A stinging report by the Senate Intelligence Committee released Wednesday concluded that the attack 16 months ago that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented, and blames both American diplomats and the CIA for poor communication and lax security during the weeks leading up to the deadly episode.
The report is broadly consistent with the findings of previous inquiries into the September 2012 attack. The report, at first blush, does not break significant new ground on this issue. But it is unsparing in its criticism of the State Department for failing to provide adequate security at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, first American facility to be attacked that night and where J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador, died.
“The committee found the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya — to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets — and given the known security shortfalls at the US Mission,” the Senate committee said in a press release.
The report found that, in the months before the attack, American intelligence agencies gave ample warning about deteriorating security in Benghazi and the risks to Americans in the city. As these warnings were issued, the CIA bolstered its security at the agency’s Benghazi facility — known as the Annex — but the State Department did not make similar moves to protect the diplomatic compound.
The Senate panel also criticized communication breakdowns between various security agencies.
Moreover, the committee found, the Pentagon was ill prepared to deal with crisis that night. “US military assets were not positioned to respond in time to save the four Americans killed.”