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Obama calls on Congress to help protect U.S. diplomats

May 16, 2013|By Christi Parsons
  • President Obama speaks as a U.S. Marine holds an umbrella over him, during a news conference with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House.
President Obama speaks as a U.S. Marine holds an umbrella over him, during… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Thursday called on Congress to beef up security at U.S. diplomatic facilities, saying the country owes it to the four Americans who died at the Benghazi, Libya, mission last year to protect other personnel serving around the world.

Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he has ordered a review of security at high-threat posts, as well as improvements in training for those headed to dangerous jobs.

But Obama said he can’t “do this alone” and argued that Congress should fully fund his budget request to improve embassy security.

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“That’s how we learn the lessons of Benghazi,” Obama said. “That’s how we keep faith with the men and women who we send overseas to represent America and that’s what I will stay focused on as commander in chief.”

The security proposals are part of Obama’s attempt to answer lingering questions about his administration’s response to the deadly attack on American diplomats in Benghazi in September.

In a week when several unfavorable stories have rocked his White House, Obama also raised the Benghazi case to help explain why his Department of Justice has been so dogged in pursuit of government employees who leak sensitive information.

The Associated Press this week revealed it had been informed by the government that investigators had obtained telephone records of some of their reporters and editors. Officials have said in previous public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington was conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 2012 story about a foiled terrorist plot.

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On Thursday, Obama argued that “leaks related to national security can put people at risk.”

“I've still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations, in outposts that, in some cases, are as dangerous as the outpost in Benghazi,” Obama said, and “part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for information.”

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christi.parsons@latimes.com

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