Senate Benghazi Report Spreads Blame

1/15/14
 
   < < Go Back
 
from The Wall Street Journal,
1/15/14:

Panel Findings Say 2012 Attack Was ‘Likely Preventable’

A long-awaited Senate report on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, sharply criticized American diplomats and spies, saying the assault that killed four Americans was “likely preventable” with better security and intelligence operations.

The bipartisan report released Wednesday by the Senate intelligence committee represents the most comprehensive analysis to date of the U.S. government’s actions in the lead-up to the attacks on the diplomatic compound, and their aftermath. It reinforced conclusions of previous reviews that the State Department, in particular, gave security in Benghazi inadequate attention.

The report listed a number of shortcomings, including lack of security personnel, confusion about the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in the city and too limited human intelligence sources, all of which didn’t match a known and growing threat.

It also depicts a contradictory picture of the State Department’s security requirements. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed when militants stormed the diplomatic outpost and set it ablaze, saw his requests for additional security unfulfilled. But he also declined two offers of additional security personnel from the Pentagon shortly before the attacks. Administration officials have countered they used the best available intelligence at the time and that reports changed as the fog of the attack cleared.

Wednesday’s Senate report largely steered clear of that political back-and-forth, instead chronicling the security failures and intelligence miscues surrounding the attacks. The report discussed the role of extremist groups such as Ansar al-Shariah, but it didn’t delve into the question of the perpetrators’ connections to al Qaeda, another continuing source of debate.

The attacks remain under investigation by five committees in the House, meaning the Senate report will hardly be the last word on the matter.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):