Secretary of State George P. Shultz has come up with his version of the the "Inman Panel" plan for reorganizing the bureaucracy to fight terrorism more effectively.
But the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee warned the secretary last week that, based on what he has learned about the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in East Beirut last year, it is going to take a lot more than organization and improved security measures to assure the safety of U.S. diplomats.
Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.) delivered a biting critique Wednesday of the way the department handled the embassy's hasty move from West to East Beirut after the Marine barracks was bombed in October 1983. He said the move was "much too rushed," the decision process "rather chaotic" and that "enormous confusion" prevailed in the chain of command.
The department has proposed $4 billion in security improvements for its foreign facilities. But Hamilton told Shultz that the Beirut situation "emphasizes to me . . . that no matter how much money you pour into this thing, you've got to have the training of your people and the planning that is necessary to get maximum security."
Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Shultz generally endorsed the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Overseas Security, led by retired admiral Bobby R. Inman, former director of the National Security Agency. But he took issue with several of its suggestions and made a few recommendations of his own.
While he supports creating a Bureau for Diplomatic Security within the State Department, Shultz said he does not favor dividing the functions of the Office for Combating Terrorism between the new bureau and the office of the undersecretary for political affairs, as the Inman panel proposed.
"I prefer to keep the security-terrorism function unified with an absolutely clear chain of command," he said.
Shultz said he wants to elevate the person chosen to lead the department's war on terrorism to the level of ambassador-at-large. The appointee, he said, should work with the undersecretary for political affairs to map out a U.S. diplomatic offensive.
How the new ambassador, or the whole State Department anti-terrorist apparatus, will relate to the new anti-terrorism office being set up under Vice President Bush remains unclear; Shultz did not discuss it.
Shultz also said he favors a special one-time appropriation to finance improvements at 75 embassies and implement the other security measures set forth in the Inman report.
The report had suggested raising the $3.5 billion needed to improve the buildings by authorizing the State Department to mortgage some of its 2,000 buildings abroad and dip into the income raised by consular and passport fees (about $200 million annually).
But at Wednesday's hearing, it was projected that the program would cost $4 billion, spread over eight to 10 years.
Another point where Shultz took issue with the Inman panel was the question of who should be responsible for protecting foreign diplomats in the United States. The panel noted that several agencies share in that task, and it recommended that the job be turned over to the Secret Service, part of the Treasury Department.
But the panel also concluded that it might not be possible. As a second choice, it suggested giving the State Department responsibility for protecting foreign diplomats.
But Shultz said he did not think that his department should become a major law enforcement agency and supported the idea of giving the job to Treasury.
The secretary concluded his testimony by saying that because of the mounting threat from terrorism, the State Department is considering closing some posts abroad and reducing the number of U.S. employes serving overseas.
"In some cases it may be that the high costs of providing appropriate security safeguards will require the development of alternative ways of carrying on our diplomatic and consular activities in certain cities abroad," he said.