- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2014

House Republicans on Friday issued a new report that says former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “was certainly aware” of security problems in Libya ahead of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

The new report also questions the validity of the State Department’s own internal review, known as the Accountability Review Board, saying it had serious deficiencies.

The Obama administration has pointed to that ARB review in arguing that blame for the attack lies with lower-level employees and doesn’t reach as high as Mrs. Clinton, but the report by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says she should have been held accountable.

The report also faults her and her successor, Secretary John F. Kerry, for failing to fire anyone for the security breaches that left four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, dead.

“Systemic failures at the State Department during Secretary Clinton’s tenure resulted in a grossly inadequate security posture in Benghazi,” the report concludes. “These vulnerabilities contributed to the deaths of four Americans, including the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.”

The report points to Mrs. Clinton’s own testimony that she was aware of the security concerns in Benghazi — though other reviews have said she was never made aware of the specifics, including some of the requests for additional security or military protection that were denied.

House Republicans are determined to make sure that Benghazi remains a political issue in 2014. Earlier this week House Speaker John A. Boehner announced a new website, www.gop.gov/benghazi, designed to catalog various Benghazi reports and highlight questions the Republicans believe are still unanswered.

Another review released last month by the Senate intelligence committee, run by Democrats, also found that the State Department should have done more to boost security. But that review laid more blame on Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who the report said failed to ask for stiffer security in the immediate run-up to the attack. Mr. Stevens was killed in the initial assault.

Mr. Stevens’ deputy, however, has argued that the State Department in Washington didn’t want the extra protection that the military twice offered in the days before the attack, and so Mr. Stevens was required to decline the offer so as not to go against his superiors.

The new House GOP report appears designed to raise questions about Mrs. Clinton in particular. She is pondering whether to make another run at the White House in 2016, and the Benghazi attack would be a major sticking point for her.

The report contrasts the State Department’s performance with that of the Defense Department, which the investigators said “held military commanders accountable for what happened on their watch in Afghanistan.”