Published January 24, 2013
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly cited a supposed lack of funding for embassy security during testimony Wednesday on the Libya terror attack, opening the door for congressional Democrats to suggest stingy Republicans contributed to leaving the post in Benghazi vulnerable.
Democratic New York Rep. Eliot Engel claimed Congress "slashed" diplomatic security requests over the past two years.
Budget numbers, though, show the overall diplomatic security budget has ballooned over the past decade. While there were modest decreases in funding in recent years -- and Congress has approved less than was requested -- the overall security budget has more than doubled since fiscal 2004.
For that year, the budget was $640 million. It steadily climbed to $1.6 billion in fiscal 2010. It dipped to $1.5 billion the following year and roughly $1.35 billion in fiscal 2012.
Slightly more has been requested for fiscal 2013.
It's difficult to tell how much was specifically allocated for Benghazi. Tripoli was the only post mentioned in the department's fiscal 2013 request -- funding for that location did slip, from $11.5 million in fiscal 2011 to $10.1 million the following year. Slightly more has been requested for fiscal 2013.
Still, then-Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb testified in October that the size of the attack -- and not the money -- was the issue.
Asked if there was any budget consideration that led her not to increase the security force, she said: "No."
She added: "This was an unprecedented attack in size." Asked again about budget issues, Lamb said: "Sir, if it's a volatile situation, we will move assets to cover that."
Asked Wednesday about Lamb's testimony, Clinton noted that the review board that examined the Libya attack found budget issues have played a role.
"That's why you have an independent group like an (Accountability Review Board), that's why it was created to look at everything," Clinton said.