U.S. Embassy in Libya Sought $13,000-Per-Year Bodyguards With ‘Limited’ English; But Gave Preference to Citizen ‘Same-Sex Domestic Partners’ of U.S. Gov’t Employees

October 10, 2012 - 10:57 AM

Benghazi

The scene in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

(CNSNews.com) - In the months leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the U.S. Embassy in Libya was seeking to hire two bodyguards with “limited” English language skills at salaries of about $13,000 per year.

Job descriptions for these openings that the U.S. Embassy in Libya posted online said the State Department would give preference in filling them to qualified U.S. citizens who were family members of U.S. government employees.

The job descriptions explicitly stated that this included the “same-sex domestic partners” of U.S. government employees.

In addition to the two bodyguards, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya was also seeking a security guard, a surveillance detection specialist, a chauffeur for the consulate in Benghazi and a “Senior Guard” for the Local Guard Force working to secure the embassy.

One of the duties of the Local Guard Force that this Senior Guard would join was “providing limited emergency response in the event of a terrorist attack, criminal incident, or major accident.”

All the job descriptions for these positions were posted online by the embassy, and all, except the security guard position, said that applicants needed to be fluent in Arabic. None required full fluency in English. All of them said the State Department would give preference in filling the position to a qualified U.S. citizen who was the “same-sex domestic partner” of a U.S. government employee.

Four of the six job descriptions—the two bodyguards, the security guard and the surveillance detection specialist—listed the salaries being offered for the positions. The highest was 16,288 Libyan dinars per year for the bodyguard positions (if the successful applicant came in at “full performance level” and not “training level”). At the current exchange rate (1 Libyan dinar to 0.80225 U.S. dollars), that works out to about $13,000 per year. (In 2010, according to the CIA's World Factbook Libya's per capita GPD was $14,100.)

Each of the security-related job descriptions that the U.S. Embassy in Libya posted online included this disclaimer: “When fully qualified, U.S. Citizen Eligible Family Members (USEFM) and US Veterans are given preference.” All the descriptions defined an Eligible Family Member as follows: "1. Eligible Family Member (EFM): An individual related to a U.S. government employee in one of the following ways: Spouse or same-sex domestic partner (as defined in 3 FAM 1610); ..." They then defined U.S. Citizen Eligible Family Member as follows: "2. U.S. Citizen Eligible Family Member (USEFM): For purposes of receiving preference in hiring for a qualified position, an EFM who meet the following criteria: US Cititzen; and EFM (see above) at least 18 years old; ..."

The U.S. Embassy also posted—in both English and Arabic--copies of a standard State Department application form. Block 19 of this application asks the applicant to list any “relatives” or “members of your household” who work for the U.S. government. Section 20 asks the applicant if he or she is “claiming preference in hiring” as, among other things, a U.S. Eligible Family Member.

The form includes instructions for completing Block 19. These instructions say: “Relatives and members of household include father, mother, husband, wife, unmarried partner of the opposite or same sex…” The instructions for completing Block 20 say that USEFMs are deemed to include a U.S. citizen who is a “spouse or domestic partner of the sponsoring employee.”

The U.S. State Department has long given hiring preferences to Eligible Family Members (EFM) of foreign services officers posted overseas--as long as the EFM is a U.S. citizen and is fully qualified for the job opening in question. In June 2009, however, President Barack Obama and Secretary State Hillary Clinton expanded this policy to treat the unmarried same-sex partners of foreign service officers as if they were their legal spouses.

“In consultation with Secretary of State Clinton, as well as OPM Director John Berry, my administration has completed a long and thorough review to identify a number of areas where we can extend federal benefits to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees,” Obama said at a White House ceremony on June 17, 2009, when he signed a "memorandum" instituting the new policy.

“I’m requesting that Secretary Clinton and Director Berry do so where possible under existing law—and that the heads of all executive departments and agencies conduct reviews to determine where they may do the same,” said Obama.

The next day, Secretary of State Clinton issued a statement announcing the policy changes she was implementing under Obama’s memorandum.

“Domestic partners of federal employees have for too long been treated unequally,” said Clinton. “As one of my first acts as secretary, I directed the department to review whether we had the flexibility to extend additional benefits to domestic partners.

“Yesterday, the president issued a memorandum reflecting his commitment to ensuring that same-sex domestic partners receive the maximum benefits that each agency legally can undertake,” said Clinton. “I am pleased to announce that the Department of State is extending the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad.”

“The Department of State,” Clinton's statement said, “intends to provide the following additional benefits and allowances for declared same-sex domestic partners of eligible employees serving overseas: Diplomatic passports … Family member preference for employment at posts abroad.”

The State Department later elaborated on the new policy in a guidebook it publishes for the family members of new foreign service officers.

“As of June 19, 2009, the Department of State extended the full range of legally available benefits and allowances to declared same-sex domestic partners of members of the Foreign Service sent to serve abroad,” the handbook said. “The Department also will work with foreign governments to provide same-sex domestic partners diplomatic visas, privileges and immunities, and authorization to work in the local economy.”

Despite this new policy, not all of the U.S. embassies in predominantly Muslim countries spell out in their online job descriptions the fact that the same-sex domestic partners of U.S. government employees will be given a hiring preference.

For example, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt does post the State Department application form in both English and Arabic, but the online job descriptions it has currently posted do not say that the same-sex domestic partners of U.S. government employees get a hiring preference. They do say that the “US Mission in Cairo provides equal opportunity and fair and equitable treatment in employment to all people without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation, marital status, or sexual orientation.” And they do say: “When equally qualified, U.S. Citizen Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) and U.S. Veterans will be given preference."

But then the U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s online job descriptions define an “AEFM” as follows: “AEFM: A type of EFM that is eligible for direct hire employment on either a Family Member Appointment (FMA) or Temporary Appointment (TEMP) provided s/he meets all of the following criteria: U.S. citizen; Spouse or dependent who is at least age 18.”

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt currently has eight online descriptions posted for job openings ranging for a “Financial/Administrative Assistant” to a “gardener.” The term “same-sex domestic partner”—which appears even in the job descriptions for bodyguards and security guards posted by the U.S. Embassy in Libya—does not appear in any of the job descriptions posted by the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.

By contrast, four descriptions for job openings posted by the U.S. Embassy in Yemen—including two protective detail trainers and two cultural assistants—do include the same language about a hiring preference extending to “same-sex domestic partners” that is in the job descriptions posted in Libya.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Embassy in Yemen had also posted a job description for a “guard receptionist” that included language indicating a preference would be given to the U.S. citizen “same-sex domestic partner” of a U.S. government employee. This job description also said: “Female candidates are encourage [sic] to apply.”

On Oct. 2 House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton citing what they called “a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012,” when terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

“It was clearly never, as administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest,” Issa and Chaffetz wrote Clinton. “In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washinton.”

One of the attack cited by Issa and Chaffetz occurred on April 6 in Benghazi.

“Two Libyans who had been fired from a contractor providing unarmed static security for Consulate Benghazi, threw a small IED over the Consulate fence,” Issa and Chaffetz wrote in their letter to Clinton. “There were no casualties or damage and the suspects were arrested but not prosecuted.”

Another attack occurred on June 6. “Under cover of darkness, assailants placed an IED on the north gate of Consulate Benghazi, blowing a hole in the security perimeter that was described by one individual as ‘big enough for forty men to go through.’”

One of the bodyguard job openings listed on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Libya, said the opening date for applications was April 2, four days before the first attack on the Benghazi consulate by two fired Libyan security guards.

“The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli is seeking an individual for the position of Bodyguard in the Regional Security Section,” said the job description. “Close Protection Unit (CPU) bodyguards are responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for the conduct of foreign policy. Body guards are responsible for protecting COM [Chief of Mission] personnel and official visitors from physical harm and embarrassment.”

What were the qualifications for this position? According to the description, the person needed to have completed secondary school, have “a minimum of six months security, police or military experience,” have “Level IV (Fluency)” in “reading, writing and speaking Arabic,” and “Level II (Limited)" skills "in reading, writing and speaking English.”

The description, like the others on the U.S. Embassy Libya website, then said that qualified “US Citizen Eligible Family Members  (USEFMs) and U.S. Veterans are given preference,” and explained that a USEFM included the spouse “or same-sex domestic partner …. of the sponsoring employee.”

The other job description for a bodyguard that the embassy posted listed the same salary and qualifications, but said the opening date for the job was Jan. 2, 2012.

The “surveillance detection specialist” job description said the applicant needed to have completed secondary school, have one or two years of “security or military experience,” and be fluent in Arabic while having a “Level III (Good working knowledge) in reading, writing and speaking English.” The opening date for this job was June 11, 2012.

The job description for the surveillance protection specialist said: “Provides security for USG facilities, employees, and family members by performing procedures to detect, recognize, and report on surveillance directed against U.S. Government facilities and/or personnel and provides support directly, or by calling for assistance. In case of an imminent attack, calls for immediate assistance and takes action to prevent injury and death to personnel, and destruction of property.”

This job description also said preference would be given to the U.S. citizen “same-sex domestic partner” of a sponsoring U.S. government employee.

The security guard job description said: “This position provides protective services to U.S. Government employees an facilities.” It required “[t]wo years of experience in military, law enforcement or security work” and “Level I (Rudimentary Knowledge)" of English. The requirements also said: “Must be able to follow guard orders and take action in the event of an emergency.” This position opened on Jan. 2, 2012. It gave preference to a qualified U.S. citizen who was the “same-sex domestic partner” of a U.S. government employee.

The job description for the Senior Guard said: “The incumbent serves as Senior Guard in the Local Guard Force (LGF), which provides security for the Embassy by conducting perimeter patrols, controlling vehicular and pedestrian access, and providing limited emergency response in the event of a terrorist attack criminal incident, or major accident. The Senior Guard performs the most complex duties of the LGF, such as the Technical Security System (TSS), which consists of a CCTV camera system, and Imminent Danger Notification System (IDNS), an intranet-based access control application (WebPass), emergency controls, a two-way radio network and the after-hours emergency telephone line.”

The job description posted by the U.S. Embassy said the qualifications for this job included “[c]ompletion of secondary school,” “[t]hree years of experience in security, military or police work, OR, three years of experience in a field that can be directly applied to the security work required.” This person needed to be fluent in Arabic but have a “Level III (Good working knowledge)” of English.

The job description said the State Department would give preference in hiring for this position to the qualified citizen “same-sex domestic partner” of a U.S. government employee.

The salary offered for the Senior Guard position was 14,673 Libyan dinars—or a little less than $12,000 per year.

On the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 8, CNSNews.com contacted the State Department about these job descriptions posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Libya. CNSNews.com then sent a series of questions to a State Department press officer via email about the job postings. CNSNews.com also sent to the press officer PDF copies of the job descriptions themselves as they had been posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Libya. On Oct. 9, CNSNews.com contacted the State Department again, and sent its questions and the PDFs to two additional State Department press officers. On Oct. 10, CNSNews.com contacted the State Department again about it's questions. At 9:50 a.m on Oct. 10, a State Department press officer responded that they believed somebody would be responding but were "not sure of the timing."

The State Department did confirm that its policy is to give a preference in hiring at foreign missions to qualified U.S. citizens who are family members of U.S. government employees and that this policy extends to same-sex domestic partners.

In its Country Report on Human Rights in Libya, released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on May 24, the State Department said: “Under Qadhafi the government deemed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) orientation illegal, and official and societal discrimination against LGBT persons persisted during the year. The Qadhafi-era penal code made consensual same sex sexual activity punishable by three to five years in prison. The law provided for punishment of both parties.”