“The board’s conclusions follow and confirm the accounts of U.S. security officials based in Libya who testified before the Oversight Committee in October and contradicts senior officials in Washington who testified that the security posture was adequate,” Mr. Issa said. “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”
Mr. Issa also said he is “deeply concerned that the unclassified report omits important information the public has a right to know,” including “details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya, as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”
“At some point, Secretary Clinton will need to personally address the remaining issues,” he said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed out how the findings had “made it clear that ‘a lack of proactive leadership and management ability’ on the part of the State Department is to blame for the series of errors that resulted in the loss of life during the terrorist attack.”
“It is my expectation that Secretary Clinton will come before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and answer for these failures,” said Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, who made headlines last week by assuring others on the Hill and in the media that Mrs. Clinton had agreed to testify.
“Questions must be answered as to why Benghazi was not seen as a priority by the State Department and was routinely ignored,” the Florida Republican said. “The recent resignations of three State Department officials is not the end, as the administration must continue to be held accountable for its dangerous systemic and management failures in order to avoid another Benghazi in the future.”
The board’s unclassified findings criticized the State Department for depending too heavily on unreliable local Libyan militias for security in the war-torn North African nation, and for being lulled by the absence of specific warnings of an imminent attack rather than responding to the general security environment, which had been deteriorating for some time in eastern Libya.
However, the findings did not delve into the politically charged accusations that the Obama administration engaged in a cover-up in the aftermath the Benghazi attack.
Several Republican lawmakers have accused the administration of initially attributing the attack to spontaneous protests over a U.S.-made anti-Islam video in order to maintain the president’s foreign-policy image before Election Day and not undermine his campaign message that al Qaeda had been decimated.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice became the lightning rod for criticism because she trumpeted that line on the Sunday TV talk shows five days after the attack. Last week, Mrs. Rice withdrew her name from consideration to replace Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state.
Mrs. Rice was the official who stuck longest and hardest to the administration’s initial and inaccurate claims that the attack on the consulate was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam video made in America, rather than a hastily planned assault by al Qaeda supporters and other extremists.
The Accountability Review Board’s report confirmed that there was no protest outside the mission and that the attack was entirely the work of terrorists.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pickering stressed to reporters during a briefing Wednesday at the State Department that security at the Benghazi diplomatic post fell far short of what would have been needed to prevent the terrorist attack.
The two former SEALs who scrambled to respond to the attack “did the best they possibly could with what they had, but what they had was not enough, either for the general threat environment in Benghazi and most certainly against the overwhelming numbers of attackers and the weapons which they faced,” Mr. Pickering said.