The State Department has come up for harsh criticism in an official report that cites "grossly inadequate" security at America's mission in Benghazi during the Sept. 11 attacks that killed US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three others.
The leaders of an independent panel issued the scathing assessment in a review that, according to Reuters, found "leadership and management" deficiencies in the department and "real confusion" in Washington and in the field over who could — and should — have made decisions involving security.
The findings of the Accountability Review Board, some of which are classified and will only be heard behind closed doors before the House and Senate foreign affairs committees, may taint the four-year tenure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Reuters wrote.
According to CNN, the panel's 39-page, unclassified version of the report concluded that "systemic failures" resulted in a security plan "that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."
The Clinton-appointed panel, whose members include veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, found that the State Department showed "a lack of proactive leadership and management ability," Bloomberg wrote.
Nor was there any US or allied intelligence warning of the attacks, in which armed men breached the US mission's compound walls, the report noted.
However, it added, no single government employee breached his or her duties in the lead-up to the attacks.
There was no "evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders" involved in evacuating US government personnel from Benghazi within 12 hours of the attack, according to the report.
There simply wasn’t enough time for any US military response to have made a difference, the panel found.
The board cited a lack of resources as partly to blame:
"The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs."