U.S. embassies or consulates are often the first place to turn when in trouble overseas, but they are far from bastions of security. According to a recent report written under the guidance of former defense secretary Frank Carlucci, nine out of ten foreign posts do not meet security standards and have obsolete classified communications networks, while one out of four are overcrowded despite an overall shortage of some 700 officers. Such neglect threatens the conduct of American foreign policy and by extension the welfare of citizens in need abroad.