December 19, 2012

4 State Department officials resign after Benghazi report

The resignations came as lawmakers expressed anger and frustration over the findings of an independent review panel.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pauses as he speaks to reporters following a closed-door briefing on the investigation of the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. An Accountability Review Board's report indicates serious bureaucratic mismanagement was responsible for the inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But it broke little new ground about the timeline of the Benghazi attack. Killed were U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods — who were contractors working for the CIA. Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed since 1988.

The board determined that there had been no immediate, specific tactical warning of a potential attack on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. But the report said there had been several worrisome incidents before to the attack that should have set off warning bells.

It did confirm, though, that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the facility.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, administration officials linked the attack to the spreading protests that had begun in Cairo earlier that day over an American-made, anti-Islamic film. Those comments came after evidence already pointed to a distinct militant attack in Benghazi.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on numerous TV talk shows the Sunday after the attack and used the administration talking points linking it to the film. An ensuing brouhaha in the heat of the presidential campaign eventually led her to withdraw her name from consideration to replace Clinton as secretary of state in President Barack Obama's second term.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., emerging from the Senate briefing on the report, kept up the congressional criticism of Rice.

"Now we all know she had knowledge. She knew what the truth was. It was a cover-up," he said.

While criticizing State Department management in Washington along with the local militia force and contract guards that the mission depended on for protection, the report said U.S. personnel on the ground in Benghazi "performed with courage and readiness to risk their lives to protect their colleagues in a near-impossible situation."

It said the response by Diplomatic Security agents on the scene and CIA operatives at a nearby compound that later came under attack itself had been "timely and appropriate" and absolved the military from any blame. "There was simply not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference," it said.

The report also discounted speculation that officials in Washington had refused appeals for additional help after the attack had begun.

The report said the evacuation of the dead and wounded 12 hours after the initial attack was due to "exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response" that helped save the lives of two seriously wounded Americans.

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