentPage=all

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VCTvs7UXa4

      yep. I got it alright. Damn. Anybody have an antidote?

      12/30/12 5:45 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      16

      quote:”7 Shocking Ways the Military Wastes Our Money” unquote

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      yeah, and in two days we’ll be floatin down the fiscal cliff….. but damn, we got all those golf courses, so who’s worrying?

      never fuckin ceases to amaze me. I should be lobomised.

      12/30/12 6:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      “Saying that some State Department officials “have been held accountable,” Obama said that the review of the September 11 attack showed there was “sloppiness” in terms of security measures but that mistakes were not intentional.”

      The Washington Wizards could use this excuse.

      12/30/12 7:41 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      18

      Pitch- it was Michael Ledeen who said that every ten years or so the USA should throw some crappy little country up against a wall to show that we mean business. Wikipedia under Ledeen has the quote.

      12/31/12 1:22 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      19

      Thanks. I’ll look him up.

      Ok guys, better start preparing. Didn’t I mention
      “they didn’t do this stuff for nothing”?

      Well sooprise sooprise.

      http://www.homelandsecurityus.com/archives/7305

      Whooda thunk? All I know is this shit is getting weirder by the day.

      12/31/12 4:51 AM | Comment Link

    • Lafcadio said...

      20

      Please note that, since 1980, we seem to be stuck in a groundhog day continuous loop repeat. Security gets lax, diplomats get killed, a board commission is convened, nobody is held accountable, Washington then throws money at the problem, more DS agents are hired, the foreign service then complains that all the security is hindering their jobs (whatever those are, in the case of political/econ officers), an admin officer is bought in to run DS, security gets lax, people get killed, rinse, repeat.

      Also note that the Department seems to believe only hetero poseur Pat Kennedy, dwarf douchebag Sheldon Krys and non-entity Eric Boswell seem to be the only peole that State believes can run these particluar lemonade stands. Not exactly a deep and talented bench.

      And here, at the link, is one more reason why State fails. They never listen to anyone else:

      http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2008/09/29/deep-survival-mob-mentality/

      12/31/12 10:12 AM | Comment Link

    • Next Secretary of State John Kerry’s Full Plate of Management Issues, and That’s Just For Starters | Diplopundit said...

      21

      […] out to an overseas assignment.  Retired FSO, Peter Van Buren, who is not/not a fan of Mr. Kennedy notes in his blog that the later’s last overseas posting with the exception of a Chief of Staff stint with the […]

      01/7/13 8:42 AM | Comment Link

    • GS test said...

      22

      Price of Security at State Department: Really Freaking’ Expensive | We Meant Well – Peter Van Buren

      03/31/13 3:27 PM | Comment Link

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