aside THE BENGHAZI STORY / DECEMBER, 2012 ARB REPORT FINDINGS

HILLARY CLINTON
HILLARY CLINTON

On October 22, 2015, the US Congress held a hearing regarding the surprise attack of a US diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya by local Islamic terrorists on 9/11/12. The former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was cross examined for a record 11 hours by the House Select Committee, headed by the panel’s top Republican, Trey Gowdy. US Congress Representative Gowdy began his discussions by totally discounting the professional quality and thoroughness of the December, 2012 ARB study chaired by Ambassador Pickering, a 40 year diplomat who served under republican and democrat administrations with distinction, impeccable credentials and reputation. The vice-chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen brought his military background to add his perspective to the final product. Of the three remaining board members, at least one was from the Intelligence Community (IC).

Former US Ambassador to the UN (40 year career) Thomas R. Pickering
Former US Ambassador to the UN (40 year career) Thomas R. Pickering

What became glaringly clear to me while I watched yesterday’s hearing is that the republican led “House Select committee,” had no clue as to how a state department, embassy, consulate etc. operates. For example, the main form of communication between state department (DS) personnel is not by email, but by a cable system, improved upon by the same Ambassador Pickering who produced the 2012 Benghazi ARB report. To me, this lack of any prior in-depth knowledge was the major tell that this republican held hearing was NOT in business to pursue the truth.

Select Committee top republican Trey Gowdy and former Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton
Select Committee top republican Trey Gowdy and former Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton

I will be discussing the ARB members’ recommendations in a future blog. The following informational excerpts regarding the boards’ initial statements and findings are directly from the 12/2012 ARB report:

“Pursuant to Title III of the Omnibus Diplomatic and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (enacted under President Ronald Reagan), Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton convened an Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi 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. A series of attacks on September 11-12, 2012 involving arson, small-arms and machine-gun fire, and use of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), grenades and mortars, focused on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi (CIA Annex within one mile of the diplomatic compound), as well as U.S. personnel en route between the two facilities. In addition, the attacks severely wounded two U.S. personnel, injured three Libyan contract guards and resulted in the destruction and abandonment of both facilities – the U.S. Special Mission compound (SMC) and Annex.”

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen . (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)
Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen . (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)

“Four Board members were selected by the Secretary of State and one member from the intelligence community (IC) was selected by the Director for National Intelligence. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering served as Chairman, with Admiral Michael Mullen as Vice Chairman. Additional members were Catherine Bertini, Richard Shinnick, and Hugh Turner, who represented the IC.”

“As called for by the Act, this report examines: 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, as defined by the Act, breached her or his duty. “

“The Benghazi attacks took place against a backdrop of significantly increased demands on U.S. diplomats to be present in the world’s most dangerous places to advance American interests and connect with populations beyond capitals, and beyond host governments’ reach. With State Department civilians at the forefront of U.S. efforts to stabilize and build capacity in Iraq, as the U.S. military draws down in Afghanistan, and with security threats growing in volatile environments where the U.S. military is not present – from Peshawar to Bamako – the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is being stretched to the limit as never before. DS overall has done a fine job protecting thousands of employees in some 273 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. No diplomatic presence is without risk, given past attempts by terrorists to pursue U.S. targets worldwide. And the total elimination of risk is a non-starter for U.S. diplomacy.”

“It is imperative for the State Department to be mission-driven, rather than resource-constrained – particularly when being present in increasingly risky areas of the world is integral to U.S. national security. The recommendations in this report attempt to grapple with these issues and err on the side of increased attention to prioritization and to fuller support for people and facilities engaged in working in high risk, high threat areas.”

Ambassador J. Christopher Sevens, GRS Glenn
Ambassador J. Christopher Sevens, GRS Glenn “Bub” Doherty, Diplomat Sean Smith, GRS Tyrone “Rone” Woods

A series of terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11-12, 2012, resulted in the deaths of four U.S. government personnel, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty; seriously wounded two other U.S. personnel and injured three Libyan contract guards; and resulted in the destruction and abandonment of the U.S. Special Mission compound and Annex.

FINDINGS

“In examining the circumstances of these attacks, the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi determined that:”

1. “The attacks were security related, involving arson, small arms and machine gun fire, and the use of RPGs, grenades, and mortars against U.S. personnel at two separate facilities – the SMC (diplomatic consulate) and the (CIA operation) Annex – and en route between them. Responsibility for the tragic loss of life, injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities and property rests solely and completely with the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks. The Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity.”

BENGHAZI CONSULATE MAP
BENGHAZI CONSULATE MAP

2. “Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

“Security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a “shared responsibility” by the bureaus in Washington charged with supporting the post, resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security. That said, Embassy Tripoli did not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with Washington for increased security for Special Mission Benghazi.”

“The short-term, transitory nature of Special Mission Benghazi’s staffing, with talented and committed, but relatively inexperienced, American personnel often on temporary assignments of 40 days or less, resulted in diminished institutional knowledge, continuity, and mission capacity.”

“Overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing. Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.”

“The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades. These included heightening the outer perimeter wall, safety grills on safe area egress windows, concrete jersey barriers, manual drop-arm vehicle barriers, a steel gate for the Villa C safe area, some locally manufactured steel doors, sandbag fortifications, security cameras, some additional security lighting, guard booths, and an Internal Defense Notification System.”

Libyan 17 February Militia guards
Libyan 17 February Militia guards

“Special Mission Benghazi’s uncertain future after 2012 and its “non-status” as a temporary, residential facility made allocation of resources for security and personnel more difficult, and left responsibility to meet security standards to the working-level in the field, with very limited resources.”

“In the weeks and months leading up to the attacks, the response from post, Embassy Tripoli, and Washington to a deteriorating security situation was inadequate. At the same time, the SMC’s dependence on the armed but poorly skilled Libyan February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade (February 17) militia members and unarmed, locally contracted Blue Mountain Libya (BML) guards for security support was misplaced.”

8147128385_7db5151030_z BENGHAZI TOWER STRUCTURE AMORED SUV

“Post and the Department were well aware of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but at no time were there ever any specific, credible threats against the mission in Benghazi related to the September 11 anniversary. Ambassador Stevens and Benghazi-based DS agents had taken the anniversary into account and decided to hold all meetings on-compound on September 11.”

“The Board found that Ambassador Stevens made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice. Timing for his trip was driven in part by commitments in Tripoli, as well as a staffing gap between principal officers in Benghazi. Plans for the Ambassador’s trip provided for minimal close protection security support and were not shared thoroughly with the Embassy’s country team, who were not fully aware of planned movements off compound.”

LIBYA
LIBYA

“Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.”

3. Notwithstanding the proper implementation of security systems and procedures and remarkable heroism shown by American personnel, those systems and the Libyan response fell short in the face of a series of attacks that began with the sudden penetration of the Special Mission compound by dozens of armed attackers.”

“The Board found the responses by both the (Libyan militia) BML guards and February 17 to be inadequate. The Board’s inquiry found little evidence that the armed February 17 guards offered any meaningful defense of the SMC, or succeeded in summoning a February 17 militia presence to assist expeditiously.”

BENGHAZI ATTACK
BENGHAZI ATTACK

“The Board found the Libyan government’s response to be profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and near absence of central government influence and control in Benghazi. The Libyan government did facilitate assistance from a quasi-governmental militia that supported the evacuation of U.S. government personnel to Benghazi airport. The Libyan government also provided a military C-130 aircraft which was used to evacuate remaining U.S. personnel and the bodies of the deceased from Benghazi to Tripoli on September 12.”

“The Board determined that U.S. personnel on the ground in Benghazi performed with courage and readiness to risk their lives to protect their colleagues, in a near impossible situation. The Board members believe every possible effort was made to rescue and recover Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith.”

“The interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.”

Benghazi_CIA_Annex_Diagram of Benghazi CIA Annex where Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died.
Benghazi_CIA_Annex_Diagram of Benghazi CIA Annex where Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died.

4. “The Board found that intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks. Known gaps existed in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.”

5. “The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.”

11 comments

  1. GRAZIE MILLE!!! As usual, thanks a million for your support and for this reblog. I must say that Hillary Clinton showed off her mettle and competency yesterday.

  2. Important points from the Review Board.:

    The tragic loss of lives rests solely on the terrorists.
    There was no protests in Libya, much less in Benghazi, unlike in Egypt and some places in the Middle east.
    Though there was obviousl security risks in Libya, ” the embassy in Tripoli did not demonstrate strong advocacy to Washington for increased security for Benghazi.
    Benghazi has a ” non- status ” as temporary, residential facility which made allocation of resources and personnel difficult.
    Additional security was provided by armed Libyan guards whose training wasn’t sufficient for a counter attack.
    Ambassador Stevens made a decision to hold a meeting in Benghazi, independent of Washington’ , as per practice.
    The ” security country team” in Tripoli were not fully aware of Amb. Steven’s movement off compound.

    • You caught all the main points. You can see why the republicans in the hearing did not like the report even though it was competently produced. It did not fit in with their conspiracy theories and there was no smoking gun with which to harm Hillary Clinton. So, they kept fishing for 11 hours. Meanwhile, she looked presidential and they looked like fools.

Comments are closed.