WhirledView: Benghazi and State: Where do the bucks stop?

WhirledView’s Patricia Kushlis (a 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service) asks, where the bucks stop on Benghazi?

Why, at the lower floors absolutely, where else?

But — we heard that people inside the building have been asking/discussing uncomfortable questions like — by what process did the State Department chose one NEA deputy assistant secretary (DAS) who may or may not have had Libya in his portfolio and three Diplomatic Security (DS) officials for discipline?  What were the criteria for such discipline?  Why were the NEA Assistant Secretary and Principal Assistant Secretary (PDAS) not in the mix? Who made the decision? Also on what basis did Administration/Department officials decide to extend the “temporary” Benghazi presence by another year?  On the basis of what criteria did Department leaders recently designate top-priority high risk, high threat posts?

All that we’ve talked about in our previous postings.

New Diplomatic Security Office to Monitor 17 High Threat Diplomatic Missions (With ARB Update)

State Dept’s New High Threat Posts Are Not All Danger Posts

Accountability Review Board Fallout: Who Will be Nudged to Leave, Resign, Retire? Go Draw a Straw

How long will the State Dept’s bureaucratic firewall hold at the bureau level?

Patricia’s post asking where those darn bucks should stop is good reading because so far those bucks have not stopped spinning.  She talks about leadership or lack thereof insider the big house, some of the characters in this badly done episode and a possible resolution in the next season.  Excerpt below:

The report corroborates that multiple mistakes were made – not just that tragic night – but in the months before. They go deep into the heart of the system’s weaknesses.  Leadership – or actually lack thereof – is a problem the report alludes to with capital Ls although names of officials above the Assistant Secretary, or bureaucratic Firewall, as Diplopundit put it, are missing. This might be adequate for a networked organization but the State Department is institutionalized hierarchy personified and the report tells us that news of the attack was being called in as it happened to State’s 24/7 Diplomatic Security Center and relayed to the NSC and elsewhere.  At least that piece of the building apparently works as it should.
[...]
Before Hillary Clinton set foot in the department, she knew that it suffered from severe financial and administrative stress.  She smartly established a Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources bringing in Jack LewObama’s current Chief of Staff and now nominee to become the next Treasury Secretary – to fill the new position.  Lew lasted at State about a year, spent his time addressing budgetary deficiencies and much to his credit, got Congress to approve major funding increases for the beleagured department before he moved on and over to the White House.

Hillary didn’t, however, tackle other flashing yellow light administrative shortcomings – leaving management of the department and the embassies to Patrick F. Kennedy who had been brought back to State by mentor and then Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in 2007. But before that Kennedy had been Chief of Staff at the US Transition Unit in Baghdad in 2004 where he worked for Negroponte and had held the same position in the CPA (2003) – a period of chaos in Iraq when millions upon millions of dollars disappeared.

Why Hillary kept Kennedy in the position after her arrival in 2009 is a mystery.  Anyone who was responsible for coordinating the reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies under Madeleine Albright – a real hash job whose Sandy-like after-effects reverberate today – or forbidding American Embassy officers from  attending Obama’s speech in Berlin July 24, 2008 on the grounds it was partisan politics despite the fact that Americans have the freedom to assemble under the US Constitution shrieks foremost, in my view, of a serious lack of judgment.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Then there’s that thorny not-so-little issue of State’s mismangement of diplomatic security  in Africa August 7, 1998 when Al Qaeda blew up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killing over 220 people including 12 Americans and injuring over 4,000.

For the record: Kennedy was Acting Under Secretary for Management from 1996-7 and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security in 1998 and  Eric Boswell’s first carnation as  Head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (he was in the same position when Benghazi ignited in September, was supposedly fired but is apparently still in place) was from 1996-98. So Boswell and Kennedy would have been in top management positions in State responsible for Embassy security when then US Ambassador Prudence Bushnell’s requests for better security for Nairobi had been refused.

[...]

It’s too late for Hillary to houseclean as she should have four years ago.  Calling her up to the Hill to confess guilt – or deflect blame – won’t make a difference in the next encounter between American diplomats and militant Islamic terrorists.  But John Kerry, her likely successor, should make tending State’s garden, investigating its Byzantine byways as well as focusing on its financial and human resources – a top priority.  Benghazi needn’t have happened.  There needn’t be a reprise.

Read in full here. 

If Senator Kerry is confirmed, we’d really like to see him stay home some more and and not try and break Condi or Hillary’s travel records. There are lots of stuff that really needs fixing right there inside The Building.

domani spero sig

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Filed under 67, 68, Diplomatic Attacks, Diplomatic Security, Functional Bureaus, Leadership and Management, Leaks|Controversies, Org Culture, Questions, Realities of the FS, Regional Bureaus, Secretary of State, State Department

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