Budget cuts hindered embassy security upgrades

A suicide bomber on June 14, 2002, drove a truck to the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, and detonated a fertilizer bomb that blew a 12-foot hole in the white concrete wall surrounding the building and destroyed cars and SUVs parked outside. Twelve Pakistanis, including two local guards, were killed in the explosion.

No one inside the consulate was killed.

For the U.S. Department of State, an investment in Karachi had paid off.

The mission had just undergone safety and security upgrades designed for such an attack. The consulate building, with its shielded windows, barely showed a scratch after the enormous blast.

In a 2003 report, the Government Accountability Office cited Karachi as an example of State Department money well spent in the effort to safeguard the lives of American diplomats.

In the decade since the Karachi bombing, the State Department has invested heavily in security upgrades for embassies and consulates in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But due to budget constraints and the focus on those three missions, a similar level of investment hasn’t gone to U.S. diplomatic facilities in other dangerous nations, such as Libya, leaving those missions vulnerable. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, 2012, after dozens of armed men attacked the weakly fortified U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya.