An independent panel investigating the deadly attack in Libya that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans said systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department led to “grossly” inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
“Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaux 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 panel said.
The report singled out the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs for criticism, saying there appeared to be a lack of co-operation and confusion over protection at the mission in Benghazi, a city in eastern Libya that was relatively lawless after the revolution that toppled Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Despite those failures, the Accountability Review Board found that no individual officials ignored or violated their duties and recommended no disciplinary action for now. But it also said poor performance by senior managers should be grounds for disciplinary recommendations in the future.
The report appeared to break little new ground about the timeline of the September 11 Benghazi attack during which ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith and former US Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – contractors working for the CIA – were killed. Mr Stevens’ murder was the first of a US ambassador since 1988.
But it confirmed that, contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate and said responsibility for the incident rested entirely with the terrorists who attacked the mission.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, administration officials linked the attack to the spreading protests over an anti-Islamic film made in the US that had begun in Cairo, Egypt, earlier that day.
Those comments came after evidence already pointed to a distinct militant attack. United Nations ambassador Susan Rice appeared on numerous TV talk shows the Sunday after the attack linking it to the film.