Three State Department officials have resigned in the wake of a State Department report that faulted the Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs bureaus for security that was "grossly inadequate" to deal with the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Former Under Secretary of State Tom Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen briefed reporters Wednesday on the unclassified version of the report of the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board, which was set up to investigate the attacks.
The Cable has confirmed that Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of embassy security, both resigned Wednesday after the issuance of the report. The third official who resigned was from the bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, officials said, although the name of that official has not yet been released.
"Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department ... resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place," the report stated.
"We fixed [the blame] at the assistant secretary level, where the decision making takes place, where the rubber hits the road," Pickering said Wednesday.
Officials told The Cable that NEA Assistant Secretary of State Beth Jones was not the third official who has resigned over the incident. Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy testified Dec. 10 that he was inclined to support the Benghazi mission's request for more security, indicating he was involved in the decision making. He is not expected to resign.
There was no "willful misconduct or intentional disregard" of policies and procedures, Pickering said, although he said "certain state department bureau level officials in senior positions" failed to used their leadership authority.
"There were performance inadequacies," he said, "Frankly, the State Department had not given the mission in Benghazi the security, both in personnel and resources, that they needed."
Mullen said that security at the Benghazi mission "fell through the cracks bureaucratically" because the mission was categorized as a temporary facilities and he added that the lack of a sufficient number of security agents there was "a major factor" in the security failures at the site.
That conclusion calls into question the Dec. 10 testimony of Lamb, who said before the House Oversight Committee "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11."
Committee Chairman Darryl Issa (R-CA), issued a statement Wednesday saying that the report calls into question the testimony of Kennedy and Lamb on Dec. 10 and accused them to being party to "an intentional effort to mislead the American people."
Issa also criticized the board for not investigating the perpetrators of the attack. Pickering said that was outside the board's purview and mandate.
"We were not asked to conduct an investigation into the attacks to find out who the perpetrators were or their motives," said Pickering, saying that was the job of the intelligence community.
Mullen also said the board had concluded that the Defense Department was not in position to respond to the attacks that night.
"We looked at the force posture and it is not reasonable they could have responded in any kind of timely way," Mullen said.
UPDATE: The NEA official who is resigning is Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell.
"The ARB identified the performance of four officials, three in the Bureau of the Diplomatic Security and one in the Bureau of Near East Asia Affairs," said Nuland. "The Secretary has accepted Eric Boswell's decision to resign as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, effective immediately. The other three individuals have been relieved of their current duties. All four individuals have been placed on administrative leave pending further action."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.