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Security and privacy information and advice at home and abroad.

US Embassy Tripoli Security “…not the best…”

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CNN published this story yesterday regarding US Embassy Tripoli’s evacuation.  Acting Chief of Mission Joan Polaschik stated,

“We had not the best security… We don’t have the typical fortress America embassy compound (in Tripoli). In fact we have a group of residential villas…”

These statements are 100% true, but it should be understood that while Diplomatic Security lays out guidelines for embassy construction, we are totally dependent on the host government’s cooperation for security upgrades or new construction. In Libya’s case, new construction was not permitted due to the state of relations between Libya and the United States.  In other cases, new embassy construction may not be possible for other reasons.  In European capitals, buying land for a new embassy compound is often prohibitively expensive.  In others, embassy buildings were given as gifts in safer times and the host government would take it as a major snub if we moved out.  Luckily, these examples tend to be in countries in which we can rely on the host government’s internal security to partially compensate for the lack of physical protection we build into our new embassies.

In countries like Libya in which the host government is uncooperative, DS’s hands are tied.  It’s a no-win situation for us if things start to hit the fan.  We do our best to mitigate the possible threats within the restrictions that come down from the higher-ups and literally hope nothing bad happens.

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Written by OSB

27/02/2011 at 11:01

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