- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The State Department’s top spokeswoman said Wednesday that she and others at Foggy Bottom are “crossing our fingers” in the hope that Congress will come through with requested funds for security improvements to U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.

Political bickering has resulted in gridlock over most budget issues in Washington. But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said both the House and Senate have recently been working on a continuing resolution for 2013 that would include $1.4 billion for security improvements at facilities overseen by the department.

Mrs. Nuland said the State Department asked for the money late last year to meet security recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board, which had conducted an examination of security failures surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

The review board blamed inadequate security at the Benghazi post on systematic management failures at the State Department’s headquarters in Washington, where officials turned down repeated requests from diplomats on the ground for more security.

U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed after armed militants carried out a terrorist attack on the Benghazi facility.

It was unclear on Wednesday how much — if any — of the $1.4 billion now being considered by bills in the House and the Senate might go towards security upgrades to U.S. diplomatic posts in Libya.

Mrs. Nuland suggested the money would be spread around the world. She said $1.3 billion would be used for “construction and upgrades to our facilities, and $158 million is for upgrades to diplomatic security, both in terms of personnel and their equipment.”

She said State Department officials are “pleased that the funding includes quite a bit of flexibility for enhanced diplomatic security.”

“We here at the State Department very much appreciate the efforts of both the House and the Senate to craft a continuing resolution that provides funding for the remainder of the year,” Mrs. Nuland said.

Asked whether she was optimistic that the funds will come through, she said: “We are crossing our fingers and working with the Congress.”

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