Report faults State Department over Benghazi consulate attack
Of course I don't think this'll put it to rest. As far as the report is concerned the consulate was already badly exposed and poorly staffed with its rotating staff and reliance on local populace for security. There were no recommendations for firing, but it has already taken its toll with Susan Rice withdrawing her bid to be the next Secretary of State.
Clinton as a result of this mess ended up requesting that a $1 billion plus in funds directed towards Iraq be instead used for overhauling security in state department embassies and consulates worldwide.
Review of Benghazi attack faults ‘grossly’ inadequate security, leadership failures
By Anne Gearan, Tuesday, December 18, 5:43 PM
An independent investigation of the fatal attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya on Sept. 11 found that “grossly” inadequate security and reliance on local militias left U.S. diplomats and other personnel vulnerable, the State Department told Congress on Tuesday.
The review of the assault on the mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans faulted systemic failures of leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department, according to an unclassified version posted on the department’s Web site Tuesday night.
The review by the Accountability Review Board said the temporary, lightly defended compound where Stevens died lacked disciplined oversight of its security operations. The diplomatic post’s ad hoc nature, with inexperienced staff members working there for short periods, “resulted in diminished institutional knowledge, continuity, and mission capacity,” the report said.
Finally, the report said State Department officials in Washington ignored requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, for additional guards and better security for the Benghazi compound, which served as a temporary U.S. consulate for eastern Libya. It also said that there had been worrisome incidents in the weeks before the attack that should have led to increased security, but the report did not identify any specific threats to the compound on Sept. 11.
The report said State Department security personnel on the scene and CIA officers at a nearby annex used as an operations base had responded in a timely and appropriate manner, and it absolved the U.S. military of any blame, saying there was not enough time for a military response that would have made any difference.
Despite the broad security failures, the report did not single out any individual officials as violating procedures and did not recommend any disciplinary action.
The report also concluded that, contrary to initial reports by the Obama administration and by media outlets, there was no protest outside the outpost ahead of the attack and that the assault on the diplomatic compound and the CIA annex was carried out by terrorists.
Stevens and another diplomat, Sean Smith, were killed inside the compound. Two other Americans, CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in the attack on the annex. Ten people were injured in the assault.
The panel’s report “provides a clear-eyed look at serious, systemic challenges,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in letters to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She said that the State Department had already begun to address the lapses and that she accepts “every one” of the recommendations for improvement.
Officials said Clinton will ask Congress to transfer $1.3 billion in money allocated to Iraq. The funds would be used for additional Marine guards, diplomatic security personnel and security improvements at U.S. missions overseas.
The report called on Congress to fully fund the request for additional security funds. “For many years the State Department has been engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work with varying degrees of success,” the report said. The result, it said, has been inefficiencies that sacrifice security for savings.
An unclassified summary of the report was posted on the State Department’s Web site. A copy of Clinton’s letter was provided to reporters. More-detailed classified versions were made available earlier Tuesday to congressional leaders and the two committees in preparation for testimony by Deputy Secretaries William J. Burns and Thomas R. Nides on Thursday.
The Benghazi attack became a major issue in the presidential campaign, with GOP candidate Mitt Romney and numerous Republicans in Congress criticizing the Obama administration for what they viewed as poor security at the compound. Republicans also have been critical of initial administration reports that said the attack grew out of protests outside the Benghazi outpost over a U.S.-made anti-Islam video.
The report describes a somewhat loose and confusing arrangement for security and accountability at the site. It notes that everyone involved in Stevens’s trip to Benghazi from Tripoli for a week of meetings with local officials was aware of the potential for increased risk associated with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As a result, Stevens was confined to the post on that day.
The panel faulted Libyan guards who had been hired to protect the compound, saying that they may have abandoned their posts at the front gate and allowed the attackers to overrun the facility. The report also said that the response of the Libyan government was “profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and a near total absence of central government influence in Benghazi.”
But the report also suggests that Stevens put himself in danger. It notes that he did not perceive an outsize risk created by traveling to Benghazi and that his deep experience in Libya and his management style meant that he made many decisions himself.
“His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments,” the report said.
The report found significant lapses in judgment and oversight by a few unidentified State Department employees but said no mistake amounted to a dereliction of duty. It did not recommend that anyone be fired.
First among the recommendations in the report is a general improvement in security for front-line posts in conflict zones and other dangerous countries. The United States cannot rely so heavily on the security forces of host countries, the report said.
“The department should urgently review the proper balance between acceptable risk and expected outcomes in high risk, high threat areas,” the report said.
Abandoning such posts is not acceptable, but neither is sending people to them without adequate support and forethought, the report said. It recommends a cost-benefit analysis of the mission, the risk and the responsibilities.
The five-member panel was led by former ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and included retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two men are scheduled to present their findings in closed-door, classified meetings on Wednesday with the Senate and House foreign affairs panels.
Re: Report faults State Department over Benghazi consulate attack
Originally Posted by Ki Adi Mundi
All I want to know is.. where the hell was the Marine detachment? I thought all embassies had a platoon of Marines guarding them. 1 platoon of Marines would have easily repelled the attack.
There is a difference between an embassy and a consulate. Washington D.C. has embassies, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Houston have consulates. Well, you get my idea. That sort of city.
Re: Report faults State Department over Benghazi consulate attack
Ah, OK. I suppose that makes sense. Still, one would think that any U.S. position that is forward deployed would have a defense contingency in place. Especially so in what is generally considered a hostile region.
I'm willing to bet even a few squads of Marines (hell, even airmen) could have defended the consulate properly. From what I understand, there were maybe 10 people defending the position, with limited firepower. Think what 12-24 Marines, fully armed, could have done.
Anyhow, it's over now. Perhaps the State Department will learn not to leave assets in hostile areas undefended from now on. I doubt it, but one can hope.
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