Monday, September 17, 2012

Clearing The Air On How Embassy Security Works

There apparently has been a lot of  confusion about how embassy security works.  In her Friday press briefing, Victoria Nuland gave a brief explanation.   Given that she was speaking to the State Department press corps  which accompanies the Secretary of State on her journeys and therefore has visited the embassies she visits (as she never fails to do in any country that hosts her),  it seems reasonable that if they required this explanation,  it might be instructive information for those who have not visited our embassies and consulates the world over.  Here is what she said.
Victoria Nuland
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 14, 2012

QUESTION: Two other quick things and very specific items: First, at any time over the course of this calendar year, has the State Department received and rejected an offer for enhanced security from another government – U.S. Government agency in Libya?

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, no, and it doesn’t work that way anyway. So let me just take a minute and remind all of you how security works as a general matter at our – at embassies and missions around the world, as provided under the Vienna Convention, which all diplomatic missions – not just American – but all around the world work under.
Under the Vienna Convention, the primary responsibility for the protection of U.S. diplomatic personnel and facilities abroad rests with the government of those countries. So anywhere you are in the world, the external security outside of the hard line of any embassy, any consulate, any mission, is the responsibility of the host government. We work with the host governments to assess what they are providing. We are the ones that generally go and ask for more when we assess that we need it. We train them. We work with them.

And then on top of that, of course, it is the responsibility of the U.S. Government to ensure that we have physical features that protect our missions. We’re talking about setback and buffer zones, fences, walls, access control, screening, doors, windows, all those kinds of things, cameras, lighting. And then inside that hard line that we have erected, so external – think about rings – external security host government, then the physical barriers, and then inside we protect our missions a variety of ways. We have regional security officers of the State Department. We have occasionally this – these kind of contracted security. We have the Marine guard force. The Marine guard force, I would note, is primarily responsible for the protection of classified information.
So that is the way this works.
You can access the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 here.  The security Ms. Nuland refers to can be found in Articles 22 and 30.