No one knows more than Ryan Crocker about what happens when an American stronghold is attacked. Crocker, recently retired, served as U.S. ambassador six times to countries where he said "no sane person would elect to spend a weekend."
Crocker was appointed on six occasions to serve in Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once, in Damascus, his own private residence was attacked by terrorists. His wife, who was home at the time, gathered the household staff and hid in a safe room until U.S. security could extract them from the rubble.
Crocker, who will serve as keynoter at the Tuesday, Oct. 16, Frank Church Conference at Boise State, is watching, with great interest, as security at U.S. embassies continues to be politicized by both parties during the current presidential campaign.
"You focus on the needs of the moment," Crocker told Boise Weekly. "When an attack occurs, you think about what you have to do to defend the mission. Nobody is thinking about being hurt or killed."
And while Republicans have been quick to wag a finger at the Obama White House over security at the Benghazi Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three more Americans were killed, it turns out that the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security voted to cut the funding for embassy security.
"Absolutely," said Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah. "Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things."
A memo prepared by House Democrats pointed out that the GOP supported funding cuts for diplomatic security and embassy construction:
"Since gaining the majority in 2011, House Republicans have voted to reduce embassy security funding by approximately half a billion dollars below the amounts requested by the Obama administration," read the memo.