On the campaign trail immediately following the attack, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other White House officials dubiously claimed that the deadly assaults were a result of a spontaneous riot, not a terrorist attack. Later to be found untrue, these claims, compounded with a lack of answers, have put the Obama administration at the forefront of public and Congressional scrutiny.
It is imperative that Congress continues to investigate the events that transpired prior, during and after the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi. As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my hope that today’s hearing with Secretary Clinton will finally provide the answers that both the American people and the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty undoubtedly deserve.
It has been months since the terrorist attack in Benghazi, but little progress has been made. A report by the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) shows widespread failure within the administration. Based off of reports, there are three underlying issues that need to be addressed at today's hearing: the requests for increased security that were denied, the lack of accountability in the administration, and the president’s failure to bring the perpetrators to justice.
One of the most glaring issues is the administration’s refusal to address the heightened state of terrorism in the region. The ARB report indicates that security measures were “inadequate” and “insufficient.” Our intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense and State Department cables from the consulate in Benghazi all warned of a growing security threat. Even Ambassador Stevens made repeated requests for additional security personnel. Sadly, those requests fell on deaf ears.
Not only do the mistakes that happened need to be investigated, but recommendations need to be made and decisive action needs to be taken, including administrative changes among the agencies involved. Although the ARB report identified management failures within the State Department and deficiencies at senior levels, only four officials were placed on administrative leave. It remains unclear if the people who were placed on leave will be terminated or given different responsibilities.
Despite calls from President Obama to bring the killers of Ambassador Stevens and three other officials to justice, little has been done. Following the attacks, it took weeks for a team of FBI officials to visit the scene of the attack. Once they arrived they did not interview witnesses and only stayed on location for a few hours. Reports indicate that our regional partners have been slow to arrest suspects behind the attack – and, as importantly, to allow the FBI access to interview them.
The work of our diplomats overseas is imperative in forging relationships with countries like Libya; however, we have an obligation to provide the necessary security measures to keep them safe. With many of our nation’s embassies facing similar security threats as Benghazi, it is critical that we get the answers we need to prevent future tragedies.
Meadows is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.