Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dept. Of State Internal Report on Benghazi

The unclassified version of the US Department of State's report on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi and elsewhere begins:

Four Board members were selected by the Secretary of State and one member from the intelligence community (IC) was selected by the Director for National Intelligence. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering served as Chairman, with Admiral Michael Mullen as Vice Chairman. Additional members were Catherine Bertini, Richard Shinnick, and Hugh Turner, who represented the IC.

The criminal investigation of the September 11-12, 2012, Benghazi attacks, for which the statutory responsibility rests with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was still underway at the time of this report. The Board enjoyed excellent cooperation with the Department of Justice and FBI throughout preparation of this report. The key questions surrounding the identity, actions and motivations of the perpetrators remain to be determined by the ongoing criminal investigation.

This leads us to wonder if the report is a smokescreen meant to obfuscate and distract as Eric Holder and his political lackeys attempt to sweep the incident under the rug or if investigators are being thorough. Holder's negligence to prosecute anything that may embarrass Obama or the socialists is well known. Operation Fast and Furious and the voter intimidation conducted by Holder's buddies in the Black Panthers are among the more known examples.

The report later states:

The Benghazi attacks also took place in a context in which the global terrorism threat as most often represented by al Qaeda (AQ) is fragmenting and increasingly devolving to local affiliates and other actors who share many of AQ’s aims, including violent anti-Americanism, without necessarily being organized or operated under direct AQ command and control.

This is something that will fail to snow any military intelligence professional who worked the war efforts anytime since 2001. One of the traits of AQ's organization has always been its fragmentation and dispersal. It has always employed local affiliated groups, granting them limited direction and logistical support. This is nothing new. That it would come as a surprise or be seen as some new tactic by the current administration should raise serious questions about the administration's competence.

The review board's report prefaces its findings with excuse after excuse. It attempts to equate the duty of an ambassador with that of a soldier, indicating that taking such a position assumes an acceptance of dying for the country. There is a difference, however. Soldiers and military members are armed. They are taught to fight as long as they have the means to resist. Ambassadors are unarmed and are not combat soldiers.

The first finding is that the attack in Benghazi was an armed assault and not a protest. The attack was against two separate facilities. It states the same things that reporters in new media have stated all along.

The second finding is an admission of incompetence and negligence.

Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “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 real question that should chime in our heads concerns the security. Why were there contract guards from anywhere but the US? Better yet, where were the US Marines? The US Marines traditionally have embassy details. The report implies that the Marine detachment was not authorized because the Benghazi mission was a temporary one. The diplomatic staff largely consisted of temporary personnel assigned for no more than 40 days at a time. So they hired locals for security.

In the weeks and months leading up to the attacks, the response from post, Embassy Tripoli, and Washington to a deteriorating security situation was inadequate. At the same time, the SMC’s dependence on the armed but poorly skilled Libyan February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade (February 17) militia members and unarmed, locally contracted Blue Mountain Libya (BML) guards for security support was misplaced.
Then there is this:

The Board determined that U.S. personnel on the ground in Benghazi performed with courage and readiness to risk their lives to protect their colleagues, in a near impossible situation. The Board members believe every possible effort was made to rescue and recover Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith.

The inter-agency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.
The military emergency response assets were on their way and  told to "stand down". The two accounts conflict. In addition, had the US Marine detachment that was supposed to be on site actually been there instead of ill-equipped and untrained local militia, there would have been a military asset on station.

The report goes on to claim that confusion over the responsibility for the security of the embassy mission is largely to blame. Had the proper US Marine contingent been assigned, that "confusion" would have been clear. The highest ranking Marine on the ground would have been in command once the hostilities commenced. However, Obama and his leftist cronies want to cut military manning including the Marines.

Of course, another finger is pointed towards the lack of a federal budget. The mission didn't have the funds to properly equip and secure  the Benghazi mission. This portion of the report is undoubtedly meant to set the stage for rhetoric against cutting spending. However, diplomatic missions have high national security implications. In that aspect, spending should not be cut to either the military or to diplomatic missions. It should be cut from outrageous entitlement spending such as TAMF, TARP, the PPACA, "Obamaphones" and food stamps. 

The recommendations issued by the review board include having the State Department and the diplomatic mission personnel be better trained to recognize threats, read intelligence reports, and make better decisions.  They also call for better training in Anti-Terrorism, Force Protection, and counter-surveillance tactics, techniques, and procedures. Basically, they are telling those sent on diplomatic missions that they should undergo the mandatory pre-deployment training and briefings given to military personnel. Again, had the US Marine detachment been stationed as it should have been, they would have had all of the above plus a proper response and Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) rescue force.

The report also documents a timeline of indicators that led from March 18, 2012  up to the attack. These indicators would have led any intelligence analyst who graduated from Fort Huachuca to see the pattern leading to the attack. While listing  these indicators in a 20/20 hindsight fashion, they claimed that intelligence analysts cannot be counted upon to see these trends. More than likely, any trained intelligence analyst on the ground wold have identified these trends. If one was present, he was  probably ignored by the State Department.

With some common sense, it is clear that the report attempts to shift blame onto the Ambassador, for not informing or recognizing the threat. It attempts to place the blame on congress, for not financing the mission. It tries to place blame on Secretary of State Clinton for her policies and lack of providing better trained diplomats. What the report fails to do is place the blame where it belongs:  Barack Obama. The policies were his. The lack of Marines assigned to the diplomatic mission were his. The order to "stand down" was his. The intentional and negligent ignoring of the call for immediate military response and rescue were his.

Then again, holding a fundraiser and salad-tossing party in Las Vegas was more important to Obama that day.