3 re­sign in wake of Beng­hazi in­quiry


Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Matthew Lee

WASHINGTON — Three State De­part­ment of­fi­cials re­signed un­der pres­sure Wed­nes­day, less than a day af­ter a report blamed man­age­ment fail­ures for “grossly in­ad­e­quate” se­cu­rity at the U.S. diplo­matic mis­sion in Beng­hazi, Libya, where mil­i­tants killed the U.S. am­bas­sador and three other Amer­i­cans on Sept. 11.

The res­ig­na­tions came as law­mak­ers on both sides of the aisle ex­pressed anger and frus­tra­tion with the State De­part­ment.

“My im­pres­sion is the State De­part­ment clearly failed the Boy Scout motto of be pre­pared,” said Sen. John Bar­rasso, R-Wyo. “They failed to an­tic­i­pate what was coming be­cause of how bad the se­cu­rity risk al­ready was there. ... They failed to con­nect the dots.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.,

a mem­ber of the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, said se­cu­rity was in­suf­fi­cient, in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing was poor “and our re­liance on lo­cal mili­tias was sorely mis­placed.”

“Th­ese are not mis­takes we can af­ford to make again,” he said.

Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said those who had stepped down were Eric Boswell, the as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for diplo­matic se­cu­rity, Char­lene Lamb, the deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary re­spon­si­ble for em­bassy se­cu­rity, and Ray­mond Maxwell, the deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state who over­sees the Maghreb na­tions of Libya, Al­ge­ria, Tu­nisia and Morocco. The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss per­son­nel mat­ters pub­licly.

Some of the three may have the op­tion of be­ing re­as­signed to other du­ties, the of­fi­cials said.

The de­part­ment de­clined im­me­di­ate com­ment on the res­ig­na­tion of the of­fi­cials whose de­ci­sions had been crit­i­cized in the un­clas­si­fied ver­sion of an in­de­pen­dent re­view panel’s report.

The board’s cochair­man, re­tired Adm. Mike Mullen, told re­porters that the board had not de­ter­mined that any of­fi­cials had “en­gaged in will­ful mis­con­duct or know­ingly ig­nored his or her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

But Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair­man, added that some State De­part­ment se­nior of­fi­cials “in crit­i­cal lev­els of author­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity in Washington demon­strated a lack of lead­er­ship and man­age­ment abil­ity.”

Mullen said the mis­sion’s se­cu­rity fell through bu­reau­cratic cracks caused in part be­cause build­ings were cat­e­go­rized as tem­po­rary. The report also said bud­get con­straints had caused some of­fi­cials to be more con­cerned with sav­ing scarce money than in se­cu­rity.

Co-chair­man Thomas Pick­er­ing, a re­tired am­bas­sador, said the per­son­nel on the ground in Beng­hazi had re­acted to the at­tack with brav­ery and pro­fes­sion­al­ism. But, he said, the se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions were “grossly in­ad­e­quate” and the con­tin­gent was over­whelmed by the heav­ily armed mil­i­tants.

“They did the best they pos­si­bly could with what they had, but what they had wasn’t enough,” Pick­er­ing said.

Pick­er­ing and Mullen spoke shortly af­ter brief­ing mem­bers of Congress in pri­vate.

The House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. Mike Rogers, RMich., said the report laid bare “the mas­sive fail­ure of the State De­part­ment at all lev­els, in­clud­ing se­nior lead­er­ship, to take ac­tion to pro­tect our government em­ploy­ees abroad,” and com­plained that no one was be­ing held ac­count­able.

Lamb, the deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for diplo­matic se­cu­rity who was in charge of em­bassy pro­tec­tion, tes­ti­fied in Oc­to­ber be­fore the House Over­sight and Government Re­form Com­mit­tee and de­fended the se­cu­rity mea­sures.

“I made the best de­ci­sions I could with the in­for­ma­tion I had,” Lamb said at the time. “We had the cor­rect num­ber of as­sets in Beng­hazi at the time of 9 /11.”

She also told Rep. Dan Bur­ton, R-Ind., that she re­jected re­quests for more se­cu­rity in Beng­hazi, in­stead train­ing “lo­cal Libyans and army men” to pro­vide se­cu­rity, a pol­icy in force at U.S. diplo­matic fa­cil­i­ties around the world.

Pick­er­ing and Mullen set the stage for pub­lic hear­ings set for to­day on Capi­tol Hill., Sched­uled to tes­tify are Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Wil­liam Burns, who is in charge of pol­icy, and Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Thomas Nides, who is in charge of man­age­ment.

Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton was to have ap­peared at to­day’s hear­ings, but can­celed af­ter faint­ing and sus­tain­ing a con­cus­sion last week while re­cov­er­ing from a stom­ach virus. Clin­ton is un­der doc­tors’ or­ders to rest.

In a let­ter that ac­com­pa­nied the trans­mis­sion of the report to Capi­tol Hill, Clin­ton thanked the board for its “clear-eyed, se­ri­ous look at se­ri­ous sys­temic chal­lenges” and said she ac­cepted its 29 rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove se­cu­rity at high­threat em­bassies and con­sulates.

She said the de­part­ment had be­gun to put in place some of the rec­om­men­da­tions. They in­clude in­creas­ing by sev­eral hun­dred the num­ber of Marine guards sta­tioned at diplo­matic mis­sions through­out the world; re­ly­ing less on lo­cal se­cu­rity forces for pro­tec­tion at em­bassies, con­sulates and other of­fices; and in­creas­ing hir­ing and de­ploy­ment of highly trained Diplo­matic Se­cu­rity agents at at-risk posts.

Boswell Eric Boswell, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of state for diplo­matic se­cu­rity, and deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­taries Char­lene Lamb and Ray­mond Maxwell (not pic­tured), re­signed un­der pres­sure Wed­nes­day.


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