Report: Security ‘Grossly Inadequate’ in Benghazi at Time of Attack

BY Larisa Epatko  December 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM EDT


Main entrance to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, photographed on Nov. 2 by Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images.

Updated 12:10 p.m. ET: Three State Department officials, including the chief of security services, resigned Wednesday following the release of the report.

Original Story:

A newly released State Department review of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, found security at the site was “grossly inadequate.”

“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department … resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

The review found that Stevens decided to go to Benghazi from Tripoli without clearing it with Washington, which wasn’t unusual: “His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments,” the report said.

The U.S. mission in Benghazi was partly reliant on security from “armed but poorly skilled” Libyan February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade, but their members had stopped accompanying U.S. vehicles “in protest over salary and working hours.”

Intelligence gave no warning of the Sept. 11 attack, and State Department officials “demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability” when security concerns were raised about the consulate, according to the review, though it determined that no U.S. government employee “breached his or her duty.”

The report also concluded that the attack in Benghazi was by terrorists and not related to spontaneous protests taking place elsewhere over an anti-Muslim movie.

In addition, the report said this era of belt-tightening has given “a few State Department managers” a mindset of trying to restrict resources wherever possible, and Congress must do its part to adequately fund the department.

The review pointed out that U.S. diplomatic security teams are being stretched as never before, and that the terrorism threat — normally attributed to al-Qaida — is becoming more fractured with local affiliates who take up the same mission of violent anti-Americanism but have no direct al-Qaida command and control, which poses an additional challenge to security forces.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday that the United States still has a diplomatic presence in Libya, but only in the capital Tripoli, and there are no plans at the moment to reopen a consulate in Benghazi.

Congress is holding closed-door hearings on the report on Wednesday. We’ll have more on the NewsHour tonight.

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