State Department Report on the Benghazi Attack

Benghazi attack

The U.S. Department of State has recently released a report examining the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September of this year. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered the Accountability Review Board (ARB) “to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 11-12, 2012, killings of four U.S. government personnel, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi, Libya.” The attacks that took place involved grenades, mortars, arson, small arms, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and were “focused on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, as well as U.S. personnel en route between the two facilities.” It was the first time since 1988 that a U.S. ambassador was murdered, and took place exactly eleven years after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

This report investigates several elements of the attacks, including: “whether the attacks were security related; whether security systems and procedures were adequate and implemented properly; the impact of intelligence and information availability; whether any other facts or circumstances in these cases may be relevant to appropriate security management of U.S. missions worldwide; and, finally, whether any U.S. government employee or contractor […] breached her or his duty.”

The report has scrutinized these events “with an eye towards how we can better advance American interests and protect our personnel in an increasingly complex and dangerous world.” Several key recommendations are outlined and categorized under six main areas: Overarching Security Considerations; Staffing High Risk, High Threat Posts; Training and Awareness; Security and Fire Safety Equipment; Intelligence and Threat Analysis; and Personal Accountability. Below are some of these recommendations:

  • The State Department must strengthen security for personnel and platforms, especially in high risk, high threat posts
  • A panel of independent experts should be established to identify best practices and regularly evaluate U.S. security platforms in high risk, high threat posts
  • The State Department should review its staffing footprints at high risk, high threat posts and ensure adequate Locally Employed Staff and management support
  • The Department should enhance its continuing efforts to significantly improve its language capacity, especially Arabic, among American employees
  • The State Department’s high-threat training should better incorporate active internal defense and fire survival
  • The Department needs to ensure the provision of adequate fire safety and security equipment for safe havens and safe areas, and upgrade surveillance cameras

In addition, Hillary Clinton summarizes several other steps that have been undertaken in her letter to Congress. She details what has been done in the aftermath of the attacks and what challenges still remain.

A Special Briefing on the Accountability Review Board Report was also convened on December 19th. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, ARB Chairman Tom Pickering, and ARB Vice Chairman Mike Mullen were present to discuss this report and answer questions.

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