'Damning' Report: Benghazi Outpost Was a Sitting Duck

Gov't finds many US embassies at similar risk

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2013 11:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The newly launched Al Jazeera America has its hands on an internal government report (you can read the full PDF here) on the 2012 Benghazi attack, and the assessment is "damning." The report, written by an independent panel of intelligence and security experts, paints a picture of a facility with lax security standards that was ill-equipped to identify and respond to a growing threat in the area—and it was just one of many US diplomatic posts with such problems. Among the findings:

  • The Special Mission in Benghazi was approved and reapproved as a diplomatic post, despite not meeting the security standards for such a high-threat area.
  • State Department staff in the months leading up to the attack ignored warning signs that threats in the area were increasing, and local security was decreasing. Benghazi, like a number of high-risk US embassies, did not have an intelligence analyst on site to identify the growing risk.

  • State does not have a process in place to review and evaluate security failures after they happen. As such, there was no debriefing or discussion with Benghazi survivors to asses their experiences.
  • More training for agents at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is "critical," and the agency needs its own training facility instead of "begging" for space from other agencies.
Following the 1983 embassy bombings in Beirut, the Department wrote a new set of safety standards for dangerous posts. Thirty years later, the report concludes, "neither the US Embassy chancery in Beirut nor a significant number of other US diplomatic facilities in areas designated as 'high threat'" meet these standards.

A man looks at documents at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans.
A man looks at documents at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after an attack that killed four Americans.   (AP Photo/Ibrahim Alaguri, File)
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