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 »
Is McMullin Building the GOP in Exile?
57 minutes ago

Evan McMullin, the independent conservative candidate who may win his home state of Utah, is quietly planning to turn his candidacy into a broader movement for principled conservatism. He tells BuzzFeed he's "skeptical" that the Republican party can reform itself "within a generation" and that the party's internal "disease" can't be cured via "the existing infrastructure.” The ex-CIA employee and Capitol Hill staffer says, “I have seen and worked with a lot of very courageous people in my time [but] I have seen a remarkable display of cowardice over the last couple of months in our leaders.” McMullin's team has assembled organizations in the 11 states where he's on the ballot, and adviser Rick Wilson says "there’s actually a very vibrant market for our message in the urban northeast and in parts of the south."

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
1 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Too Many Potential Enrollees Paying Obamacare Penalties Instead
2 hours ago

One of the main reasons for the recent Obamacare premium hikes is that many potential enrollees have simply decided to pay the tax penalty for remaining uninsured, rather than pay for insurance. More than 8 million people paid the penalty in 2014, and preliminary numbers for 2015 suggest that the number approaches 6 million. "For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles."

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
3 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

Chaffetz Also Caves, Says He’ll Vote Trump
5 hours ago

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.