Wednesday, October 14, 2015

This is about a third of the way through. I'll finish this and then a break from it.

I do have a home where I dust and vacuum at least twice a year. Joking. I think I mentioned my addiction to finding vacuum bags for my old vacuum that never had engineered obsolescence. The housekeeper is expected twice a year when Spring and Fall Cleaning happens and there needs to be a change in draperies. The oven is self-cleaning. Thank god.

11. The Board supports the State Department’s initiative to request additional Marines and expand the Marine Security Guard (MSG) Program (click here) – as well as corresponding requirements for staffing and funding.  The Board also recommends that the State Department and DoD identify additional flexible MSG structures and request further resources for the Department and DoD to provide more capabilities and capacities at higher risk posts.

Here it is. The change that will empower the State Department to be the most secure facility in the city.


12. The Board strongly endorses the Department’s request for increased DS personnel for high- and critical-threat posts and for additional Mobile Security Deployment teams, as well as an increase in DS domestic staffing (click here) in support of such action.

13. The Department should assign key policy, program, and security personnel at high risk, high threat posts for a minimum of one year.... 

Everyone catch that? ...minimum of one year... Why?

This is probably the best indication of the value of our Foreign Service within the brain trust of the USA. The work requires dedication. It requires preparedness. And the LENGTH of service in one place not only provides a strong working basis to any Foreign Service personnel, it brings stability to the staffing with the ability to respond to anticipated changes in that personnel. Here again, the best example of how length of service builds a knowledge base for the USA's security and programs is the late Ambassador Stevens. He was incredible. The only thing that out classed Ambassador Stevens dedication was his intellect that came with him from the first day of service.

...For less critical personnel, the temporary duty length (TDY) length should be no less than 120 days.  The ARB (Accountability Review Board) suggests a comprehensive review of human resources authorities with an eye to using those authorities to promote sending more experienced officers, including “When Actually Employed” (WAE) personnel, to these high risk, high threat locations, particularly in security and management positions for longer periods of time.

It becomes the back yard syndrome. No one knows your backyard better than you. Same sort thing. The longer a person is exposed to a work environment and the "geography" the better they are at it. It is easy to understand how that is the case.

14. The Department needs to review the staffing footprints at high risk, high threat posts, with particular attention to ensuring adequate Locally Employed Staff (LES) and management support.  High risk, high threat posts must be funded and the human resources process prioritized to hire LES interpreters and translators. 

The USA uses translators all the time. But, this is basically to facilitate safety so the geography and culture are known. NO TRIP WIRES.

15. With increased and more complex diplomatic activities in the Middle East, the Department should enhance its ongoing efforts to significantly upgrade its language capacity, especially Arabic, among American employees, including DS, and receive greater resources to do so.

At the beginning of the response to September 11, 2001; one of the first statements coming out of the military is it's lack of personnel anywhere in government to the Arab language. That is not allowed anymore.

So back to the State Department and Benghazi.

Key Recommendations is where I left off last night or I should say this morning. It was number 4 that I ended with. Below is number 5 and it is still with the subheading of Key Recommendations.

5. The Department should develop minimum security standards for occupancy of temporary facilities in high risk, high threat environments, and seek greater flexibility for the use of Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) (click here) sources of funding so that they can be rapidly made available for security upgrades at such facilities.

The Benghazi consulate was new. It was not finished being prepared for the Ambassador when he went there with his security people. He thought it would be safer in Benghazi regardless of the fact the facility still needed provisions for the mission. The report about Tripoli is probably within this report. But, the reason the late Ambassador left and went to Benghazi was due to an explosion by militants near the embassy. So, in realizing the compromised circumstances in Benghazi, the above institutional program should be accessed.

There are many more new embassies now. I never thought the USA would be present in Turkmenistan. That is really good.

There is now designation of terrorist groups. This didn't exist in the day of the Late Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The post Gaddafi profile for Libya did not carry these designations.

January 10, 2014

The Department of State (click here) has announced the designations of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah, and Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia as separate Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. In addition to these group designations, the Department of State has also designated Ahmed Abu Khattalah, Sufian bin Qumu, and Seifallah Ben Hassine, commonly known as “Abou Iyadh,” as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under E.O. 13224. The consequences of the FTO and E.O. 13224 designations include a prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with these organizations, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization and individuals that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons. The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury....

Created separately after the fall of the Qadhafi regime, Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Members of both organizations continue to pose a threat to U.S. interests in Libya.Ahmed Abu Khattalah is a senior leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Sufian bin Qumu is the leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah....

The groups in Libya just blossomed after Quadaffi. No one knows these groups exist until they make themselves known. Unfortunately.

6. Before opening or re-opening critical threat or high risk, high threat posts, the Department should establish a multi-bureau support cell, residing in the regional bureau.  The support cell should work to expedite the approval and funding for establishing and operating the post, implementing physical security measures, staffing of security and management personnel, and providing equipment, continuing as conditions at the post require.

This makes me laugh. The almighty House Republicans have to be put at the head of the budget line OR ELSE.

June 2, 2015
By Rachael Bade and Lauren French

House Republicans are threatening to withhold a large chunk of State Department funding until officials speed up their responses to document requests, including House demands for documents pertaining to the Benghazi investigation and a probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The House Appropriations Committee’s proposed 2016 spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations withholds 15 percent of the department’s “operational funds until requirements related to proper management of Freedom of Information Act and electronic communications are met,” according to a panel release.

The threat means House Republicans are using their most obvious weapon to hold State’s feet to the fire: the power of the purse.   
The provision is part of a nearly $48 billion spending bill funding the department and the War on Terror, about $1.4 billion below this year’s number and $6.1 billion below President Barack Obama’s request. The legislation is also packed with other policy riders, including several aimed at blocking Obama’s attempt to normalize relations with Cuba and others to ensure the administration can’t facilitate a prisoner swap like the so-called Taliban Five again without Congress knowing....

First the Republicans cut the funding and then they demand the State Department carry out the tasks feeding the House Republicans political campaign. Amazing. House Republicans have absolutely no appreciation for the work the Cabinet Departments carry out everyday. The Cabinet is completely unnecessary. The only agenda that matters in the entire WORLD is that of the House Republicans. They are going to destroy the mind trust of this country and it's ability to carry out vital work besides.

The candidate Hillary Clinton was insistent as well because she was being harassed by the political arm of the US Republican House. The entire mess is incredible to think about. Does the State Department actually have time to get work done? There should be such notations on any report or review of the State Department.

That needs to hold true for any agency of the USA where there has been political harassment by the Republican House. Every report and review should contain a statement about appropriation of TIME to the tasking demanded by the Republican House. FOX should probably be charged an excise tax for their demand for political documents of the Republicans. Freedom of Information, my hinny.

7. The Nairobi and Dar es Salaam ARBs’ report of January 1999 (click here)
called for collocation of newly constructed State Department and other government agencies’ facilities.  All State Department and other government agencies’ facilities should be collocated when they are in the same metropolitan area, unless a waiver has been approved.

I think this USA policy was being followed actually. The annex and the consulate were in close proximity. I don't believe this was a problem.

8. The Secretary should require an action plan from DS, OBO and other relevant offices on the use of fire as a weapon against diplomatic facilities, including immediate steps to deal with urgent issues.  The report should also include reviews of fire safety and crisis management training for all employees and dependents, safehaven standards and fire safety equipment, and recommendations to facilitate survival in smoke and fire situations.

There it is. FIRE.

9. Tripwires are too often treated only as indicators of threat rather than an essential trigger mechanism for serious risk management decisions and actions.  The Department should revise its guidance to posts and require key offices to perform in-depth status checks of post tripwires.

This speaks to the culture of the US State Department and it's willingness to accept and minimize the "danger" of their missions.  ...treated only as indicators of threat...

Like I said, the culture within the State Department was as much the problem as the fires never planned for.

The analysis by the panel was spot on. They nailed it. Throughout this entire document are warning to caution to protect human life. It's everywhere. The staff working in the State Department was immune to danger. Wrong. There was danger everywhere, but, they were good at seeing it day to day. They knew if there was a street demonstration, take the back door or the underground garage. They need to appreciate themselves as very important and precious individuals. The best example was the late Ambassador. Look want we lost as a country, not to mention his wife and children. Minimizing danger IS NO LONGER ALLOWED! Seeing the danger and acting to remove or prevent it is the ONLY methodology left to the State Department. As a country we cannot afford to lose our brain trust.

10. Recalling the recommendations of the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam ARBs, the State Department must work with Congress to restore the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program (click here) at its full capacity, adjusted for inflation to approximately $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2015, including an up to ten-year program addressing that need, prioritized for construction of new facilities in high risk, high threat areas.  It should also work with Congress to expand utilization of Overseas

The funding cuts and the insufficient appreciation of the work of the State Department by the US Congress FORCED their personnel to accept less than safe conditions.

The Benghazi investigation should never be about Hillary Clinton. It should however be conducted to indict members of Congress that are so lame and/or politically tainted they put our brain trust directly in the line of fire in order to serve their country.

Contingency Operations funding to respond to emerging security threats and vulnerabilities and operational requirements in high risk, high threat posts.

That is interesting. The State Department will have it's won contingency funding. I think that is fine, but, and it is probably in the assessment, does the State Department have a general sitting in a FISA court somewhere to order a contingency operation?
I think all the Democratic candidates are important voices. They are the best of the Democratic Party. The candidates considered to be minor candidates are important voices. They are all experienced and have a point of view about a country that is going through a great of change. They all need to be in the debates and I wish Lawrence Lessig was on the stage last night.

Jim Webb brought a conservative point of view to the stage. He was Secretary of the Navy and he has a very interesting view about the use of the USA military. He is needed there.

The former Senator Chaffee is very valuable on that stage. He was more than a Senator. He understands the local economy which is the backbone of the USA Middle Class and he is incredibly honest. He did not have to qualify his first vote in the US Senate, but, he did. When it was pointed out he appeared to be unable to be competent his words were very, very important. He stated, "I think you're a little rough." He was right. But, being correct wasn't as important as the fact he stood up for himself to set the record straight. I admire that. It is an important state of his character and he needs to be on that stage.

I think he sort of looks like his namesake, Mr. Lincoln. Tall and thin and forthright. It must be that gene.

October 14, 2015
By Eric Levenson

“Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?” Cooper asked.
“I just arrived at Senate. I think we get some take-overs,” Chafee said.
“What does that say about you that you were casting a vote about something you weren’t sure about?” Cooper asked.
“I think you’re being a little rough,” Chafee said.
The other no-good very bad moment of Chafee’s night came during discussion of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and whether it was a legitimate scandal....

I think the former Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley did fine last night. He had plenty to say and he is completely in an understanding of Freddie Gray. He recognizes the injustice, which was untended injustice. I think he has a unique experience that can bring a great deal of insight to what is occurring with our minorities.

The missing piece was Lawrence Lessig.

October 14, 2015
By Alan Rappeport

...But there is one candidate (click here) in the Republican field who Mr. Lessig has heralded as a kindred spirit on the issue: Donald J. Trump.

In a conference call on Monday, Mr. Lessig said that when it comes to the evil influence of money in politics, he and Mr. Trump are largely on the same page.
“There was the interesting flurry around Donald Trump’s view about money in politics when he was talking about it initially,” said Mr. Lessig, a Harvard law professor. “He did an enormous service to the debate by opening the issue up on the Republican debate stage and by calling out the other candidates as not independent of their funders.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly called out his Republican opponents for being beholden to special interests and bragged that, because he is a billionaire, he can afford to finance his campaign and say what he wants. He frequently reminds opponents about how much money he has donated to them to make the point that traditional politicians are easily bought....

I find all of the announced candidates important. It is early. There really isn't an ad war going on between the candidates. The ads that I see are about clearing up wrongful statements about the candidates.
15.3 million Americans were watching the Democratic Debate? Wow. Wow. That puts them in the same neighborhood as the Republicans. A little less, but, definitely the same neighborhood.

The next tragedy in Flint, Michigan; will it be it's last?

Water is not cheap anymore. Water is going to be a concern as the days and years go by. This is an unfortunate reality. The contamination could have been discovered before Flint start using it.

June 5, 2015

Thousands of Michigan residents (click here) are being exposed to potentially contaminated drinking water that could pose threats to their health and well-being, residents and lawmakers said at a Wednesday hearing.
Members of both political parties and chambers of the state Congress invited residents from the Detroit area to voice concerns about the drinking water. Since withdrawing from the Detroit water system in April 2014, the city of Flint, which is about 70 miles northwest of Detroit and has a population of nearly 100,000, has used water from the Flint River for its residents, drawing criticism from many who say it is unsafe.
Safety tests conducted in 2014 and early 2015 showed high levels of TTHM or THM in the drinking water, violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. TTHM, or total trihalomethane, is a byproduct of chlorine disinfection. According to the EPA, prolonged exposure to or consumption of such chemicals can pose significant health risks.... 

According to a University of Florida report, (click here) exposure to THMs may pose an increased risk of cancer. According to Rebekah Grossman, two THMs, chloroform and dibromochloromethane, are carcinogens; and another THM, bromodi-chloromethane, has been identified as a mutagen, which alters DNA. Mutagens are considered to affect the genetics of future generations in addition to being carcinogenic. A California study indicates that THMs may be responsible for reproductive problems and miscarriage. The study found a miscarriage rate of 15.7 percent for women who drank five or more glasses of cold water containing more than 0.075 mg/l TTHM, compared to a miscarriage rate of 9.5 percent for women with low TTHM exposure. In addition to these risks, TTHMs are linked to bladder cancer, heart, lungs, kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage....

It is wrong to have to file a lawsuit to bring about healthy drinking water. There are laws being broken and the safety of citizens ignored. This is not even a contentious issue. The water is dangerous and there are laws to prevent harm to citizens. The judge is going to rule in favor of the people.

October 12, 2015
By Gary Ridley 

Flint, MI — A Flint-area lawmaker (click here) says he is filing a lawsuit claiming the state and city of Flint refuse to hand over documents related to the city's water system switch to use the Flint River.
State Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, announced Monday, Oct. 12, that he is filing the lawsuit to force the city and state to turn over documents he sought under the state's Freedom of Information Act....


The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (click here) is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water.Under SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards.

I feel like Flint is another Kentucky Clerk! Who is going to jail?

The gun issue is taking shape.

Unexpectedly, Governor Snyder who has championed some very controversial legislation in Michigan states he will not sign a gun bill that would allow guns anywhere in schools.

October 13, 2015
By Tim Shubick

Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) – Gun owners (click here) were out in force at a Senate committee hearing this afternoon as lawmakers are debating the issue of guns in our schools.
A compromise bill has passed, but not everybody likes it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering two bills, one that would ban the open carry of weapons in schools and two, permit concealed weapons.
But some of the open carry folks think that’s a bad idea....

The Pro Gun Lobby is absolutely ridiculous. They want to move guns from "Open Carry" to "Concealed Carry." The Pro Gun Lobby is so lame they are willing to let everyone have concealed carry, including the gunman. It is pathetic.

This is Governor Snyder's second term, he could have easily indulged the gun lobby, but, he states he isn't interested in guns in schools. That counts. 


Isarel is closing acess to Arabs of East Jerusalem.

The check points are insufficient. There are either not enough check points or check points that are insufficient to finding knives which is the silent weapon of choice.

October 14, 2015
By Calev Ben-David 

The Israeli government approved (click here) a series of security measures to try to stem a surge of Palestinian attacks, including the potential sealing of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and easier access to guns.
“These are legitimate instruments of a democracy defending itself, using proportionality, using restraint,” the Foreign Ministry’s director-general, Dore Gold, said at a news conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The Palestinian Authority warned that the steps would lead to a further escalation of violence. Other measures include deploying army troops in cities to reinforce police, adding security guards to Jerusalem buses, and confiscating property from attackers’ families.
A series of stabbings and shootings this month have killed seven Israelis, most carried out by apparent “lone wolf” Palestinian attackers unaffiliated with militant groups, some of them women and minors. At least 27 Palestinians have been killed, several of them shot dead by Israeli security forces and citizens while trying to carry out attacks....

The petroleum industry is leaving the energy sector.

The industry has gone as far as it can go without selling assets. They grabbed as much cash as they could since the crash and now their debt is looming. The companies are selling assets to pay their bills. The age of oil is over. They did it to themselves.

October 14, 2015
By Aaron Clark and Stephen Stapczynski

...There are about 400 buying opportunities as of September, (click here) IHS Chief Upstream Strategist Bob Fryklund said in an interview. Deals will accelerate later this year and into 2016 as companies sell assets to meet debt requirements, he said. West Texas Intermediate crude has averaged about $51 a barrel this year, more than 40 percent below the five-year mean.

Low prices have slashed profits and as of the second quarter about one-sixth of North American major independent crude and gas producers faced debt payments that are more than 20 percent of their revenue. Companies have announced $181.1 billion of oil and gas acquisitions this year, the most in more than a decade, compared with $167.1 billion the same period in 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show....

The price at $51 per barrel is insufficient to pay the expenses of the USA oil companies. The debts were made when the oil was over $100 per barrel and the banks bought into it. Here is the next bubble to burst when the banks finally realize the industry is bankrupt. The industry in the USA has been bankrupt since peak oil in 2005, but, the cash flow was so tempting no capitalist could resist the dollar signs in front of their eyes.

This is Bloomberg:

October 13, 2015
By Grant Smith

Global oil markets (click here) will remain oversupplied next year as demand growth slows and Iranian exports are poised to recover with the lifting of sanctions, the International Energy Agency said.
While supplies outside OPEC will decline in 2016 in response to lower prices, demand growth will ease from this year’s five-year high amid a weaker outlook for the world economy, allowing the crude surplus to endure, the IEA predicted. Iran could swell the glut if restrictions on its sales are removed with the completion of a nuclear accord, while Iraq has replaced the U.S. as the biggest source of new supplies as its output reaches record levels.
“The market may be off balance for a while longer,” the Paris-based adviser to 29 nations said in its monthly report. “A projected marked slowdown in demand growth next year and the anticipated arrival of additional Iranian barrels -- should international sanctions be eased -- are likely to keep the market oversupplied through 2016.”
Oil rallied above $50 a barrel in New York last week for the first time since July amid expectations that a slump in U.S. drilling and cutbacks in investment will help whittle away the global supply glut. The advance has stalled as OPEC members boost production, China’s economy shows signs of slowing and U.S. oil output remains elevated....

If anyone says there is still a viable market for oil, they are simply trying to pump up the bubble in order to sell stocks without complete loss. The Bush/Cheney administration was a last "Hail Mary" for petroleum. The industry managed to eek out an existence after peak oil. It was wrong to do, the USA should have started to convert their energies to alternatives in 1995 at the very least.

This is a prime example of CORRUPTION by government. Before Obama there was absolutely no movement into ending the oil dependency. Now, there is nothing but failing businesses. It won't be long that banks will be feeling the pain of bad decisions. NO BAILOUT. The petroleum and banking industries caused this, they can absorb their losses.


Gas will remain cheap at the pump for a short while, but, Flex Fuel vehicles are smarter, E85 is better, but, electric vehicles are the future. The Climate Crisis is real and the future is about alternatives and a strong grid. Obama saw this coming and set the course.

The Republicans are still living in the stone age and spending subsidies to petroleum companies that are failing. It is all corruption and when the banks get hit with losses the American people will be expected to BAILOUT the petroleum king pins.


What goes around comes around. This was going to happen and the Republicans financed the corruption that the American taxpayer is going to be expected to bailout the greedy.

With the lessons of the past and the challenges of the future in mind
, the Board puts forward recommendations in six core areas:  Overarching Security Considerations; Staffing High Risk, High Threat Posts; Training and Awareness; Security and Fire Safety Equipment; Intelligence and Threat Analysis; and Personnel Accountability. 


1. The Department must strengthen security for personnel and platforms beyond traditional reliance on host government security support in high risk, high threat posts.  The Department should urgently review the proper balance between acceptable risk and expected outcomes in high risk, high threat areas.  While the answer cannot be to refrain from operating in such environments, the Department must do so on the basis of having:  1) a defined, attainable, and prioritized mission; 2) a clear-eyed assessment of the risk and costs involved; 3) a commitment of sufficient resources to mitigate these costs and risks; 4) an explicit acceptance of those costs and risks that cannot be mitigated; and 5) constant attention to changes in the situation, including when to leave and perform the mission from a distance.  The United States must be self-reliant and enterprising in developing alternate security platforms, profiles, and staffing footprints to address such realities.  Assessments must be made on a case-by case basis and repeated as circumstances change.

There is no one anybody or any process can point to in assigning criminal intent or incompetency. Benghazi for as much as every citizen in the USA regrets it, was a lesson to new threats and the extent missions of the State Department are no longer dangerous, but, extremely dangerous.

There is new language now. "Risk and expected OUTCOMES in high risk, high threat areas.

There is no longer danger in the State Department, there is now high risk threat assessments and OUTCOMES.

The United States must be self-reliant and enterprising in developing alternate security platforms, profiles, and staffing footprints to address such realities.

That is all new language for the State Department. The State Department has been DEPENDENT on the sponsoring country to provide security and emergency services. The central government the USA recognized provided militias that were unreliable. The USA State Department NOW has the right to be self - reliant and enterprising. It did not have that capacity when the late Ambassador was in Benghazi.

2. The Board recommends that the Department re-examine DS organization and management, with a particular emphasis on span of control for security policy planning for all overseas U.S. diplomatic facilities.  In this context, the recent creation of a new Diplomatic Security Deputy Assistant Secretary for High Threat Posts could be a positive first step if integrated into a sound strategy for DS reorganization. 

3. As the President’s personal representative, the Chief of Mission bears “direct and full responsibility for the security of [his or her] mission and all the personnel for whom [he or she is] responsible,” and thus for risk management in the country to which he or she is accredited.  In Washington, each regional Assistant Secretary has a corresponding responsibility to support the Chief of Mission in executing this duty.  Regional bureaus should have augmented support within the bureau on security matters, to include a senior DS officer to report to the regional Assistant Secretary.

There is an entirely new STRUCTURE of command within the State Department now.

4. The Department should establish a panel of outside independent experts (military, security, humanitarian) with experience in high risk, high threat areas to support DS, identify best practices (from other agencies and other countries), and regularly evaluate U.S. security platforms in high risk, high threat posts.  

Best practices.

I know everyone wants to pin the blame on someone to prosecute for a crime, but, there is no there, there.

Secretary Clinton had decided to leave the Office of Secretary of State with the new Obama administration after re-election. This was September of 2012. If this had to happen. I rather it happen with Hillary Clinton in office. There is every indication it won't ever happen again.

I'll read more tomorrow. It's 2 AM, okay?

If this had to occur
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 interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.   

4. The Board found that intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.  Known gaps existed in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.

5. The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.  However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.

Paragraph 5 is interesting. Senior State Department officials demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership...However,...did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual US government employee breached his or her duty. 

What is that double talk, anyway?

Everyone was doing their jobs, but, it was inadequate.  If everyone was doing their jobs so, why were their jobs inadequate to define the risk of Benghazi?

The department was caught up in it's internal culture. It was a stove pipe problem. The danger was known and recorded, but, the culture was not INSTRUCTIVE. It didn't react to the danger threat because the AUTHORITY for the mission was the Ambassador.

There was lack of APPRECIATION to the danger because no one else knew Libya and especially Benghazi as the Ambassador did. He wasn't DOD, he was State. When assessments were that the mission had threats, there was tighter security of the Ambassador's person (the extra body guards). There was no militarized deployment that the Ambassador had control over nor should there have been. He did not have the authority to call in DOD. ANY CONTINGENCY would be the responsibility of the President of the United States of America.

In order for POTUS to act there would have to be an appreciation of the threat. That understanding of the threat began and ended with Ambassador Stevens. It just did. Everyone knew he was an exceptional Ambassador. He was brilliant. He loved Libya, especially Benghazi and he was the primary reason the mission fell short of 'enough' safety.

Anyone along the way was carrying out their responsibility IN SUPPORT of the Libya Mission, but, there was no real understanding of the threat assessment to the point where a single wire or statement would drive the department into emergency mode. That demand for emergency intervention would have to come from the Ambassador.

The Libya mission was self-contained with very talented people involved WITH BACK UP by whatever services State could provide. But, State while at the service to the Ambassador could not predetermine a response. The request for additional security was accommodated by body guards and not military support.

There would have been a different response if the late Ambassador was SUPERVISING the Libya operation. He had an appreciation for the threat assessment. He knew Libya. No one that was in the capacity in service to the Ambassador had his head on their shoulders. There was no one at State that knew Libya to understand the requests being made to the extent it needed more of a military response.

"If I were responsible for supporting the late Ambassador in his requests and I received a wire for additional security. Why would I think that meant a militarized response if all I did in support to missions around the world was to normally provide body guards?" I would dispatch body guards at any request.

Body guards are not militarized. State, in it's culture never dispatched a militarized unit nor should it.

The culture of UNDERSTOOD DANGER in State was about protecting the person and not concerning itself with a DOD paradigm. The culture, in the case of Libya, was an equal threat as any militia.

Post and the Department were well aware of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but at no time were there ever any specific, credible threats against the mission in Benghazi related to the September 11 anniversary.  Ambassador Stevens and Benghazi-based DS agents had taken the anniversary into account and decided to hold all meetings on-compound on September 11.

The Board found that Ambassador Stevens made the decision to travel to Benghazi independently of Washington, per standard practice.  Timing for his trip was driven in part by commitments in Tripoli, as well as a staffing gap between principal officers in Benghazi.  Plans for the Ambassador’s trip provided for minimal close protection security support and were not shared thoroughly with the Embassy’s country team, who were not fully aware of planned movements off compound.  The Ambassador did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale on the U.S. Mission in the overall negative trendline of security incidents from spring to summer 2012.  His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments.

The late Ambassador Stevens WAS the USA policy on Libya.

Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels.  Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.   

3. Notwithstanding the proper implementation of security systems and procedures and remarkable heroism shown by American personnel, those systems and the Libyan response fell short in the face of a series of attacks that began with the sudden penetration of the Special Mission compound by dozens of armed attackers.

The Board found the responses by both the BML guards and February 17 to be inadequate.  The Board’s inquiry found little evidence that the armed February 17 guards offered any meaningful defense of the SMC, or succeeded in summoning a February 17 militia presence to assist expeditiously.   
The Board found the Libyan government’s response to be profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and near absence of central government influence and control in Benghazi.  The Libyan government did facilitate assistance from a quasi-governmental militia that supported the evacuation of U.S. government personnel to Benghazi airport.  The Libyan government also provided a military C-130 aircraft which was used to evacuate remaining U.S. personnel and the bodies of the deceased from Benghazi to Tripoli on September 12....
Overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack and in the months and weeks leading up to it was inadequate, despite repeated requests from Special Mission Benghazi and Embassy Tripoli for additional staffing.  Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.

Basically, Libya was too dangerous for people to commit to the mission for long periods of time. It was the inherent quality of life or lack there of that was the overriding factor facing security and personnel. To put it bluntly, Libya was dangerous.

The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security.  Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgradesThese included heightening the outer perimeter wall, safety grills on safe area egress windows, concrete jersey barriers, manual drop-arm vehicle barriers, a steel gate for the Villa C safe area, some locally manufactured steel doors, sandbag fortifications, security cameras, some additional security lighting, guard booths,
and an Internal Defense Notification System (click here).

Special Mission Benghazi’s uncertain future after 2012 and its “non-status” as a temporary, residential facility made allocation of resources for security and personnel more difficult, and left responsibility to meet security standards to the working-level in the field, with very limited resources.

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.

Although the February 17 militia had proven effective in responding to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks on the Special Mission in April and June 2012, there were some troubling indicators of its reliability in the months and weeks preceding the September attacks.  At the time of Ambassador Stevens’ visit, February 17 militia members had stopped accompanying Special Mission vehicle movements in protest over salary and working hours.

Libya was bizarre.

A series of terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11-12, 2012, resulted in the deaths of four U.S. government personnel, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty; seriously wounded two other U.S. personnel and injured three Libyan contract guards; and resulted in the destruction and abandonment of the U.S. Special Mission compound and Annex.   


In examining the circumstances of these attacks, the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi determined that: 

1. The attacks were security related, involving arson, small arms and machine gun fire, and the use of RPGs, grenades, and mortars against U.S. personnel at two separate facilities – the SMC and the Annex – and en route between them.  Responsibility for the tragic loss of life, injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities and property rests solely and completely with the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks.  The Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity.
2. 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.   Security in Benghazi was not recognized and implemented as a “shared responsibility” by the bureaus in Washington charged with supporting the post, resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security.  That said, Embassy Tripoli did not demonstrate strong and sustained advocacy with Washington for increased security for Special Mission Benghazi.

The short-term, transitory nature of Special Mission Benghazi’s staffing, with talented and committed, but relatively inexperienced, American personnel often on temporary assignments of 40 days or less, resulted in diminished institutional knowledge, continuity, and mission capacity.
...For many years the State Department has been engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work, with varying degrees of success.  This has brought about a deep sense of the importance of husbanding resources to meet the highest priorities, laudable in the extreme in any government department.  But it has also had the effect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.  There is no easy way to cut through this Gordian knot, all the more so as budgetary austerity looms large ahead.  At the same time, it is imperative for the State Department to be mission-driven, rather than resource-constrained – particularly when being present in increasingly risky areas of the world is integral to U.S. national security.  The recommendations in this report attempt to grapple with these issues and err on the side of increased attention to prioritization and to fuller support for people and facilities engaged in working in high risk, high threat areas.  The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs, which, in total, constitute a small percentage both of the full national budget and that spent for national security.  One overall conclusion in this report is that Congress must do its part to meet this challenge and provide necessary resources to the State Department to address security risks and meet mission imperatives....

October 1, 2011
By Walter Pincus

...Andrew Shapiro, (click here) assistant secretary of state in its Bureau of Political Military Affairs, told a meeting last week of the Center for New American Security that the hefty cuts will compromise national security. He noted that the 2012 funding bill for State Department and foreign operations was cut 8 percent by the full Senate Appropriations Committee and a whopping 18 percent by the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee....

...Mindful of these considerations, the ARB has examined the terrorist attacks in Benghazi with an eye towards how we can better advance American interests and protect our personnel in an increasingly complex and dangerous world.  This Board presents its findings and recommendations with the unanimous conclusion that while the United States cannot retreat in the face of such challenges, we must work more rigorously and adeptly to address them, and that American diplomats and security professionals, like their military colleagues, serve the nation in an inherently risky profession.  Risk mitigation involves two imperatives – engagement and security – which require wise leadership, good intelligence and evaluation, proper defense and strong preparedness and, at times, downsizing, indirect access and even withdrawal.  There is no one paradigm.  Experienced leadership, close coordination and agility, timely informed decision making, and adequate funding and personnel resources are essential.  The selfless courage of the four Americans who died in the line of duty in Benghazi on September 11-12, 2012, as well as those who were injured and all those who valiantly fought to save their colleagues, inspires all of us as we seek to draw the right lessons from that tragic night....

This is from the Washington Times, not the Washington Post. Some media outlets can be entrenched pundits, but, when it comes to the national security of the country and that of our foreign outposts there is responsible journalism with a serious tone. They know when politics is essential to put aside and add another voice to the call for facts and the way forward to improve where the country fell short of it's own goals. I wish that were the case for all media outlets, but, it isn't.

September 27, 2012
By Shaun Waterman

Investigators (click here) looking for lessons from the fatal terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi might want to start on Capitol Hill, where Congress slashed spending on diplomatic security and U.S. embassy construction over the past two years.

Since 2010, Congress cut $296 million from the State Department’s spending request for embassy security and construction, with additional cuts in other State Department security accounts, according to an analysis by a former appropriations committee staffer...

The Benghazi attacks represented the first murder of a U.S. ambassador since 1988, and took place 11 years to the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Ambassador Stevens personified the U.S. commitment to a free and democratic Libya.  His knowledge of Arabic, his ability to move in all sectors of the population, and his wide circle of friends, particularly in Benghazi, marked him as an exceptional practitioner of modern diplomacy.  The U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, established in November 2011, was the successor to his highly successful endeavor as Special Envoy to the rebel-led government that eventually toppled Muammar Qaddafi in fall 2011.  The Special Mission bolstered U.S. support for Libya’s democratic transition through engagement with eastern Libya, the birthplace of the revolt against Qaddafi and a regional power center.

The late Ambassador Stevens was eminently qualified for the position he took in Libya. It is easily said, his uniqueness to the outcomes with Qaddafi brought about a better country for Libyans to carry out their own idea of a fair government. There is every reason to believe the late Ambassador was well accepted in the community that ultimately would be his death. The entire circumstance Americans faced that evening was unexpected. The Late Ambassador was his own authority. Everyone in the State Department would defer to him for advise about the country.

The Benghazi attacks
took place against a backdrop of significantly increased demands on U.S. diplomats to be present in the world’s most dangerous places to advance American interests and connect with populations beyond capitals, and beyond host governments’ reach.  With State Department civilians at the forefront of U.S. efforts to stabilize and build capacity in Iraq, as the U.S. military draws down in Afghanistan, and with security threats growing in volatile environments where the U.S. military is not present – from Peshawar to Bamako – the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is being stretched to the limit as never before.  DS overall has done a fine job protecting thousands of employees in some 273 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.  No diplomatic presence is without risk, given past attempts by terrorists to pursue U.S. targets worldwide.  And the total elimination of risk is a non-starter for U.S. diplomacy, given the need for the U.S. government to be present in places where stability and security are often most profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent.    

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 growing, diffuse range of terrorist and hostile actors poses an additional challenge to American security officers, diplomats, development professionals and decision-makers seeking to mitigate risk and remain active in high threat environments without resorting to an unacceptable total fortress and stay-at-home approach to U.S. diplomacy.   

Libya was dissolving into small militias that would control the outcomes of the people in small groups. The central government of Libya was gone with the flight of Gaddafi and new government was still in flux. The violence against any central government in Libya was growing, but, still diffuse in the understanding of any and all militias in the area.
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 (click here) served as Chairman, with Admiral Michael Mullen (click here) as Vice Chairman.  Additional members were who represented the IC.Catherine Bertini (click here), Richard Shinnick (click here),  and Hugh Turner (click here) who represented the IC,

Directorate of Operations: James Pavitt, deputy director; Hugh Turner, associate deputy director; Barry Royden, associate deputy director/counterintelligence; and Pat Hanback, associate deputy director/resources, plans and policy

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

As called for by the Act, this report examines:  whether the attacks were security related; whether security systems and procedures were adequate and implemented properly; the impact of intelligence and information availability; whether any other facts or circumstances in these cases may be relevant to appropriate security management of U.S. missions worldwide; and, finally, whether any U.S. government employee or contractor, as defined by the Act, breached her or his duty....