Embassy Row: Security alert

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The al Qaeda threat that closed 22 U.S. diplomatic posts Sunday followed intense efforts in Washington to increase security at embassies in danger spots around the world, nearly a year after the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed bills last week to increase embassy security at high-risk U.S. diplomatic missions.

“This legislation provides our diplomats with the tools they need to do their job effectively and as safely as possible,” said Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House committee.

Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate committee, reminded fellow lawmakers they have a duty to provide U.S. diplomats with the highest possible level of protection.

“We must recognize that many of our diplomats and personnel work in dangerous environments abroad, which makes it the responsibility of Congress to do all within its powers to protect them,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

Both the House and Senate bills would provide nearly $1.4 billion for security construction at U.S. embassies.

The Senate bill is named after the four Americans killed Sept. 11 when al Qaeda-linked terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, his aide Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed in the assault.

The State Department on Sunday closed embassies in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It also closed consulates in Dubai; Erbil and Basrah in Iraq; and Dhahran and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

CRYING FOR JUSTICE

A widow in Kenya “is crying for justice,” and her friends have taken to Facebook to raise money for her after her husband was killed by a vehicle that, Nairobi police say, was driven by an American diplomat who quickly left the East African nation.

Police identified Joshua Walde, described as an “information management officer” at the U.S. Embassy, as the driver of an SUV that killed Haji Lukindo and injured eight others in a minibus crash on July 11. They told reporters in the Kenyan capital that they let Mr. Walde go because he has diplomatic immunity.

“We don’t take diplomats into custody,” Patrick Lumumba, a traffic police chief, told The Associated Press.

A police spokeswoman, Ziporah Mboroki, said that cases involving diplomats are typically forwarded to their embassies.

Reports also said that Mr. Walde and his wife left Kenya after sending emails to recommend their household staff to friends in Nairobi. A State Department official told reporters that U.S. diplomats are cooperating with Kenyan police.

The case exploded in Kenya’s media last week after friends of the victim created a Facebook page to raise money for his pregnant wife, Latifah, and their three children.

“A widow is crying for justice,” Kenya’s Nation newspaper said Sunday.

‘SILLY SQUIRT’

A former British ambassador is delighted that Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning is likely heading for prison for the rest of his life.

Charles Crawford, writing in London’s Telegraph newspaper, dismissed Manning as a “silly, if not mentally ill, squirt” who “abused a position of trust” by leaking vast amounts of classified documents to an Internet site.

The former British envoy to Bosnia, Poland and Serbia said Manning differs from a genuine spy, such as Jonathan Jay Pollard, who has been in a U.S. prison since 1987 for spying for Israel.

Mr. Crawford said he went to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with Pollard, whom he described as a “clever bonehead.”

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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