Committee Majority Staff Issues Report on Lack of State Department Accountability for Benghazi Attacks

Feb 7, 2014

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee majority staff issued a report detailing the lack of accountability within the State Department following the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks at the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.  The report, entitled, “Benghazi:  Where is the State Department Accountability,” follows the majority investigative staff’s extensive 16-month oversight, during which staff examined the State Department’s conduct before, during, and after the terrorist attacks. 

The report is available HERE

The report contains the following key findings: 

  • Before September 11, 2012, U.S. intelligence agencies provided extensive warning of the deteriorating security environment in eastern Libya, including al-Qaeda’s expanding operations and the mounting risk to U.S. personnel and facilities.
  • These threats were well-understood by even the most senior officials in Washington; then-Secretary Clinton “was certainly aware” of this reporting, as well as the fact that extremists claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaeda were active in the area.
  • Despite this increasingly dangerous environment, State Department officials in Washington denied requests for additional security from Department personnel on the ground in Libya, and insisted on an aggressive timeline for drawing down support.  By contrast, the CIA increased security at its facilities in Benghazi.
  • The Accountability Review Board (ARB) convened in response to the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam recommended that the Secretary of State “take a personal and active role in carrying out the responsibility of ensuring the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad.”
  • The ARB convened by Secretary Clinton after the Benghazi attack was seriously deficient in several respects, most notably in its failure to review or comment on the actions of the Department’s most senior officials, including Secretary Clinton herself.
  • Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry have failed to hold anyone accountable for the flawed decisions about security in Benghazi.  Instead, the four employees cited by the ARB were temporarily suspended with pay and ultimately reassigned to new positions within the Department.  Two of these officials subsequently retired voluntarily, and not as the result of disciplinary action.  
  • The “talking points” controversy further revealed a Department leadership more interested in its reputation than establishing the facts and accountability. 
  • Tellingly, during the entirety of Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the State Department went for a historically long period without a permanent Inspector General, a position central to ensuring a culture of accountability within the Department.
  • State Department personnel serve the nation with distinction, operating in the most dangerous areas of the world.  Their security cannot be guaranteed, nor do they expect it to be guaranteed.  What they do expect and deserve is a Department in which everyone is held accountable for his or her performance.
  • While the Committee will continue to press for accountability, it is incumbent upon President Obama and Secretary Kerry to recognize the failures of senior officials and hold them accountable.  Otherwise, another Benghazi scenario, in which U.S. personnel are left vulnerable by irresponsible decision making in Washington, is inevitable.

The report comes two days after the House Republican Leadership published a new website,  GOP.gov/Benghazi, devoted to the Benghazi investigations. 

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