So, remember the (small) part of the Benghazi conspiracy theory where “they” ignored repeated warnings of security failures at the high-risk facility in Libya? Well, it turns out that, according to an internal government report, the State Department failed to address a series of security issues at America’s most vulnerable embassies for decades. But conservative Benghazi theorists who’d like to take the major scoop and run with it will face some cognitive dissonance: the documents were obtained by Al Jazeera America.
The report is a result of a recommendation by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board investigation into the Benghazi attacks. That report also found security failures by the State Department in the case of Benghazi. The internal panel, whose report is cited by Al Jazeera America, was chaired by former U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. That report, which mentions 273 “significant attacks” on U.S. diplomatic facilities between 1998 and 2012, concluded:
— The State Department has an endemic lack of accountability on security issues. AJA explains:
the undersecretary for management oversees security issues while also handling many other responsibilities. A newly created undersecretary for diplomatic security would allow the State Department to better focus on security issues affecting diplomatic posts around the world.
— There’s a serious lack of review processes for the bureau responsible for embassy security:
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the State Department security arm created following the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, does not have a review process in place to learn from previous security failures.
— The survivors of Benghazi were never debriefed.
— Risk assessments of embassies and consulates in dangerous areas are determined by “experience and intuition.” At least some high-risk facilities lack an intelligence analyst on-site, and there’s no designated facility to train agents entering high-risk posts.
Al Jazeera, citing the report, calls the security at the Benghazi facility “porous” at best. So why did it stay open? They explain:
State Department officials effectively waived the security requirements. For years, the State Department has fostered a culture of waiving such requirements when officials choose not to meet them. “Waivers for not meeting security standards have become commonplace in the Department; however, without a risk management process to identify and implement alternate mitigating measures after a waiver has been given, Department employees, particularly those in high threat areas, could be exposed to an unacceptable level of risk,” Sullivan’s panel wrote.
The results indicate that the findings of the Benghazi agency apply broadly, and go back far. Meanwhile, Benghazi enthusiasts are still focusing on what actually interests them about the attack: how much of the tragedy they can blame personally on President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Reprinted with permission from the Atlantic Wire. The original story can be found here.
What We're Following See More »
The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.