Defense & National Security

Update: State Department officials resign after damning Benghazi report

Update: State Department officials resign after damning Benghazi report

Update 12:10 p.m.

The Associated Press reports that assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security Eric Boswell and  deputy assistant secretary for embassy security Charlene Lamb have resigned in connection to the findings of the Benghazi report, in addition to another unidentified official in the Bureau of Near East Affairs.

Lamb testified in October before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee that she had denied requests for additional security personnel and asked Regional Security Officers in Libya not to submit further requests, saying she believed the extra security measures weren’t warranted.

‘Grossly inadequate’ security left consulate vulnerable

An investigation into the actions of the State Department before, during, and after the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in September has found that leadership deficiencies and organizational failures contributed to the chaos.

The 39-page unclassified State Department report comes a day ahead of scheduled testimony by senior officials from the department in open sessions of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees.

As early testimony by officials familiar with the Benghazi situation indicated, State Department officials’ dismissal of repeated requests for added security at the consulate prior to the attacks left the compound and American personnel vulnerable in a violent and unstable part of the world, the report confirms.

“Overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing,” the report reads.

“Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.”

Because of management deficiencies and systemic failures of the department, the report concludes, security at Benghazi was “grossly inadequate” to respond to the Sept. 11 assault.

In addition to security personnel, the consulate lacked necessary security infrastructure, despite a number of upgrades in 2012, the report said. And while there were no specific threats related to Sept. 11 that were fielded by the State Department, the report acknowledges that there was a clear pattern of violent incidents and threats in the months leading up to the attack.

While the report doesn’t name names, it says that senior State Department officials within two bureaus showed a lack of proactive leadership and management in responding to the attacks. Nevertheless, it said, no evidence proved that any single government official had committed a breach of duty.

“Simply put, in the months leading up to September 11, 2012, security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a “shared responsibility” in Washington, resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security,” it concludes.

Among other findings, the report recommends that the State Department should shore up staffing at high-risk foreign posts for at least a year and review its current staffing assignments at these posts.

The report also concludes, once and for all, that terrorism, not a protest as the White House initially claimed, was behind the attacks.

“The Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity,” it said.

Deputy Secretaries of State William Burns and Thomas Nides will testify to members of Congress about the report’s findings on Thursday.

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