The State Department has done almost nothing to enhance security at dangerous diplomatic outposts since last year’s deadly Benghazi attack, the department’s chief watchdog reported.
In an audit released Wednesday, the State Department’s inspector general blasted the department for failing to formulate a strategy to protect high-risk installations abroad, even after Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012.
“The Department of State has neither a conceptual framework nor a process for risk management,” the report reads. “There is no one person or office specifically tasked to oversee the assessment of risks in critical, high-threat locales and weigh those risks against … policy priorities to determine if the strategic value of the program outweighs the associated risks.”
The inspector general’s office accused the State Department of dragging its feet in implementing new security standards for the 27 overseas posts designated “high-threat” after the Benghazi attack. In doing so, it denounced the department for ignoring recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB).
“The Department’s actions to date do not comply with this recommendation,” auditors wrote. “The Benghazi ARB specifically tasked the Department to identify minimum security standards for occupancy in high-risk, high-threat environments. … [The current standards] do not establish minimum security standards for occupancy or address requirements beyond construction standards.”
Tom Fitton, president of the D.C.-based government accountability group Judicial Watch, was unsurprised by the audit’s findings.
“The tepid IG report is further confirmation that American diplomatic personnel continue to be at risk over one year after Benghazi,” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Why didn’t [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton implement immediately all of these security recommendations?”
Fitton blamed the department’s inability to enact adequate security precautions on “the dangerous ‘we know better’ arrogance of the Obama State Department leadership.”
The inspector general also investigated the Benghazi Accountability Review Board itself, whose members were hand-picked by Clinton in the months after the Benghazi attack.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and other Republican lawmakers had previously questioned the Benghazi ARB’s political independence, charging that it had failed to hold high-level State Department officials accountable for their failures.
But the inspector general’s office ultimately gave the board a pass. “The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended — independently and without bias — to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State’s security programs,” the investigators alleged.
“The idea that the ARB wasn’t biased is laughable,” said Fitton. “There is inherent bias in who investigators choose to question — and, incredibly, the ARB didn’t question Hillary Clinton (the very person who appointed the ARB board members).”
“This IG report seems like another whitewash with weak recommendations for more bureaucracy,” he concluded.
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