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Obama directive called for more consular officers to Brazil, China, but not Libya

White House spokesman Jay Carney is misleading gullible media and the American public about security resources at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Carney even adopted a political talking point first introduced by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) during a congressional hearing—that budget cuts by Republicans caused staffing to be diluted.

If I were a Democrat, I would call Cummings, Carney and the president a liar.

Readily available online are two documents that contradict what Carney and Democrats are telling media.

A Government Accountability Office report in June, 2012, assessed foreign service midlevel staffing and hardship gaps in hiring.

GAO found much of the problem comes from finding qualified personnel, especially for hardship posts.

GAO also found that at no point in time have State Dept. hiring levels fallen below attrition—to the contrary, those levels have remained above attrition. As a matter of fact, from 2002-2010, hiring rose exponentially.

State hired 1,000 new employees above attrition from 2002 to 2004.

Additional increased hiring follows:

“State increased the size of the Foreign Service by about 17 percent in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, but overseas experience gaps—the percentage of positions that are vacant or filled with upstretch assignments—have not declined since 2008…”

Other factors put a very sharp edge on Carney’s false claims.

President Barack Obama did have time to address staffing and he did it with a presidential directive. Obama’s focus was expediting visas. Brazil and China received special attention. A report from the State Dept. and the Dept. of Homeland Security detailed goals of the order. Among the goals:

•Expand Existing Facilities and Explore Possibilities for Additional Visa-Processing Facilities by: Opening two new consulates in Brazil; and Expanding, remodeling, and renovating existing facilities in Brazil and China.

•Increase Efficiency by: Expanding interviewing hours and multiple shifts in China, Brazil, and other high volume locations; and Implementing the Global Support Strategy that uses offsite support functions to free consular staff for adjudications.

Money was not a problem. The presidential directive said (boldface added):

State is investing millions of dollars to improve the infrastructure of its consular sections in China and Brazil, and will use the bulk of this investment to add interview windows in consular sections and create space for additional staff. At high-volume visa processing locations in China and Brazil, each new interview window can increase a consular section’s capacity by 30,000 visa applicants per year.

Hundreds of new consular officers went to those countries. Presumably, construction companies and workers in those countries benefited.

The GAO report disclosed [boldface added]:

State officials noted that this distribution of new positions reflects the department’s changing foreign policy priorities. For example, positions were added in Brazil and China in response to presidential directives to expand consular capacity in those countries. According to State officials, the department has also created positions to address emerging diplomatic priorities, such as climate change and global health.

No other media have addressed Carney or the Democrats’ claims about budgeting.

If Obama had time to direct more consular officers to countries like Brazil and China, wouldn’t it seem logical for him to direct more officers to Libya? After all, Libya is Obama’s war. Government records indicate numerous incidents occurred ahead of the September 11 attack.

It is extremely troubling that a president who perhaps has been overly occupied with campaigning would redirect his attention from a war he did not even consult Congress about.

Carney’s claims are pure fiction. That not a single media outlet has asked about two reports posted in full online suggests public mistrust of media is not only justified, it is more than likely in the best interest of the public to mistrust media.

The report in response to Obama’s directive was dated August, 2012, as incidents in Libya rose and his administration was focused on increasing travel visas and his campaign.

State couldn’t even fill the jobs they had, so obviously, the lapse was not a result of funding.

The president, not for the first time, misjudged priorities. Obama spent millions on "windows" and new hires in an effort to boost tourism. Whether our national security will be impacted by this policy is anyone's guess.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 12, 2012)

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