Politics

              The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds a hearing with Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, right, who is in charge of management, and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns,left, who is in charge of policy, after an independent review panel said this week that serious bureaucratic mismanagement was responsible for inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had been scheduled to testify but canceled after fainting and sustaining a concussion last week.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

State Department officials concede ‘systemic failure’ during Benghazi hearings

Photo of Alexis Levinson
Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

“Should we require more resources to execute these recommendations, we will work closely with Congress to ensure these needs are met,” Nides said.

Kerry faulted Congress for not giving State adequate resources in the first place.

“Congress also bears some responsibility here,” he said in his opening statement. “Congress has the power of the purse. … And for years we have asked our State Department to operate with increasingly lesser resources to conduct essential missions and because of the gridlock and excesses in the Senate and the Congress itself, we have not even been to able to pursue the regular order of authorizing legislation. That must change, and in the next session of the Congress I hope it will.”

Republicans, on the other hand, were not keen to increase State’s budget.

House committee chairman Ileana Ros-Lhetinen said the “priority must be to uncover the root causes of this tragedy.”

“I know there will be an attempt to shift the blame to a shortage of resources,” she said, “but budgetary constraints were not a factor in the department’s failure to recognize the threats” and adequately deal with them.

She questioned whether the State Department was correctly prioritizing the money it had, criticizing Clinton for focusing on a culinary diplomacy program on Sept. 10, 2012, the day before the attack.

Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker voiced a similar criticism.

“I’m just amazed that this hearing has already centered on additional money, which may well be needed, but as Sen. Boxer just said, we would have no idea, since we have never done a top to bottom review of the State Department since I’ve been here … we have no idea whether the state Department is using this money wisely or not.”

“What I saw in the report is a department that has corrosis [sic]; that doesn’t think outside of the box; that does not use the resources it has in any kind of creative ways,” he said.