New Senate report slams State Department on Libya

New Senate report slams State Department on Libya

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
New Senate report slams State Department on Libya

US Sen Lieberman holds a press conference about their report on the Benghazi attack. The report cites ‘grievous mistakes’ by the State Department. AFP photo

The U.S. State Department made a “grievous mistake” in refusing to shut down its mission in Benghazi, Libya, despite the deteriorating security situation in the country, a Senate report said Dec. 31.

The diplomatic post was kept open “despite the inability of the Libyan government to fulfill its duties to secure the facility and the increasingly dangerous threat environment that American intelligence described,” U.S. lawmakers concluded. In the report, entitled “Flashing Red: A Special Report On The Terrorist Attack At Benghazi,” chairman Joe Lieberman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security found security at the mission seriously lacking.

Four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed when heavily-armed men overran the Benghazi mission on Sept. 11. The report comes just weeks after the State Department’s own investigation slammed security at the site as “grossly inadequate.”

Deepening focus beyond Libya

One top State Department official has resigned in the wake of the internal review and three others have been placed on administrative leave. In their separate report, the senators recommended the State Department must from now on plan for all types of attacks even if there is no imminent threat.

Intelligence agencies “must broaden and deepen their focus in Libya, and beyond, on nascent violent Islamist extremist groups in the region that lack strong operational ties to core al-Qaeda or its main affiliate groups.”

The local security was “woefully inadequate,” the senators wrote. So if a host country cannot meet its obligations to protect U.S. diplomatic missions then “the Department of State must provide additional security measures of its own, urgently attempt to upgrade the host nation security forces, or decide to close a U.S. diplomatic facility,” they recommended.

They also proposed that the Pentagon provide more resources to defend Americans and their allies in Africa. And they urged that “when terrorists attack our country, either at home or abroad, administration officials should speak clearly and consistently about what has happened.”