A government probe has faulted the U.S. State Department for deploying insufficient defenses to handle a Sept. 11 strike that resulted in the death of a top U.S. envoy and three additional personnel at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Reuters reported.
"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," says a redacted version of the assessment.
Intelligence operations yielded no "specific tactical warning" of the strike that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, and "little understanding [existed] of militias in Benghazi and the threat they posed to U.S. interests," according to the document from the five-person "Accountability Review Board."
The diplomatic outpost had a "misplaced" reliance on defensive services from "armed but poorly skilled" personnel in the Libyan Feb. 17 Martyrs' Brigade and weaponless protective forces recruited by Blue Mountain Libya, a firm acting on the department's behalf, the assessment asserts.
The State Department should establish a high-level job responsible for managing protections at "high threat" facilities; provide defenses in addition to what other nations routinely offer for such sites; and seek independent input on "best practices" for acting in hazardous settings, the paper says.
The document calls on the department to station additional protective service members at high-risk sites; press for no less than 12 months of service by critical defensive and political workers at such locations; and examine the elimination of obstacles to disciplinary action against anyone deemed to react inadequately to a new threat.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a written statement said she would implement all advice prepared by the body.
The top security official at State and two other department officials have quit their posts in the wake of the report's release, the Associated Press reported.