Three State Department Officials Resign Following Benghazi Report
Update at 9:25 a.m. ET, Dec. 20: Four Officials Disciplined, One Has Resigned:
A sharply critical report about the State Department's handling of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, has led to disciplinary action against four of the department's officials. One of them, the head of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, has resigned.
News of the report and the actions involving some department officials began to emerge Wednesday afternoon. Initial reports said that three officials had resigned. Later, a department spokesman issued a statement saying that four officials had been disciplined, and one of them — Eric Boswell — had resigned, "effective immediately."
Our original post and earlier update:
Three State Department officials resigned Wednesday following an independent inquiry that sharply criticized security planning prior to an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The Associated Press, citing an administration official, said Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, had stepped down. The third official wasn't immediately identified, the AP said.
The unclassified summary of the report, released Tuesday night by the Accountability Review Board, cited several key mistakes in the period leading up to the Sept. 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
It said that security depended heavily on local Libyan militias, and that the State Department ignored requests for additional security assistance in the weeks leading up to the attack.
The report cited two bureaus within the State Department — Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs — for failing to coordinate their efforts and provide better security in Benghazi, an extremely volatile city dominated by multiple militia groups.
The report said dozens of armed attackers assaulted the consulate on the night of Sept. 11, shooting and blasting their way into the compound.
Stevens was one of just seven Americans inside the compound, and the perimeter was guarded by a local Libyan militia that proved ineffective.
There was no protest preceding the attack, the report said, addressing a major point of contention between the Obama administration and Republicans in the days after the attack.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sent a letter to Congress saying she accepts all 29 of the report's recommendations on strengthening security at diplomatic missions worldwide.
Update at 9:17 p.m. ET: State Department Issues Statement; Says One Official Resigned, Three Are On Administrative Leave:
"The [Accountability Review Board] identified the performance of four officials, three in the Bureau of the Diplomatic Security and one in the Bureau of Near East Asia Affairs," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. "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."