Paul Greenberg

Nobody resigns in disgrace any more. Disgrace may be just as common as ever -- such is the human condition -- but not resignations. Even when they're clearly called for. Rank still has its privileges, especially when it's abused. As when the higher-ups at the State Department failed to protect our best and brightest -- like Ambassador Chris Stevens, a rising star in our diplomatic corps. Along with three other dedicated professionals, he was killed in the terrorist raid on an American compound in Benghazi.

An independent investigation of that bloody debacle was clearly needed. This one was headed by two well-known figures: veteran Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. After conducting more than a hundred interviews and watching hours of videotapes of the attack, their report confirmed what was already obvious: "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels" of the State Department.

Early in this scandal, Hillary Clinton said that, as secretary of state, she took responsibility for what had happened at Benghazi. But last time I looked, she was still secretary of state. Conclusion: When some officials say they take responsibility, what they mean is that they say they take responsibility. Nothing else is required of them. Not an apology, not even a full explanation, and certainly not resignation. However much they talk about accepting responsibility for some ghastly failure.

Sidelined by a virus and then a concussion, Secretary Clinton never has testified fully about her role in that bloody debacle. Here's wishing her a full and speedy recovery. She's still got some explaining to do.

Whole layers of the far-flung bureaucracy Ms. Clinton heads failed to foil an attack that should have been anticipated -- and prevented. Any efforts to do so were summed up by this report in two words: "grossly inadequate." Which may be an understatement, considering the extent of the mismanagement at State.

The final report from this independent commission praised our people on the ground in Benghazi, especially the guards who showed nothing but courage in the face of the onslaught.

It was the higher-ups in their distant towers who failed to carry out their responsibilities. Utterly. Despite a series of earlier attacks, despite a clear warning from al-Qaida, and even repeated pleas for more protection from our diplomats in Benghazi, nothing was done. And the slaughter commenced.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.