The State Department review of the Benghazi terror attack let senior officials off the hook for the policy decisions that led to sub-standard security at the U.S. compound in eastern Libya, according to a draft House committee report obtained by Fox News.
The nearly 100-page report concludes that the State Department’s internal review board — called the Accountability Review Board, or ARB — was flawed. The report by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee alleges the board’s probe was not comprehensive, its interviews were not thorough, and the investigation itself may have been damaged by conflicts of interest.
A central finding is that the department, as a result of the board’s findings, meted out discipline to four mid-level officials (who were later re-instated anyway), but the board glossed over the actions and decisions of senior-level officials. The report claims the internal review identified many of the security problems with the Benghazi compound, while ignoring who was behind the policy decisions that led to them.
Specifically, the report points to the authorization by Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to continue operating the ad hoc compound in Benghazi. The interim report found that a December 2011 action memo, prepared by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and signed off on by Kennedy, green-lighted the operation. Witnesses told Republican investigators that this decision to run the operation on an ad hoc basis was largely responsible for the inadequate security presence on the ground in Benghazi, not money.
The report also noted that it’s unclear which other senior leaders were involved in this decision but said it is likely, based on email evidence, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s views played a role in the decision-making.
None of the four State Department employees who were disciplined after the ARB was released in December, and later re-instated by Secretary of State John Kerry in August, were responsible for making policy. The draft states that the use of administrative leave was meant to leave the impression of accountability.
A review of congressional testimony and internal State Department memos by Fox News in June found that the policy decision to maintain a presence in Benghazi with substandard security was made at the most senior levels of the State Department by officials who have so far escaped blame — including Feltman, Kennedy and Clinton.
Fox News has the full article