News / USA

    Kerry: Congress Shares Blame for Benghazi Security Failure

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., leads hearing about attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Capitol Hill, Dec. 20, 2012.
    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., leads hearing about attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Capitol Hill, Dec. 20, 2012.
    The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee says Congress bears some responsibility for the mistakes leading to the deadly September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
     
    Speaking Thursday as the Senate committee questioned Deputy Secretaries of State William Burns and Thomas Nides, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said "gridlock and excesses" prevented Congress from properly authorizing and funding legislation. The State Department had said it lacked funding for increased security.
     
    U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.
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    U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.
    U.S. embassy compound following overnight attack, Benghazi, Sept. 12, 2012.
    "Adequately funding America's foreign policy objectives is not spending, it's investing in our long-term security and more often than not it saves far more expensive expenditures in dollars and lives for the conflicts that we fail to see or avoid," he said. "We need to invest in America's long-term interest in order to do the job of diplomacy in a dangerous world."
     
    Nides noted that the department had already converted a panel's 29 recommendations into "60 specific action items," some of which would be completed by the end of this month.

    Findings of the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi

    • There were no protests before the attacks.
    • Intelligence provided no specific warning of the attacks.
    • The scale and intensity of the attacks was not anticipated.
    • Systemic failures and leadership deficiencies in the State Department resulted in inadequate security.
    • The Libyan government's response to the attack was "profoundly lacking."
    • U.S. personnel in Benghazi acted with courage in a "near impossible situation."
    • There was not enough time for U.S. military assets to have made a difference.
    "We get this right about 99 percent of the time. We'd like to be at 100 percent, without question," he said. "We have over 275 posts around the world, and our men and women are in danger all over the world, and we attempt to do this 100 percent."

    The top State officials have asked Congress to increase funding to provide better security at high-risk embassies and consulates. Nides said all the assistance for the State Department equals less than one percent of the federal budget.
     
    Funding vs. mismanagement
     
    But Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, lashed out the State Department officials for focusing on funding rather than mismanagement. He pointed to a security team on the ground in Tripoli whose stay was not extended by the State Department despite an extension request and funding from the Defense Department.
     
    "I assumed they would have traveled and been there [to Benghazi] when we had our ambassador there," he said. "I just don't understand. You talk about money, but you had 16 people there free from the Defense Department. They requested that they stay, and you denied that. I don't understand that."
     
    The hearing comes after a report from an independent Accountability Review Board concluded that security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi was "grossly inadequate" at the time of the attack. The findings prompted a personnel shake-up at the State Department.
     
    A State Department spokeswoman said Wednesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted Eric Boswell's decision to resign as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security. The spokeswoman also said three other people had been "relieved of their current duties."
     
    The Benghazi attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stephens. He was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1988.
     
    Clinton recovering
     
    Clinton had been scheduled to testify Thursday before the House and Senate committees about the attack. However, she is under doctor's order to rest after becoming ill last week.
     
    The accountability board said senior-level "systematic failures and management deficiencies" within two State Department bureaus led to the failed protection of the consulate.
     
    The panel's recommendations include increased security at temporary facilities in high-risk areas.
     
    The group also urged the State Department to lengthen the duty assignments for program and security personnel at high-risk posts. It said the "short-term, transitory nature" of staffing at the Benghazi mission had resulted in "diminished institutional knowledge" and lack of continuity.

    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mike from: Vermont
    December 20, 2012 10:47 AM
    The question is, do you have more Marines in Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo and Rome, places that have not been ‘hot spots’ for over 50 years, then you do in places like Benghazi and Cairo? It doesn’t take billion dollars to redeploy troops.

    And since it is a simple as redeploying troops, it means the Man in charge of those troops has no clue on how to place them on the map. Which equals negligence.

    A child playing the board game Risk or Ruse on the Xbox knows better than to do this. The level of incompetence is ridiculous.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 20, 2012 6:07 AM
    It is blame game and point finger for who has to blame. the fact that US support the rebel and the rebel has connection of Islamic international terrorism .the genus policy maker believe Gadhafi has to go like Mubarak has to go. The outcome is a disaster .the us policy maker substitute dictator with Islamic psychopath .now they blame an f official for inadequate security measure,. They have to blame the policy maker for implementing a radical Islam form of Gov.. in addition ,the man who mastermind the attack is a Egyptian and financial times write an article .about it .he was released by the another radical from of Gov. from Egypt prison . the Egyptian authority knew that these people are psychopath and possibility to commit another terrorism attack is almost certain. they release him and plan the attack and execute it. please do not blame an official for inadequate security measure. blame the policy maker for not understanding what radical Islam is . we need president Gorge w bush to fix the problem

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