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The cost of reducing danger for US diplomats

May 08, 2013

The U.S. spent $2.6 billion in 2012 to protect American embassies and personnel overseas. Thats an increase of more than 1,000 percent since 1998.

It's been eight months since a terrorist attack rocked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and legislators are still trying to figure out what went wrong and who to blame. Yesterday, hearings were held in the House of Representatives that featured testimony from an official on the ground at the time.

The renewed focus begs the question, are we doing enough to protect our embassies? Yes or no, we're certainly spending more to do so.

Protecting U.S. embassies abroad is getting more costly with each passing year. Back in fiscal 1998, the budget for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security was $200 million. By fiscal 2012, that figure was up to $2.6 billion. Thats an increase of more than 1,000 percent.

During that time the number of federal security specialists doubled, new security measures were put in place, and the government hired more outside contractors to protect its people and property worldwide.

Even so, between 1998 and 2009 there were 39 attacks on U.S. embassies or mission personnel abroad. The Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Check out our photo gallery for more on diplomatic security and its costs. See What Do Others Say for more views, then add to the discussion below. How can we best protect U.S. diplomats abroad? Do we need to spend more?