Johnson Seeks Information from State Department on Confusion Surrounding Evacuation of U.S. Embassy in Yemen

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry about the events surrounding the evacuation of diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. 

Following months of mounting tensions between rebel factions in Yemen, the Department of State ordered the evacuation of diplomatic personnel from the country in February.  Shortly after the evacuation, reports surfaced of internal department e-mails that revealed confusion among personnel about executing proper procedures for evacuating the diplomatic facility.  Amid the confusion, reports indicate, diplomatic officials left a main communication link with Washington in place, despite the facility’s impending closure.  The letter requests information from Secretary Kerry about sensitive materials left behind in the facility, what procedures the department has in place for securing sensitive information, and whether any sensitive information still remains in the Yemen facility. Senator Johnson made the following comments:

“The safety and security of U.S. personnel overseas is of utmost importance.  As recent events in Yemen illustrated, the security environment throughout the Middle East is rapidly changing.  With this in mind, the department must ensure that diplomatic personnel are aware of and follow proper protocol in the event of a need to quickly evacuate or close a diplomatic facility. In addition to the safety and security of American personnel, it is vital that the department ensure that its sensitive information and assets housed overseas are properly secured and not left susceptible to potential exposure.”