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HFAC Democrats to Trump: Stop Endangering American Diplomats

May 8, 2017
Press Release
Engel Leads Effort Calling on Trump to Appoint Head of Diplomatic Security

WASHINGTON—Democratic members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today urged President Trump to stop jeopardizing the safety of American diplomats by nominating an Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security. Given how the President made the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya a central issue of his campaign, the members admonished him for failing to nominate the senior State Department official directly responsible for ensuring protection of our embassies and diplomats.

The members wrote, “Every day, all around the world, American diplomats should go to work confident that the United States government is doing everything possible to keep them safe.  However, over 100 days into your Administration, in the office most directly responsible for their safety—that of Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security—there sits an empty desk.  And as long as that office remains empty, you are putting American diplomats at unnecessary risk.”

All 21 Democratic Committee members signed the letter, which can be found here and text of which follows.

Dear Mr. President:

Every day, all around the world, American diplomats should go to work confident that the United States government is doing everything possible to keep them safe.  However, over 100 days into your Administration, in the office most directly responsible for their safety—that of Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security—there sits an empty desk.  And as long as that office remains empty, you are putting American diplomats at unnecessary risk.

We urge you to immediately nominate an Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security. The women and men in the United States Foreign Service who bravely serve our country – often in dangerous places and at great risk to themselves and their families – deserve to have a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary in place ensuring that they are fully protected.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security protects our diplomats at 275 diplomatic missions in more than 160 foreign countries. They are our first line of defense in not only keeping our diplomats safe but also in ensuring that so-called “soft targets” – such as the schools that the children of U.S. personnel attend – are protected from terrorist threats.

The tragic September 2012 attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was a centerpiece of your campaign and one which you frequently spoke about, often with little regard for the actual facts. House Republicans spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a Select Committee that found nothing beyond what several previous investigations already had established. Given your significant focus on the Benghazi attack, we hope you will recognize the need to expeditiously nominate an Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.

At a time of great global instability and turmoil, we cannot take anything for granted. In December, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 1635) which put into place several new requirements intended to protect our diplomats. We look forward to working with the next Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security to ensure that these provisions are fully implemented.

Every day that goes by without a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security in place poses an unnecessary risk to our diplomats. We urge you to work with Secretary of State Tillerson in making this appointment as soon as possible.

cc: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

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