The Senate Intelligence Committee released on Wednesday a report blaming the State Department and the intelligence community for failing to prevent the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi that resulted in the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“The committee found the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya — to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets — and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the Senate committee said in a statement released with the report.
The committee said that the State Department was warned for months preceding the attack that the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was at risk, yet it failed to adequately respond to requests for more security.
“The State Department should have increased its security posture in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security situation on the ground and [intelligence community] threat reporting on the prior attacks against Western Benghazi,” the report said. “Few significant improvements were made by the State Department to the security posture of the Temporary Mission Facility.”
Where the CIA properly responded to the multiple warnings of terrorists threats in Benghazi by upgrading its security, the State Department failed to do so. This failure came even after multiple “tripwires” — warnings to “prompt a reduction in personnel or the suspension of operations at the Mission facility in Benghazi” — had been crossed and after other nations has closed diplomatic facilities in Benghazi earlier that year.
The committee also found that there were no U.S. military forces positioned to arrive in short order at Benghazi and that no adequate evacuation plan was in place. Furthermore, security agencies failed to communicate sufficiently. In one example, the military headquarters responsible for Libya did not know that the CIA annex — whose personnel first responded to the attack on the diplomatic facility — existed.
Subsequent to the attack, the State Department “did not disseminate any independent analysis in the year following the Benghazi attacks,” which the committee found “unsettling” considering that two State Department personnel were killed in an attack on a State Department facility.
Following the release of the report, the State Department issued a statement listing the ways in which the department is improving security. Implementing the improvements “will require reforming the organization in critical ways,” the statement said, “work which is already well underway.”