Admiral Mullen on How ARB Benghazi Defined “Systemic Failure”

— By Domani Spero

We’re just wading into the recently posted 160-page transcript of Admiral Mullen’s interview with the Oversight Committee which was conducted back on June 19, 2013.  Below is an excerpt from the Transcript of Interview (see p.107) where he was asked how the Accountability Review Board defined “systemic failure.” Read and see if you can find the hole:

Q: How did the board define systemic failure? And does that imply a failure throughout the whole system?

A: I think if I were going to — if I were going to describe systemic in that way, it’s both in sort of depth and breadth. And if I were going to pick a time to start it, it would be right about the time that Benghazi — maybe a month or two before the memo that Under Secretary Kennedy signed to extend it for a year. And over the course of that, let’s say, 9, 10 months, there were failures tied to, in particular, creating a security platform that would give it a chance, if you will.

What is — and that included personnel policy. So the short duration, TDYs from very junior, inexperienced people who actually wanted to go there because they knew it was good for their career, who didn’t get the right kind of training, didn’t have it when they went, for example; systemic again with — in Sean Smith’s case, who was the IMO, basically the communicator, but IMO is really the management officer, and that’s a broader set of skills that you’re supposed to have to manage, to handle money and budgets and planning, not just be a communicator; to the churn that was created, which then didn’t — there was nobody to oversee sort of the systematic improvements in the compound from just a physical aspect. They did do some things with respect to security projects to improve the overall posture. I think the broad systemic, two bureaus, if you will, almost working separately in that sense in terms of security as opposed to working together, figuring out, you know, this is a risky place, what should we do?

Some of the — I talked about security projects from both inside the compound where the Ambassador was that night — inside — I’m sorry, the villa as well as broadly in the compound to include security inside, literally security projects inside. That there was, you know, a lack at very senior levels, particularly in Washington, of what I would call active interventionist leadership to make the right kind of changes. There was to a certain degree a failure on the part of the Ambassador to bring all these things together.

Excuse me, but IMO [information management officer] is not/not really a management officer.  An IMO is a specialist and different from a management officer who is a generalist.  The specialists including IMOs, medical officers, financial management officers, HR officers to name a few generally report to management officers.   It is not in an IMO’s career track to become a MGT officer, but it is possible for an IM specialist to rise through the IM ranks, bid on and receive a management job or two, and apply for conversion.

As IMOs get promoted, they typically become Information Tech Managers, they do not become Management Officers unless they go through a conversion in skills code.  Of the 24 Information Tech Managers who competed for promotion in 2011, only 4 made it into the Senior Foreign Service. The average length of service of those promoted was 24 years. (Read more in SBU Foreign Service 2011 Promotion Statistics Officially Published, Color Specialist Gets an “F”).

Now, Mr. Smith was an IMO from 2002-2012.  He was a tech guy; when did IMOs start having responsibility to “oversee sort of the systematic improvements in the compound?”

Also, Mr. Smith had been with the State Department reportedly from 2002-2012 and had served in our posts in Baghdad, Pretoria, Montreal and The Hague.  Presumably, his first two tours as is typical in the service, would have been two-year duration while the third and last tours were three years. So while he was on TDY in Benghazi, he was far from being “very junior.”

Admiral Mullen is citing this as an example of “systemic failure” but there’s a hole in this wall; the hole gave the wrong picture.

(Note: corrected to clarify that career progression of IMOs, with exceptions, do not typically include track to become management officers).


Foreign Service Specialist Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Traveling to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct

— By Domani Spero

On August 22, 2013, USDOJ announced that Rosauro Pacubas, a U.S. embassy employee was sentenced to 5-years in prison for “traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct.”

According to the USDOJ statement, Mr. Pacubas was a USG employee at the US Embassy in Manila. The statement says that on March 1, 2012, Pacubas “traveled to Baltimore with his wife and the victim, who was to be evaluated at a hospital in the Baltimore area. During their stay in a hotel in Baltimore, Pacubas sexually abused the victim.”  The statement indicates that on January 2013, Mr. Pacubas was interviewed and admitted sexually abusing the victim during their stay in Baltimore in March 2012.

The back story is more nasty than the press release (statement appended at the end of this post).

The Affidavit in Support of the Arrest Warrant dated January 11, 2013 was filed by DS Special Agent Jonathan Poole. At that time, Mr. Pacubas was assigned, according to the affidavit, to the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a U.S. Foreign Service Specialist.  He was under investigation for “sexual abuse of a minor, namely, his adopted daughter.”  The  affidavit shows that Diplomatic Security expected Mr. Pacubas to land at Dulles International Airport in Sterling, VA, on the afternoon of Saturday, January 12, 2013.  The affidavit requested an arrest warrant for Rosauro Pacubas for the charge of “Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct pursuant to Title 18, U.S.c. § 2423(b).”

A side story — on January 16, 2004, then Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security and Director of the Office of Foreign Missions gave a remarks to Security Technical Specialist graduates.  In that remarks. Ambassador Taylor cited in particular, one Rosauro Pacubas:

Rosauro Pacubas (phonetic) is a retired electrician’s mate senior chief. He retired from the Navy after 28 years of honorable service. Rosauro started his employment with the U.S. Government as a dishwasher in the American Embassy in Manila. There he became so impressed with the Marines, he joined the Navy. Smart man.

Now, he is joining the Foreign Service, where he will once again work in a U.S. embassy, this time as a person responsible for ensuring that the technical and physical systems that help protect our facilities and people from harm do not fail us. Welcome back to the Department of State, Rosauro. Isn’t this an American story? I mean this country, and what it provides as a beacon to the world, is unmatched. That’s just one story among millions about opportunities that are created here.

On LinkedIn, one Rosauro Pacubas identifies himself as a security specialist working for the U.S. State Department.


U.S. Embassy Employee Sentenced To Prison For Traveling To Engage In Illicit Sexual Conduct


Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander sentenced Rosauro Pacubas, age 58, of Manila, Philippines, today to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Judge Hollander ordered that Pacubas pay $21,600 in restitution to the victim. Judge Hollander also ordered that upon his release from prison, Pacubas must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Niall Meehan of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.

According to the facts presented to the court, Pacubas was a U.S. government embassy employee in Manila, Philippines. On March 1, 2012, Pacubas traveled to Baltimore with his wife and the victim, who was to be evaluated at a hospital in the Baltimore area. During their stay in a hotel in Baltimore, Pacubas sexually abused the victim. Following the victim’s hospital evaluation, she entered a therapeutic boarding school in North Carolina where she disclosed sexual abuse by Pacubas. On January 11, 2013, Pacubas was interviewed and admitted sexually abusing the victim during their stay in Baltimore in March 2012.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the “resources” tab on the left of the page.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Diplomatic Security Service for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas of the U.S. Justice Department, Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.