Mr. Corker noted that 18 review boards have looked into attacks on U.S. diplomats or facilities since the investigative process was made mandatory in the 1980s.
“Y’all never fully implemented [the recommendations of] one yet, not one,” he said. “The culture within this State Department needs to be transformed.”
The report’s findings highlight a dilemma with which the State Department has wrestled for years: how to protect diplomats while allowing them to interact with foreign governments to promote U.S. interests and values.
Mr. Corker called the effort to blame the lack of diplomatic security on funding “amazing.”
“Every time there’s an issue, we start talking about more money,” he said. “This has nothing to do with money.”
He said the State Department has shown no sign of spending its existing funds properly.
“What I saw in the report is a department that has sclerosis, that doesn’t think outside the box, that is not using the resources that it has in any kind of creative ways, is not prioritizing,” Mr. Corker said.
The report found that the State Department had been “for many years … in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work.” This created a culture in which some State Department managers tend to “favor the restriction of resources as a general orientation” — defaulting to “No” when asked for more money, the report said.
Mr. Corker called for a top-to-bottom budget review of the agency, saying “we have no idea whether the State Department is using its money wisely or not. And I think that is a shame.”
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said during the House committee’s hearing that State Department officials had assured him in October that a lack of resources was not the reason a series of requests for additional security in Libya had been rejected.
“I wanted to get a specific answer — were budget considerations any part of [the] decision as to what level of security they should have at the Benghazi consulate, and [the] answer was an emphatic ‘no,’” Mr. Rohrabacher said.
He also raised questions about how Obama administration officials described the attack in its immediate aftermath, telling Mr. Burns at one point during his testimony that “your statement that the president and
Secretary Clinton made clear that it was a terrorist attack right afterwards is not true. It’s not accurate.”
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.