Three Top State Department Officials Resign Over Benghazi
Three top officials in the State Department resigned Wednesday in the wake of a scathing report which slammed "systemic failures" and "management deficiencies" in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which resulted in the murder of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell, head of the bureau of diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programs, have stepped down, CNN and CBS television said, citing unnamed department officials.
Lamb, who was Boswell’s deputy in charge of international programs, denied requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli for an extension of temporary security forces that were withdrawn in the months before the Benghazi attack.
The third person expected to resign has not yet been identified.
The resignations came just hours after an independent panel issued a long-awaited inquiry into the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which has been blamed on Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists.
"Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the report said.
The report did not find reason for disciplinary action against any officials but singled out the bureaus of Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs for criticism, saying its leaders demonstrated a “lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns.”
Lamb wanted to keep the U.S. security presence “artificially low,” according to a memo released prior to the hearing.
She had testified that the consulate had enough security resources given what officials detected as known threats to the U.S. facility.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said Lamb’s comment “somehow doesn't seem to ring true to the American people,” because there had already been an attack on the consulate earlier this year and U.S.’s radar should have been on high-alert given that it was the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
Lamb said, however, that two of her supervisors had signed off on the decision to withhold the security forces.
Deputy Secretary Bill Burns acknowledged Wednesday that the report took "a clear-eyed look at serious, systemic problems, which are unacceptable."
"Problems for which as Secretary Clinton has said we take responsibility, and problems which we have already begun to fix."
He admitted to reporters that "we have learned some very hard and painful lessons in Benghazi."
"We are already acting on them, we have to do better. We have to do more to constantly improve, and reduce the risks that people face, and make sure they have the resources they need. We owe them."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was unable to testify due to dehydration caused by a severe stomach virus.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton had accused Clinton of a being ailed by a “diplomatic illness” to avoid scheduled open testimony Thursday before House and Senate panels regarding the attack.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland slammed the comments as being “completely untrue.”
“We put out such a full statement Saturday of exactly what was going on because people speculate wildly,” she said.