BYU graduate Deborah Kay Jones told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at her confirmation hearing Tuesday that, as the newly appointed ambassador to Libya, she would make security her first priority.
“The ambassador is the principal security officer at a post, and it is the ambassador who has to decide whether to allow people to travel here or there, whether to ask for additional assets, whether to insist on additional assets,” Jones told the Senate panel.
A large group of armed men attacked what critics say was a poorly guarded U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA compound on September 11, 2012, resulting in the deaths of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Jones will be the first ambassador to Libya since the tragedy.
This assault caused problems for President Obama’s re-election campaign, and several high-ranking politicians have scrutinized then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton over security lapses and conflicting early accounts about what happened.
Jones emphasized the important role the Libyan Ambassador must have in promoting a more stable, safer democracy there.
“I am deeply conscious of the responsibility that I would have as chief of mission of the safety and security of the approximately 4,000 Americans residing in Libya and that of those officials attached to our mission there,” Jones said.
Jones is the former ambassador to Kuwait and has served in the United States’ foreign diplomatic ranks for more than 30 years. She graduated with a B.S. in history (magna cum laude) from BYU in 1978. She went on to receive a M.S. in national security strategy from the National War college of the National Defense University.
Jones’ confirmation has been delayed since mid-March as Congress continues to hear testimony about the Benghazi controversy.