So, remember the (small) part of the Benghazi conspiracy theory where "they" ignored repeated warnings of security failures at the high-risk facility in Libya? Well, it turns out that, according to an internal government report, the State Department failed to address a series of security issues at America's most vulnerable embassies for decades. But conservative Benghazi theorists who'd like to take the major scoop and run with it will face some cognitive dissonance: the documents were obtained by Al Jazeera America.
The report is a result of a recommendation by the State Department's Accountability Review Board investigation into the Benghazi attacks. That report also found security failures by the State Department in the case of Benghazi. The internal panel, whose report is cited by Al Jazeera America, was chaired by former U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. That report, which mentions 273 "significant attacks" on U.S. diplomatic facilities between 1998 and 2012, concluded:
— The State Department has an endemic lack of accountability on security issues. AJA explains:
the undersecretary for management oversees security issues while also handling many other responsibilities. A newly created undersecretary for diplomatic security would allow the State Department to better focus on security issues affecting diplomatic posts around the world.
— There's a serious lack of review processes for the bureau responsible for embassy security:
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the State Department security arm created following the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, does not have a review process in place to learn from previous security failures.
— The survivors of Benghazi were never debriefed.
— Risk assessments of embassies and consulates in dangerous areas are determined by "experience and intuition." At least some high-risk facilities lack an intelligence analyst on-site, and there's no designated facility to train agents entering high-risk posts.
Al Jazeera, citing the report, calls the security at the Benghazi facility "porous" at best. So why did it stay open? They explain:
State Department officials effectively waived the security requirements. For years, the State Department has fostered a culture of waiving such requirements when officials choose not to meet them. "Waivers for not meeting security standards have become commonplace in the Department; however, without a risk management process to identify and implement alternate mitigating measures after a waiver has been given, Department employees, particularly those in high threat areas, could be exposed to an unacceptable level of risk," Sullivan's panel wrote.
The results indicate that the findings of the Benghazi agency apply broadly, and go back far. Meanwhile, Benghazi enthusiasts are still focusing on what actually interests them about the attack: how much of the tragedy they can blame personally on President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.