Finally, the report blamed two major State Department bureaus — Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs — for failing to coordinate and plan adequate security. The panel also determined that a number of officials had shown poor leadership, but they were not identified in the unclassified version of the report that was released. “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus,” the report said, resulted in security “that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” [New York Times]
THE INQUIRY into Benghazi reportedly eviscerates the State Department on “grossly inadequate” security, decisions and lack of leadership in key bureaus. It also found that no protests on the anti-Islamic video that caused a storm in Egypt and was the assertion that caused the firestorm surrounding Ambassador Susan Rice’s Sunday political show appearances.
Secretary Clinton was due to testify on Thursday on Benghazi, but due to an illness her aides will do so in her place, at this point. Conspiracy theories exploded after this was announced, with the right manufacturing innumerable crazy theories over Clinton’s absence. Secretary Clinton recently fainted and suffered a concussion, which came after a foreign trip was canceled over her feeling ill.
If she has a concussion, let’s see the medical report. Let’s see some proof that she’s not just stonewalling. If it’s true, then we can all wish her a speedy recovery. But it’s ridiculous to expect us to take her word for it. – Jim Treacher, The Daily Caller
John Bolton also took to Fox News Channel.
Nuland said that it was “completely untrue” that Clinton was using her illness to avoid testifying this week about Benghazi, allegations made in the New York Post opinion page and on Fox News by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
“She’s going to be absolutely fine. She is working at home,” Nuland said. “She’s been on the phone and in e-mail contact with senior staff. She’s been working on other issues – Syria, the DPRK [North Korea] today. These are people that don’t know what they are talking about.”
In a statement from Clinton’s doctors released over the weekend, Clinton was told to “rest and avoid any strenuous activity.” The doctors said the “strongly advised her to cancel all work events for the coming week.”
The report on Benghazi brings into the public realm just how dangerous it is to operate diplomatically in unstable regions, which Libya has been since Gadhafi fell.
What it doesn’t address is President Obama’s policy of ousting the Libyan dictator, without considering what would come next. It also doesn’t talk about how diplomats operate, which includes the choice the late Ambassador Chris Stevens made to move from Tripoli to Benghazi, a much more dangerous environment, and keep a low security profile, while mixing with the local citizenry. Foreign service officers make risky calls to move a country’s path towards freedom forward. No amount of security can keep them safe if they choose to walk unarmed and among the citizenry where enemies abound. However, the State Department has a responsibility to rein in their diplomats and instill guidelines in teetering countries that must be followed.
From the New York Times today:
While the report focused on the specific attack in Benghazi, the episode cast into broader relief the larger question of how American diplomats and intelligence officers operate in increasingly unstable environments, like those in the Arab Spring countries across North Africa and the Middle East, without increased security.
In response to the panel’s findings, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a letter to Congress that she was accepting all 29 of the panel’s recommendations, five of which are classified. “To fully honor those we lost, we must better protect those still serving to advance our nation’s vital interests and values overseas,” Mrs. Clinton said in the letter. She is already taking specific steps to correct the problems, according to officials.
They say the State Department is asking permission from Congress to transfer more than $1.3 billion from contingency funds that had been allocated for spending in Iraq. This includes $553 million for hundreds of additional Marine security guards worldwide; $130 million for diplomatic security personnel; and $691 million for improving security at installations abroad.
Chuck Todd reported today on “The Daily Rundown” that Secretary Clinton is to testify to Congress in January, which is expected to also come before Sen. John Kerry’s anticipated nomination and confirmation. Todd also implied the timing of Clinton’s testimony is being demanded by members of the Senate.
The Benghazi debacle is sure to weigh Clinton’s legacy down, because she was the one in charge when the terrorist attack occurred. Secretary Clinton’s response has been unquestionably stellar in the wake of the inquiry.
What isn’t clear is the previously reported alliance between State and the C.I.A. on security, the latter allegedly taking the lead on protecting the Benghazi consulate, which brings into question the effectiveness and possible policy failures occurring under David Petraeus’s watch. The role of former C.I.A. Director David Petraeus in that security has still not been mined fully and it remains highly doubtful that Secretary Clinton will reveal much about it in open session.
All Clinton can do is take the responsibility to implement the recommendations that came as a result of the inquiry, which she has done.
The blame for being vulnerable and allowing a successful terrorist attack to occur is shared and begins with President Obama’s lousy policy to intervene in Libya in the first place, which Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice backed, as did Samantha Power. Two of the three have paid the price for intervention that didn’t come with a plan to secure the country afterward.