Resignations after report

December 20, 2012

WASHINGTON — Three State Department officials resigned under pressure Wednesday, less than a day after a damning report blamed management failures for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, where militants killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11.

The resignations came as lawmakers expressed anger and frustration over the findings of an independent review panel, and the State Department struggled to find a balance between protecting its diplomats while allowing them to do their jobs in high-risk posts.

Obama administration officials said those who had stepped down were Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and Raymond Maxwell, the deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the Maghreb nations of Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

The Accountability Review Board's co-chairman, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, said the board had not determined that any officials had engaged in willful misconduct or knowingly ignored his or her responsibilities,

But Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, added, We did conclude that certain State Department bureau level senior officials in critical levels of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of leadership and management ability appropriate for senior ranks in their responses to security concerns posed by the special mission.

Mullen said the mission's security fell through bureaucratic cracks caused in part because buildings were categorized as temporary. The report said that budget constraints had caused some officials to be more concerned with saving money than in security.

My impression is the State Department clearly failed the Boy Scout motto of be prepared, said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said security was plainly inadequate … and our reliance on local militias was sorely misplaced.

These are not mistakes we can afford to make again, he said.