Washington, DC — U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement today on the release of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report on the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today received a classified briefing on the ARB report by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"The release of the ARB has made it clear that 'a lack of proactive leadership and management ability' on the part of the State Department is to blame for the series of errors that resulted in the loss of life during the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi. The State Department's dismissal of the reality and facts on the ground in Libya 'resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.' These failures along with the view that 'the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests' left our U.S. personnel alone and without support.
"The ARB recommends that State conduct several internal reviews to address mismanagement and systemic failures. But how can we trust the State Department to hold itself accountable in light of recent evidence?
How can we trust their security assessments? How can we trust the very same bureaucracy that demonstrated 'systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels' with the same task in the future?
"It is my expectation that Secretary Clinton will come before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and answer for these failures. After all, the ARB is about accountability and the failures regarding Benghazi extended well beyond a few individuals or bureaus at State. Also, we must also hold accountable those in the Libyan government whose 'response [was] profoundly lacking on the night of the attacks, reflecting both weak capacity and near absence of central government influence and control in Benghazi.'
"Questions must be answered as to why Benghazi was not seen as a priority by the State Department and was routinely ignored. The recent resignations of three State Department officials is not the end as the Administration must continue to be held accountable for its dangerous systemic and management failures in order to avoid another Benghazi in the future."
NOTE: All direct quotes in the statement originated from the unclassified ARB report.