Inspector General: Suspected Terrorists Hired To Guard Consulate In Benghazi – CNS
Libyans suspected of bombing and vandalizing the U.S. consulate in Benghazi prior to the deadly attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been hired there as security guards by a British contractor, according to a report released June 13 by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)
“One guard who had been recently fired and another guard on the company’s payroll were suspected of throwing a homemade bomb into the U.S. compound 6 months before the attacks,” according to the OIG report.
“In addition, according to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Temporary Mission Facility in Benghazi had been vandalized and attacked in the months prior to the September 2012 attacks by some of the same guards who were there to protect it,” the report stated.
The Libyan guards were hired after “a casual recruiting and screening process” and received “minimal training,” according to a media reported cited in the audit of embassy security procedures in six countries.
The audit also found a criminal with “multiple false identities” working at a U.S. embassy due to limited oversight in the process required for vetting locals hired as security guards under the department’s $556 million Local Guard Program (LPG).
The guard “admitted to having a criminal history, which included two arrests and three cases of employing false identities to gain employment with local security contractors,” the OIG report stated.
A review of the guard’s personnel file, which “contained no local police background check,” also revealed ”an invalid current address, no explanation for travel outside of [redacted], incomplete details on previous work experience, false statements on having used other names, and criminal history.”
At the six embassies audited, whose locations were all redacted from the report, the OIG found “severe deficiencies” in the vetting process for embassy security guards.
In fact, none of the security contractors fully performed all of the vetting required under their contracts despite the fact that there were at least 272 significant attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel between 1998 and 2012, placing “embassies and personnel at risk,” the report said.
A typical vetting includes a “police check covering criminal and/or subversive activities, a credit check, proof of successful previous employment with supervisor recommendations, and a personal residence check.” But out of a sample of 48 files examined by the OIG, “19 (40 percent) did not have police checks.”
In some cases, vetting requirements were not completed during the transition time between contractors until more than two years after the security guards had been placed on duty, the report noted. Even basic information such as “addresses and employment were missing from the local guard personnel files.”
The results of background checks must be cleared by a regional security officer (RSO) before any local guards can begin work at an embassy.
However, the OIG found that the RSOs, who are responsible for final approval of foreign nationals hired as embassy security guards, “frequently could not demonstrate that they had reviewed and approved the local guards employed to protect their posts.”
In one instance, “the RSO could not produce an accurate listing of all the local guards who worked at the embassy, and the project manager for the security contractor received an embassy badge without undergoing a background investigation or RSO approval.”
In some cases, local privacy laws prevented security contractors from fulfillling all of the required vetting. Other obstacles in less developed countries included lack of credit reporting services or the availability of official records such as birth certificates, the report stated.
The Office of Inspector General urged that these obstacles be taken into account in the vetting requirements so that contractors could still perform thorough checks of all hirees.
“Without modifying the Local Guard Program contract to reflect local conditions and limitations,” the report said, “the Department cannot hold the security contractor accountable for adhering to all the vetting requirements contained in.”
The inspector general also found that the security contractor at one embassy invoiced $1.48 million of monthly $100 supplemental wages between 2010 and 2013 that were never paid to the local guards.
On average, State Dept. contractors failed to pay $298,000, or between 15 and 25 percent of the full supplemental wages due to local security guards since 2010, according to the OIG. The State Department has since clarified how the supplemental wages should be distributed, and the Bureau of Administration is in the process of deciding the total amount of monies owed.
The OIG made a number of recommendations to the embassies to beef up their security procedures, many of which have already been completed. But other embassies are still in the process of demonstrating full compliance, the report noted.
CNSNews.com contacted the State Department multiple times for comment but did not receive a response.