Fifteen diplomatic posts in high-threat areas fail to meet safety standards 10 months after the attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya, State Department officials told Congress Tuesday. Gregory Starr, the State Department’s director of diplomatic service, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that modifying many of those buildings in their current locations is not possible. He said some of the buildings are not far enough from the street or other public areas to be adequately protected. “We cannot retrofit many of our buildings to withstand blasts or direct attacks without the ability to move to a new location . . . and build a new facility,” he said...Current concerns about diplomatic security date to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Smith died of smoke inhalation when the building they were in was set on fire, and CIA security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed hours later when armed militants attacked a CIA annex nearby. A State Department internal investigation found that security at the Benghazi mission was “grossly inadequate” and filled with “relatively inexperienced” officers. Four State Department officials are still on administrative leave awaiting further action after the review. Corker said he was concerned that the inaction has led to “a lack of accountability” and that personnel issues are an important piece of the puzzle.
The State Department didn't need an internal investigation to determine that the security situation in Benghazi was "grossly inadequate." Foggy Bottom's own people in Libya had warned about the severe security shortfalls on several occasions -- yet urgent requests for beefed up assets were denied, and on-the-ground measures were inexplicably scaled back. Sec. Clinton's signature appeared on a memo approving of the lax security, and whistleblower Eric Nordstrom testified that she "absolutely" knew about the rejected pleas for more resources. Soon after the deadly attack on the anniversary of 9/11, US and international media reported extensively on the security fiasco in Benghazi. The very mission that fell that night had been the target of several previous violent attempts in the weeks leading up to the raid. Plus, the integrity of State's in-house reviews has been called into question by recent whistleblower testimony exposing the department's inclination toward whitewashing and unduly influencing internal probes. The State Department casually and categorically lies about small things; of course they'd cover up the heavy-duty stuff. As for those low-to-mid level staffers who remain on administrative leave, one of them has stepped forward to accuse the department of unjustly scapegoating him in order to protect his superiors -- two of whom have been handed generous promotions, and another who is likely running for president. There's more. Early last month, I relayed a disturbing report about the "decrepit" and perilously unsafe US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Yesterday's McClatchy report suggests that the Beirut outpost's vulnerabilities are merely the tip of the iceberg. In fact, at the time, that facility wasn't even classified as a "high risk" location for reasons that defy all rationality. Here's what I wrote in June, which fully applies to the new revelations:
This assessment would be damning under any circumstances, but it's completely intolerable in the shadow of September's terrorist attacks that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. In their efforts to fend off questions and probes into the massive failures that occurred on September 11, 2012, the Obama administration has taken umbrage at any accusation of wrongdoing or negligence. They routinely retreat to warmed-over bromides about "taking the steps necessary to ensure that something like this never happens again." That's the only lesson they want anyone to derive from the Benghazi massacre -- yet they themselves evidently have not internalized it. In the days following the lethal raid, the president told a Univision audience that his "number one priority is to keep our diplomats safe." Number one, he said. Just words. Obama's most notable tangible action in response to Benghazi is to promote some of the central figures of the administration's cover-up. Susan Rice ascended to the perch of National Security Adviser this week, and Victoria Nuland will reportedly be nominated as an Assistant Secretary of State.
The Obama administration has systematically (a) dismissed and diminished the dramatic testimony provided by three Benghazi whistleblowers in May, (b) denied they'd manipulated intelligence for political reasons after the fact, even as documents and memos prove otherwise, and (c) evaded the majority of these critical questions. The solitary administration-approved takeaway for Americans (ie, voters) in all of this was that the president was working overtime to bring the terrorists to justice and to ensure that a Benghazi-style attack could never happen again. Because, you'll recall, keeping diplomats safe is his "number one priority." Ten months later, fifteen high-risk diplomatic missions remain unsecured, and zero Benghazi-connected arrests have been made -- even though US intelligence has identified and located several of the perpetrators. But at this point, "what difference does it make?" As I said, a disgrace.
UPDATE - Oh my: Were Benghazi survivors forced to sign non-disclosure agreements?