POLITICS
05/16/2013 02:24 pm ET Updated May 16, 2013

Obama To Congress: Provide More Funds For Security At U.S. Embassies

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama called on Congress Thursday to "support and fully fund" his budget request for security at U.S. embassies, a move that puts the focus back on lawmakers and the role they can play in averting another attack like the one last year on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

"I am intent on making sure that we do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening," Obama said during a Rose Garden press event with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "But that means we owe it to them and all we serve to do everything in our power to protect our personnel serving overseas."

Obama's request reflects one of the recommendations of an independent accountability board tasked with reviewing the Benghazi attack. The board's final report calls for "additional Marines ... as well as corresponding requirements for staffing and funding" at U.S. embassies. It also recommends that the State Department and Department of Defense "identify additional flexible [Marine Security Guard] structures and request further resources ... to provide more capabilities and capacities at higher risk posts."

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) argued earlier this week that Republican budget cuts hampered security at the Benghazi consulate.

"It takes funding to protect an embassy," Boxer said during remarks on the Senate floor. "Who cut the funds from embassy security? The Republicans in the House, that is who -- hundreds of millions of dollars ... They ought to ask: Mirror, mirror, who cut the funding for diplomatic security across this world for America? The answer: Republicans."

But the Washington Post gave Boxer "three Pinocchios" for her claims and pointed to the fact that State Department officials "repeatedly told Congress that a lack of funds was not an issue." Instead, the Post states, Benghazi security was hampered because of bureaucratic obstacles and management failures.

HuffPost's Amanda Terkel recently interviewed retired Ambassador Tom Pickering, who helped lead the independent Benghazi panel, about the issue of embassy funding. While he emphasized the need to have "as much security as we can," he focused on the security aspects of an embassy's physical appearance.

"We need to find ways to put the security in place, maybe with tree plantings, other kinds of things," Pickering said. "My sense is, look, we owe our people as good as we can do, but we have to get them out of the embassies and we have to make our embassies look as though they're part of the landscape. Not some prison somewhere."

Clarification: The original post referenced Pickering's appearance on HuffPost Live. He instead spoke about embassy appearance and security with HuffPost's Amanda Terkel.

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