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Is the Department of State Accountability Review Board Process adequate

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Ancient custom places the inviolability of diplomats under divine protection. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic relations protects diplomats through international law. However, both custom and law rely on the host nation to safeguard diplomats. The attack and seizure of the US embassy in Iran and the burning of the US embassy in Pakistan in November 1979 demonstrated that nations sometimes lack the will or capacity to protect foreign diplomatic missions. These and other events prompted Secretary of State George Schultz to initiate a bipartisan review of the Department of States security originations and methodology. The findings of the Secretary of States Advisory Panel on Overseas Security led to congressional action. In 1986, Congress passed the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act. Title II of that act created the Diplomatic Security Service DSS and Title III established the ARB process to review incidents in which personnel were severely injured or killed or US property was damaged. Since 1986, the ARB has been empaneled nineteen times. The majority of the reports are classified. However, the 1998 East Africa ARB and the 2012 Benghazi ARB were released to the public. The similarities between the findings and recommendations from these two ARBs prompted a congressional investigation. The resulting congressional committee hearings and reports noted the reoccurrence of analogous recommendations and questioned whether the ARB process was adequate. That is, in light of the global terrorist threat and recent attacks on US missions, there is reason to ask whether the ARB process is adequate and whether ARB reports have actually led to improved DOS security operations ARB reports, government reports, congressional documentation, and other source material were reviewed to determine whether the ARB process is adequate.

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2016,25 May 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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