The “Accountability Review Board” assembled by the State Department to investigate security failures leading to the Benghazi terror attack has released a report that fails to hold any senior officials accountable for the assault that claimed four American lives.
The investigation found that security was “grossly inadequate” and “profoundly weak” due to a “lack of proactive senior leadership” and overreliance on Libyan security guards whose response was “profoundly lacking” and characterized by “weak capacity.”
The board’s report details “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department.”
Most incriminating, the report confirms that “security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing.”
The report notes that the intelligence community failed to detect any specific warning of the Sept. 11 consulate attack, but that is no excuse.
While intelligence gaps certainly contributed to the tragedy, it didn’t take the CIA to notice the pattern of increasing violence in the months leading to the fatal attack.
As early as June 25, Ambassador Chris Stevens warned the State Department of the deteriorating security situation, listing six of the multiple attacks that had already occurred, including an attack on a U.N. official in Benghazi, an IED explosion at the consulate compound, and a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the British ambassador’s convoy.
It was not a failure of intelligence but a failure of judgment on multiple levels within the State Department that left the consulate vulnerable to attack.
According to retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a co-author of the report, “there was a knowledge gap in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests.”