Paul Greenberg

Four high-ranking officials at State finally resigned. But only after the report of the investigators was released. Even then, according to the news story, they did so under pressure. And only after weeks of public outrage, congressional fuming, and a continuing stream of misleading statements about the attack and what prompted it from the White House, the State Department (aka Foggy Bottom), and the administration's usual apologists. Its defenders have yet to meet a scandal they can't explain away or, failing that, try to minimize. Even a fatal lack of responsibility, like the one that led to the murderous assault at Benghazi.

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The list of resignees reads like a Who's Who of State Department officials responsible for security, or what there was of it at Benghazi: the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, the deputy assistant secretary for embassy security, and a deputy assistant secretary responsible for overseeing U.S. diplomatic missions across a whole swath of North Africa -- from Morocco and Algeria to Tunisia and Libya.

But it's still not clear whether these dignitaries will be leaving the State Department or just their current posts. For now, according to the State Department's official spokesman, they're "on administrative leave pending further action."

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Who knows, the people now being blamed for failing to protect our people at Benghazi may wind up being promoted. The way our ambassador to the United Nations, the Hon. Susan E. Rice, rose through the State Department's ranks after cozying up to one bloody-minded despot after another in Africa -- from Ghana to Ethiopia, Rwanda to Uganda. She seemed unable to recognize genocide on that still dark continent no matter how obvious, and certainly unable to pronounce the word -- lest she offend the genocidal.

Naturally enough, Susan Rice was being talked about not long ago as our next secretary of state -- till she made the mistake of lending herself to the Authorized Version of what had happened at Benghazi: She said it was just an outgrowth of widespread public furor over an amateurish anti-Muslim video made by some fly-by-night promoter in this country. Rather than the well-planned, premeditated terrorist assault it was, perhaps by al-Qaida and/or its affiliates. Much awaits to be revealed -- if it ever is.

Ambassador Rice's story was already unraveling even as she repeated it in one television appearance after another. In the end, rather than risk further embarrassment, the lady had the good judgment to decide she shouldn't be nominated for secretary of state after all.

Now it's said that, as a consolation prize, she'll be this president's next adviser on, of all things, national security. Perfect. There's a term for this kind of thing in Washington: falling up.

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Once it was said that nothing succeeds like success. But in this administration -- have you noticed? -- nothing succeeds like failure.


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.