Fox: Kennedy signed off on Benghazi post despite substandard security

posted at 1:01 pm on June 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Remember when the ironically-named Accountability Review Board assigned blame for the Benghazi debacle on low-level employees at the State Department?  When challenged by Congress as to why the ARB never interviewed Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, ARB co-chair Thomas Pickering replied that they had already concluded that blame for the unprotected diplomatic facility rested below his level. Whistleblower Eric Nordstrom told Congress, however, that the decisions that left the consulate defenseless against the terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11 came from Kennedy’s level — at least.

A new report from Fox vindicates Nordstrom, although it might not be quite that new:

The decision to keep U.S. personnel in Benghazi with substandard security was made at the highest levels of the State Department by officials who have so far escaped blame over the Sept. 11 attack, according to a review of recent congressional testimony and internal State Department memos by Fox News.

Nine months before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy signed off on an internal memo that green-lighted the Benghazi operation.

The December 2011 memo from Jeffrey Feltman — then-Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) — pledged “to rapidly implement a series of corrective security measures.” However, no substantial improvements were made, according to congressional testimony to the House oversight committee from Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom.

Nordstrom said the Benghazi operation never met the rigid standards set out by the Overseas Security Policy Board, or OSPB, which according to the State Department website “is an interagency body created to assist the secretary” in carrying out security obligations under a 1986 law.

“We did not meet any of those standards with the exception of perhaps the height of the wall,” Nordstrom testified.

Nordstrom sent a series of e-mails after this decision up the chain of command at State expressing concern over the failure of the facility to meet OSPB requirements for security.  As he later testified, Kennedy and other “senior decision makers” at State decided that they wouldn’t spend the resources to bring Benghazi into compliance, even after an escalating series of terrorist attacks in the city pushed other Western nations to close their own outposts.  Hillary Clinton wanted a permanent “constituent post” in Benghazi as a mark of progress after the coup d’etat conducted against Moammar Qaddafi in 2011, which meant that the consulate needed to remain open.

The question is whether Kennedy signed off on this himself, or did so under the direction of his superiors.  The State Department told Fox that this memo was essentially old news:

Asked whether Kennedy signed off on State Department policy unilaterally, or whether he consulted senior leadership, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the importance of the memo, stating Fox News’ policy question was dealt with during a hearing before the House oversight committee last fall.

“Let me just say on this particular memo, it’s been available to the House of Representatives since October. It was discussed in October in a hearing on the House side and in many, many, many briefings. It was even posted — this sensitive document was posted on the website as well,” Psaki said.

Asked whether Kennedy had the authorization to sign off on a continued presence, Psaki said Kennedy had spoken at length to the Accountability Review Board, adding “I don’t know that we have a new update today.”

Well, if that was the case, then why didn’t Pickering and his ARB start asking those questions of Kennedy?  The core question for the ARB was determining the responsibility for the failures that allowed the outpost in Benghazi to be successfully sacked by terrorists, resulting in the deaths of four Americans.  The action memo wasn’t just something passed around State and initialed by Kennedy as a pro forma act — it’s addressed directly to him requesting authorization to keep the facility open “through the end of calendar year 2012.”

Furthermore, the memo itself states that the “reduced footprint” of the facility meant that only two Diplomatic Security positions were filled — in a city where terrorist networks operated out in the open.  Later in the memo, Feltman assured Kennedy that after he approved the continuing presence at the compound, DS would “rapidly implement a series of corrective security measures” regarding the building — but says nothing about meeting OSPB requirements in either facilities or staffing.  Nevertheless, Kennedy approved the request, and according to Nordstrom, ignored or remained ignorant of continuing concerns over safety and security even though those were within Kennedy’s responsibility as Undersecretary of State for Management.

Wouldn’t an attempt to apply accountability require that the Undersecretary of State answer questions about this approval, and his subsequent failure to address security issues?  Apparently the ARB didn’t think so, but Congress might — and should — have a different opinion.


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Asked whether Kennedy signed off on State Department policy unilaterally, or whether he consulted senior leadership, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the importance of the memo, stating Fox News’ policy question was dealt with during a hearing before the House oversight committee last fall.

A non-answer. Yes, he did discuss it with Hillary! but because she’s going to run for prezzy, she must be protected at all costs.

rbj on June 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM

The Benghazi scandal is also a simmering Obama-Clinton civil war.

Any decent GOP politician would be exploiting this, instead of voting for immigration bills.

faraway on June 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

“The core question for the ARB” was, how can we absolve the administration of blame for this debacle.

PattyJ on June 22, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Pickering has a lot of explaining to do.

BigGator5 on June 22, 2013 at 1:13 PM

It was Hillary. Hillary’s reckless politically motivated decision to keep it open. Hillary’s decision to not help. Hillary’s lies about the Youtube video. Hillary’s political prisoner. Hillary’s people even tried to lie by saying the CIA guys were consulate security when they actually disobeyed orders to try to save the ambassador. It was Hillary’s orders to silence the surviving personnel who were rescued thanks to the CIA guys disobeying orders. And then she says “what difference does it make”?

forest on June 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

“The Accountability Review Board – co-chaired by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen – are two of the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human beings I’ve ever met.

-Jay Carney

aquaviva on June 22, 2013 at 1:32 PM

No questions asked because the last name was “Kennedy”…

If it had been “Bush”, it would have made the Spanish Inquisition look like Sunday School…

Khun Joe on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Jazz.

Why not do a thread on the IRS sending $46 million in refunds to 24,000 “unauthorized” aliens at a single address in Atlanta:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-sent-46378040-refunds-23994-unauthorized-aliens-1-atlanta-address

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Thomas Pickering moves closer and closer to his Lois Lerner Fifth Amendment moment before Congress.

jon1979 on June 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Keep digging people, we just might get the truth in this mess? We need the top people found out what they did/did not do be held accountable also. We need to know where bho was and why he didn’t do anything.
L

letget on June 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

Ohhh, so all that was answered in October? How about a little memory refresher on what was said? Interesting that compliance of regulation requirements can be ignored by government entities.

Cindy Munford on June 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Or Ed!

Cindy Munford on June 22, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Jazz.

Why not do a thread on the IRS sending $46 million in refunds to 24,000 “unauthorized” aliens at a single address in Atlanta:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-sent-46378040-refunds-23994-unauthorized-aliens-1-atlanta-address

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

…I sure am glad the gobberment is keeping track of everyone’s phone calls and emails…aren’t you?…and the facility they are building to store those records in Nevada…should be able to house those 24,000 people!

KOOLAID2 on June 22, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Cover up. Fake review panel.

pat on June 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

No questions asked because the last name was “Kennedy”…

If it had been “Bush”, it would have made the Spanish Inquisition look like Sunday School…

Khun Joe on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

OT:

I’m sorry, despite the seriousness of the issue, I can’t resist:

NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

Thank you all for humoring me…

Rogue on June 22, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Benghazi proved, beyond every shred of doubt, that Hillary is as dumb at 3:00a.m. when the phone rings, as is obama.

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

So Kennedy will come out and “take full responsibility”. AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.

GarandFan on June 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM

The problem is, even when we find bad actors, there’s no one to hold them to account.

They get away with it.

wolly4321 on June 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Jazz.

Why not do a thread on the IRS sending $46 million in refunds to 24,000 “unauthorized” aliens at a single address in Atlanta:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-sent-46378040-refunds-23994-unauthorized-aliens-1-atlanta-address

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Leave the IRS alone, they are busy suppressing the Republican GOTV effort for 2014!

So many elections, so little time to steal votes.

slickwillie2001 on June 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

A Kennedy.

What else needs to be said?

*************

Ban HAL, free twerp!

Liam on June 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM

It was Hillary. Hillary’s reckless politically motivated decision to keep it open. Hillary’s decision to not help. Hillary’s lies about the Youtube video. Hillary’s political prisoner. Hillary’s people even tried to lie by saying the CIA guys were consulate security when they actually disobeyed orders to try to save the ambassador. It was Hillary’s orders to silence the surviving personnel who were rescued thanks to the CIA guys disobeying orders. And then she says “what difference does it make”?

forest on June 22, 2013 at 1:25 PM

And according to some of our esteemed posters here at HA, Edward Snowden is the traitor. Can’t wait for him to release it all.

VegasRick on June 22, 2013 at 2:28 PM

The ARB was a sad political joke of an investigation performed by people who are now clearly political hacks.

Freddy on June 22, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Jazz.

Why not do a thread on the IRS sending $46 million in refunds to 24,000 “unauthorized” aliens at a single address in Atlanta:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-sent-46378040-refunds-23994-unauthorized-aliens-1-atlanta-address

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

I wonder how many of these addresses are tied to Obamacare and Democratic GOTV efforts?

Freddy on June 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Why not do a thread on the IRS sending $46 million in refunds to 24,000 “unauthorized” aliens at a single address in Atlanta:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-sent-46378040-refunds-23994-unauthorized-aliens-1-atlanta-address

bw222 on June 22, 2013 at 1:43 PM

The GOP already put a stop to that. The Hoeven-Corker amendment to the immigration bill authorizes the IRS to just make a yearly direct-deposit payment to all of them.

lynncgb on June 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM

FREE
the
twerp…!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 22, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Benghazi was a CIA secret gun running Op. and the 4 dead are just collateral damage in a political campaign. After all, the war on (Terrorists) known as conservatives is more important than a war on Jihadists. Obama and the CIA have been training Al Queda in Syria on using anti tank weapons, and anti aircraft weapons. Those weapons were being supplied through the CIA in Benghazi. Can’t have Obama arming AlQueda in the middle of an election being known. And where are the spineless Pubs. on Benghazi? Oh, they are busy invading the country with 40 million undocumented democratic voters.

they lie on June 22, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Is that huge facility in Nevada or Utah?

francesca on June 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

and the facility they are building to store those records in Nevada…should be able to house those 24,000 people! on KOOLAID2 June 22, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Utah.

FREE
the
twerp…!!!

avagreen on June 23, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Pickering and Mullen were picked for the ARB because they are political hacks and could be counted on to cover this scandal up. They were told the blame needed to be put on an underling, that’s why they never questioned any of the top officials. Like all the other internal investigations this administration has held, it went nowhere and that’s where it was meant to go. When the Navy gets around to naming a ship after Admiral Mullen, I hope they consider a New York City garbage scow for that honor.

savage24 on June 23, 2013 at 8:21 PM