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US gives $10m to fight African wildlife trafficking, but couldn't strengthen Benghazi defenses?

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State Department officials denied Ambassador Chris Stevens' request for better defenses of the U.S. compound at Benghazi in Libya, but have since somehow found $10 million to fund a new task force to help protect African wildlife.

On July 1, President Obama signed an executive order to provide "training and technical assistance" to South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Kenya to help fight wildlife trafficking. This "regional assistance" money is to "strengthen police and legislative frameworks" and "support regional cooperation among enforcement agencies" involved in the campaign against wildlife trafficking.

According to a July 1 White House press release, the U.S. already provides more than $12 million each year to the United States Agency for International Development for anti-wildlife trafficking in Africa and Asia. $70 million is also given to Africa for "biodiversity conservation" every year.

In addition, the release noted that "wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar illicit business that is decimating Africa’s iconic animal populations.  Many species -- most notably elephants and rhinoceroses -- now face the risk of significant decline or even extinction.  Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations.   Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of poachers, criminals, and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in illegally taken wildlife.  

"The United States is committed to combating wildlife trafficking, related corruption, and money laundering.  With our international partners, we are working to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement, and building capacity to address these challenges bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally."

Go here for the White House news release.

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Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner