SEPTEMBER 04, 2013
The State Department has long known that weak security at American embassies and consulates worldwide could result in a tragedy like Benghazi but warnings have been ignored and a former Clinton administration official runs the division behind the scandal.
Alarming details are laid out in a scathing new report put together by an independent panel of security and intelligence experts investigating the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three other Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists.
The report has not yet been released to the public but Al Jazeera America obtained a copy and it reveals government negligence that’s downright shocking. It shows that senior officials have stood by while some of the United States’ most dangerous diplomatic posts have for years been vulnerable to attacks like the one that occurred in Benghazi. The State Department has known about security problems but has failed to correct them, according to the panel’s findings.
In fact, Benghazi was simply the latest in a long string of security failures that date back more than a decade. From 1998 to 2012, there were more than 270 “significant attacks” against US diplomatic facilities and personnel, according to State Department data cited in the report. Bottom line, according to Al Jazeera’s analysis: “U.S. embassies and other missions have been under siege for decades.”
It’s only going to get worse, according to the security and intelligence experts that conducted the Benghazi investigation. They write that attacks on State Department facilities and diplomatic personnel overseas are likely to continue because “terrorists have proven to be determined over time and readily adapt to the environment to advance their causes.”
The State Department division responsible for the security lapses is headed by Patrick F. Kennedy, a career diplomat who served as Bill Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State from 1993 to 2001. In late 2007 Kennedy was named undersecretary for management at the State Department, which means he ranks quite high at the agency. The security experts blast Kennedy’s office in their report and suggest “as a matter of urgency” to establish a new undersecretary to address security.
Incredibly, investigators found that the State Department’s security structure has a serious lack of accountability and no review process to learn from previous security failures. Furthermore, diplomatic security training is inadequate, with no designated facility available to train agents to work at high-risk diplomatic posts. Even low-risk diplomatic posts are vulnerable, the panel found. It appears, however, that there were plenty of warnings in Benghazi.
Judicial Watch has been a leader in exposing the truth about Benghazi, filing a dozen public-records requests with various federal agencies. Just a few weeks ago JW obtained the first photos from the State Department depicting the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Libya. JW has also published a special report featuring an in-depth analysis of Benghazi conducted by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier.
The report examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials. It also looks at the Obama administration’s official claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18 Accountability Review Board report on the attack.
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