Various news outlet described the Accountability Review Board’s unclassified report in the following terms:
NYT: Panel Assails Role of State Department in Benghazi Attack
ABC News: Benghazi Review Finds ‘Systemic Failure’
USA Today: Benghazi review slams State Department on security
Also that the ARB has “harsh” criticisms, “faults” State and on and on …
Well, did we expect that it would be otherwise when four people died and some more wounded?
We blogged in the early morning about the unclassified report released last night (see Accountability Review Board Singles Out DS/NEA Bureaus But Cites No Breach of Duty).
We were going through the recommendations when we just saw the news that heads are starting to well, as the cliché goes, roll.
While the ARB report did not fault any one person, CBS News is reporting that Eric Boswell, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security at the State Department, has resigned.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly told the AP that Eric Boswell, as well as Charlene Lamb, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs responsible for embassy security, “stepped down under pressure after the release of the report.” The third official with the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs also reportedly stepped down but was not identified.
We kinda expected this. But the bureaucratic casualties appear to be firewalled for the moment at the bureau level. The DS bureau is under the Undersecretary for Management, encumbered by popular Hill witness, Patrick Kennedy. The NEA Bureau is under the Undersecretary for Political Affairs, encumbered by political appointee, Wendy Sherman who assumed office in September 2011.
The ARB on DS and NEA bureaus:
“The DS Bureau showed a lack of proactive senior leadership with respect to Benghazi, failing to ensure that the priority security needs of a high risk, high threat post were met. At the same time, with attention in late 2011 shifting to growing crises in Egypt and Syria, the NEA Bureau’s front office showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues, and a tendency to rely totally on DS for the latter. The Board also found that Embassy Tripoli leadership, saddled with their own staffing and security challenges, did not single out a special need for increased security for Benghazi.”
“Throughout the crisis, the Acting NEA Assistant Secretary provided crucial leadership guidance to Embassy Tripoli’s DCM, and Embassy Tripoli’s RSO offered valuable counsel to the DS agents in Benghazi.”
A note on the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs: Since June 2012, the bureau has been headed by Elizabeth Jones in an acting capacity. She was previously Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The NEA bureau was headed by Jeffrey Feltman from August 2009 to June 2012 when he retired from the Foreign Service. He is currently the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. If she is nudged out when she was on the job barely three months when Benghazi happened, we might think that the pressured shakeup is for purposes of appearances.
Update: AP is now reporting that Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the Maghreb nations of Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco is the NEA official who reportedly resigned. That’s like one of the number #3s in the bureau. Not the Assistant Secretary, not the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary but one of NEA’s seven officials below PDAS. So if Eric Boswell retired from DS last month, somebody, anybody at the DS Front Office would have been pressured to stepped down, too?
Folks, we do not like the look of this bureaucratic firewall. The NEA resignation if true looks contrived and the artificiality offends us. What decisions regarding Benghazi did Mr. Maxwell actually do, that the NEA Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and their bosses at “P” and beyond did not sign off? Did the seven NEA officials below PDAS had to draw a straw on who should step down? Inquiring minds would like to know.