Internal Benghazi Report Details State Department Security Flaws

Abby Ohlheiser, The Atlantic Wire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Abby Ohlheiser, The Atlantic Wire
Sept. 4, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

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 »
KIM CALLS TRUMP A “DOTARD”
North Korea Threatens H-Bomb Test Over Pacific
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."

Source:
INFORMS CONGRESS RE: EXECUTIVE ORDER
Trump Makes Good on Promise of New North Korea Sanctions
3 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.

SOUTH KOREA WILL SEND AID
Trump Promises More Sanctions on North Korea
3 days ago
THE LATEST

In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."

Source:
HIGHLIGHT ISSUES FACING KIDS
FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
4 days ago
THE LATEST
PRESSES CASE FOR REFORMS
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
4 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login