A just-released Interim Progress Report based on an investigation across five House committees on the Benghazi terrorist attack paints a disturbing picture of diplomatic security neglected and of obfuscation on the part of the Obama Administration.
The House report is based on documents and e-mails laboriously extracted by Congress from the Obama Administration. In some cases, this happened under the threat of holding up confirmation of presidential nominees to the national security team. The report reveals a fundamental lack of understanding at the highest levels of the State Department of the dangerous situation in Benghazi and, equally problematically, concerted attempts across the Administration to insulate the State Department from blame, whitewashing the narrative of the tragic events. Among the report’s findings:
- “Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton. This fact contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013.”
- “In the days following the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the Intelligence Community in order to protect the State Department.”
- “Contrary to Administration rhetoric, the talking points were not edited to protect classified information. Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior Administration officials.”
In the interest of fixing the problems that led to the death of four brave Americans on September 11, 2012, we must get real answers to what happened before, during and after the attack.
Even current Secretary of State John Kerry undertook his own investigation following after taking office in January, clearly not satisfied with the accounting given by his predecessor.
Wednesday, the day after the publication, House Foreign Affairs chairman Ed Royce declared his intention to introduce legislation to increase the independence and transparency of future Accountability Review Boards (ARB), which look at such attacks, to ensure they are truly independent review bodies that have a greater ability to make disciplinary recommendations.
The report’s preliminary findings illustrate the profound need for continued oversight by the five House committees. Making sure that that appropriate officials will be held accountable is a key part of making sure that we do not expose U.S. personnel stationed overseas in such unnecessary fashion again.