Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and the State
February 24, 1999
Thank you very much. I am pleased to be here this morning to speak
with you about the Department of State's security requirements.
In the last seven years, the real dollar budget of the Department of
State has declined by 22% while over 20 new posts have been opened --
a 14% increase -- in response to the creation of new states in the
former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe. At the same time
our workload in some areas like passport and visa issuance has
increased by more than 20%.
This geographic expansion with no reduction in functions has clearly
stretched State resources to the breaking point, and the impact of
this severe erosion is felt not just in the State Department. State,
as you know better than I, is the overseas platform on which America
conducts its trade policy, encourages agricultural exports, and
combats international terrorism and drugs, among many other
In the last two years, with your help, we have begun to reverse this
erosion of the base. In particular, I would like to thank you for your
bipartisan support of the $1.4 billion in the FY 1999 Emergency
Supplemental Appropriation. In the aftermath of the horrible terrorist
bombings of our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam last August,
your help made it possible to respond quickly to provide medical and
other assistance to the bombing victims, begin the restoration of our
operations in Kenya and Tanzania, and implement important additional
security measures worldwide. David Carpenter, the Assistant Secretary
for Diplomatic Security, and I have briefed your staffs in detail on
our implementation of this supplemental.
Today, more than ever before, U.S. diplomacy is a direct reflection of
our domestic self interest and well being. Our presence around the
globe is represented by a wide variety of agencies, not just the
traditional foreign affairs agencies. Today, agencies from EPA to
Defense and Transportation to HHS and CDC are resident in our
embassies. The Department of State provides the platform for about 30
agencies as they pursue the interests of the United States around the
world, and Department employees comprise only one third of our
diplomatic presence abroad. Our obligation to improve security
benefits not just State Department employees but all employees of the
U.S. government stationed abroad, as well as American citizens and
foreign nationals seeking services at our embassies.
I would now like to turn to Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic
Security David Carpenter, who will speak to you about the threat
environment we are currently facing worldwide at our posts.
(Assistant Secretary Carpenter:)
U.S. DIPLOMATIC INTERESTS -- A SNAPSHOT OF THE CURRENT SECURITY
As (CIA Director) George Tenet has briefed Congress, the current
terrorist threat to U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel overseas
is global, lethal, multi-dimensional, and growing. The threat is
generated by indigenous and transnational anti-American terrorist
groups and by state sponsors of terrorism. The last significant public
manifestation of this threat was the August 1998 suicide attacks by
Islamic extremists against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es
Salaam that killed 12 Americans. The daily byproducts of this threat
are the countless walk-ins, threat letters, anonymous phone calls,
intelligence reports, and surveillance incidents directed at U.S.
diplomatic facilities. For example, from August 1998 to the end of
January 1999, U.S. diplomatic facilities received over 650 threats
related to the Usama bin-Ladin Organization and the East African
bombings, and these threats were received on every continent. We
emphasize that this figure does not include threats from indigenous
terrorist groups, state sponsors of terrorism, or threats generated
from U.S. foreign policy or military actions such as those involving
Serbia and Iraq. To understand the level and scope of the current
security threat that confronts U.S. diplomatic facilities and
personnel overseas, it is necessary to examine each of the four major
components of this threat.
1. The Threat from Indigenous Terrorist Groups
Indigenous or domestic terrorist groups are those that operate only
within their country of origin. Such groups have a low threat
projection in that their operational reach is restricted to a single
country. They have been a constant threat to our facilities since the
1970s when many of the Marxist terrorist groups first surfaced. In
general, these groups use tactics such as firing anti-tank rockets,
throwing molotov cocktails, planting car bombs, or close-order
assassinations. Specific, credible threats from these indigenous
terrorist groups are rare. From August 1998 to the end of January
1999, we recorded less than two dozen specific threats from these
groups. However, the absence of a large number of threats from the
indigenous groups should not be misinterpreted as a decline in this
threat. For example, from 1987-1997, there were 232 indigenous
terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. Very few of these
attacks were preceded by threats or intelligence reports suggesting a
threat. The threat from these groups is a general one and is based on
their anti-American rhetoric and past attacks on U.S. targets. It
should also be emphasized that the indigenous terrorist groups have
the tendency to carry out anti-American attacks in response to U.S.
foreign policy decisions or military actions. For example, during
Operation Desert Storm in 1991, U.S. targets were frequently attacked
by indigenous terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America to protest
U.S. air operations over Iraq.
2. The Threat from Transnational Terrorist Groups
A transnational terrorist group is one that has or can operate in
multiple countries. This type of group poses a more complicated threat
since its threat projection is much wider than the indigenous
terrorist group and consequently requires a wider dispersal of
security resources. Historically, these groups are fewer in number
than indigenous groups. In the 1980s, there were three anti-American
transnational terrorist groups. Today, there are at least three --
Egyptian Islamic elements, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Usama bin-Ladin
Organization (UBLO). These groups generally employ indiscriminate,
mass-casualty tactics such as vehicle-borne improvised explosive
devices. While all three groups are doctrinally anti-American, only
the UBLO has carried out an attack on a U.S. target within the past
The UBLO has been the primary generator of threat information against
U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas. As I mentioned, over 650 threats
have been linked to this organization or to the East African bombings
since August 1998. Our analysts believe that about 33% of these
threats are "viable" threats, that is, they are either logical,
consistent with previous reporting of UBLO tendencies, or based on
credible intelligence reports or walk-ins.
Currently, the UBLO appears to be the most dangerous terrorist threat
to U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel overseas. This
organization reportedly has a presence in over 25 countries and its
tentacles may spread to many more. It is dangerous because it has a
potentially global reach, it appears well-financed, it has the
protection of one and possibly two states, it has a dedicated cadre,
it engages in suicide attacks, it has an avowedly anti-American
ideology, and it appears to have plugged into or provides support to
over a half-dozen indigenous terrorist groups around the world.
As George Tenet has testified, "there is not the slightest doubt that
Usama Bin-Ladin, his worldwide allies, and his sympathizers are
planning further attacks against us. Despite progress against his
networks, Bin-Ladin's organization has contacts virtually worldwide,
including in the United States -- and he has stated unequivocally ...
that all Americans are targets."
3. The Threat from State Sponsors of Terrorism
The U.S. government currently lists seven states as sponsors of
terrorism. Some of these states currently cause us more concern than
others. The threat to our diplomatic interests from these state
sponsors has not been realized, but given the nature of their
relationship with the United States and their record of state
sponsorship of terrorism, we cannot dismiss this threat.
4. Threats Triggered by U.S. Actions Overseas
There are a number of U.S. foreign policy or military actions that
might engender reactions which would increase security concerns for
our diplomatic facilities and personnel. This could be Kosovo
developments, the bombings of facilities in the Sudan and Afghanistan,
or responses to Iraqi behavior. In some cases, such actions trigger an
outburst of anti-American activity that ranges from telephonic threats
to demonstrations, bombings, or assassinations.
For example, anti-American fallout occurred during our military
buildup in the Persian Gulf in February of last year and again from
our joint action with Britain against Iraq in December. From February
1 to March 1 last year, during a period of heightened tensions with
Iraq, over 130 anti-American threats and incidents were recorded
worldwide. In early December, after U.S./U.K. airstrikes on Iraq
began, we recorded during a 10-day period 18 threats and 15 anti-U.S.
incidents directed at U.S. diplomatic facilities in 19 countries.
Unfortunately, U.S. diplomatic facilities serve as a very visible
target for anti-American militants or hostile governments who want to
send a more violent message to the U.S. Government.
U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel overseas have been, are, and
will continue to be threatened by anti-American terrorist groups,
which see our presence as prominent overseas symbols of the United
States government. They are perceived by terrorists as more accessible
than U.S. military facilities. The emergence of the Usama bin-Ladin
Organization as a transnational terrorist group willing to engage in
suicide attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities has dramatically
increased the security threat -- a threat that unfortunately has all
the attributes of a long-term security problem.
(Under Secretary Cohen:)
Let me now look at some of the management steps the Department is
taking to develop a comprehensive and long-term strategy to deal with
this challenging environment, and in particular with the
implementation of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation. We know
that no amount of effort on our part can guarantee security of our
people and our buildings against a determined opponent. The key word
here is "guarantee." With these security measures, however, our hope
is to deter and to diminish the effect of those future actions to the
best of our ability, remembering there can be no 100% security
guarantee. I thank you again for your support and assure you we intend
to justify that continued support.
To effectively implement the measures funded in the supplemental, the
Department of State has consulted with OMB (Office of Management and
Budget), GSA (General Services Administation), the Inspector General,
the Army Corps of Engineers and others to benefit from their
expertise. We have met with major multinational companies on their
approaches to large scale, cost effective construction. We have met
with those who implemented the earlier Inman program. We have detailed
month-by-month plans for obligating funds and implementing programs,
and we are providing careful oversight through weekly status meetings
and quarterly off-sites.
In Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, we are moving ahead with the
construction of our new chanceries. On Monday, February 8, 1999, only
six months after the bombing, we were proud to raise the American flag
over the new interim office building in Dar es Salaam, after acquiring
five parcels of land, renovating 3 8,000 square feet of space, and
constructing 10,000 square feet of new space. In Nairobi, we began
renovation of the interim office building in January 1999. It should
be completed by July. Planning for the new office buildings is on
schedule, with site acquisition scheduled this spring.
We have also begun a Model Embassy project to determine what the "new"
Nairobi mission should look like. As we then build new facilities in
East Africa, they will be tailored to the conclusions from this
project. The overall goal is to reduce the number of employees and
others exposed to potential violence, and to identify the resources
needed to protect those who remain. The Model Embassy Project will
-- existing and potential regional service and program relationships,
seeking to minimize, for example, the number of employees in the East
-- the nature and layout of replacement facilities, keyed to projected
staff levels and functions;
-- opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce staff presence
through enhanced communications and information processing;
-- improved cooperation and cross-servicing among agencies to reduce
-- prospects for shifting certain functions back to the United States.
We expect to have recommendations in late May.
With your support for the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation, the
Department of State has:
-- Sent Emergency Security Assessment Teams (ESATs) to 32 posts to
assess security needs;
-- Deployed 120 DS Special Agents overseas on temporary duty;
-- Increased local guards by over 1,000 around the world;
-- Worked with local governments to close or change traffic Patterns
in several cities;
-- Enhanced physical security with bollards, delta barriers, video
cameras and other measures;
-- Acquired or placed under contract six surrounding properties to
increase setback at five posts. We are negotiating for properties at
25 more posts.
Within days of the bombings in East Africa, we conducted a
top-to-bottom review of the security posture of all of our diplomatic
facilities around the world. The seven inter-agency ESATs recommended
that 19 of the 32 posts surveyed required moving the embassies or
consulates to new or newly acquired buildings. The key reason for this
recommendation was the lack of adequate setback needed to protect
posts from an explosive blast. We continue to dispatch DS Security
Augmentation Teams (SATs) and Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) around the
globe to augment security and provide training to our personnel.
Host governments have been responsive to our requests for the
assignment of additional security personnel to protect our buildings
and staffs. They have allowed us to close streets, install jersey
barriers and bollards, and employ embassy vehicles at key checkpoints
around our embassies. Overall host government support has been
excellent; however, many countries are limited in what they can
provide. The Emergency Supplemental Appropriation has therefore been
invaluable in addressing our immediate, short-term security needs.
Additional physical and technical security upgrades are ongoing, such
as delta barriers, blast walls, closed-circuit event recording cameras
with VCR control, and security radios -- all designed to enhance the
perimeter security of our facilities. To date, over 200 additional
time-lapse VCRs have been deployed overseas.
The key to the success of our security programs, however, is trained
and experienced professionals. We are in the process of hiring and
training 200 new Diplomatic Security agents in FY-99, as well as 17
security engineers, 34 security technicians and 20 diplomatic
couriers. DS has established 140 new special agent positions overseas
-- 75 to be assigned in 1999 and the remaining 65 in early 2000. The
Department's FY 2000 request includes $41 million to provide ongoing
salary, training, and support costs for these direct hire U.S.
government employees hired and trained under the FY 1999 Emergency
Overall we will hire and train an additional 391 employees, which
include the new DS special agents, as well as critical technicians,
construction project managers, support specialists, and security
inspectors. In order to be able to maintain the security enhancements
already funded and respond to the increased threat levels that
Assistant Secretary Carpenter has outlined, we must sustain the number
of security and support personnel in future years.
We are making a dramatic effort to expand our crisis management
training programs both domestically and overseas. 100 crisis
management exercises will take place at posts this year and 100 more
in FY 2000. We have also trained about 700 employees domestically so
far this fiscal year. This ambitious overseas training schedule,
coupled with the crisis management training we provide domestically,
will help ensure that our personnel are fully prepared to respond to
future crisis situations.
In fact, we are already benefiting from a heightened awareness about
how to react in a crisis. Just last week, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a
series of blasts directed at the Uzbekistan Parliament Building went
off near one of our facilities. During one car bomb blast, the
building's windows shattered, but not a single employee was injured,
thanks to this training.
In our FY 2000 budget, we are requesting a total of $268 million to
fund the recurring costs of these programs begun under the FY 1999
Emergency Supplemental Appropriation. Our goal must be to improve
security over the long term, not to provide just a temporary fix.
Without funding for the recurring costs and continuing support to
sustain our initial investment, these programs will not be viable in
the long term.
The FY 1999 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation also provides $150
million in funding for post relocation, site acquisition, design, and
construction for some of our highest risk posts. With these funds, we
are simultaneously working on several posts. Since the funds became
available, we have acquired land at one post and have started
construction. We have made substantial progress toward acquiring four
As Assistant Secretary Carpenter described, we are now confronting an
unprecedented level of credible security threats. Today over 80% of
our embassies do not have at least 100 foot setback from the street,
and many are in desperate need of security improvements beyond what
these "quick fixes" can accomplish.
In approximately seven weeks, the Secretary will be submitting to you
a report on the Department's actions taken in response to the
Accountability Review Board (ARB) recommendations. The Accountability
Review Board investigation of the bombing incidents in East Africa,
chaired by Admiral Crowe, concluded that the Department "must
undertake a comprehensive and long-term strategy for protecting
American officials overseas, including sustained funding for enhanced
security measures, for long-term costs for increased personnel, and
for a capital building program based on an assessment of requirements
to meet the new range of global terrorist threats."
The Department of State agrees with virtually all of the Boards'
recommendations, and we are taking a very careful look at how they can
be implemented. We must look at our presence abroad and ensure that we
are defining and operating under the appropriate parameters. To fund
the construction costs for these projects and pursue the long-term,
sustained, security-driven capital building program recommended by the
ARB report, the Department is seeking a FY 2000 appropriation as well
as an advance appropriation totaling $3 billion for FY 2001 through FY
2005. The advance appropriation will enable the Department to begin to
fund site acquisition, design, and construction of new embassies at
the highest risk locations.
There is no doubt that we need setback to protect adequately our
people overseas, and acquiring setback -- whether by purchasing
adjacent land or building new facilities -- costs money. If we cannot
protect our people, we will not be able to attract and retain them.
Without people, we cannot represent America and our nation's interests
around the world. And I can assure you, as the Secretary has said, we
will not be intimidated by terrorists.