Three State Dept officials resign in the wake of damning Benghazi report

posted at 4:21 pm on December 19, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

The Accountability Review Board report on Benghazi now making the rounds did not come up favorably for the State Department — “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” resulting in security “that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place” just about capture the gist of how badly the report indicated State messed up on this one. She’s already said that the organizational responsibility lies with her, but Secretary Hillary Clinton has yet to testify on the matter (State had said she was planning to do so this week but is reportedly recovering from a concussion), and several of her immediate underlings are already jumping ship in the report’s damning wake.

Fox News reports:

Three State Department officials, including a security chief, have resigned following the release of scathing report about safety lapses at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in the run-up to the terror attack that killed four Americans.

An administration official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, stepped down under pressure after the release of the report Tuesday night.

The third official purportedly worked for the Bureau of Near East Affairs, but was not immediately identified, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly.

The State Department-ordered investigation of the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, concluded that “systemic failures” left the facility inadequately protected.

The report seems to do a fair job of outlining what went wrong and where, but the interesting thing about these resignations is that the report didn’t actually recommend any specific individual discipline.

My sense is that just the existence of the report itself will not be a reason in Congressional minds to back off on calling Clinton in to testify, especially since it did cite senior-level leadership mega-failures. The State Department has been simultaneously polite yet all kinds of waffly on whether or not Secretary Clinton would ever genuinely make it in (perhaps they’ve been hoping to drag it on long enough to make Republicans look like bullies), and I’m thinking that Clinton would really like to avoid testifying if she can — a highly public hearing on her department’s massive failures probably isn’t the best way to end her tenure, especially if she really is contemplating 2016.

Did State tell these officials to pack their bags as a preemptive defense mechanism? As in, ‘Hey, I’ve taken care of the situation internally and made the necessary adjustments within my department,’ in order to give Clinton an excuse not to go in herself, or at least have specific people to blame in the event that she finally does testify? If she does, she’ll need all the shields she can muster, because one of the biggest and most damning foreign-policy questions of all still remains unanswered: Is the Obama administration, at the highest levels, actually creating the conditions for these types of security failures by actively downplaying the continuing influence of terrorism?

Even more damning, in its absence, was the report’s failure to step back and question whether the Obama administration, at its highest levels (starting with the president), created the conditions for Benghazi by overstating the decimation of al-Qaida and playing down the significance of the extremist elements, possibly al-Qaida-linked, that have reemerged in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Libya and elsewhere. Unless this reckoning is made, it is easy to imagine a similar disaster happening in post-Assad Syria, or elsewhere in the region. This has been a chief Republican talking point against Obama since the Benghazi attacks occurred on Sept. 11.  …

Shot through the report are other reminders of incompetence at the highest levels: the State Department’s failure to “issue a worldwide caution cable to posts related to the [9/11] anniversary; and a failure “to link formally the many anti-Western incidents in Benghazi, the general declarations of threat in U.S. assessments and a proliferation of violence-prone and little understood militias, the lack of any central authority, and a general perception of a deteriorating security environment to any more specific and timely analysis of the threat to U.S. government facilities,” as the report puts it.

Update — Hmmmm:


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